I can't say we're experts on the topic, but I can tell you with certainty that we've been to enough store events across the country to provide some best practices of what works and doesn't work. You've probably hosted enough events that some of this information will resonate as well. We hear some retailers say "store events just aren't as effective as they used to be" - and there's some truth to that. More accurately, it just takes more of a personalized touch than it used to. The old "host it and they will come" mentality definitely doesn't pan out anymore, but we've found a few tactics that make for some really remarkable events.
Focus Pays Off
Many retailers do well with giant weekend or week-long events, and those can really pay off when they are done at scale - but they can also be time-consuming and expensive to host. We've seen tremendous results with small, laser-focused waterfowl events that don't necessarily have anything to do with sales and last only a few hours, such as a Waterfowl Hunter's Night Out. Schedule a local guide, game warden, call maker, or some other knowledgeable resource that can serve as the entertainment. Most of these people are willing to share knowledge, tell a few funny stories, and provide value to your guests. Game wardens are great at this, as they always have funny stories that also teach us about little-known rules and regulations. There's also something powerful about providing value to your guests without asking for anything in return - it's funny how this usually translates into more sales. If we have a pro staff member near you, we would love to get involved as well.
Invite the Kids
Making it a father/child event usually gives people that extra push needed to get out of the house on a weeknight or Saturday afternoon. Plan something specific for the kids to do while dad listens to the guest speaker or shops. We offer Build-A-Call Kits that give kids the opportunity to assemble their own duck call and learn how and why we as hunters use game calls. These kits are inexpensive and kids love them because they get to keep the call. Mix in some waterfowl-focused coloring sheets or simple games, such as duck identification for small prizes, and the kids - and more importantly their parents - will be more than pleased.
Focus On The Most Valuable Customers
Many stores have a pretty good idea, if not a formal database, of their best customers. You know... the guy that wants the latest $1,500 shotgun every other year, or the local guide that needs ten pair of waders each season. Consider having an invitation-only, after hours event for these valuable customers. Maybe even provide a meal. For the cost of a few BBQ dinners or a fish fry, your best customers will know they are appreciated and the ROI for you will be significant over the following months. A small store in my hometown does this every fall and the results are incredible. It seems like these customers spend more so they keep getting invited to the dinner, and they encourage their friends to shop with you so they can get invited the next year too.
Give Something Away
One surefire way to boost attendance at a small waterfowl-focused event is to give something away. But here's the important part - promote that you must be present to win. This ensures that guests will stay throughout the event. For your wholesale cost on a dozen decoys, an entry-level pump shotgun, or a pair of waders, you'll have a captive audience that keeps you top of mind for their next big purchase.
We're Here To Help
Our employees and pro staff are here to help with events like this. Duck and goose calling is always a popular topic and it's easy to build an informative talk or seminar around the subject. If we can help with an event like this for you, please call us at 877-245-9113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
by Clay White - president, Buck Gardner Calls