#097 - In this week's episode of Subscription Box Basics, we are talking about event marketing for subscription boxes.
Tune in as Julie shares what works for us in Sparkle Hustle Grow and see what might be a good fit for you and your subscription box business. You can have a lot of success when you market your subscription box at events.
So you want to launch a subscription box and don't know where to start? Girl, you are in the right place. I'm Julie Ball, a subscription box coach and your host here at Subscription Box Basics, a podcast for new and aspiring subscription box entrepreneurs that want to avoid overwhelm. So grab a coffee, some pen and paper, and let's have some fun! Hey, everybody! Welcome back to Subscription Box Basics. I'm your host Julie Ball. If we haven't met before I am the founder of Sparkle Hustle Grow, which is a multi six-figure monthly subscription box for female entrepreneurs. And I'm the head coach at Subscription Box Bootcamp. I am so excited that you're listening today. Thank you so much for your support. If you haven't already please subscribe, rate and review this podcast so that more people just like you can find it. Today, I'm talking about event marketing for subscription boxes. We are hot off an event. The Sparkle Hustle Grow team recently got together in Nashville for Christy Wright's Business Boutique, which is an event for new business owners. And it was so exciting. Like this is one of those events that we go to year after year after year. And we doubled down this year and brought our families. It was such a bucket list moment. I have been waiting to bring my team and their families together for years, and we are celebrating our five year business anniversary right now. So it was perfect timing. It was so much fun to have all of our families together, but I digress. We are here today to talk about event marketing. So I've kind of broken this down into three sections. The first section is about researching events. The second section is about promoting it. And then the third section, I'm going to talk a little bit about what works for us so you can listen and see what might be a good fit for you and take it from there because you could have a lot of success at events. So let's start at the beginning researching events. You want to find local, regional, even national events that you might want to set up at. Now, how you do this is you ask round, you ask your subscribers, what types of events do you go to? You do the follow the leader approach. So if there's leaders already in your industry that your target audience might follow, are they running any events or are they going to any events? If so, research those events to see how many people are going to be there, where it is when it is, if they have a marketplace, then how much does it cost to set up? And those are usually really simple conversations. Once you start doing the research, most events are going to have some sort of web page or website that has all those details audit. But guess what if they don't, all you have to do is reach out. You can reach out via social media, via email, maybe a contact form on their main website. There's so many different ways to find out this information. So just grab a spreadsheet or , um, you know, pen and paper and start writing down different local, regional and national events that you want to go to. Now keep in mind. Obviously the local events are going to be easier because you can pack up and drive there. And it's just a lot easier versus, you know, going across the country where you might have to ship your items there. So we went to Nashville, which is Nashville, Tennessee, which has only about a five hour drive from Asheville, North Carolina, where I'm based out of. So we were able to load up our minivan with our suitcases and tons of products and drive there. So if possible, find something that is in driving distance to you. So then you reach out, get all of the information about what it's like to be a marketplace vendor, or if those are selling tables or booths, those are some of the keywords that you can ask about and find out how much it costs and what that includes. So sometimes that might be like a 10 by 10 foot area, or maybe that's a larger footprint or a smaller footprint. You need to be well aware of what you get for the money and you need to be aware of what they're providing to you. So for example, we went to this Nashville event, they provided one eight foot table with a tablecloth, well, that wasn't enough space for us. So we brought a folding table as well to have more products set up and we had to do that within a certain footprint. So make sure you're asking all those questions about what's included and how much it costs. Now, if you can't find any information or maybe they don't typically have a marketplace, you can ask them, go ahead and ask them and say, would you be open to having vendors set up in the lobby or something like that? Because you never know, just because they haven't done that in the past, doesn't mean that they aren't open to it. So you might be one of a very few vendors, which would be great because there's less competition on site . So that's that first step you want to research the events and find out where your target audience is hanging out, what events they're going to and where maybe you can set up. The second part is to promote it. So once you get your spot secured and you got to get excited about going to this event and let people know that you're going to be there, invite them to visit you. And there's so many ways that you can kind of pre promote it, but also promote it while you're onsite. So the pre promotion in my eyes is mostly, you know, posting it on social media and tagging the organization or tagging the business of whoever's running the event. That way, if you tag them, maybe they'll share it, getting you in front of new eyes, new audiences. You want to email your email list about it and telling them where and when the event is, maybe there'll be there or maybe that prompts them to go and you'll get to meet some of your subscribers or potential subscribers in person. So you want to promote it on social media, promoted on email, but invite them to come visit you. Don't just say, we're going to be there. You want to make sure that you give them that personal invitation that says, come visit me for a special free offer or comes visit me for a special free gift. We always give away something at our table so that it draws people in. And at the Nashville event that we went to, we gave out a free art print and the art print said, plan the work, work the plan. And that's one of the quotes that we have actually printed on the inside of our subscription box for Sparkle Hustle Grow. So it's very, on-brand, it will attract the female entrepreneur audience, but on the back is a little info, little bit of information about sparkle, hustle, grow an image and a coupon code to drive traffic back to . You want to invite them to your booth, maybe do something special for them. Heck maybe even do a meetup , especially if you are visiting a new town or a new city that you wouldn't normally be in. You could do an after hours, meetup or a coffee meet up before the event. Some way to just get some face time, some in-person time to build meaningful relationships and have great conversations. Okay. So, so far we talked about researching the right events, and then we talked a little bit about promoting it. Like it should not be a secret that you are going to be set up at some event. The third part of this podcast is I'm going to go through a list of what works for us. We've been to plenty of in-person events. And I want to tell you what works for us. Write down some notes, but only think about like, what is going to work for you and your target audience. You don't have to do all these things, just pick what works for you. So here's what works for us. We sell products on site . We do not focus on acquiring new subscribers because what we found in the past is that the people at the event, they want to buy something. They want an exchange of goods. They want to walk away with something in their hands. And maybe that means you sell boxes onsite , like one-off boxes or maybe past boxes, but whatever it is, make sure you have a plan to have product. Now here's a few tips to make sure you're prepared for all these sales. One, have a money bag with some change in there. So, you know, some ones, some five, some tens so that you can break large bills. If someone comes to you and has like a $50 bill, but they want to buy a $10 item, you don't want to turn away that sale because you can't break that and you can't make the right change on it. So make sure you have a money bag and some change. Now, if you were going to sell using credit cards, like we did make sure you plan that in advance because you need to prepare a few things. One, you need to have the card or the card swipe or whatever you want to call it. We personally use PayPal here. It's just, that's our system that we've had for several years now, but you could use something like Venmo, or you could use something like Stripe. They have card readers. The fact is that you need to order that card reader in advance and test your connection. Usually those are going to be connected to your device. So we used my phone, but you could use an iPad or computer. Usually they're going to connect with Bluetooth. So you want to make sure that you have those systems in place. And finally, you want to make sure that you have whatever app that you need to run that transaction. Again, we use PayPal here, but you may have to set up your items in advance. So if you're selling books on site, like we did, I had to add books as an item listing, along with the price tag. That way, when someone checks out, you click on that, it adds it to their cart and you swipe it. I want to make sure that you have practiced this and you have a smooth workflow. 75% of our sales at the event came from card swipes 25% were from cash. So if that gives you any idea of how important it is to make sure you have your card reader working and that you have practiced it, and you have your items set up in advance. That just goes to show you how many people will just pull out their credit or debit card and buy onsite . Another thing that you want to think about is don't be complicated with your products. So in hindsight, we would take fewer products, a fewer variety of products partway through the second day, it was very clear what items were moving and what items were not as in demand. So we took down the items that were in less demand so that there was less, less decision paralysis. It was easier to make that decision. Like, what am I going to buy? So what we did was in advance of the event, I looked at all of my excess inventory and we said, what can we sell for $10? Like we want to make this super simple, all items are $10, like all individual items. And I got these bins from Amazon that we could easily just line them up on the table, put the items in the bins and have some signage and tell everyone, all individual items are $10. That Cape kept it really, really simple. And it made it easy to do math for people like, oh, if I know I'm going to buy four items that I know that's $40. And the other thing that we did was we had a reward system. The more you buy, the more rewards you get for quick example, spend $40 and you get free glitter highlighters, spend $60 and you get a free focus planner and so on and so forth. We had four levels of rewards and the last level of rewards was a free box. We did have some past boxes on site that we had for half off. We just wanted to move inventory. That was our goal. The first goal was to pay for the booth. And then the second goal was to earn back some cash from that inventory. So again, we have to really simple, all items tend to all individual items, $10, all pass boxes, half off, super, super simple. The next tip I want to give you is on that last day for us, it was about a three-hour time span. Cause it was just like in the morning on that last day, but have a way to move inventory on that last day, because you don't want to be stuck home, like taking all that stuff home. So we did have off, we said all items, $5, everything must go clearance, that type of thing. And we were inundated with buyers. It was so exciting. They had so much fun buying. We were pleased with, you know , um, offloading the inventory, even if that means breaking, even on some of the products, we made money on some of the products and we broke even on some of the products. I'm totally happy with that because the fact is I wanted to offload inventory. Like that was my goal. So have a last day special in mind. So you can really, really push that inventory and get it off your plate. The next tip I have is to have good signage. We had a branded banner stand. I bought it maybe like three or four years ago, it's still relevant. And I take it to every event. We go to super easy. It's one of those ones that like rolls down into a carry case. I highly recommend that you get something like that. We also got a foam board sign from Vista print. We've used that a couple of years in a row now really inexpensive way to get nice sign. You can buy a little easel to set it up on and it sets up either you can do a floor easel or you could do a table easel. And then lastly, just go to somewhere like the dollar store or Ikea and buy some pretty frames. And you can print things out on your home printer that allows you to create some beautiful signage in a very, very inexpensive way. That's where we put all of the signage about the $10 items about our gift with purchase. And then we just made several of them and put them in several different places, very strategically at checkout and at different places where they might be, you know , in the shopping zone. So have good signage. Again, we used banner stands foam boards on easels and framed outs from our home printer. Now, the next thing I want to tell you about is something that we've done in years past, but this year it didn't quite work for us. Um, we typically have a way to collect email addresses and then we gather those email addresses and then send out an offer afterwards in years past, it worked really well this year for whatever reason. And I think it's because we had so many products on site. It was kind of an afterthought. We were so busy talking with people about the products about what Sparkle Hustle Grow is that there wasn't enough time to really talk about, you know , um , register here to win three months. And that's where we're collecting our email addresses. So at one point we just kind of conceded on trying for that because there was too much to talk about. It was a little overwhelming, but especially if you aren't selling anything onsite , that would be our main goal. Then to collect email addresses, to build up that email list so that you can follow up with them with a special event offer and you can just continue to nurture them and grow that email list and convert them into buyers. Another thing that we have done very successfully in the past with events was reaching out to the event coordinators and asking them, can I gift anything to any of the speakers or any of the influencers? A lot of times events we'll have influencers coming or even just the staff, the, the staff that is coordinating things, anyone that has influence at the event at all ask if you can gift something to them. Now in the past, we have gifted full boxes to the speakers and then those boxes have either ended up on stage with the speaker or, you know, they've shared them on social media, which helps us grow our social media and just kind of gets that street cred. And you know, when someone shares about your box, it can give that pass along that credibility that know like, and trust factor that someone that's an influencer shared about the box. It just gets your box in front of new eyes. So seek , if you can gift something like a box subscription box or, you know, a branded item and make sure if you can you write a little handwritten, thank you. Note. It just goes a really long way. And so I guess, you know, in the end you want to be very strategic about what do you think can result in sales? What can result in driving traffic to your website? What can result in new subscribers, think about what your goals are and how, first of all, you're going to make up the money. It costs to be there on site. How many boxes do you need to sell? How much inventory do you need to sell to make up that money? So let's recap quickly what worked for us in the past one selling site , you know, selling our excess inventory past boxes and being prepared to make those transactions, whether that's having, you know, a money bag with some change in it, or whether that's really running through the system of your card reader and making sure that you're prepared for credit card transactions next have good signage. We've used banner stands, foam boards, framed art printouts , um, try to collect email addresses if possible, gift speaker boxes and influencers, if possible, have last day specials. And the last thing I wanted to bring up is to have help on site . You don't have to do this alone. You can invite a friend, you can invite a team member, you can invite a family member, or even one of your subscribers have help on site because it's hard to have these meaningful relationships when you're trying to also swipe or, you know, provide change for a transaction. So ask for help. You will probably need a break in between sessions too. So don't be afraid to ask for help. So in conclusion, make sure that you're not trying to do too much all at once. Make sure you ask for help. Don't be too complicated and really think through your plan. I hope this short podcast was helpful and inspires you to research some events that you might be able to set up for your subscription box to market it, to sell more boxes, to sell past inventory. And hopefully sharing what's worked for us in the past can be translated into what might be able to work for you in , in future events that you might set up at. So I would love to hear from you, if you have some event marketing questions, send it to us in Instagram, send us a DM. Or if you want to share ideas of what's really worked well for your subscription box at events, we are all ears would love to hear about it, tag us on social media or send us a message. And we just always love to hear from you. I hope this episode was really helpful. Get out there. There's a lot of events, especially right now in Q4 holiday shows and local vendor shows you have a place at those just because you sell online. Doesn't mean you can't show up at these in-person events. The Subscription Box Bootcamp team is cheering you on and thanks for listening and we'll see you in the next episode.Speaker 2: