Customer Events: Assemble an Advisory Panel
Understand your clientele – Host your own Advisory Panel event!
How do we generate more foot traffic? How do we attract a younger audience? As in most retail stores, this is our constant burning question. It’s one thing to point out how we differ from our competitors offering a unique customization experience and new, trendy jewelry, but how do we, as jewelry stores, demonstrate this?
While pondering these questions, our staff came up with the idea to host an advisory panel. We had just found a trendy new jewelry line that was both high quality and ideally priced for the younger crowd. But would they like it? What better way to find out than to host an Advisory Panel event!
Our event centered on offering a select group the exclusive opportunity to view and try on our newest items. Targeting young fashionistas, we invited trend-savvy girls in high school and college. We welcomed customers, their daughters, and their family and friends mostly through word of mouth and text messaging. We designed a formal invitation and comment cards, curated and ordered pieces we thought they would like, and sent teaser text messages to stir excitement about our event.
The Advisory Panel event took place after hours. We typically close at 5:00 pm and invited our guests over at 5:00 pm. We realized, however, in the future 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm would be best, allowing more time to set our store. Many of the girls decided to dress to the nines since the event was held at our jewelry store. We played upbeat music, served the ever-trendy homemade fruit-infused water, cookies, and big smiles. Because it was a closed event, we set up the new line outside of the cases and on a center table. This gave the guests an opportunity to interact freely with the pieces. On top of other cases, we displayed gemstone rings that girls are now using in lieu of traditional graduation rings. We featured engravable items (perfect for sorority gifts), ear pins, and other lower-priced items to target our youthful demographic.
Approximately 20 guests showed up for our Advisory Panel event. The girls loved everything! It was quite refreshing to see how comfortable they were in our store. They loved the freedom to discover the new product line as they helped each other try on necklace after necklace. We offered the option to buy pieces at slightly discounted rates, but we were surprised when we sold almost ALL the pieces in the new collection.
We asked our guests to fill out the comment cards to learn more about their likes and dislikes. For example, the younger girls preferred white sterling silver jewelry over the yellow gold-plated pieces. They also preferred stud earrings over the dangles. We were also able to learn more about each girl’s individual gemstone preferences. We even used the comment cards as an opportunity to gather their phone numbers and email addresses to continue our new relationships.
After the event, we ordered the new pieces the Advisory Panel requested. I think that this was the most important step — following through and actually listening to their input. As new items arrived, we texted them pictures and asked, “What do you think?” or, “Look what just came in!” These messages were separate from our regular customer mail-outs, allowing our Advisory Panel members to feel part of an exclusive group.
At the event, we also made referral business cards. These cards had our information, pictures of the new line, and a small space for each Advisory Panel member to write their name. Every time a new guest brings a card in with their name and makes a purchase, that advisory panel member receives a $5 credit towards their future purchase. One girl even decided to use her credits towards a higher priced yellow gold ring!
We are very pleased with our Advisory Panel event results. One girl told us, “You should have one of these every few months, and we’ll just buy everything!” We do plan to host more events like this one each quarter.
A bit about Betty White Jewelers:
I’m Lindsay, the daughter of Timmy White. Timmy is the owner and jeweler of Betty White Jewelers. Ironically, my grandmother became Betty White after marrying my grandfather; she founded our store. Since buying the business from my grandmother, my father has continued the family legacy and has steadily positioned us as the leading custom design jewelry store in our town. My background is in psychology and languages, but I have always been creative and am in charge of overseeing the store’s social media and marketing presence. We are currently in the process of rebranding as we’ve experienced an exponential growth in customer demand for our custom design services. We’ve learned invaluable knowledge through attending the Stuller Bridge Conference. If you haven’t been yet, you are really missing out!
What do you think about this concept? Do you have any ideas to expand on this event? Betty White Jewelers recommends taking a stab at an event like this; the results might just surprise you!