Today’s furniture retailers are working in a market that is much different than it was just a decade or so ago. With easy access to online shopping via computers and mobile devices, modern consumers are certainly not lacking for options when they want to spend money on a new product. Unlike many other areas of retail, however, the home furnishings industry is still largely driven by brick-and-mortar sales. Furniture retailers looking to stay ahead of the competition must focus on creating a great experience for every customer who walks through their door.
One way to deliver a remarkable experience while boosting your brand is by hosting an in-store event. Fortunately, hosting a successful event at your store doesn’t have to be a headache. Here is some advice to help you on your way:
Plan well in advance
While you shouldn’t let planning an event take over your professional and/or personal life, it is important to take the time needed to put all the necessary moving parts together. It’s best to begin planning at least 90 days beforehand—and don’t forget to set a timeline with attainable goals along the way. During the planning phase, think about the timing of the event and make a list of what you want to accomplish to ensure that you’re successful.
Set a budget
Another important part of the planning process involves sorting out your budget so that you do not overspend. After you’ve decided on what to do during the event, carefully calculate the costs of promotional items, marketing materials, staff, and other needs before establishing your budget. Having a budget in place will also help you assess your return on investment after you wrap up the event.
Get the word out
You can’t expect people to show up to an event that they don’t hear about. Be sure to focus heavily on marketing and don’t hesitate to use multiple forms of media to get the word out. You can send out invitations to customers via postal mail, e-mail, and social media. Print ads and outdoor advertising are also effective. If possible, you can create more buzz about your event by reaching out to journalists and local media outlets to help share your story.
What to Do the Day of the Event
Consider offering freebies
Who doesn’t love giveaways? One of the best ways that you can boost attendance at your event is by offering free stuff. Providing free food and drinks is always a good idea, but you can also hand out goody bags with promotional items and discount offers. For an added draw, consider having a prize raffle. If you go this route, be sure to capitalize on your investment by collecting valuable customer info from those who enter.
Get out the camera
After going through all the work of planning and hosting an event, it’s important to document the activities via photos and video. If you’re uncomfortable or unskilled behind the camera, consider delegating the task to a staff member or hiring a professional for the job. Don’t forget to get your guests’ permission if you plan to post the photos and videos to social media or your website.
While the whole point of hosting an in-store event is to boost sales, it’s important to focus on creating a great experience rather than pushing products onto your customers. Give your guests the opportunity to explore your store and browse on their own without you or your staff getting too “salesy.” Those who are thinking about making a purchase during the event will be more likely to do so if they are comfortable and having a good time, so be sure to make that your priority.
How to Follow Up
Post photos and event highlights
In the days and weeks following your event, keep the buzz going by posting photos, videos, and recaps on your website and social media pages. If any special guests, community groups, or business partners took part in the activities, don’t forget to mention them in your posts. Also, look around for other people sharing info about the event and send them thanks.
Send out follow-up offers
As a thank you to those who attended, you can send discount offers via e-mail or traditional mail to any guest whose information you collected during the event. You can also send out a blanket thank you to the community by offering a “second-chance” promotion to those who were unable to attend.
Reflect and start planning the next one
Once everything has settled down, gather your staff to discuss what worked and what didn’t. This is also the time to review your goals and see how well you did at achieving them. In addition, it’s important to crunch numbers to evaluate your budget and overall return on investment. With this information in hand, you can refine and improve your strategy for your next in-store event.