More and more shopping centre marketers are developing and implementing a Charity Shopping Night in November. Not only does this help their centres to kick off the holiday shopping season, but for those near the border, it can be a great way to help alleviate some of the pain associated with Black Friday and cross-border shopping.
If you’re considering launching a Charity Shopping Night for the first time, here are 10 factors to help make your event a great success.
1. Timing. November is a great time to host a Charity Shopping Night. The holiday season is on shoppers’ minds and the opportunity to get shopping done early and at sale prices is enticing. Hosting the event when the mall is normally closed (i.e. Sunday or Tuesday after 6:00pm) will help make it an “exclusive” event. A ticket must be purchased in order to attend.
2. Theme. Establish an event atmosphere by creating a theme and decorating your centre accordingly. You want your guests to feel like they are attending a special event by making your centre look extra snazzy. Bring in relevant entertainment and keep engagement high. You may want to go “high end” and glitzy with your theme, or you may want to make it extremely “family and kid friendly.”
3. Fundraising. The heart of a Charity Shopping Night lies in the ticket sales, especially when 100% of the sales go to charity. Start early in terms of contacting local charities, informing them of the idea, and providing tickets that they can sell. Some centres start this process in September, some start it even earlier!
4. Community Support. Word of mouth plays a vital role in promoting a Charity Shopping Night. Many of the attendees will hear about the event through a charity’s involvement and promotion. Make sure that you provide your charity partners with promotional materials such as an informational handout that they can reproduce and share with ticket buyers.
5. Retailer Support. One of the main measures of success for your Charity Shopping Night will be based on your retailers’ participation. The better the sales and incentives, the bigger the draw. Reach out to your retailers as soon as possible and have them commit to a sale. By publishing these sale deals on your website, via social media, and in handouts, you’ll be able to create good buzz leading up to the event.
6. Food. Food is where the heart is, or so they say. Work with your food court vendors or secure sponsorships or a caterer to keep your event guests hydrated and fed. Getting those extra special snack treats can go a long way. Consider your event theme when planning the menu.
7. Freebies. Consider working with your retailers to pull together a gift pack for the first 100 people in the doors. Alternatively, work with various retailers to bring together an amazing array of door prizes that can be given away during the night. And don’t be afraid to have staff or volunteers engage with customers at the event by handing out complimentary bottles of water, balloons and mystery gifts. Surprise and delight in every way possible.
8. The More the Merrier. Ideally, you want your guests to come in groups. In your promotions, encourage your customers to come with family and friends for a fun-filled evening. You may want to consider creating a special group rate—buy four tickets, and receive one for free.
9. Social Media. Social media is an important tool to use in the promotion of your Charity Shopping Night. Consider creating a special event hashtag and including it in all your promotional posts. Having a hashtag can help create recognition for your event and also encourages the use of fun, interactive activities during the event. You can create a Step and Repeat wall for photos which can then be shared on Instagram to reinforce branding and build interest in the event for next year. Don’t forget to document the event on your centre’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
10. Logistics. Last, but definitely not least, consider your event logistics. If you plan to host your event in November, it’s crucial that your guests do not have to wait long outside before entering. All entrances should be manned with enough staff to ensure that only ticket holders have access and that the line-ups move quickly. No one wants to start their evening off on a sour note. For extra hands, use your charity connections to line-up event volunteers. When guests arrive they should receive event information such as a program and a food/drink voucher quickly and efficiently. Keep things moving as you want your customers shopping and having fun as soon as possible.
Charity Shopping Nights are a great opportunity for you to work as a community partner with local charities and provide your customers with exclusive deals at the right time of the year. These 10 considerations should help you on your path to creating a long-lasting, memorable event tradition.