Thursday, June 28, 2012

Three ways small business can profit from big events

Hoopfest weekend started Wednesday in Spokane, although actual games do not tip off until Saturday morning.  Teams decked out in full uniforms started rolling in yesterday, temporary signage is going up advertising drink and food specials and food tents are going up in Riverfront Park.  According to the Inlander, the Spokane Hoopfest generates more than $38 million to the local economy - with over 7,000 teams playing, staying, eating and shopping that really adds up.

A Spray for $1?
How creative will people get to make a buck to the masses?  Will we see young kids wheeling coolers of bottled water for a buck?  Do you think there will be many free seats in outdoor beer gardens, especially those with prime court views?

Here are three ways small businesses can capitalize on big events:

Adapt:  One cafe is changing their tactic for the weekend and instead of offering regular sit down meals, will be preparing healthy sandwiches, salads and wraps to go.  They've even put notices on their Facebook page to alert their regular customers to the change (great idea by the way).

Improvise:  Offer a special service for the weekend, for example, a drycleaner that offers a one-hour drop off for washing uniforms, or even better, what about pick up and delivery to local hotels?  I originally thought even Free Delivery would be a great selling point - but I venture a guess that people wouldn't mind paying a small fee for clean uniforms compared to trying to wash them in a hotel sink with shampoo and then having them drying on the air vents all night.

Tribute to my friend
Support: This could be another opportunity to get your name out there.  Sponsoring a team, basketball backboard, joining forces with another business or volunteering can be great for public relations.  If you are going for number of 'visibility hits' or impressions (similar to web ads), your brand could easily get a few thousand at an event like this if your logo is out there or you (and others) are sporting your logo while playing, volunteering or working.

If you can't beat them, join the fun.  If you have a downtown business, rather than complaining about all the people and not having a place to park you have two options.  Close for the weekend or embrace it.  If you have a salon, think about offering a fun colored hair extension special, a pedicure for moms with tired feet or a mini-massage for players with sore legs.  If you have a deli, offer a free bottle (or to-go cup) of water for players in uniform with every sandwich purchase.  Even better if that free drink had your logo on it.  They would tell all their friends!  Before you do this, you'll want to make sure it pencils out cost-wise.

I'm sure there are many creative ways that businesses will capitalize on the over 200,000 visitors to the downtown core.  Whether it's parking, renting out rooms, selling who-knows-what, we are sure to see innovation and marketing at its peak.