One of the most common realizations people have as we head into the holiday shopping season is that men are last-minute shoppers.
Personally, I had never heard this before. But let’s assume for argument’s sake it is true.
To tap into this trend, the concept of retailers holding a “Men’s Panic Party” a few weeks before Valentine’s Day and Christmas has emerged and gained traction through social media.
Jewelers, for example, started using Facebook and sites like Patch to set up panic parties for men around Valentine’s Day and in the last two to three weeks before Christmas. Other businesses used customer lists to connect with women via email (and later social media) to help facilitate a connection between the men in these women’s lives and the retailer’s event.
The concept is not revolutionary, but the use of big data, online marketing, mobile and social media has greatly improved the chances many retailers have for increasing end of the year sales by tapping into a known shopping tendency / behavior.
Here is a quick guide on how retailers can be successful using social media and other digital assets to carry-out a Men’s Panic Party
- Retailers should create wish lists for women to complete in the store as well as on a specially designed landing page and social media portals. For in-store submissions, set up a clearly marked station to catch the eye of shoppers. Include a person there with a tablet or laptop. Do not use a paper form, because that will only add man-hours for data-entry later and increase the risk of bad information being captured. For online submissions, promote through email and attach the idea to online promotions. For mobile, include a special section in your app so its easy for people to become aware of what you are doing. No app? Then use mobile advertising to promote your event exclusively to women.
- Once a woman fills out the wish list, she should always complete the process by including her boyfriend’s or husband’s name and contact information. Email address and cell should be included fields. Not everyone will remember one or the other, so doing this gives you the option for an email campaign or mobile campaign by sending a text message invite. One word of advice on the form: be sure to keep form short and simple. By making the data capture process digital AND easy, you increase the likelihood of gaining as many submissions as possible. If it takes too much time or it is too complicated, you could end up frustrating your customers and turning them off the idea entirely.
- After the data has been collected, the retailer then can send each man a personalized invitation to the panic party, with a suggested shopping list and discounts. Keep the invite to the man light and funny, but always positive. You are simply trying to make the guy’s life easier. However, if you come across too demeaning, you will turn off your audience and risk social media backlash.
- Once the guy receives the invite, retailers should keep the engagement going by directing the men they are targeting to an online portal either through the company’s site or a social network with a unique page set up just for the men. Again, the goal with the landing page is to make the shopping experience easier for these guys with tips, financing options, in-store pick up or delivery, and highlights about the upcoming panic party to draw interest. You may not be able to personalize the portal (kudos to you if you can). That is not as important as drawing the guy in and making sure he gets to the panic party.
- To improve attendance, smart retailers often go beyond just free gift-wrapping and/or delivery services. Most do try and make it a festive event for the men by including beer and wine, hot and cold food items, and an additional discount for the first X number of men who arrive to the party. What’s more, you should consider adding an element of exclusivity to the event – namely: just open the store to men during a select time frame. If you’ve kept a registration list and track of what their wives or girlfriends have filled out on their wish lists, you should be able to develop a good metric of success for the event.
- Lastly, once the big day arrives, be sure to ask the guys what they thought of the entire experience. Was your website helpful? Were the emails and reminders done well? And overall, are they happy? It may sound odd, since the end customer is the woman, but if you are going to be successful in the future doing these kinds of events – it is critical that everyone feel good about the experience.
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of what a retailer needs to do to throw a men’s panic party during the holidays. There are lots of little steps and big technical pieces that can wear down even the most skilled business owners. That is where hiring a smart team of professionals can make all the difference. But if you follow the general guide above, you should be able to create a fun and engaging event for your existing customers, as well as help boost your end of the year holiday sales.