By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc.
Over the course of the last eight years, I have delivered a speech called “Local Store Marketing for Retailers” at least 50 times.
This speech is designed to give retailers – both single store and multi-unit operators–a number of marketing ideas that they should be implementing at their stores. One of the questions I always ask during this speech is “how many of you conducted a Grand Opening at your store?”
I am amazed, that generally, less than 20% of the audience actually created a Grand Opening celebration at their store. A storeowner spends upwards of $250,000 or more to build a store and then doesn’t spend another $5,000-$10,000 to announce the grand opening. In my book, this is a hugely missed opportunity for the operator to announce to the world “Here I am! Come see me!”
Well, if you fall in the camp that missed celebrating your store opening, don’t fret, you have a chance to redeem yourself – each and every year you are open. It is time to puff up your feathers and stand on the highest mountain and S-C-R-E-A-M “It’s my store anniversary, hear me ROAR!”
Whether it’s your first or tenth year anniversary, recapturing the enthusiasm of your customer base with an annual celebration is a must. Think about all of the competitors that opened since you began operations or that you store has blended into the retail landscape. It is time to rejuvenate your base and what better way than to tell the world you “survived” another year!
It is time to get this out on the table. No one cares about your store. Let me repeat that. No one cares about your store. They don’t remember when you started and customers couldn’t tell you how long you have been open. It is YOUR responsibility to tell the world that you have been alive for many years now — that you must be doing something right and they are missing out by not coming into your store. No one else will tell them, nor will they miss your store, if you do not communicate your store anniversary to your customer base.
Storeowners should have the mindset that customers are never going to come in unless you entice them to do so. An ongoing anniversary strategy fixates your retail store in the minds of your customer – well, at least annually it does. Combined with other ongoing local store marketing efforts, here are some key items to consider for improving your relevancy to your base with an anniversary celebration:
Set The Objective For Your Team: Your goal is to attempt to re-create the enthusiasm through an event/product launch similar to the energy your store had at its grand opening. A successful anniversary event or product launch should generate a minimum of 100 attendees lasting a minimum of two hours. Multiple events throughout a weekend help keep the momentum rolling. Capture customer data from all attendees and send them a thank-you email including a reason to return to your store.
Create A Stir: Successful retailers tie in fun activities during their anniversary weekend, rekindling the same newness of their store’s grand opening. This is a powerful time to thank your existing customers while attracting new ones. Just get over the fact that no one remembers when you opened your store so it is critical that you tell customers about it.
Don’t Wing It: Careful pre-planning is required leading up to the event. Spending time creating enthusiasm is critical to the success of the day. Effective anniversary or product “events” create a carnival atmosphere at the store and a sense of urgency for customers to want to be at the “in” place. Pre-marketing ideas should include a mascot at the street one-week prior to the event, drawing attention to both the store and the impending anniversary or product launch.
Be A Squeaky Wheel: Prior to your anniversary celebration, ask a variety of your vendors to donate products to be distributed at your anniversary event—vendors are more than happy to provide this support. If they are not in your customer database, ensure that you invite key local business leaders, woman’s groups, junior leagues or political figures to your anniversary celebration—it is an excellent excuse to reach out to them.
Launch The New: If launching a new product or service, the same type of excitement needs to be created at the store level in order to successfully invigorate sales. The key objective is to dramatically speed up overall awareness and ultimate acceptance of your new products and services. As marketing aficionado Lesley Gore once said, “It’s your party, you can launch if your want to…..”
Know The Rules: Prior to planning your anniversary celebration, contact your local city government to learn if your need a special events permit. Some cities will have restrictions on certain celebration activities, and it is essential that you are aware of any restrictions. Wrestling with the city at your event can dampen the most enthusiastic weekends!
In summary, an anniversary weekend celebration is a crucial activity to heighten awareness of your location and create additional topspin by bringing vendor partners together. Conducting anniversary celebrations will re-establish store credibility and foster stronger relationships with your customers. Successful retailers are those that tie in tremendous activities and exciting events over an anniversary weekend while rekindling the same “newness” of the original grand opening.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.