It’s no longer enough to sell things in your store. Customers now expect experiences—otherwise they would make their purchase using Amazon from the comfort of their sofa. This is where a grassroots event strategy can help ensure your store is not “just another retail store.” A grassroots events strategy can be challenging to actualize, though, because brands want to ensure events are in line with the overall brand ethos. This creates the need for oversight, which can eventually become red tape hindering retail and corporate leaders from electing to have bespoke events. Fortunately, there are things that both parties can do to support grassroots events in the stores.

The Retail Leader Mindset

You are the expert on your local community and customer demographics. Therefore you are uniquely positioned to create a successful grassroots event strategy. You would love nothing more than to run an event that your customer base would respond to. At times, there appears to be some tension from corporate when you try to suggest event ideas, even though you know they’ll be successful. You understand the importance of brand consistency but feel you have a good sense of which events would be in line with the brand’s values.

The Corporate Mindset

You support several stores and retail-wide events are your first concern. While these larger brand initiatives are important, you also recognize that they are not tailored to each store’s unique customer base. You would love to support the retail leaders in their grassroots initiatives, but are all too familiar with the risks of giving up too much control. If you give too much leeway, a store may initiate an off-brand event, but if you enforce too much oversight, you’ll run out of bandwidth and stifle creativity.

Values, Trust and Tracking

Both corporate and retail leaders want to capitalize on high traffic times as well as drive additional traffic during slower times. Experiences drive the younger consumer to make a purchase—it’s no longer the product alone. Here’s how you can give customers what they want without jeopardizing the brand’s image.

  • Think like an owner—with a global view. Retail leaders should take the role of the owner, regardless of who owns the business. By “owning” the store, as opposed to just managing it, the stakes become higher and decisions become clearer. With each new event idea, use the filter of ownership to ensure brand alignment. For example, if the potential event is with another local company, decide if this partnership benefits your customers, your community and your business. Then, zoom out to see things from a global perspective and determine whether this partnership enhances the brand as a whole. Is it in line with the brand values? Will it be confusing to customers? Look first at the local impact, then at the global one and the opportunities will come into sharp focus.
  • Remove red tape in favor of guardrails. Corporate leaders feel a real pressure to help stores perform, but keep them consistent at the same time. Instead of putting up red tape, create clear guardrails and give retail leaders an appropriate measure of trust. One way to accomplish this is by creating a quick set of questions to aid in the vetting process. Something like: What brand value does this event reinforce? Which customer persona will you target to attend? And, of course, there should be a few planning questions to ensure the retail leader has thought things through, such as: What is the proposed budget for this event? What is the Run of Show? These questions will confirm whether or not the event is in line with the brand values and will ensure the execution has been thought out. It can also be beneficial to agree on a monthly budget specifically allocated for grassroots events. This way, you avoid one-off budgetary approval for each event submission.
  • Measure results. Evaluation is a crucial component of any strategy and events are no different. Corporate and retail leaders should work together to decide ahead of time what will determine success for grassroots events. For example, email capture may be a key component of events in addition to event attendance and topline sales. If you can gather data from attendees, you can also measure new versus existing customer attendance and conversion to help you determine whether or not this event helped to reach a new audience. You may end up finding that one type of event consistently outperforms and may benefit the other stores as well.

There’s always something you can do to increase your Double//Vision.