6 Tips for Throwing the Perfect VIP Sale on Small Business SaturdayReward and engage wth your top shoppers with an exclusive Small Business Saturday event.
Autumn is upon us, which means peak shopping season is on the horizon. While big-box retailers and e-commerce giants tend to take Black Friday and Cyber Monday by storm, small business owners still have the weekend between to shine.
Since its launch in 2010, Small Business Saturday (SBS) has grown from a fledgling attempt to support small, local businesses into a multi-billion-dollar national event, by encouraging consumers to “shop small®.”
For business owners, SBS is a great opportunity to get creative and give your customers a more intimate shopping experience. By hosting an invitation-only sale for your best customers, you have a chance to engage with them on a more personal level — something larger retailers can’t do.
Here are six tips to help you throw a top-notch VIP sales event for your “super shoppers.”
Establish your guest list
First, give your SBS event a sense of exclusivity by making it invitation-only. Limiting the number of attendees will make your best customers feel extra special and give you the bandwidth to focus on building relationships. Consider how elaborate your event will be and set a budget to determine how many attendees you can accommodate.
But who should you invite? Start first with members of your customer loyalty program. If you have more spots to fill, you can open up the invite to your other frequent shoppers.
Develop a marketing plan
When promoting your event to invitees and drawing in your best customers, emphasize the sale’s exclusivity.
“Market your event by sending exclusive passes to your existing preferred customer list via tailored emails, social media alerts or your loyalty program app,” suggested retail analyst Krista Fabregas of Fit Small Business. “You can even mail printed event-themed invites and exclusive passes if you have the budget.”
A special sales event that rewards your VIPs is also an opportunity for you to grow your customer loyalty program. As Fabregas suggested, “Be sure to use the event to entice new shoppers to sign up for your preferred customer list or loyalty program in the run-up to your event.”
Craft unique, effective invites
When you send out invites, make sure they stand out and get customers excited about the event.
RaShea Drake, analyst for Verizon, said invitations “can be as simple as an email to something tangible like a bracelet or token. Something more tangible than an email feels more personal and generates more exclusivity.”
Personalize invites and engage with your customers in the weeks leading up to SBS to remind them about your upcoming event and build anticipation, she said. “People are busy and forget, so gently keep your sales event at the top of their mind by releasing new deals incrementally, saving your biggest deals for the Thursday and Friday before.”
In your invite, be sure to provide all the necessary details for the event, focusing on the perks.
“What kind of sales will you be putting on? Will there be free refreshments, giveaways, a local favorite musician or influencer? You can frame this as a party for your most valued customers, and you need to give them multiple reasons why they want to be there,” said Drake.
Pour wine and serve appetizers
For a VIP event, the idea is to make your guests feel special and important. Offer them the luxury of private shopping while sipping a glass of wine and enjoying finger foods. The atmosphere should encourage conversations between guests and feel relaxed and social — not transactional — giving them a truly unique shopping experience.
Offer great giveaways
Just like you might do for a birthday party, give guests a gift as a token of your appreciation for coming to your event. The added bonus? A take-home gift will also serve as a tangible reminder of their experience in your store.
Digital marketing agency Digitalux owner Dan Scalco said, “When it comes to VIP events, nothing trumps free swag. At every event we’ve thrown, people go crazy for the limited-edition shirts, bags, etc. The best part is it acts as brand reinforcement when they wear it in the future.”
Following up with attendees after the event is where many businesses falter, but it’s an essential piece of the puzzle. Be sure to thank customers for attending and include another exclusive offer to get them back in your store. Even though the event is over, you should continue to make your VIPs feel special. Make sure they feel appreciated and not forgotten after they walk out the door.
If your VIP sales event is a success, you may even decide to host more, which can help establish a sense of community around your brand. Your store will no longer just be a sales platform, but a familiar space for your best customers to engage with you and each other.