When I was growing up, my mother would attend Tupperware or Stanley Home Products parties. Well-known companies such as Mary Kay Cosmetics and Pampered Chef still use party-plan selling today very much the same way as in the 1960’s when my mother attended them.
The beauty of this method is that the sales agent leverages the hostess’s family, friends and neighbors list. Invitations are often delivered via phone or personal contact. They encourage guests to extend the invitation to their friends as well.
It’s a great business model and one that a lot of local businesses with happy customers could use, but, more often than not, it never occurs to them.
For instance, a restaurant, winery, bakery, health food store or gourmet food shop could have a customer host an in-home tasting party and sell gift baskets, products or gift cards.
A clothing store could demonstrate different ways to wear pieces together and allow people to try on items of a new clothing collection in the comfort of a customer’s home.
An outdoor kitchen company could do a backyard barbecue in a customer’s newly completed outdoor space and show how to plan your own outdoor kitchen, how to get everything you need on a budget, how to pick the right grill, etc.
The possibilities are endless.
Think it can’t be done? There are companies already doing this.
Take Harley Davidson. They hold “garage parties” for women where they sell motorcycles. During the garage party they teach motorcycling basics, how to pick a bike, how to find the right fitting bike, and more.
When you do events like these with existing customers where there is an emphasis on referral activity you can rapidly increase your customer base.
There are however some key things to keep in mind.
In order to get referrals that are interested in your subject matter, you should help your hostess make a list of people to invite.
Never assume good attendance just because of goodwill. (Tweet this!) Coach your hostess on how to invite guests and how to have a successful event. You may want to collect names and addresses and offer to send out invitations through the mail in addition to having your hostess personally contact them.
At events like these, at some point, there is and needs to be a sales presentation and a call to action, whether that is to purchase a product or schedule an appointment with you. So if you aren’t good at selling or feel a little squeamish about the selling part, then you’ll want to invest some time in getting good at it. Just about anybody can get “good enough” to get results, but you can’t take it for granted.
Get people to RSVP, not just show up at the door. You might even have a short sequence of tweets or messages you offer your hostess to get and keep people excited about your event.
Make your event and presentation interesting, exciting, and timely. The number one marketing sin is being boring. You need to generate some buzz around what people are going to discover. Emphasize the promise of benefit or gain—not only for your product or service, but for attending the event. Make the experience unique and extraordinary.
I’m a big fan of selling one to many, rather than one to one.
I also like getting people physically together, as nothing seems to trump the dynamic results that can be achieved with a good stage presentation and a live audience.
Couple this with getting customers by referral as described here and you have a highly effective way to quickly multiply your customer base.
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