Macy's held their annual flower show at their flagship store in NYC this past April. It has to be one of the last vestiges of when department stores used events to differentiate one from the other.
I was in their store one year and saw long-term employees who were very proud of the show; you could see it in their smiles and hear it in their voices.
Smaller stores do events such as book signings, storytime, trunk shows, parties, live music, movie launches, and new product arrivals as a way of building excitement in their stores.
Downtown areas and even malls look to events as a way of attracting customers to their shops, Main Street, or even the city.
The one part that is missing when people talk about doing events is marketing to the employees or shop owners.
How will they greet the event?
With welcome arms or as a chance to bitch to the public?
Unless this important link is considered, events often fall short of their potential and lead to grumbling about how the event didn't do anything but bring in lookie-loos.
I know; I hear it all the time.
Here Are 9 Elements To Make Any Event In Your Store A Success:
1. Know why you are doing it in the first place - to drive trial from new customers who do not know you and to shorten the return to your shop/area/city by customers who know you. In both cases, it is to drive your retail sales.
2. Create a timetable of explanations to employees, managers, and owners with firm dates so everyone has the same information.
3. Explain to as many business owners and employees as possible why you are doing it. Ask for questions ahead of time. Note any potential problems, parking, long wait times, and where to get additional information.
4. Make a flier explaining why you are doing this, what the event entails, start and end times, etc. Even better, a two-minute YouTube video that you send by email.
5. Brainstorm some ways individual businesses can help participate - donations for prizes, prepared short updates for their Facebook Fan pages/Tweets.
6. Create a contest for employees or shops that gets their buy-in. If they have a stake in its success, they are much more likely to make it memorable - in a good way.
7. Film videos during your event of shops full of people, strolling on your sidewalks, etc. Encourage businesses to post their own on their Facebook Fan or Instagram pages, their web pages, and anywhere they can think of.
8. Follow up - hold a meeting to debrief after the event. What went well? What could be improved? Don't let the grumpy Guess ruin it for everyone - keep focused on how it could be better, lessons learned, etc. What firm numbers did you, your merchants, and your shopping district deliver? We don't want anecdotal evidence. Sales up 3%? Write it down.
9. Create a file in a folder or on your computer desktop with all the information you created before and the debriefing for use in planning another event, or when someone says to do it, you'll have everything in one location.
A major brand, in partnership with a retailer, recently held an event to try to woo Millennials to their shop to demonstrate their product. The brand pulled all the stops out with food and drink.
They didn't sell one product that night, so beware. Events aren't a shoo-in sales booster...
To truly move the needle of sales, customers who throng stores during an event should be met with the same wonder and excitement as the customers gazing at the flowers, listening to the music, or strolling downtown.
See also, How To Attract More Customers To Your Retail Store In 8 Easy Steps
Remember, you are taking so much time preparing to get buy-in from your crew that builds the event rather than taking away from all the energy you've put into it.
Employee pride can make all the difference, but it, like having a profitable retail business, takes work.