One of the secrets to growing your business is to get new customers in the door. Hosting an event at your location can be a great way to increase your exposure to potential customers and show what your business offers. Events can range from a large-scale charity gala, to small-scale targeted events like an open mic night for writers at your coffee shop or having Santa Claus come to your children’s retail shop during the holiday season.
Park Avenue Tavern in New York City hosts a variety of lifestyle events, such as Glasses & Gimlets, where customers receive custom Warby Parker eyewear fittings and an evening with free mini-makeovers from Bobbi Brown cosmetics. During these events, the tavern has a 30 percent increase in food and beverage sales. “Even more importantly, many of the people who attend the events come back to the tavern for meals and will come to other customer loyalty events we host,” says tavern co-owner Eugene Brennan.
Here are seven factors in making your event a raging success.
1. Appeal to your target customer.
When deciding what type of event to host, think about the lifestyle, interests and daily challenges of your customer base. Brennan got the idea for Park Avenue Tavern’s suit-fitting event when a regular customer told him about an amazing tailor. He realized that since many of his customers wore suits every day that they may be interested in purchasing a custom high-quality suit. More than 70 men showed up to get fitted for a suit, sip on scotch, have their shoes shined and receive a hand-rolled cigar.
Ferrari-Maserati of Long Island and Maserati of Manhattan employs a similar strategy and typically has five car sales resulting from each event. “Because the events are either philanthropic or provide luxury products and activities, they target the same demographic that our customers are in,” says Laura Fisher, who is in charge of events and clients relations for the company.
You can also use events to bring in a new demographic. A sports bar, for example, could offer mini-makeovers to attract more female patrons, while a retail store could offer beer tastings from local brewpubs to encourage men to shop there.
2. Partner with other businesses.
Partnering with a non-competing business with a similar clientele can benefit both businesses. Each company markets the event to their own customers, which can create new customers for the other business. Brennan said that this strategy has been very successful for them, and many of their partners' customers have since become regular visitors to the tavern.
3. Determine the best day and time.
One strategy is to have the event on a typically slow day to bring in additional revenue during a slow sales period. Avoid planning it during your busy times because you will not be able to provide great service to both the attendees and your regular customers.
Also consider the schedule of your target audience and select a day/time that will be convenient for them. For example, lunchtime and after work is a popular time for targeting professionals while weekday mornings may work for targeting parents with young children.
4. Spend time on logistics.
Do you need to bring in more chairs for eating or watching a performance? If it is outdoors, do you need to provide portable toilets or are restrooms conveniently located? If appropriate, be sure to decorate your business with tasteful and festive decorations that fit the theme of the event.
5. Provide excellent service.
During the event, make sure that you provide excellent customer service and effectively showcase your products or services. By serving your world-famous cheesecake or offering your best-selling chair massages, attendees get a taste of what you offer without feeling like it’s a thinly veiled sales pitch. Make sure that you have enough staff working to give each customer stellar service. “Be available to assist the guests who seem interested in your product, but the no-pressure atmosphere is key to motivating them to come back next time,” Fisher says.
6. Gather contact information and follow up.
One of the keys to turning a large event turnout into increased business is to gather contact information and keep in touch with the attendees afterwards. You can add them to your newsletter, send a Friend Request on Facebook or call them to personally invite them to an upcoming sale. Just be sure to stay on the conservative side of the fine line between spamming people and communicating.
Park Avenue Tavern has each guest sign in with their contact information, and then sends the guest a personal e-mail afterwards. “I will follow up with them to see if they got their suit or make sure they liked their new sunglasses. I will also let them know of any specific specials or events that they may be interested in,” Brennan says.
7. Measure the business impact of the event.
It is important to track the number of attendees who turned into customers to gauge the success of the event. To get feedback, you can talk to customers during the event or send out a survey afterwards. Another strategy is to give special coupons to attendees and then track how many are redeemed to determine the percentage of people who returned to your business after the event.
Fisher said it can often take time to see the impact of an event. “Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see immediate ROI. It could take months or even years before a prospect decides to pull the trigger and purchase.”
Do you host events at your business? What have you found to work and not work?
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
Photo credit: Park Avenue Tavern