Lessons from the line

Event organizers dread them…but why not take advantage of your captive audience.

Look over there at The Clothes Exchange. Last year we had 400 shoppers, this year we almost doubled that. What does it mean? A bit of panic for sure, last minute streamlining the check in process (save those marketing questions for check out or your follow up survey) but it also provides an incredible opportunity to establish our brand, educate our shoppers, and raise extra money.

Getting in the Door

  • Set the stage. Your decor, customer service, all should appear in the waiting area. We have 8 or more “greeters” who hand out fresh lemonade, explain the process, and answer any questions shoppers may have. Next year we have the greeters administer our marketing surveys in iPads online.
  • Share your message. Once they are in the door our shoppers are interested in one thing only: THE CLOTHES, this is the time to share the mission of the our beneificary The King Street Center, and the logos and tag lines of our sponsors.
  • Whet their appetite. We hang sample items (shoppers can pull off of clothes lines and buy right there), as well as set up outward facing windows with one of a kind temptations. When possible we pipe music into the line area, and offer bits of entertainment.

Getting out the Door

  • Upselling and personal appeals.  This is our last chance for raffle tickets, branded merchandise and a great opportunity for thank yous- we staff the check out line with board members and staff of our beneficiary organization. An appeal from them has more meaning, and a thank you together with a quick story (viewed now as connection rather than distraction) can turn a shopper into a supporter.
  • Rethink and revise. For 2011 we are relocating our silent auction to the check out holding area. We will set it up on skinny tables, or have clipboards hanging from clothes line. We will use the auction as a way to define the line, and give folks waiting to check out a chance to bid.
  • Bottom line basics. No matter how busy the line, we always take time to ask for a specific round up donation, and double check the email address.  Emails are necessary for their winwin receipt, thank you, and future communications. Our beneficiaries often add hundreds of local supporters to their lists each year.

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

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