“It’ll be alright on the night”

“With technology and retail evolving, a live showcase of everything that new products can actually do, and demonstration of how to get the best from them, has never been a more important sales tool.” But some events can go one way or the other, and it takes a lot of hard work to ensure they go the right way!

By Clare Newsome, Sales & Marketing Director at Naim Audio

One of this year’s top documentary programmes has to be ‘Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened’ on Netflix. Covering the Fyre Music Festival – a ‘luxury’ event heavily promoted by social media influencers, that turned out to be a squalid shambles – it is a jaw-dropping account of greed, hype and incompetence, an enthralling anatomy of a disaster. And Fyre Festival co-founder, Billy McFarland, is currently serving a six-year sentence in US Federal Prison for fraud…

One watch and I guarantee you’ll feel about any event you’ve ever been involved in organising. On a more serious note, it is an extreme example of ensuring the right balance between event promotion and delivery – in terms of time, money and effort.

With technology and retail evolving, a live showcase of everything that new products can actually do, and demonstration of how to get the best from them, has never been a more important sales tool. Get it right and you’ll attract a good audience ready to spend – both immediately and in the longer-term. Get it wrong and you could be talking to an empty room – or disappointing an audience that expected something different; it could be the last time those customers come through your door.

Here at Naim Audio, we have learned a lot from an ongoing series of retailer events to promote our latest music-streaming products, introduced last year. The ND 5 XS2, NDX 2 and ND 555 are network players – dedicated hi-fi separates using our unique streaming platform. But there’s so much more to these multi-talented products than this – not least their stunning sound. We needed to get in front of potential customers and clearly explain firstly the real-world capabilities of these new products, and then, even more crucially, what benefits they bring. Our first port of call was, naturally, our network of specialist retailers. We’ve hosted a roadshow of events, learning and evolving as we’ve progressed to maximise the impact.

First thing’s first: logistics. Before you decide on an event date/time, check what else is on. You don’t want to clash with any local or even national events; there could be many other things that could take priority. Also, how will people get to your event? What are the parking arrangements?

People remember if they could get somewhere easily, if they were made to feel welcome, if they had a great experience and went home happy. Being treated well, entertained, informed and sent home with a ‘reward’ – that could be buying the product itself! – is key.

Planning and rehearsing demonstrations is also important, including putting yourself in the position of your guests. Do they understand what they’re seeing and hearing? Don’t assume everyone has the same knowledge of a product range. Repeating and reinforcing key messages is also crucial.

Plan to provide tips and tricks – share your expertise. Show them something impressive they’ll want to try themselves as soon as they get a product home – and then share it with other people after that.

Once your plans are clear, swing your marketing into action, or you risk hosting the best event that nobody’s heard of. No one knows their key customers better than our retailers, but we’ve also worked hard to attract potential new customers – for both our brand and the shop. Traditional routes, such as specialised magazines, continue to work well, and we’ve found digital marketing is a superb way to bring fresh faces to events. Not only do social platforms allow you to advertise an event, you can create specific event pages, send people reminders and generally create excellent engagement.

You may think this sounds expensive, but in reality well-targeted event advertising of this type can cost very little – we have drawn fresh audiences for under £100 in some cases! Talk to brands first – we’re living this every day.

So far I’ve referenced events involving (hopefully!) multiple visitors, but many of these principles could and should be applied to smaller demo sessions, too. Does a visitor to your website know you have a demo room? Have you worked with manufacturers to create the best setup, including all the relevant training? How do you make customers feel welcome when coming for a demo?

Taking things to an even more granular level – how do you give people a tiny slice of this experience in-store every day? It’s the reason we’ve added a sophisticated demo model to our new Mu-so 2nd Generation premium wireless speaker: five high-quality tracks that can showcase the system with a simple button push.