Using events to boost sales and customer reach has always been valuable to retail business owners. Due to social distancing in public spaces and limited capacity in businesses, owners have had to get creative with their event-based marketing while staying within state-mandated guidelines.
From holding live streams over social media to themed events and launching beneficial community programs, Winmark franchisees have discovered myriad ways to continue engaging with their customers, keep their sales up and provide the exceptional experiences customers expect.
Event-based marketing has helped business owners continue serving their communities and maintain steady cash flow.
Bringing out the Social Butterfly Within
Having a strong social media presence is essential to the success of any business under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has pushed business owners to embrace social media to a greater degree than ever before.
Findlay, Ohio-based Style Encore® franchisee Amanda Overmyer-Teter has always enjoyed engaging her customers on social media, and when the pandemic hit, she saw an opportunity to enhance her store’s visibility on social media through the use of live streaming sales. Amanda recognized that driving traffic to her store was vital to keep her doors open, but to do so, she needed to meet her customers where they were willing to shop. Since June 28, she’s seen strong results that directly link to her social efforts – her Style Encore has produced 39 percent of their total store sales from live-streamed sales alone.
While Amanda was leveraging her knowledge of live streaming on social media, Cumming, Georgia Plato’s Closet® franchisee Marla Teter was preparing for the season of back-to-school shopping. While this time of year usually means increased sales, the pandemic’s impact on in-person learning meant Marla needed to engage with her customers in a different way than in previous years. Instead of her traditional single-day event, Marla’s Plato’s Closet hosted a two-day event and posted sneak peeks of the variety of items available on her social media platforms.
To showcase the number of products her location had, she stuck to highlighting multiple items in one post, along with leveraging Instagram live posts to showcase products before and during the event. Thanks to her quick thinking, Marla saw her sales increase by more than 45 percent, customer count rose by over 18 percent and the number of products she bought from customers increased by nearly 40 percent.
The Allure of Focused Events
Events that focus on a specific product have helped franchisees further engage with a wider variety of customers within the community.
Style Encore franchisees Julie and Ryan Simmons recognized that going back to work for their customers in Dickson City and Allentown, Pennsylvania, could mean remote working from home or going into the office – so they released both athleisure and work-appropriate attire during their back-to-work event. After their events, their stores saw between 5-10 points improvement in their month-to-date sales results.
And over in Exton, Pennsylvania, Carol and Olivia Topolski decided to host an event focused on gently used Lilly Pullitzer items. With their customers’ safety top of mind, they decided to host their event outdoors and saw their store receive a seven-point improvement in their month-to-date sales.
Spice Up an Event with a Fun, Engaging Theme
Events with themes based on season, apparel brands or type of product have shown the potential to drive customer traffic.
Glendale, Arizona Plato’s Closet franchisees Matt and Emily Smith decided to hold several themed events. With Phoenix being one of the new hotspots for the pandemic, the two felt having a single event would not be feasible – or safe for the community. Instead, they decided to execute several mini-events with different themes for each day and held them throughout the week. Through July, they had different branded/themed events every Wednesday and Saturday, and although the events held during the week didn’t outmatch the turnout on the weekend, Glendale’s Plato’s Closet beat their previous month’s sales record and ended the month up 5 percent in sales. They also saw a 15 percent rise in number of items purchased and nine percent in customer counts.
Like Matt and Emily, Once Upon A Child franchisee Babette Schlum held a multiple-day themed event celebrating Halloween in her Springfield, Missouri community. Her three-day event resulted in a 60 percent sell-through in costumes and a 280 percent sales increase and 242 percent customer count increase.
While operating your business in the face of an unprecedented challenge like COVID-19 can be daunting, holding events and engaging with your customers in new ways can create opportunities to boost your business. Whether it’s through an Instagram live stream or at an outdoor event for the community, you have an endless list of options at your fingertips to keep your doors open and continue serving your community.
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