Only in the retail business are we thinking about holiday events before summer is even over! Honestly, though, if you're hosting a Halloween event at your store, you should have been planning it around the 4th of July! We're now looking down the short side of planning a Christmas in-store event.
Don't worry though, if you still want to host a Halloween event, you can. You just need to start now!
Here are some tips for hosting a holiday event whether you're having a Valentine's, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, your store anniversary or Christmas/holiday in-store activity for your pet-loving and pet-owning customers.
- Determine when you'll host the event. Give yourself at least two months to prepare. This may seem like a long time, but when you're in the midst of marketing, investing in props, hiring a photographer, lining up vendors and planning for extra staff for the day of the event eight weeks may not seem like enough. epending on when the holiday falls, you will need to choose a day that makes sense. Halloween is on a Wednesday in 2018; it may make sense to have your event the Saturday before.
- Once you've chosen the date, announce it on social media. "Hey, join us for our Halloween event on October 31! Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information!" Announce it so your customers can get it on their calendars and so you stay front of mind. D
- Choose a theme. Even if you're having a Halloween party you may have a different theme -- for example, Hoppy Halloween (where pets need to come dressed as rabbits) Yes, this is a stretch, but you see where we are going. Choose a theme that sets your event apart from the competion and that makes your account memorable. If you're having a Christmas event and Santa is coming you could also turn this into a "best holiday costume" event along with photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. What will draw customers into your store during the busy holiday season?
- Write it down. Spend some time in the pre-planning. When will it start? What products will you feature on sale during the event? Can you get any co-op money from vendors or product manufacturers to help offset the cost of the event? What do you need to buy? Rent? Whom do you need to hire? Photographer? Easter Bunny? Juggler? Dog trainer or dog groomer? Make note of your budget and make sure you stay within it. Keep track of every penny you spend and every hour you spend in the planning. You need to make an educated decision, once the event is over, as to whether it's worth it to do another event.
- Advertising. Where and how will you advertise? Facebook ads? The local newspaper or radio? Will you print fliers to hand out to customers when they come into the store? Will you partner with another business where you can hang signs announcing the event? Look beyond your "usual" customers when you're marketing your event. An event is an ideal time to raise awareness of you, your store and your unique sellng proposition.
The day of the event
- If you'd planned an outdoor event and it's raining, do you have a contingency plan? You need to.
- Have a schedule for the day that keeps it moving along and keeps everyone engaged. Make the activities on-site so interesting that the customers will linger.
- Make sure you have enough staff on hand. You want the customer experience to be stellar -- so good that first time visitors will make it a point to return.
- Have space available for pets and pet parents who need to "get away from it all." Events may be fun for the pet parents, but stressful for the pet. A quiet space gives the dog some breathing room.
- Ask for feedback. Offer a prize of some sort to any visitor who gives you his or her email address (so you can add them to your newsletter list) and who fills out a quick survey about the event. This feedback serves a dual purpose -- grows your newsletter list and provides insight as to what worked and what didn't.
Have you hosted events in the past? Was it a success? What would you have done differently? If it was a resounding success, please share your tips!