I've been thinking about doing a blog series about hosting a successful home party for your art etc, and separating yourself from the cheesy, mass produced corporation home parties, after throwing many of them for my own business successfully! I've learned through trial and error what works, what doesn't, what to avoid, what to include etc. After a few years of throwing these parties I've seen them grow and become more and more lucrative and really have begun to understand the psychology of my trunk show guests and their purchasing habits. This didn't happen accidentally though, oh no no no, it was the result of lots of planning, careful thought, lot's of observation and a little bit of flair.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
So here it is, the first installment of many...hope you find it useful!
1. Party is a four letter word! First and foremost, I think one of the most important things (and this is super simple) , is to never, ever, ever just call it a "Home Party" or "Jewelry Party"(or insert whatever you do etc). When I hear "Jewelry Party", I cringe! The whole home party circuit is a redundant, tired, overdone, gimmicky and horribly generic method used to get fast sales in a pressure cooker environment that prey's upon people feeling of obligation. We've all been to them, we've all sat through a long sales pitch, we've all felt the pressure to buy more so your girlfriend hosting the party gets more free junk that will fall apart anyway. Your event takes on that stigma when you refer to it as a "Jewelry Party" (I will be using jewelry as an example throughout this series , since it is what I do). Instead, bill your party as a TRUNK SHOW! A trunk show for your company, your line, you as an artist etc. Your trunk show IS NOT a tupperware party, it's a showcase of your handmade art, your heart and soul, so don't cheapen it by putting it in the same category as a tupperware party. It's amazing how much it changes people's reaction by just calling it something a little different. Trunk Show sounds so much more Bloomingdale's and much less Walmart.
2. Consider a theme. Theme's don't have to be so literal though, remember a subtle theme can be made chic much easier than a literal super specialized theme. Decor makes for better ambiance and ambiance creates sales but be careful to stay away from anything too distracting. For example, I throw a huge Holiday Trunk Show, before Thanksgiving, I bill it as Holiday, not Christmas. I can have a classy, chic Holiday event, without it being all filled with Santa Claus decor. Themes are awesome, and can make people feel way more like they are at a social gathering than just at a shopping night, and that will take some pressure off them and they typically end up purchasing MORE. (I will delve more into Themes in another post).
3. Put careful thought into your invitations. It's important to send a physical invitation, don't call around your invites. Take the time to make them look chic and refined enough to match your product and price point, then mail them via standard mail, pretty packaging with anything goes a long way. Be detailed and enticing in your invite. Make sure you mention any special offers at your party, such as any sort of door prize, fun refreshments, wine and spirits, discounts etc. Also, consider sending along a "save the date" sticker for people to easily be able to pop onto their calenders, you can find these at A.C. Moore or Michaels, or even print your own! Which brings me to my nest point, carefully choose your date. People are often reluctant to give up their Friday or Saturday night to go to a home trunk show. In my experience, Thursday night's are perfect because people are starting to get into weekend mode and welcome a little social engagement to start their weekend a little early unofficially.
4. The more the merrier. Entice your guests to bring friends via worth while, non-cheesy special offers. This can be done a number of ways, offering a small discount to be used by the originally invited party, if they bring guests to the Trunk Show, or offer a free gift, but make sure to make the free gift worth while! In the past I have offered a pair of 20$ value Freshwater Pearl and Sterling Silver Drop Earrings, in a variety of colors, of which the customer can choose from. I personally like the free gift idea, and it has worked very well for me in the past. Although the first time you do it, you might have lots of skeptics who see that it's free, and not care. BUT, once they see it at the party, those same people are often saying to me, "Ah! I wish I knew the earrings were so nice, I would have brought friends!". Thats helps them come back to your next party with friends so all is not lost :) I haven't tried including a picture of the free item in my invite yet, but I would imagine it could be helpful :) Around gifting seasons, the free earring offer is a huge hit for me!
5. Never leave home without em! In the week before your trunk show, carry around extra invitations with you at all times! You never know who you might run into and how the topic of your trunk show might pop up. If you have an invite on hand to give out, you might have just nabbed yourself another guest which could quickly turn into multiple guests! I can't tell you how many times I've had the subject randomly pop up in conversation with friends who I might run into at Target or at the bank who I might not have been comfortable mailing an invite to, but feel totally comfortable handing them an invite when I see them if it is in relation to whatever were gabbing about at the time. You'd be surprised how many times this sort of this will pop up, especially if the person has heard about your event through the grapevine. I feel like I end up giving out lots at the Post Office!
6. Regrets Only. Don't ask people to RSVP that they WILL be attending, it adds more pressure to people and more often than not they won't tell you either way anyway. However, I've found that if I request "Regret's Only", you get a more accurate gauge of the numbers to expect at the trunk show. To be honest, I'm not completely sure why it is that this works, but trust me, it makes a difference. A lot of people won't decide if they are coming until a few hours before. They have to be in the mood, feeling well etc, a Regret's Only RSVP leaves the door open for them to come or not. That way if they don't show up, it's not a big deal and they don't feel guilty or uncomfortable, and if they do, it's just a more the merrier atmosphere anyway. Requesting a "YES" RSVP makes people feel locked into it, only increasing pressure, and decreasing your chances that they will actually show up. The whole idea with your trunk show is to decrease the pressure and sales pitchy-ness, increase the fun and jovial atmosphere (more about this in a later post).
Okie doke, there's the first installment, a little longer than expected, sorry about that! I hope you found it helpful and informative, if you have specific questions about any of the area's touched on in this post, just ask them in the Comments area and I will be glad to answer :) The next post in the series will be about THEME, DECOR & REFRESHMENTS!