I think that an event should be exactly that—it shouldn’t be a routine; it should be an event. Because of the music industry ties and influences that our company has, I look at going to events as going to a show—we want the customers at our events to feel like they’re not in the audience but that they are V.I.P. at a meet and greet with an all-access pass. At Shore Thing Cigars, we only do two events a year—an anniversary party, which is the week of July 1, and our Davidoff White Party that we do with Davidoff in the fall. Because we only do two events, we are able to create a thirst and hunger for our customers to be at one of these events.
I think a bad event is a typical event. What I mean by that is, if you’re doing a traditional event where you walk in with a tablecloth, a whole bunch of hats, and a five-for-one deal, that is a bad event. That’s disrespectful to all of the people working so hard in this industry. The biggest blessing I have in being a retailer in this business is going down to the factories and being able to see the people and shake the hands of those making the cigars we smoke and sell. To come back from a trip like that and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna bribe you with these hats. We’re gonna bribe you with a discount. We’re gonna bribe you with this free lighter,’ that’s just being disrespectful to the industry. When it comes to events, you should put on your creativity hat, look outside the industry for inspiration and do something different. You’ve got to be able to mix it up and stand out in the crowd.
If you don’t think that you can do an event built around your store, then you need to give yourself some more love, credit and really focus more on your brand. Here are three tips that can help take your store’s event to the next level.
Find Outside Inspiration
When trying to create an event of your own, I encourage you to look outside the industry and consider utilizing people that already come into your store. If you have someone that comes into your store that makes birdhouses, get with them and see if they would be willing to come into your store one afternoon, set up in a corner, and teach people about their craft. When you’re thinking of an event, ask yourself, “How can I get the customer to stay here a longer time?” The longer the customer stays, the more money they’re going to spend.
Put Your Customers First
When it comes to events, you absolutely must act selflessly and not selfishly. Put the customer on the red carpet and tailor everything to them, not toward whatever rep or cigar personality is there. For our Davidoff event, we work with an event company and order a ton of lighting, we get a red carpet, a big step and repeat is made with our logo on it, and we get photo lighting. What this does is that it makes the attendees feel like they are the star. So often, especially in the boutique cigar business, the faces of the companies are treated and made into the celebrities at events. And that’s cool. I mean, there are fanboys out there that love to see that. But when you flip that, you can make your consumer feel like a celebrity.