With online shopping continuing to increase in popularity, brick and mortar stores have to do something unique to get customers in the door. How about hosting an in-store event? Events attract customers and capitalize on your ability to establish and build face-to-face relationships — something the online guys can't do. And events are fun, another kind of experience shoppers can’t get online.
No matter what you sell or the size of your store, events can draw attention to your business and increase your sales. Here's how to attract customers to your in-store events.
Make it Invite-Only or Open to the Public
Both types of events offer specific benefits for your store and your customers. Invitation-only implies exclusiveness. Choose your invitation list to reward your best customers or target a particular segment, such as Men’s Night or 30-Somethings. You can beef up attendance and meet new prospects without losing the “just for me” cachet of your event by encouraging invitees to bring a friend. (Hint: offer a little incentive such as a thank-you coupon for the invitee and their guest.)
Open-to-everyone events introduce your store and merchandise to new people. These events are a great way to launch a brand new business or a new location, clear out aging inventory, participate in a community-wide celebration, or support a meaningful cause.
Intimate gathering or come-one-come-all events are an engaging way to announce a new product line or augment seasonal promotions. The key to success is to define your goal. Knowing what you want to achieve will help you design exactly the right event.
Offer Products and Services
What would be most fun or useful for your customers?
- Offer relaxed browsing with soft music, wine and cheese, or coffee and chocolates.
- Host a guest speaker, a live demonstration, or a DIY workshop.
- If it’s an exclusive event, consider holding it after hours. Offer discounts on products or services. Do hourly specials on specific items.
- Above all, offer door prizes or a raffle that requires people to sign up, giving you their contact information.
Attract Customers by Promoting Your Gathering
If you want the best turnout, promote your gathering. Email and targeted social media posts work well for exclusive events. (Want to really impress people? Mail a real, printed invitation!) In-store promotion, advertising, broad-audience social media posts and email can all spread the word about open events.
Successful Events Focus on the Future
Of course, you want to get people in the door and encourage them to buy, but long-term growth depends on repeat business. A well-planned and targeted event can strengthen customer loyalty, but it is essential to capture contact information for the new folks that attend. That way you can stay in touch.
Send a thank-you email to every attendee. Include a discount coupon or giveaway offer for their next visit. If it’s a public event, hand out coupons good for their next visit, but try everything you can to get their email address on the spot.
Take lots of pictures (even a video) during your event, then post them on social sites, your website, even in-store. Encourage attendees to share selfies during and afterward, too. Sharing the fun will attract customers even after your event is over.