Many small business owners seem to shy away from event marketing, thinking it is too costly or takes too much time. However, when executed properly, event marketing for small businesses can be a very effective way to generate new customers, leads, and even strategic partners.
There are basically three types of event marketing: organizing your own event, sponsoring an event, or attending an existing event. Today we are going to talk about organizing your own event, specifically an in-store event.
An in-store event can be used by retailers, or anyone with a storefront location, to drive traffic, sell old inventory, and build your customer database. An event doesn’t have to be an overwhelmingly elaborate affair. Many local business owners have found success planning simple, yet enticing events that don’t cost a lot of money. Here are our secrets to planning a successful in-store event:
Be creative. Everyone, it seems, has a full calendar these days. So, capturing the attention of people and getting them to make time to come to your store or business, is probably the most important key to a successful in-store event. A “sale” these days, is normally not enough to generate a large amount of traffic. Try to think outside the box, and be creative. For example, a pet grooming business or a self-service dog wash could hold a “dirtiest pet contest”. The person who brings the dirtiest pet gets their dog washed and groomed for free while everyone else gets a special discount and goodie bags just for showing up.
Create a buzz. Your goal is to plan an event that people will not want to miss. The best attended events typically communicate a sense of prestige and/or excitement. If you can get a local celebrity or media person to attend your event, this can be a very effective way to create a buzz around your event. An A-list celebrity will cost an arm and a leg, but a boutique, for example, could bring in a local stylist who dresses famous people. It is free publicity for them and will bring people into your store.
Spread the word! An event is probably not much fun for anyone if nobody shows up. One of the keys to getting people to your event is getting the word out early and frequently. Tell everyone you know, and use social media. Start creating teasers on Facebook and Twitter, and consider creating fun videos to post on YouTube. Using social media is the best way to spread the news of your event, along with a special invitation to your mailing list. Speaking of invitations, we recommend that you don’t skimp on your invitation, as it is a critical piece of creating a buzz around your event! On-line event invitations are cheap, fun, and an easy way to track registration and who is attending. Lastly, don’t forget to publicize the event to the local media such as community newspapers, websites and bloggers.
Follow-up. Post-event follow-up is an often overlooked area by small business owners, yet is an area that can generate even further business if executed correctly! We happen to think that Thank you notes are a nice touch, and can be a very personal way of following up. Another idea is to set up a postcard program to invite attendees to the next event. Which reminds us; don’t forget to have people sign in at the event! You’ll want to capture their names, email addresses, along with mailing address and phone number if they’re willing to give it. This is a goldmine of information for your customer database! And, once you’ve gathered the customer’s contact information at the event, follow up within the next two weeks with a special offer or discount coupon, which is exclusive for the attendees of the event.
Next time, we’ll talk about some specific in-store event ideas to boost your small business, so stay tuned for more great ideas in our next blog post!