I was speaking with a friend of mind that owns a culinary store. “It must have been a tough winter, with all the snow,” I said.
“It was a great winter she said. We started holding cooking classes, and we were swamped.”
I mention her success because holding events has always been a winner. No matter what your retail store, thoughtful promotions will attract new customers and thank your old ones. Holding events also creates a “buzz” that will have your neighbors paying attention. It doesn’t have to cost much money. It just takes some thoughtful promotions; don’t be afraid to go all out. The more people you can bring in the better. The purpose of an event is to get people into your store and get to know them. Since 85% of your business is probably referrals, you don’t want customers to forget you.
Anything you do that pleases the customer improves your customer service. The more interesting the customer experience the more the customer will remember you. Customers have so many places to hide online that reaching them has never been more difficult.
Making people feel special is cheap. Don’t you love getting an invitation to an event even if you can’t attend? It means that someone is thinking about you.
We’re all looking for things to do that aren’t expensive.
Events don’t have to be related to your products. For many retailers not promoting their products seems to be frightening. They’re afraid if they don’t talk about their products, they will lose customers. Actually just having fun with your customers is a way to build relationships. Even though we know it’s a good way to build sales, retailers seem reluctant to hold them.
My advice, “Get over it.”
- You shouldn’t spend a lot of money. Having lots of balloons will create a party atmosphere and putting your event on your social media will get the word out. It’s not necessary to advertise in the local newspaper unless you have extra dough. These days social media can do it all for you.
- You don’t need a big space. Hold your event during your off season. During the holidays, their is lots of competition for your customer’s attention. With the summer coming, this is a perfect time to have a garden seminar in your parking lot. If you’re a risk taker, have a barbecue at your house. Several years ago, I had a fund-raiser at my house, and it was fun and people just loved coming to my home.
- Customer appreciation day always works. David Campbell, owner of Amazing Toys in Great Falls, Montana, holds a customer appreciation in October before the holidays. He also gives reduced prices at his events for Christmas shopping. (Click on the link for information on how to hold a customer appreciation day. )
- Have you held an Anniversary party? Why not celebrate your business and share it with your customers.
- How about a special “guest” appearance? Every town has local celebrities. Some even have worldwide celebrities. Maybe you can have them make a special appearance. If you can involve a local not-for-profit, you will have a better chance of getting a celebrity to your business. I remember when we raised money for the special needs program in our neighborhood; we didn’t have any problems getting Yankee great Phil Razzioto to make an appearance! It was so exciting.
Holding events is the way to bring in customer and build relationships. If you need ideas for events, check out my recently published book, “50 Events to drive Traffic to Your Store.” It will soon be on my website and on Amazon.
Are you attending “Coverings” this coming week? If so, stop into my seminar on “How to Use Events to Grow Your Business” on Friday May 2, 2014, at 9:30-11 A.M.
Lisbeth has been a retail consultant for over 20 years. She specializes in improving customer service and building sales strategies that drive traffic. To have her speak at your store, she can be reached at 518-495-538-.