Special events are an important function of marketing and there are many instances in which you might want to host one. If you have a loyal following of customers, inviting them to an event is one way to acquaint yourself with who is buying your product. If you own an e-commerce store, most of your interaction with the customer is mostly online but an event helps you to build the relationship with them offline. Events are not always easy to plan but they are a great way to get exposure. If executed properly and depending on your goals, they can also translate to increased sales for your brand. However, it is not enough to just plan an event and think that people will come. You have to be proactive in seeking them out. Build anticipation before the event or partner with a brand that can ensure attendance from shoppers. Here are a few of my top tips for planning a fashion party or shopping event.
Define your purpose: The purpose for your shopping event should be to either educate, inspire or entertain. Of course, you will want people to buy your stuff but if you focus on delivering an unforgettable event, people will want to buy from you provided that the product is really good. So, you might want to put some extra thought into figuring out the main purpose of your event. If your brand is about empowering women, you will want to create an experience that inspires them. If your brand is about creating positive change in the world, educate them on their role as change agents and inspire them to take action. If you are a pop-culture brand, infuse that into the shopping experience through music, film or a lookbook etc.
Event branding: Your event and its unique experience should be in-line with your brand image. Everything from the colours of your decor to the food on the menu to the items in the swag bags should communicate a message that mirrors your core brand messages. For example, if your brand is known for sustainability, consider saving trees by sending out personalized print invitation cards made out of recycled paper. If your brand promotes health and wellness, feature only healthy options on your event’s menu or raffle a one-year gym membership to one lucky winner. If you are an eyewear brand, create a fashion film for your new product line and do a movie screening where guests get to watch in 3D with a pair of your special glasses created just for the event. These are just suggestions, there are many more ways to create a brand experience for your event, you just need to be creative.
Location and layout: Is your brand accessible? By that I mean, can people find you? If you are choosing a location for your event, it is important to go where your customers already are. If your customers are busy working professionals who live in the city, don’t place the location of your event in the suburbs where it might be difficult for them to get to. Once you have discovered the location you want to be in, think about the layout of the space that you want. For example, you might want to think about whether you want to feature a runway show or have a gallery-type display of your products. A runway show allows customers to see the product but does not provide them an opportunity to interact with it. A different type of display may allow the customer to feel it, try it on and see how it looks on them. And perhaps by seeing how great they look in an outfit, they just might be even more inclined to purchase it.
Publicity and promotions: It is one thing to plan a shopping event. It is another to promote it but there are many opportunities to do so. First of all, you should absolutely have a media preview. This involves inviting members of the media to your event so that they can have a firsthand look at the products. Make a list of the top 100 media outlets (journalists, bloggers and show producers) that cover fashion topics in your city and send them a special invite to your event. Be sure to include some information in the form of a press release that introduces your brand to them and give them a reason why they would be interested in coming to your event. Many brands usually offer free product samples to media so they can evaluate your product and write about it but even if you cannot afford this, you can create an experience for them by providing preferred seating at events and access to exclusive backstage interviews with the designer.
Merging online and offline: Earlier, I mentioned that hosting a shopping event is a great way to take the customer relationship offline. Well, there are now ways to merge both experiences seamlessly. You can give all your event guests a discount code at the point of ticket purchase where they can get 10% off their purchase provided they choose to buy your product online within the next 24 hours. You can take this further and set-up buying stations at your event then give your guests a bigger discount when they buy it on the spot before the event ends. Create a special hashtag for social media and run an online contest while the event is going on as an incentive to get people following you and posting pictures about your brand. Don’t forget to reach out to your email list and let them know about your event news. You can even update them throughout each stage of planning and share stories about it on social media to create excitement leading up to the big day.
Have I missed anything? Like I said, these are just some of my tips for hosting a shopping event to get you thinking as you plan yours. I hope you found this post helpful.
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