How to get the most from your Costco special event
Organising a product demo at Costco is more than just turning up with the goods on the day. A great deal of planning goes into each and every campaign, and you’ll need to decide which type of demo best suits your needs.
We’ve explained our various demo types in more detail here. They range from the single demo (a cost-effective single product demo with a quick turnaround) to the special event, which is designed to truly wow.
Special events are ideal for brands looking to push new or limited edition products. After you’ve worked with Costco to agree which warehouses to target, we take your product on a roadshow tour of the country, with the whole event lasting anywhere between five and 14 days. It’s a great opportunity for brands to build up consumer interest in specific locations, as well as a great chance to test out consumer reactions to products (and product categories) that aren’t usually found in Costco warehouses.
Clearly, an event this size can offer huge value: shoppers get the chance to experience something new and exciting, while brands benefit from an exciting, one-off, tailored experience for their target market in locations around the country. And with the right preparation – before, during and after the event – there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be easy to plan, organise and execute.
To help you out, we’ve put together a guide to special events, covering each step from the initial planning to the post-event review…
Target your audience
Your choice of locations for your special event will be determined by the type of people you’re looking to reach. Don’t just rely on people to turn up when you arrive, though: find out the best way to reach these people in advance of the event, let them know that it’s happening, and persuade them to be there.
Do they use social media – and if so, which channels? Do they read local magazines, newspapers or websites on which you could establish a presence?
You’ll also want to gather information about where else they shop, the types of products they buy and what their motivations are – giving you plenty of fuel for conversations at the event itself.
Plan your strategy
Once a date for the event has been set, plan backwards from there to ensure all bases have been covered. This will include the logistics around stand design, product quantities, sales pitches and more, as well as the marketing that will let people know you’ll be there.
Without a defined, tangible target in mind, it will be hard to establish how successful your event has been. How much are you looking to sell as a result of the event – both at the event itself, and in the weeks following it?
As well as your overall target, consider setting individual sales targets for the sales consultants involved. Turn it into a competition, and watch the sales figures mount.
Know your competition
Which other brands are operating in this space and vying for your target market’s attention? How does your product differ from theirs? Where do consumers buy existing competitor products from, and why do they buy them? Apply this knowledge when briefing sales consultants – it will help build a compelling story, allowing them to offer an informed comparison and arm them with answers to common objections.
Understand who needs to be involved
We have a huge team of sales consultants here at WDS, with a wealth of experience in working with products of all types. To understand which ambassadors are right for your special event, we’ll need some information from you. Which particular skills do you need? Is there any particular knowledge and experience you need them to have? The more information you give us, the better we can match our team to your event, giving you a better chance of success on the day.
How do you want your stand to look?
There’s plenty to think about when it comes to stand design: durability, simplicity, flexibility, branding and more: you’ll find more on stand design here. While it can be tempting to go all-out and create something eccentric that’s sure to get you noticed, bear in mind that Costco likes to keep things simple. Anything you create that’s out of the ordinary will need to be justified and considered – and approved by Costco beforehand.
A simple yet effective stand also has the added benefit of keeping costs low, improving your profit margins during the event.
What else needs to happen pre-event?
Every single event – and product – is unique. So while there are certain logistical considerations that will apply to every single Costco demo, it’s also vital to let us know if there’s anything specific we need to know about your brand.
Is your product so unusual that sales consultants will need extra training through our Fizz Academy? Are there any health and safety considerations we need to bear in mind? Is it a product that’s complex to set up, meaning they will need access beforehand to practise? All of these will help things to run smoothly (and safely) on the day.
During the event
Motivate sales consultants even further by running a competition on the day. This competition could either be between sales consultants in a single warehouse, or throughout the country (or both!). The mechanisms of the competition are entirely your choice: they could be rewarded for hitting their sales target (which you’ll have defined pre-event), or the top seller could win something special for their efforts. Incentivising the demo team will keep them motivated and hungry to exceed their sales targets throughout.
Combine online and offline
While our sales consultants are showcasing your product in Costco warehouses, how can your digital activity support them? Could your social media channels or app (if you have one) come into play? Can you ask shoppers for their social media handles so you can follow up?
Also consider what will make shoppers want to share their in-store experience online. A specific hashtag for the experience – as well as something they’ll want to snap and share on Instagram – can keep the experience going long after the last shopper has left the store.
Daily staff meetings
Getting together everyone involved in the campaign on a daily basis is vital, so ongoing tweaks can be made. Here, you can ascertain – by involving everyone from the sales consultants to the Costco staff – what’s working, and what isn’t. This can be done at a local level, with any issues reported back to the team here at WDS HQ, and fed back to the wider team, ready to make changes where needed for the next day. Since special events tend to run in one or two locations at a time, constant reviews and feedback provides a great opportunity to learn from each event in order to improve the next.
It may seem obvious – and you may have provided enough stock to meet the sales targets you set at the start – but what if you’ve underestimated and exceed those targets? High levels of stock are a must if you want to succeed. Putting all the work in to get a customer interested only for them to find out that there’s none of your product left will leave a nasty taste in the mouth. Stock taking should be a regular, routine operation to ensure this doesn’t happen. A way to ensure easy stock replenishment during a special event needs to be in place, too.
After the event
Just as it was vital to set goals at the start, it’s equally important to get together at the end to see whether those goals have been achieved. There are various ways to report the results of campaign activity, but they all have one thing in common: establishing how things went, working out what didn’t go so well, and putting plans in place to ensure that the next event is a runaway success.
There’s far more to in-store marketing than meets the eye: it’s no good just to turn up and hope for the best. To eke every last drop out of your investment and make the return you’re looking for, you’ll need to plan, measure, monitor and report before, during and after the event. We want your Costco special event to be a success – and by working closely with you throughout the process, we’ll make it happen.