By now, you should have planned out your events and promotions for November. Every week you should have some offer or something exciting happening to drive traffic to your store, website, and social media sites.
The benefits of hosting events are immediate and long-lasting. Not only will your sales increase, but you will also attract new customers who will hopefully become regular customers. Your existing customers will feel appreciated and stay loyal to your store.
PRO TIP for all events all year long:
In your advertising for any events and promotions, you need to build anticipation. The average consumer has to see something seven times before taking action. So, you need to plan teasers into your emails and other social media to let your customers know about your upcoming events. This is a great time for you and your staff to get in front of the camera. As you tell your customer about upcoming events, they will get to know you, and you can share why they should shop with you. People want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. So, as you build the anticipation, you will also be deepening the level of your relationship with your customers.
Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your events this month to make them even stronger and more successful for you.
Collaborate in your community
Collaborate with other businesses in your area and cross-market. For example, you could set up a little display in a hair or nail salon to promote your events and allow them to have space in your store to promote themselves. For the best results, have them come to an event and participate by offering a demonstration of some kind like a braid bar, or some sort of spa treatment for your customers. People love experiences – anytime you can educate your customer and make them feel special, it is a Win-Win!
Work with local charities and incorporate things like toy drives, food drives, and coat drives at your events. You can include some of this into a “Giving Tuesday” event on Dec. 1st or make every Tuesday in November a charitable event and plan a donation promotion for each one. If you sell any toys, you could offer the customer a discount on a toy if they purchase it from you and then leave it with you to be donated. You can also work with a local charity and put up an Angel Tree and have your customers pick a child, family, or shut-in to bless with the gifts they need this holiday season. When at all possible, have a representative from the charity at your event. This will provide more exposure to the charity and make the charity tie in more visible to your customers.
Think of all the media outlets in your area; many of them need content. Reach out to your local magazine or newspaper and offer to write an article about the importance of shopping small this holiday season. Team up with a local blogger to work up gift guides for everyone on your customer’s gift-giving list. Promote the blogger on your social media and have them promote you as well.
There are so many ways to collaborate to get more eyeballs on your marketing and advertising, but it all takes some time and planning. Reach out to the people you know to connect you to the people they know. I had a friend that seemed to know everyone at her gym, and she introduced me to local authors, bloggers, actors, and more, that all collaborated with me to reach each other’s audience. Put your thinking cap on start asking your friends who they know!
For many of you, November will be your 2nd biggest sales month of the year. You must create commotion with great promotions. Give your customers a reason to shop with you often this month.
At Your Event
Consider having “Doorbusters” for some of your events and promotions. You can have a free gift or a special discount that is only available to the first customers. You can decide how many you want to give away. Depending on the event, I would do anywhere from the first 25 to the first 100 customers. Sometimes I would give an item like a Christmas ornament for a Holiday Open House, and sometimes I would give a $5 store Gift Certificate; you decide what works for each event. You can do this online as well by offering a free gift or a specific discount. Reward your customers to “bust” down your door and be the first to shop with you that day.
Push the idea of “Wish Lists” at your events throughout November. You want to collect as many as you can. Have a form ready to go where your customer can fill in the blanks with their contact information, the items they would like to receive, and the name(s) of a friend or family member you can reach out to. (click here to download a sample Wishlist). Keep these completed “Wish Lists” and be sure to reach out to the friends or family members on the list so that they know to come shopping at your store. You can also give the customer a “Hint, Hint Card.” This is a small business card that says something like, “Hint, Hint, Parsons Gifts knows exactly what __(fill in the customer’s name here)__ wants for Christmas! Call us or come shop today to get exactly what they want”. Be sure to include your contact information on the other side. The customer can then drop the “Hint, Hint” card where their friend or family member will find it, like in their hand!
You can have entire events around getting customers to fill out their “Wish Lists” or incorporate them into each event and promotion you have this month. You could hold a drawing from all of the “Wish Lists” filled out and give the winner one item from their list or a gift certificate to the store. Collecting “Wish Lists” is a great way to get your customers information to add to your mailing list, and it gives you the names of people to reach out to and invite to shop with you.
Create a Holiday Gift Checklist for your customers with your store name and contact information on it. You can email them out to customers, post to your social media, and pass out in store. Be sure to include the gift recipient’s name, gift idea, price, store, and a place to check off when it is bought and when it is wrapped. There are lots of great ideas you can check out on Pinterest. By your customer referring to this list, you will be keeping your store on your customer’s top of the mind awareness throughout the holiday shopping season.
Teach a “How To” mini-class in the store or online during an event. Here are some suggestions that we did in our store and ideas I have seen retailers succeed with over the years.
• How to wear a scarf • How to tie a bow for your holiday decorating • How to set a beautiful table • How to make a wreath or mailbox cover • How to create a beautiful charcuterie board • How to cook with an item you sell • How to prepare a food item you sell • How to mix and match outfits.
You get the idea. Whatever products you sell, teach your customer how to use them!
Not everything will be able to happen in your store like you have done it in the past. All your events need to be able to transition to online in some capacity. Many of you have already hosted at least one live sale on Facebook, but have you considered special pop up Facebook groups for your events. You can host an online party in a private Facebook Group for one week to promote a specific category, event, or promotion. There can be live entertainment, demonstrations, and more within this group, and you can also have your customers post within the group for more interaction between all members.
Give a FREE gift to 1st-time customers – we mailed out a $10 Gift Certificate to every new customer who joined our Loyalty program. You can also do this online via email, but I always loved to send them something real in the mail. Everyone’s email inbox is full, but their mailbox is not full of meaningful mail, so my Welcome and Thank You for Shopping with us gift certificate stood out.
Remember that you will need to run your events longer this year than you have in the past. If you used to have a one-day event, it might need to be an entire weekend this year. Your weekend-long events may need to be 7 to 10 days this year. This will keep your customer and associates safer in less crowded stores this season. You want to make sure your customers and associates feel comfortable shopping with you this year.
Serve your customer, educate them, and entertain them and make it easy for them to shop with you.
Plan = Profit
When you plan these Sales, Events, and Promotions, remember that you need to watch your margins and be profitable. So, when deciding on your Black Friday & Small Business Saturday deals, your Fall Open House specials, and more, be sure you are calculating your profit margin for each one.
Many stores will have BOGO deals throughout the holiday season. You can do Buy 1 Get 1 FREE or offer Buy 1 Get 1 at a set discount. Both work; you just have to figure out for each item or category the right numbers to offer an incentive to the customer while still being profitable. Do the math and see what makes sense for your margins.
Bundles are a great way to create a perfect purchase for a customer, so they get all they need while moving out more items and making an attractive offer while still protecting your margin. Every store will have to figure out what kind of bundles you can create with your products.
Be sure you have set your goals for each event. If you missed the post entitled Setting Goals and Metrics, be sure to read it. In that post, I mentioned that you need to have forms to keep track of your goals, planning, and the outcomes of each event and promotion. Download the forms adapted from WhizBang! Training and Retail Clarity to set your goals and measure your metrics after the event.
Here is a tip of something I always did that helped me keep track of my events year to year. Keep copies of ads, emails, marketing pieces, planning forms, and recap forms from each event in an old fashion accordion folder by month. This way, I could pull out everything from January and look it over when planning next January. You may like keeping it digitally on a computer; if that works for you, do it. Just make sure you have a system to access all of the information of past years when you start to plan for the current year.
So, there you have it—lots of ideas and inspirations for the month. I am sure that something must have jumped out at you as you read this, so go and plan or tweak your upcoming promotions and think about how you can best serve your customers.
Next week, we will discuss the importance of your signage and your store’s overall look these next two months. You will have lots of new customers shopping with you this season, and you only have one shot at making a great first impression. So, don’t miss next week’s blog post. If you missed our Planning Your Holiday Events blog, you can read it here. Be sure to download our Free Holiday Event Guide Here.