Great Event for a Good Cause

Cause Marketing Events draw attention and raise funds for a specific cause or charity. According to many sources, the majority of consumers who participated in a Cause Related Marketing program said it positively changed their behavior or perceptions towards the company or brand involved. So while you are giving back to the community that supports your business, you are also helping yourself through added exposure and sales. Cause Marketing is the classic win-win situation.

BEST PRACTICES from the experts– Offer a special or promotion, to get the foot traffic in the door. Market your event heavily- GET THE WORD OUT! And last thing, Offer a rain date alternative for any specials or promotions- the whole world is BUSY and weekends are taken.  HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE PARTY!

Begin to market your event at least six weeks before its start date. You can use Bag Stuffers to get the word out, send e-mail blasts, talk it up on Facebook, Twitter and on your blog, hang signs in your windows or even run an ad. Ask your charity to advertise your event as well. And don’t forget to encourage customers to spread the word! You tell a friend who tells two friends who tells four more friends, etc. To make an even bigger splash, you might even want to get in on the latest marketing trend: Forehead Marketing. You cannot make don’t this stuff up – people are actually paid to walk around with an advertisement temporarily tattooed on their foreheads.

1.Your Theme:  Giving!   This event is planned around giving back.  You pick the charity or organization. Your community benefits, local soup kitchen, battered women’s shelter, homeless pets, Wounded Warrior- there are many, many worthy organizations and charities out there.
Go with your heart, or pick two charities, or let your customers decide where you make a difference.  Sometimes a cause picks you. Contact your vendors and see what they support.

2.Contact the organization.  Once you decide what you will support, contact the organization. They may have suggestions, volunteers who will help.  Ask for contacts within the press or media that will help get the word out for you.

3.Make your event stand out!!!
Go all out- from the minute you walk in the door to the last impression at your cash wrap, let’s make sure it is evident to all who enter that there is something special happening!
  • If there is a ribbon color associated with your event- breast cancer, aids research, etc., place a huge bow in your cause’s color on the door of your store.
  • Don’t forget to set the scene at the entrance- a sign on the door stating your event mission- “EVERYDAY is a GIFT, help us give the gift of…” You take it from there. State your intention of donating a portion of today’s sales, profits, etc. and which cause will benefit from the support of you and all those shopping today.
  • It’s still a party- post happy sayings, blessings and phrases of giving throughout your store.
  • Snap photos of your guests for Facebook.
Hint – Use the serving pieces, paper table ware and tools that you sell when serving your guests.

4.Music: and Drinks & Appetizers:  You cannot have a gathering without food, drink and music. Make sure there are plenty of refreshments and the music is lively.

5.Give Away ideas:
  • Samples of any product line you carry. Contact your sales rep or the vendor for additional samples for the special day.
  • Reward every purchasing customer with a coupon for a future discount in your store
  • Free service- monogramming, gift wrap, gift delivery, and engraving. What sets your store apart?

6.Prize Drawings:
  • Sell 6 chances for $5.00 to your prize drawings.  Donate the $ to your cause.
  • Go to local businesses with your cause and ask for prizes or monetary donations- give the business plenty of credit.
  • Involve your shopping center or entire community to participate for donations.
  • Gift cards to your store for their next stop in– ALWAYS promote a repeat visit
Think about the time of year- back to school, fall entertaining. Take your cue from your shopper’s wants and needs and promote accordingly.

7.Promotions – Promote items in the cause color, if appropriate- Pink for Breast Cancer, Red for Heart Association or Aids Research, etc.
  • Promote gifts for every person on your list- birthdays, grads, and weddings. Group together products by interest, color, personal taste, and budget.
  • Pull displays together by price point and by theme.
  • Offer free gift wrap AND delivery with a minimum purchase.  Think personalized, pampering service.
  • Reward this buyer with ‘Buy More, Save More’ deals. Do you have a ‘frequent buyer’ program in your store?
  • Give a discount on multiple buys and complementary items- Buy two regular priced items, receive a third free (equal or less value)
Buy two, get one free accomplishes two goals- You move product and your customers benefit from the great buys.  You create a ‘customer for life’ with deals and legendary service.

8.Something extra special:
  • Hold a silent auction of a collection or category in your store; add value by including a store gift card, a local gardening expert, or service related gift.
  • Do an hourly drawing with either in store gift cards or services donated by local businesses- local spa, car wash, café, pet grooming.
  • Offer valet parking, with the tips going toward your cause

9.Marketing- e-blasts, on your fb page, flyers, or paper invitations.
  • Start by posting your upcoming event plans on your store’s Facebook page and homepage of your website
  • Create buzz by asking your customers what their favorite cause is- use fb to start the conversation.
  • Create event flyers and insert them into every customer’s bag at purchase for two weeks minimum before the event.
  • Send an e-mail blast to your customer base inviting them to the event with a special offer for them and a friend (Great word of mouth advertising and you could double your traffic.)
  • Ask them to print the email and bring to the event or mention the invitation to be eligible for a special discount, treat, gift, etc.  This allows you to track the effectiveness of your emarketing.
  • Post your event on Community Bulletin Board and your local hot spots
    • Local Coffee Shops
    • Local Restaurants
    • Local food markets
    • Kid’s gyms & karate schools- anywhere the lady of the house is sure to see your advertisement.
  • Invite the local media to your event
  • Phone your BEST customers a week before the event and extend a personal invitation to these special buyers.

Don’t forget the everyday gift giving needs that we all must buy for- birthdays, births, showers, and weddings. These occasions are ‘recession proof’. Be ready with your ‘silent sales person’ – the beautiful displays you put together.  

10.Set your event apart:
  • If your store gift wraps, be sure you are ready with gift appropriate wrapping paper for all the possibilities.  Think about offering free gift wrap on event day.  Or free with a minimum purchase.
As you fill in your promotional calendar for the rest of the year and beyond, be sure and pencil in a few Cause Marketing events. Remember: Your good deeds are good for your business. ENJOY THE PARTY!!!!  SHOW YOUR CUSTOMERS HOW MUCH YOU LOVE AND APPRECIATE THEM!!!

Cause Events: Making a Difference, Inspiring Good and Growing Business

By Majda Rensberger, OneCoast Contributing Editor

There is a hidden power that each retailer possesses; a power to touch and inspire many hearts and many lives while watching their business blossom in return.  It’s the most beautiful and rewarding combination of good will and responsible business operating that brings a win-win for everyone involved.  This power lies in supporting your community and a Cause you are passionate about.

Many retailers have discovered the rewards in Cause promoting but there are still many who aspire to do more and learn about how to do it well.  Valorie Shaw, Owner of bric brac’n brass, a veteran retailer in San Antonio, TX  shares one of the most touching Cause events she’s held that inspired many, raised awareness, gained great publicity and increased her business  five times in a single day.

“It all starts with passion,” says Valorie, because when you are passionate about something, there is a natural drive to do good things and go above and beyond.  “Pick a Cause that is close to your heart and true to your passion.” For Valorie, it is Woman’s Cancer.  Losing her mom to breast cancer and working daily with her Manager Karen Cook who’s been battling ovarian cancer for almost seven years, Valorie has chosen this Cause as the one to regularly support. While most of the events Valorie hosts are for Woman’s Cancer, she often looks out to her community for other opportunities to make a difference and have a positive impact.

An example of that is a recent occurrence that shook her community and personally affected a family of one of her employees.  A grandchild of her employee, a three year old boy, died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in his family’s brand new home, leaving behind his parents and two siblings.  “As soon as I found out about it, I wanted to do something to help this family,” so Valorie immediately started planning a benefit event in honor of Alex.

While events do help drive traffic and increase sales, the first and most important priority is the Cause itself and “when you are passionate about it, pulling it together is easy,” says Valorie.  But as with any event, doing it right and making sure it’s successful is crucial. The starting point is to know what your event is trying to accomplish. This event was celebrating Alex’s life and raising awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Knowing your objective will help you figure out who needs to be involved, what charity to partner with, what sponsors you will need, how to promote it and how to make it personal.

Partnering with a local charity

Once Valorie got the approval from the family, she contacted the local Children’s Bereavement Center and offered to hold a benefit for them in honor of Alex and his family. This benefit would give the Children’s Bereavement Center an opportunity to raise awareness of their services and help families just like Alex’s cope with such a devastating loss. A simple phone call to their marketing contact and a partnership was established. The event would be a Celebration of the Life of Alexander Martin Rowland benefiting the Children’s Bereavement Center and parts of the proceeds of the sales of the event day would go to them.

Finding a local sponsor

Once she partnered with a nonprofit organization that was most appropriate for her Cause, she called her local bank to ask for their sponsorship in the event. The bank touched by the story was happy to help and agreed to provide beverages for the event including wine, soft drinks and water. She also reached out to her local bakery and bistro that provided beautiful trays of cookies and food platters.   In return for their sponsorship, these local partners would benefit from the exposure and the free publicity.Once Valorie got the approval from the family, she contacted the local Children’s Bereavement Center and offered to hold a benefit for them in honor of Alex and his family. This benefit would give the Children’s Bereavement Center an opportunity to raise awareness of their services and help families just like Alex’s cope with such a devastating loss. A simple phone call to their marketing contact and a partnership was established. The event would be a Celebration of the Life of Alexander Martin Rowland benefiting the Children’s Bereavement Center and parts of the proceeds of the sales of the event day would go to them.

Promoting the event

Promoting and marketing the event is a must and it’s crucial to the success of it.  One of the main objectives of this event was to raise awareness about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and in order to do that, Valorie had to do more than just send out an email blast and hold the event.

Becky Rowland (Alex’s Mother), Valorie Shaw of bric brac’n brass and Tracy Gomez from Children’s Bereavement Center on the set of San Antonio Living

To follow the story all the way through, the six-o-clock news also visited the store during the event and did a live report.“I wrote up a press release and sent it to all local newspapers. I contacted the editor as well who agreed to write a whole article about carbon monoxide poisoning and promoted our event.”  In addition to that, she also contacted the local TV station, San Antonio Living. They agreed to do a whole segment on their show about carbon monoxide dangers and interviewed Valorie, Alex’s mother and a representative from the Children’s Bereavement Center.

The free media coverage raised awareness about carbon monoxide as well as helped drive traffic to the shop for the day of the event.

The next thing was inviting people and getting the word out.  To do that, Valorie created an email blast that she sent out to her store’s database. She also worked with her event partners on spreading the word.  “A real business value in doing events and partnering up with other businesses is that you have access to all their email lists,” says Valorie.  In addition to sending to her database of customers, she sent a copy of her email blast to the Children’s Bereavement Center and the Bank to use to forward on to their databases. This gave the store access to a whole new group of customers and even further raised awareness of the event and the Cause.

Another simple but incredibly valuable tip is to forward the email to your friends and ask them to spread the word by forwarding on to their friends.

Personalizing the event

Once partnerships were established and all the logistics worked out, it came down to planning the event itself and capturing the theme of Celebrating Alex’s Life.  Valorie was inspired by a symbolic story told during the memorial service about a Dragonfly that signified Alex’s passing to a better world and used that as the theme for the event.

She partnered up with a local artist who created beautiful dragonfly pins with Alex’s name. Proceeds of the sales of the pins went to Children’s Bereavement Center and the family.

She also contacted a noted artist, Carla Marshal, and invited her to the event. Not only did Carla fly in for the event, she was so touched by the story that she did an oil painting of the boy with the Dragonfly story in the back. The original painting was given to the family and several smaller print copies were produced and were available to customers during the event.

The store itself told the Dragonfly story. In the display window, a pond was built with moss and butterflies and dragonflies. It was Alex’s pond. And when you entered the store, the story came alive with giant dragonflies hanging from the ceiling. “It was absolutely glorious and people were so touched and so happy to be a part of it” says Valorie.

After an incredibly inspiring and impactful event and media coverage that helped raise awareness about carbon monoxide dangers, the family of the young boy was so inspired and started their own foundation, AMR Foundation, to teach people about the dangers of carbon monoxide.  Since the event at bric brac’n brass, they’ve held a separate benefit with over 600 attendees and had raised over $200,000 for the Cause.

Not only did Valorie go above and beyond to help out a family, she helped inspire a foundation and helped raise awareness of a dangerous cause.  And when you do something good, good things happen in return. Her business grew five times the day of the event than a typical summer day. She has gained many new customers and established many new relationships. But most importantly, she set a tone and an example for what her store is all about and why local business really matters: because it isn’t just a building on the block with stuff, it is a shop with a heart.

Creative Merchandising Tips For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Marc Dudley, Director of Visual Merchandising

This month we are talking about CAUSES and how individual retailers can help with their chosen Cause.

A CAUSE is defined as “a person or thing that acts, or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result.”  It is a “principle, ideal, goal, or movement to which a person or group is dedicated.”

There are many different causes that we as individuals or Retail Stores can become involved and support.  I recently heard of a young man who wanted to raise One Million Dollars to give to the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas to repay for the help that the Hospital had given to him.  He, with the help of the community, raised that much and more.  I saw this week on the Today Show a man who biked across country to raise awareness for Congenital Heart Defect, a cause which affected him.  These are only two examples of Causes to get involved with.  Others are Diabetes, Women’s Health, Prostate Cancer, Autism, HIV/AIDS, and many, many more.

How do you choose a Cause to support?   The important thing is to make it Personal, both to you and to the community.  Many Causes are nationally known, but if you personalize your cause in your retail store, it will have a Human Factor, and a human interest story.

Another cause is the support of Transplant patients.  If you know someone in your community who is a transplant, honor that individual and others during Transplant Awareness Time.  On a personal note, my Father is a Kidney Transplant survivor, and each October we honor him with a “birthday party” for his soon to be 15 year old Kidney.

Since this is about Visual Merchandising Tips, and we are approaching Breast Cancer Awareness Month let’s get to some TIPS:

  1. PINK PINK PINK :  this is the color for OCTOBER
  2. On the wall where you will do your display, paint PINK and use pictures of local survivors, or well known persons. Use saying, words, or phrases to personalize your display.  Some ideas are: love, support, care, laugh, dream, visualize, rainbows, pray, friends, follow your dreams, or plan ahead. These can be hand painted by a local artist or involve the school.  Many teenagers are looking for a Cause to get involved with and many are affected by the loss of a Mother, Sister, Aunt or friend. They can become a “teen-angel” for your Cause.  This, again, is involving the community.
  3. PINK RIBBON is the symbol for the month.  You can make your pink ribbons by using strips of satin ribbon attached with small safety pins.  Place these in a bowl for your customers to help in the Cause.  Make a LARGE PINK RIBBON by using ½ “ thick foam rubber, cut into 9” x 72” strips.  Wrap Pink Satin around the cut foam, or stuff like a pillow case.
  4. Above the display area hang objects like many different sneakers, painted pink, representing the Walk for Breast Cancer, or paint a bicycle or 2 and hang them to represent the “ride for the cause” that may be in or around your community
  5. Select all the PINK merchandise in your store and feature on a table for the month.  Don’t forget to rearrange and rotate this merchandise so that it continues to look fresh and new.
  6. Make it personal.  Both for yourself, your staff, and for the community
  7. REMEMBER:  This is a CAUSE, a movement to which a person or group is dedicated.

Say “I Do” to a Wedding Event

As we embark on the busiest wedding months, capture the spirit of weddings in your stores by hosting a bridal event that your brides and customers will enjoy to be a part of. The event will help to create the buzz around your community and help position you as the bridal destination.

Why Host A Bridal Event? Here are a few facts on the Wedding Marketing Industry:

  • It’s a $50 Billion a year industry!
  • $20 Billion a year is spent on gifts alone!
  • It’s Recession Proof and a year round business!

Here are 10 Steps towards a great Bridal Event:

Your Theme: Select a theme that best suits your store and assortment of products. Selecting your theme will help in the decoration planning.Here are 10 Steps towards a great Bridal Event:

    1. Traditional
    2. Contemporary
    3. Elegant
    4. Modern
    5. Vintage
  1. Invitations: Send out Beautiful and Romantic invitations that include some product shots.
    1. Make it for couples, family and friends. Who knows, there may be another bride to-be in the group.
    2. Have guests RSVP to the event. This will allow you to plan your event with more ease.
    3. Pass invites out to customers coming into the store.
  2. Create The Mood: Give the Brides to Be and their guests the ultimate VIP treatment.
    1. Have employees dress up as the wait staff. This can be as simple as Black dress pants, black button down shirt and white apron.
    2. Have a dress code for guests; make them feel that they’re dressing up for something special, “no jeans”.
    3. Use the merchandise! Have snacks served on nice serving trays and platters that are for sale.
  3. Music: Plays an important part in the creation of the mood and helps people relax. Here are some great music selection ideas:
    1. ** Have your Brides-to-Be RSVP back with their wedding song**
      1. By collecting a gathering of your guests bridal songs will allow you to add a personal touch to their experience!
    2. Prelude Music, while guests are arriving:
      1. Canon in D (Pachelbel)
      2. Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)
    3. Reception (or should I say “shopping”) Music Suggestions:
      1. In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
      2. Power of Love (Celine Dion)
      3. Unforgettable (Nat King Cole / Natalie Cole)
      4. Love is here to stay (Frank Sinatra)
      5. Always & Forever (Heatwave)
      6. Butterfly Kisses (Bob Carlisle)
      7. Top Wedding Songs CD’s (found anywhere CD’s are available for purchase)
  4. Drinks & Appetizers: Keep it light but fancy. Add garnish to trays to give it that added appeal.
    1. Cheese Trays
    2. Fruit Trays
    3. Finger Sandwiches
    4. Punch or Mimosa severed in Champagne glasses topped with fresh fruit.
    5. For Dessert, serve wedding cake or Italian pastries from a local bakery. Partner with the baker and advertise their services (they may throw in the food for a reduce cost).
  5. Door Prizes:
    1. Raffle off a prize for the Bride’s to Be and one for the Guests
      1. For Brides, raffle off a gift certificate or product from your store or a gift certificate to a local spa.
      2. For Guests, raffle off a gift certificate or product from your store, a nice candle or fragrance gift basket or a spa gift certificate.
  6. Partner with Bridal Services: Offer as many additional resources to create a bigger draw to your event and would most likely welcome additional advertising for themselves.
    1. Florists – Might donate a nice centerpiece arrangement
    2. Reception Halls – May donate some appetizers for the day.
    3. Travel Agents – May offer special honeymoon packages.
    4. DJ – May offer to play the music for the day of the event.
    5. Photographer – May offer their services to take photos that day.
      1. Whether it’s a local photographer or someone from your store, have someone take photos of your guests.
      2. Gather their email addresses and email them the photos after the event. This is a nice way to build your email address database.
  7. Promotions:
    1. Offer a discount to any brides registering in your store.
      1. Becoming a bridal registry destination is not as hard as you think, in fact, it’s simple.
      2. There are many on-line bridal registry software programs out there today. Google, bridal registry software today!
      3. Did you know that $20 BILLION is spent year round in bridal registry gifts?
  8. Something Extra Special:
    1. Have a top bridal consultant from your area give a talk on what he/she does and any advice he/she can offer brides.
  9. Marketing:
    1. Send e-blasts out to your customer database.
    2. Hand out invitations to customers, entering, leaving and purchasing in your store.
    3. Post Event signs throughout your store prior to the event.
    4. Invite local media the day of your event.
    5. Notify the local newspaper, town weeklies and local radio stations by sending a press release.

How to Create a Wedding Cake Display in Your Store

By Marc Dudley, Director of Visual Merchandising

Creating a beautiful wedding display in your store will not only attract the brides but will also make regular customers think of reasons to purchase them. Create the need to purchase a wedding gift by dedicating an area of your store to a bridal display. This month’s merchandising idea will focus on creating a Wedding Cake display that is sure to capture your customer’s attention.

Merchandising1What you will need to get started:

  1. 48” round table
  2. Round riser, approx. 30” in diameter and 9” in height
  3. Round riser, approx. 22” in diameter and 9” in height
  4. Three pieces of round white styrofoam:    16”, 12”, and 8” diameter
  5. Satin or bengaline table cloth in color of your choice and fabric pieces to cover the 30” and the 22” risers to match the table cloth
  6. Garlands and floral picks for “decorating” your cake
    • ivy garlands for spring
    • Hydrangea garlands for  summer
    • Lily of the valley, Nosegay,    Grapes,    Dried berries or cones

Merchandising2Step 1:  Putting the cake together

  • Cover the table with cloth
  • Put the 30” diameter riser in the center of the table
  • Put the 22” diameter riser in the center of the previous riser
  • Drape the fabric pieces over the top 2 risers, pressing in place and pinning if necessary to create the “icing” on your cake
  • Decorate your cake with pieces of garland, flowers, stems, etc. As if to look like a beautiful wedding cake.

Step 2:  The cake topper

  • Merchandising3Stack the three white styrofoam pieces together, using floral picks and low-temp glue to hold together
  • Decorate heavily with floral buds, grapes cascading down, crystal rhinestones, hearts, or other pieces of décor to create the top of your cake
  • Allow all this decoration to flow down the top of the cake for a stunning visual effect

Step 3:  Merchandising your cake

  • Merchandising5Selecting items from your store or wedding boutique, begin to place the merchandise on the 3 tiers of your beautifully created wedding cake
  • Cross merchandise your vendor items for multiple sales
  • Make sure all items are visible and are available for impulse sales
  • Group items together, and don’t forget the negative space. Be sure not to crowd the items