Event Planning For Boutique Owners
Planning events for your customers are a fun part of running your business. You can have many different types of events, from online events to offline events – if you are savvy you might have a twitter party, or a Facebook chat. Many of the steps are the same regardless of what type of event you are planning, but never forget that you are bringing your customers closer to you with each step in the right direction by showing them how much you appreciate them.
The best thing to do is to create an event checklist based off these basic factors with additions depending on the type of event you’re planning. A checklist will prevent you from missing any important ingredients.
Planning An Event
1. Identify the Target Audience for Your Event – Before attempting to market anything to your shop, or even coming up with an appropriate topic, it’s essential that you understand who your target audience will be for your event. Try creating a persona for your target audience so that you’ll know who you are trying to relate to. You probably already have a persona for your ideal customer, so you might think about him/her but with a special event. Perhaps Valentine’s Day is coming up soon and you want to help their significant other pick out a great gift. Perhaps you host an event for the significant others that your customers can invite people to.
2. Define Your Event Topic – You likely have a lot of topics whirling around in your head, so take the time to focus the subject matter down to a very succinct definition. You want people to understand at a glance what the event is about. If it’s for their sweety for Valentine’s Day, make it clear that is what you are doing. Offer to let them make wish lists or a card to document their sizes needed.
3. Develop Goals for Your Event – Once you understand your topic and have identified your target audience, it’s time to create goals for your event. Make the goals specific and to the point. For instance: “Through this event I want to increase my connections by 100 individuals and make 20 sales.” You always want to be helpful and creative and uber useful so that your customers say, “wow, I couldn’t imagine life with out her shop.” but make a goal of sales as well so you know that it’s profitable to have the event.
4. Create Your Event Budget – Once you understand your audience, goals, and topic of your event, it’s time to create your budget. How much can you afford to spend to make this event successful? Where will you get the money and how much do you need to sell to break even? Does it look possible based on past events or statistics? You might decide that it’s ok on the first couple of events – just to test – to lose a little money on them. Try to get some idea of how many people are coming and have snacks that are inexpensive so you can offer a great sale to bring people in.
5. Decide On The Venue – Decide whether your event will be online or offline and then choose your technology or place based on your decision. The venue is very important and should take into consideration what the costs are as well as your audience and whether or not they can travel. You may have two stores, so you will want to do your event at the busier store. You also may need to think about the time of day and where your shop is located. If it’s in an area that doesn’t have good lighting you might want to think about the right time to have the event.
6. Determine a Date for Your Event – It’s important that you pick a date far enough in advance of your event so that you have time to do everything you need. Six weeks is about the minimum needed for an online event; for a live even in your store, you will likely need just as long because of scheduling and promotion. You already know the “theme” you are going to have for your event, so that directs your date. Also, don’t forget if you need to order favors or stock up on something for a sale, that can add time to your planning.
7. Partner with Others – Once you have your topic and some of the above information, consider partnering with complementary business owners for the event. This can make the event more compelling to attend for your audience and it can spread out the costs as well as leverage other people’s connections. If you have a jewelry store nearby and you are a clothing shop, you could work together and perhaps offer a nice door prize and both be open during the event. This will lead to a larger crowd.
8. Create an Event Timeline – Once you have the venue and the date chosen for your event, you can create a timeline for your event starting from the date of the event and working your way back to today. Create a to-do list that gets everything done on time. Have tasks for your employees to do. You don’t have to do it all. But you need to make sure it’s all done.
9. Develop a Program for the Event – If your event lasts for one hour, it’s important to create a program that moves everything along to keep people on time during their presentations. Make sure there is time for Q & A. If you have an artisan coming to display their technique, you can have a nice setting around them while they work – whatever they are comfortable with.
10. Market Your Event – Once you have the date and the topic, you can start marketing your event right away. Leave no stone unturned – use social media, press releases, and more. For local events it’s imperative that you use the local newspaper and print and even TV to ensure that your venue is full. You can have postcards at your front counter as well and possibly even put them in customer’s bags. Ask your customers to share the event, and if you are doing a special event like a gift party – have them fill out a wish list. Make sure your staff mentions it to all your guests.
11. Follow up – All attendees to the event should be contacted within 24 hours of the event. If you recorded the event, send recordings, drop them an extra coupon or other thanks. It’s always a good idea to also send out a survey to attendees to get some feedback. You want to make sure and collect the email info as part of your event so you can do this! Add that to your list.
2. Evaluate Your Event– Once your event is done, always evaluate the results of the event right away. You are likely to continue seeing results a few weeks after an event if you remember to follow up. But keeping notes about what went well, what worked and what didn’t work will serve you well for the next event. You can’t remember it all, and eventually you will want to have an employee do this so think ahead and document!
Finally, don’t forget to test out all technology that you want to use. Do a practice run of the schedule of events to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Practice really does make perfect. Remember that during the event everything will not go perfectly, but that is okay. Don’t let it distract you from your goals. You want your customers to know it is a time that is for them because they are the lifeblood of your business.