There’s always strength in numbers, and that couldn’t be truer than when small businesses with similar concepts band together.
Case in point: A chocolate and wine pairing event recently held by a group of small businesses in my area. Who doesn’t love chocolate? (Asking the second question could prove redundant.) Since it was the “second annual” event, the first one must have been successful.
The lowdown: About a dozen small businesses specializing in wine, chocolate, and desserts, as well as a few specialized businesses that include high-end crafters and jewelers, agreed to host an event at a local restaurant on a winter Saturday. The weather cooperated (which can be a challenge during this time of year), and that helped for a better turnout. Vendors set up tables with their wares for people to sample, purchase, and supplied business cards and other relevant information.
What a win-win for local businesses. And there’s a lesson here about how you can host such an event in your area, gathering like-minded entrepreneurs to increase traffic and decrease costs.
Here are some pointers:
- Set an admission price. This can be a nominal fee, especially if you anticipate brisk sales. An upfront admission will help offset the cost of renting the restaurant, conference room, or catering hall. You also can offer a slightly lower fee for those who register ahead of time.
- Set separate sessions. Multiple options will help people decide which time period works for them. The chocolate and wine event opted for midday and late afternoon sessions, running from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
- Set expectations. Promote! Promote! Promote! I saw an advertisement in the local paper with all the small businesses mentioned. That got my attention to be sure, but I hadn’t seen anything else around town or on my local Web sites. Place flyers in other businesses, start a Facebook or Instagram page, send emails, and try to generate a buzz about the upcoming event.
- Set for future sales. Don’t forget to provide a reason for potential customers to visit your store, such as handing out coupons, flyers with upcoming specials and, most important, your business cards (with your Web address included).
It will take creativity and planning to put a group of small business together for a special event. But the potential is right there to increase your business, too.
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