In the age of online shopping, drawing customers into your brick-and-mortar establishment can be a challenge. But people (especially millennials) still like to feel part of their community, and they still like to connect with their favorite stores and brands in person. You can help forge that personal, emotional connection by inviting your customers to community events.
As marketing techniques go, events are unbeatable ways to grow and strengthen your customer base. Follow these tips for a successful event that has lasting benefits for your small business.
Think it through
Don’t just jump in and throw the same old party – think about your goal. A clear objective drives everything from the type of event you hold to the people you invite. If you want to introduce a new product, for example, you might choose an in-store event; if you want to thank your most valuable customers, you might invite them out to a local resident, says Rieva Lesonsky, founder and CEO of GrowBiz Media.
With your goal in mind, you can start hashing out the details. What’s your budget? Who on your staff can help? How many people can you handle? What food or beverages will you provide? What will happen at the event – will you need speakers, children’s games, product demonstrations, etc.? Make sure you know the answers to all these questions before you start marketing the event, so you know what details to promote.
Let people know
Many an otherwise well-planned event has failed due to poor attendance. So undertake a vigorous marketing campaign that uses all the tools at your disposal: social media, email, flyers, local publications and anything else you can think of. Talk about the ways customers will benefits from the event. Promote contests or giveaways to help spark interest. And reach out to other organizations for cross-promotional opportunities, suggests event marketing consultant Allison Saget.
You can go even further by creating a promotional video and starting a hashtag campaign on social media, according to Small Business Trends.
Capitalize on the connections you make
Holding events is all about enhancing the relationship between your business and your customers. A great event can bring you new business and earn you loyal clients. Plus, it can strengthen your position in your community as a whole – and that’s something no business can live without.
During the event, make sure to capture contact information from the people who attend. And then use that information to reinforce the connection built through your event. You could send a simple thank-you note or email, and/or offer a discount on a future purchase. Don’t wait too long to follow up. Lesonsky recommends connecting within a few weeks to make sure the customer has a strong memory of the event and why it was enjoyable.