VIP Nights

I picked up some interesting figures from the efforts of a Swansea retailer.  Their boss liked to run an event that he said never failed.  In the run up to Christmas, where he apparently made two-thirds of his money, he’d invite his best customers to a special night where they had the store to themselves.  He knew who these were, because he had a database of 3,000 people signed up to his storecard.

On each of two evenings, the event would feature entertainment for children (face-painting and Barbie & Shrek promos had worked well) as well as for grown-ups (a caricature artist had similarly gone down well previously).  This particular year, the focus was on locally-produced alcohol.  Free tastings lead to plenty of satisified custom for Welsh whisky, vodka and chardonnay.

In terms of cash-ringing tills, the event was capable of £50k revenues in just a few hours.  Another figure recorded included receipts of £80 a minute.  To put these in context, their minimum monthly fixed costs (judging by what they’d still need to shell out if they shut the store) were £15k.

Whilst I’m sure that such VIP Nights are present on the high street, they’re by no means a fixture.

But how can such a good idea in retail be adapted to the b2b solution selling rep?  Well, we’ve probably all had exposure to the ‘roadshow’.  And most of us will have been privy to some form of ‘corporate entertainment’.  What of a middle-ground, between these two extremes?  Can an event be created that primarily says a ‘thank you’ first, then secondarily also offfers the chance to engage in further wares?

Of course, geographical considerations may stimie some plans, yet many of us could have customers in and around a major town.  The trick is, ensuring that a compelling reason to attend exists.

My first thought was to make sure you get across the informal nature of the event.  The ‘thank you’ element cannot be underplayed.  Also, I’d guess that ensuring you get your non-sales people there is critical.  And finally, there must be some perceived value to the possible attendee.  What equivalent of one-night only discounts or face-painting can you come up with that would represent value to your clients and get them putting their hands in their pockets for you?

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