With the right mix of vendors, promotion and attitude, trunk shows can make it a holly jolly Christmas for clients.
I am a trunk show enthusiast. Like all Balzano women, I enjoy any opportunity to shoot the breeze with strangers. I’m chummy with the mechanic who changes my oil, I exchange Facebook messages with a woman I met years ago in a hotel lobby, and just the other day, I spent an hour gabbing with an 86-year-old dance instructor at a store counter because I was mesmerized by her energy. While some may see trunk shows as a grueling evening of toting product around and making small talk, I see an opportunity to connect and learn about our customers.
Many of my retailers schedule shows early in the season because they have problem-solved dates and timing over the years and figured out what works best for their customers. For my stores new to the events arena, there is often concern about what makes a successful trunk show. They are hesitant to take the leap and worried that their event will be a bust.
Beeghly and Company Jewelers in Greensburg, PA, does it right. Between their progressive approach to public media, sending out mailers and billboard presentations, they successfully target clientele and incentivize with promotions for each show. Customers are encouraged to fill out a wish list in store, and after submitting it, they receive a gift certificate towards purchased pieces. Their customers turn out every year for these events.
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"I have noticed that shows with four or less vendors are often successful. More vendors can leave some designers and reps with less opportunity to interact with potential customers."
Some of the more common and budget-conscious methods are advertising in the local newspaper, in-store handouts and phone calls made to specific demographics before each event. While approaches may differ, the important thing is that something is done to bring in customers.
Having multiple lines participate in each show is a great way to increase customer attendance. I have participated in shows with loose gemstone dealers, bridal, high-end and fashion vendors. The key is to host a non-competitive mix without oversaturating the available goods. I have noticed that shows with four or less vendors are often successful. More vendors can leave some designers and reps with less opportunity to interact with potential customers.
As a manufacturer’s representative, I find trunk shows to be a great opportunity to train sales staff. I encourage store salespeople to listen as I celebrate product with their customers, sharing the story of our company’s history and craftsmanship. I hope that this mini-refresher reminds them of key points and encourages them to use stories to create an emotional bond between clients and jewelry.
Offering wine and light fare is an ideal way to set the tone, and in the case of Hatfield & Co. Jewelers in Torrington, CT, delicious spanakopita and babaganoush are incentive enough for customers to come in for a fun evening. While gourmet catering is always appreciated by guests, a simple wine pour suffices. You may, however, want to keep any chocolate treats out of reach of your Kabana rep; she is known for cleaning out the supply.
Ask your reps to participate in a trunk show, put your energies into bringing customers through the door, and, in the words of Walt Disney, always remember that “People spend money when and where they feel good.”