Social Media. Digital Technology. Amazon. We don’t have to tell you what it’s like trying to maintain a profitable business in today’s retail landscape. Every day you deal with the pressure to come up with innovative ways to drive foot traffic and increase sales.
According to LS Retail, “Positive and memorable in-store experiences have been proven to build brand loyalty and keep shoppers coming back for more.” One way to provide exceptional in-store experiences is through offering classes that engage, educate and entice customers.
Your classes should be authentic, purpose-driven, and imbued with value in order to create a meaningful and lasting impression. Here are 4 types of classes you can offer and the benefits of hosting them at your store.
1. Hands-on Product Tutorial
Did you know that Apple invests a lot of resources in educating its customers by offering free training classes and workshops that teach customers how the products work and how to use them?
Creating opportunities for customers to touch, watch or experience your product with live demos and samples for them to test out is very effective because most folks are visual or tactile learners. In other words, they need to see, feel and touch something to really learn what it does and understand how it works.
The cosmetics retailer, Sephora, regularly holds various makeup classes in many of its locations, with topics ranging from makeup techniques to skincare, and more.
The classes are very hands-on, with instructors and store associates handpicking products based on each student’s skin type and needs. Each student also gets their own makeup station where they can apply products. There’s zero pressure to purchase products, making the atmosphere more casual and comfortable.
Benefits: Not only is a product knowledge class a great way to bring people together in your store and showcase what your products can do, but customers tend to trust a brand that is willing to educate them on its products.
As a result, brands that educate customers have a lot of loyal fans who advocate for them both online and offline.
2. Workshop/Lecture With a Local Celebrity or Industry Expert
An educational event doesn’t necessarily have to be a class you plan and teach yourself. If you’ve got connections to industry experts, local celebrities, or influencers, you can invite them to share their knowledge with your customers in a class setting.
Not only is this a great way to build partnerships with other community leaders, but it also gives attendees a fresh perspective from another field expert.
Benefits: By inviting local celebrities and industry experts into your store to educate your customers, you make them feel valued and provide them with an experience they might not otherwise find online or at other stores. This gives you a competitive edge and helps you differentiate yourself from other retailers.
3. Charitable Cause
Hosting classes that give people the opportunity to participate in activities for the greater good are very popular these days. After all, who doesn’t want that feel-good buzz from doing good?
Cooking For A Cause, for example, offers team building cooking classes in which groups cook and eat food they prepare, along with sharing some of it with soup kitchens, food pantries, and families in need.
Benefits: Doing good elevates a company’s image in the eyes of community members while creating a better place to live and work. Also, customers are typically willing to spend a little bit more when they know it’s for a good cause. When you affiliate your brand with a charity that your customers know and love, it makes your brand appear more personable and inspires loyalty.
4. Bring a Friend
As you know, word-of-mouth is one of the strongest marketing tools retailers have at their disposal. It is well known, in fact, that people tend to value recommendations from family and/or friends more than any other form of advertising.
You can capitalize on this trend by hosting bring-a-friend (or BYOF) classes in your store. Whether you send personal invites to your customers via email or post the classes and registration info on social media, it’s a great opportunity to get more people through your door. Once they’re in your store, give them a memorable and engaging experience they won’t soon forget, along with free food, coupons, samples, and drawings.
Don’t forget to implement a solid follow-up practice. Sephora, for example, sends emails to class attendees a few days after the class, accompanied by a note from instructors with an invitation to purchase the products used in the class.
Benefits: This class type helps you increase brand visibility and attract potential customers. It also provides you with an opportunity to gather valuable customer data and feedback via surveys, emails, and face to face interaction. Armed with this information, you’ll know how to create better experiences for your customers.
Hosting classes at your store is a great way to build brand awareness, attract new customers, and build a more loyal customer base for your business.
Additionally, people will always feel the need for human connections. So if you can provide a comfortable venue for social interaction, you’ll be better equipped to weather the storms of competition.
When you genuinely plan classes that cater to the customer’s needs—whether it be the thirst for knowledge or enjoyment— profits will naturally follow.
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Also published on Medium.