Event Sponsorship: Bolster Foot Traffic and Retail Sales With Parties and Partnerships

Retailer-sponsored events | Shopify Retail blog

Tired of trying to dream up crazy gimmicks and ploys to bolster sales?

Done with putting sponsorship dollars into an event where you hope your ideal customers will show up, see your name on some marketing collateral, and eventually wander into your store at some point in the future?

We don’t blame you. That sounds like a painful experience — and a potential waste of money.

Today’s retailers can go beyond the traditional sponsorship route of slapping up a banner with your business name on it at a conference or event. You don’t need to keep spending money, cross your fingers, and hope you guessed right to land in front of an audience who will provide you with a tangible return on your investment.

Instead, get deliberate and work with the space you already have — and other businesses who share your ideal customers — to make your efforts pay off. Boost your sales by bringing potential buyers and existing customers right into your retail space.

The right events hosted at your location provide you with a number of opportunities, including:

  • An increase in customer awareness in your product
  • An increase in foot traffic to your physical location
  • A boost in sales during your event and in the weeks following (thanks to that increased awareness)
  • An increase in your reach and brand recognition via introductions to new and different audiences
  • An increase in marketing metrics for your business, like newsletter subscribers and social media followers

Ready to take advantage and enjoy these benefits? You can host your own event at your venue, generate new opportunities for growth and revenue by sponsoring events at your space, and collaborate with other retailers on events.

Let’s get you started.

Make More Connections With Potential and Existing Customers

Vicky Lirantonakis and her sister Nikoleta always shared a love for dressing well and staying stylish. They translated their passion into Best Dressed, a company based in Charlestown, Massachusetts, that allows women to rent different styles for multiple occasions.

Sponsoring in-store parties is one of their favorite ways to connect with customers and make more sales.

Best Dressed party | Shopify Retail blog

Image Credit: Best Dressed

We host in-store parties for various groups of women all the time,” says Vicky. “We love it! It's so much fun and a great way to get to know people.

Lirantonakis says the events are also the perfect way for people to get to know Best Dressed, too. Shoppers can come into the space and enjoy champagne, cupcakes, and other snacks depending on the event. They also have the opportunity to take advantage of a 20% discount on purchases made that evening.

Best Dressed doesn’t just provide dress rentals. They also sell jewelry pieces and leather handbags — but many customers aren’t aware until they get into the store. “Just getting women into the store is huge for us,” Lirantonakis shares. “Most people wouldn't think of us when shopping for a gift, since our core business is dress rentals. Once they're here, they love it!”

The sisters’ in-store parties provide a path to boosting brand awareness and selling additional products that supplement their main business model of dress rentals. Lirantonakis says sales generally increase on event dates.

“We see anywhere from two to 10 new customers, depending on the size of the party,” she explains, “and we get a 30% to 40% increase in sales that day.”

Make Your Event an Experience

Best Dressed does an excellent job of providing a complete experience for party attendees. It’s not just a sales event — although a boost in sales is a great outcome the business enjoys for sponsoring the parties.

If you want to take a page out of the Vicky and Nikoleta’s book, make sure you think about your retailer-sponsored event as more of an experience. Doing so will allow you to really connect with potential buyers.

The Lirantonakis sisters host parties that give people a chance to mix and mingle with each other as well as check out the business and its varied offerings. They get an opportunity to learn more about the products and the benefits of becoming a customer in an environment that is fun, low-pressure, and comfortable.

You can also spin off this idea and even create a new revenue stream for your business. Collaborate with other brands who may not have a physical location and provide them with an event space to host their own parties. You can charge for your space, and enjoy many of the same benefits as hosting your own event: increased foot traffic, brand awareness, and an opportunity to expand your reach.

Or, consider sponsoring the event instead by providing free use for the physical space. You can allow other brands to hold events in your location for free in exchange for other assets — like cross-promotion to their email marketing lists and social channels, or shared campaigns and exclusive deals for your products through their event.

Expand Your Reach Through Collaboration

BIKO jewelry sales | Shopify Retail blogCorrine Anestopoulos is the designer behind BIKO, a “modern nostalgic” jewelry brand founded in 2005 and based in Toronto, Canada. BIKO hosts a semiannual sample sale in conjunction with seven other jewelry designers based in the same building.

“Because we run this event as a unit, that many more customers come through to each shop,” says Anestopoulos. The shops coordinated cross-promotion on their email lists, which generated bigger crowds than each business could pull in alone.

Anestopoulos also harnessed the power of social media to help promote her business and the jointly-held event. “During the last sale, I also ran a social media promotion for customers,” she explains. “They’d get an extra 5% off for posting their sample sale purchase or experience to Instagram and tagging us.”

In addition to getting more customers in the door, Anestopoulos said her sales increased, too. She also saw an increase in newsletter signups and Instagram followers thanks to the sales event.

Collaboration, Not Competition, Generates More Possibilities

If the idea of collaborating with another brand concerns you, let BIKO’s experience open your eyes to the possibilities here. Anestopoulos coordinates with seven other retailers in the jewelry business — and doing so allowed her to expand her reach, increase foot traffic to her physical location, and find new customers.

Diving deep into a specific niche makes it much easier to spend your energy on collaboration rather than waste it worrying about your competition. And when you collaborate, you instantly open the doors to partners and allies who can help you host more (and bigger) events in your space.

If you want to give one of these ideas a try, don’t try to wing it. Make sure you have a plan in place beforehand so you can capitalize on the benefits.

  • Set up your event: Reach out to office or shop neighbors and other businesses in your space. Work together to host parties, sample sales, meet-and-greets, and more. You can plan ahead and set up a calendar of events and rotate who hosts in their physical store space.
  • Market your event together: Co-marketing is a great way to share the costs of such events and increase your potential reach. Use each other’s mailing lists and expand the number of people you can each reach. You can also cross-promote to your social media followings and other marketing channels you regularly use.
  • Incentivize customers to share the event: Give people a reason to share your event on social media to expand your reach and brand awareness. Offer exclusive coupons to customers when they post and tag about you, your fellow retailers, and your event.
  • Make a great impression: In other words, make the event fun for people who do show up! Provide snacks, drinks, or contests to win merchandise and other prizes at the event. You can also send people home with branded gifts from each retailer who participated to help generate buzz even after the day is over.
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You can experience the same increase in sales and customer traffic through your retail space that BIKO did when you find ways to work together with fellow retailers who have similar goals.

Incorporate Retail-Sponsored Events into Your Comprehensive Marketing Strategy

If you have a physical location, you don’t need to look to existing events or put your time and effort into someone else’s space. Focus on how you can sponsor or host your own events right in your store.

Doing so will help you increase your sales by bringing customers in the door. You can further boost your sales numbers by offering incentives to buy right at your event, or by providing discounts to customers who help promote the event for you on social platforms.

When you can get customers involved, not only do you increase sales, you also increase your reach and brand awareness. The same happens when you can collaborate with fellow retailers and find ways to market to not just your list, but theirs as well.

Seeing tangible sales results is exciting. But what may have an even bigger, longer-lasting impact? The experience you provide with potential buyers and existing customers who attend. Ultimately, making your events into experiences will keep people coming back and buzzing about the time they spent with your business.