How Small Businesses Can Celebrate (and Profit from) the Inauguration and Other Big Events in Your Area
by Stephen Morris, Community Moderator
- Created: January 17, 2013, 6:38 pm
- Updated: January 17, 2013, 6:38 pm
Major events like the upcoming Presidential Inauguration are an opportunity to celebrate our democracy. They can also help boost business sales. If you’re planning ahead for a big event, like DC small business owners are for the Inauguration, you can maximize the benefits and minimize the risks. In honor of President Obama’s second inauguration, here are a few tips to prepare your business for a major event.
Staff Up and Stock Up
Make sure you have enough staff members and products to accommodate the crowds. No one likes to wait in line or find an empty shelf. Also, remember to keep your staff happy as they are working extra hard during this time. You could have treats on hand like donuts, bagels or cupcakes to show your appreciation.
Offer a Special
Offering a special – whether you are selling a product or service – can help attract the anticipated crowds to your business. You can promote your special in a number of ways like hanging a sign on your window or promoting on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare or Google+. Most likely, the crowds will be checking their social media accounts for specials or just more information about the businesses in your area. Remember to check and include special hashtags like #Inauguration. Even if you’re not in the area of a major event, you can still offer a Super Bowl or Oscars special, for example.
Extend Your Hours
People traveling to major events most likely treat it like a vacation. They want to be out and about. Consider staying open a few hours later or opening a few hours earlier to accommodate possible new customers. This is especially important for restaurants, bars and cafes. In urban areas, local governments often extend mass transit operating hours to accommodate large crowds leaving a special event, which can help you gauge how long to expect foot traffic.
Make Sure Your Customers Can Access Your Business
If roads are blocked by barricades or road closures, you may need to consider how customers will find and access your business location. Map out an alternate route for your customers and send it via every method you have. Your local police department will be able to inform you of any road closures or other impediments.
Provide Discounted or Validated Parking
When major events end, there’s often a long wait to exit a parking lot or a garage. By offering a validated or reduced parking fee, you can help customers avoid the long line while they visit your business. Work with your local parking garage to determine a cost sharing structure, but don’t forget to post the validation offer so everyone can see it.
Stay in Touch
Remember to stay in touch with your new customers year-round. Capture customer emails and send updates about your business. If you sell online, these can be customers for life.
Are Your Restrooms For “Customers Only”?
This is always tough for retailers and restaurateurs because on the one hand you want your storefront to be inviting, but on the other hand you have a water bill to pay. Do a simple cost benefit analysis to determine how important policing the restrooms is for your situation. You can build goodwill and make a sale by displaying the right amount of openness.
Free Water (if it’s hot) or Hand Warmers (if it’s cold)
Providing a cool drink or a way to warm up is a great marketing method to bring people to your business. If you’ve spent hours in the heat or the cold, that simple and cost-effective gesture from a business owner leaves a memorable impression. It’s also a good opportunity to ask people to sign up for your email list, follow your social media accounts, or check out your latest product.
These are just some of the ways you can approach a large event happening in your area. Tell us your suggestions, successes, and ideas in the comments. How have you benefited from a big event?
About the Author
Stephen Morris is online media coordinator for the U.S. Small Business Administration where he manages digital outreach to the small business community.
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