This week in Merchant Advance’s hometown of Vancouver, many independent retailers in the Gastown neighbourhood participated in a co-ordinated event: the Gastown Shop Hop. Businesses kept their doors open late into the warm spring evening, offering sales and other incentives along a three-block stretch of the city’s most pedestrian-friendly environs. For a small business, creating a promotional event and pulling it off successfully can be a great driver of foot traffic, sales and discussion. But can your business collect more abstract data that improves the return on investment in such events?
You don’t need a complex polling system to extract important information about your customers, their habits, and future improvements that you can make to your business practices. The investment that you put into publicizing and planning business events (be it through social channels or traditional marketing – or likely a combination of the two) begins to show its value when you put a sizeable group of people in contact with your business over a predetermined period of time. What can you learn?
- The growth of your network. Create an opportunity to invite event visitors to connect with your business, be it through email, social media or whatever method is the most relevant to the way they interact with you. You’ll gain insight into the size of your “footprint” and the messages that customers took away from the event.
- Strategic Ideas – if you have the chance to hold multiple events, see what works and what doesn’t. Compare attendance, effect on sales, the channels you used for promotion… experiment! The market is your petri dish. Define the performance indicators you want to observe, and use what you see to influence how you market your business going forward.
- Feedback – in person and in digital form! What kind of conversations does a particular event generate? Listen carefully to the way customers respond.
- Productivity – planning and executing, or participating in, an event or workshop will potentially act as a motivator for new ideas and improvements that could add up to better returns for your business.