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Before you start filling out seating charts and designing invitations, ask yourself this question: “What is the value of a retail event?” And we don’t just mean, “How much will this retail event cost?” Retailers need to consider every angle of their retail event before putting plans in motion, not only the financial aspects, but also the short-term and long-term brand value. Here at Orange Label, we talk a lot about brand value and that’s because it lies at the heart of every single decision and investment brands make. When it comes to events, specifically, brands can find short-term value in driving sales, building contact lists and curating social media posts. In the long-term, retail events can build your brand’s reputation as a leader in the field, reinforce relationships with loyal customers and reach a new audience of prospective buyers. So, how do you do plan and promote retail events that will give you the best return on investment in the long-term and short term? Just keep on reading.

We all know that having a digital presence is a must for brands in every industry – but what about brick and mortar? As we noted in our Clicks vs Bricks series, shoppers value the in-store experience and there is an expectation for brands to have a consistent experience, look and feel both online and in-store. Retail events are an excellent way to support brand consistency across multiple platforms, which, in turn, boosts people’s confidence in your brand promise and overall brand identity. When outlining your event, take a look at your brand guidelines, paying close attention to your core message and design elements. These branded pieces should play a major role in your event design, social media coverage, email blasts and other marketing elements.

In addition to bolstering your brand’s overall look and feel, events have short-term value in driving foot traffic and sales. If you have a brick and mortar location, you want to do whatever you can to get people into your store – and events can do just that! First, you want to make sure the people who are most likely to buy your product are getting invited, and that all boils down to targeting. Social media marketing and pay-per-click campaigns are all excellent ways to directly reach your core demographic of buyers through targeting based on location, interests, gender and age, among other factors. Maintaining an updated CRM system will allow you to quickly and easily send out email notifications to current customers and prospects. Brands should also shore up their on-the-ground marketing efforts by promoting the event through outdoor media, like posters, retail window displays and sidewalk signs. In combination with multiplatform marketing efforts, outdoor media has proven to make a huge impact on retail foot traffic.

Once you get shoppers in-store, it’s time to let layout design work its magic. Scientific studies have proven that brands can create a literal path to purchase that subconsciously acclimates buyers to a new environment and ultimately leads them to the point of purchase. During in-store events, visitors should first enter a “decompression zone,” or a space within 10 to 15 feet of the entrance that is devoid of any signage or merchandise. The point of the decompression zone is to signal a change from one location (outdoors) to another (in-store) and this flag can be raised through interior design. Creating a calm, decluttered space that contrasts with the busy surrounding environment gives the visitor permission to relax and enjoy the new scenery. Retailers should also note that 90 percent of people will turn right upon entering a store, so it is best to showcase merchandised displays on that side of the brick and mortar location. To encourage visitors to explore the store, strategically place eye-catching products, refreshments and entertainment throughout the space to encourage visitors to explore. As always, train your employees to demonstrate best practices in customer service, so guests feel valued – a happy customer will drive even more foot traffic by enhancing your brand’s reputation through word-of-mouth marketing!

In-store events also bring value to brands through their versatility. Guest speaker appearances, product demonstrations and unveilings, seasonal events – there are endless opportunities to bring customers in-store for a fun and memorable experience. Companies, like Kapow, design retail experiences specifically designed to connect brands to prospects in a fun and engaging way. Encouraging brands to host in-store events that turn one-time visitors into repeat customers, Kapow has set multiple brands up for both short-term and long-term success. One of Kapow’s clients, a Chicago-based retail brand, saw a 20 percent increase in sales through in-store activities alone.

So, we’ve explained how to plan and promote an in-store event for peak response – but are retail events worth it? According to the facts, the answer is yes. Bizzabo’s 2018 Marketing Events Benchmarks and Trends Report called live events “the single most effective marketing channel for most organizations.” Statistics indicated that 80 percent of c-suite executives believe that live events play a major role in brand success and the majority of respondents expect to increase event budgets in 2019. Retail events play a key role in retail marketing strategies, not only to attract new customers in the short-term, but to also build brand reputation and establish long-term brand value.

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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.