Education Events: How To Find The ‘Hidden Treasure’ In Your Business

It was a six year old’s dream come true

A birthday treasure hunt. The young treasure hunters discovered a battered map in a bottle on the rocky ocean beach. Following the clues to the ‘X’ on the map, the children found the right spot and started to dig. It didn’t take them long to unearth the buried chest. Imagine the childrens’ delight on finding a pirate flag, gold-wrapped chocolate coins and handfuls of jewels.

Real treasure!

In retail we’re also looking for treasure. But sometimes finding that treasure can seem just as elusive as if we were hunting without a map. To find our hidden treasure, our first step is to know what we are searching for.

Customer relationships are the treasure in your business

Relationships with loyal customers that come back again and again. These repeat customers are the ones that make your business thrive. One of the best ways to get customers to return is with regular events.

But not all events attract the right customers. Or keep them coming back for more.

What type of event attracts repeat customers?

Not just any customers.
Customers that want more than just a product.
Customers that want to know how to solve a problem.
Customers that are hungry for information.

The most effective are education events. These events offer that information. They solve problems for the customer. They give the customer value.

That brings us to the next question.

How do you create an education event?

You need to find a map that will lead you to the repeat customer treasure. Sometimes we search all over to find the map. We don’t realize the map is right in front of us. The landmarks on the map are the customers’ problems. The customer problems will lead you to the treasure.

‘X’ marks the spot

Your customers’ biggest problem is the ‘X’. That’s the first problem to tackle with an educational event. Once you’ve identified the problem, you dig deeper to get more information. That’s where you’ll find the treasure.

But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

How do you find the X?

Your job is to find a problem your customers want to solve. And create an educational event that provides a solution to their problem.

It isn’t as hard as it sounds. Let’s break it down step by step.

  1. Identify the customer problems
  2. Pick one problem to solve
  3. Provide the solution

1) Identify the customer problems

Talk to your customers in the store. Listen to their questions. What do you find yourself explaining to your customers most often?

Ask questions. Ask for honest feedback. Find out what bugs your customers about any of your products. What bugs them about shopping? What would make it easier for them to buy?

For example, let’s imagine you sell women’s dresses. What makes it hard to buy a dress? Let’s make a list of some problems customers might have.

Problems with fit:

  • Dresses are too long, or too short, in the waist
  • Hem is too low, or too high
  • A dress fits in the hips, but is the wrong size in the top

Problems with selection:

  • Can’t find a suitable colour for skin tone
  • Can’t find a dress for figure type

Other problems

  • Need a dress for a formal occasion, that can also be worn for casual events
  • Need a dress that can be part of a work wardrobe

These are just some of the problems that customers could have when shopping for dresses. If you have a wide variety of products, you may come up with many more potential problems that customers encounter. At this point, start with a list of 10 of the most common problems you hear from your customers. In the next step, you’ll reduce the list even further.

2) Pick one problem to solve

Yes. Just one.

You can come back to the rest of the list later. For now, you need to focus on just one problem. If you try to solve too many problems at once, you get overwhelmed. You don’t know where to start. The project seems too big to handle. When you choose just one problem, you start to see how to tackle that one issue.

Multiple problems lead to unfocused messages. Unfocused messages alienate customers. When you focus on just one problem, you attract all the customers that struggle with that one issue. The message is clear, and the customer feels like you are talking directly to her.

So, just one problem. Let’s go back to our example.

How do you choose just one problem?

Well, in this case, problems with selection are more difficult to solve with an educational event, although it can be done. Let’s put aside those problems for now.

Problems with fit are very common. The other problems listed are also common. However, fitting problems likely cause the most stress for customers. This is a clue that customers may be interested in a solution that you have to offer. Remember, start with the ‘X’. The biggest, or most common problem.

I’ll pick one fitting problem: A dress fits in the hips, but is the wrong size in the top

Now I’ve isolated a problem from my list, but what do I do with it?

3) Provide the solution

Now that you’ve chosen a problem, you need to identify a solution to the problem. A solution that you can deliver with an event or a class. This is where you go back to brainstorming.

What is the solution to the problem?

What advice would you give to a customer with this problem? Make a list of these points, or steps, to solve the problem.

Back to the dress shop example

The problem: A dress that fits in the hips, but is the wrong size in the top
The solution: A dress that fits just right (in the hips and the top)
To get a dress that fits just right:
1) Wear the right foundation garments to try on the dress
2) Buy the dress to fit at the fullest point -> either bust or hips
3) Find a good seamstress or tailor
4) Have the dress professionally altered to perfect the fit
5) Accessorize to visually balance the figure

Now you’ve got enough points to give a seminar or class. You’re ready to start planning your event.

Planning an education event includes all the elements that many events have in common: scheduling, promotion, materials, etc. However, education events have one additional component that can be intimidating.

How do I run a seminar? I’m not a professional speaker

You don’t need to be a professional speaker to talk to your customers about a topic that you know well. Your customers value your expertise and knowledge about your product.  You can keep your first educational events casual and informal. Label them workshops, and encourage questions.

It’s best to deliver the seminar yourself, or use your own staff team. The more you can encourage your customers to use you and your team to solve problems, the more you’ll improve your relationship with them. However, if you’re nervous about standing in the spotlight at first, try using these ideas:

  • bring in a guest expert and charge a small ticket price to cover the cost
  • co-present with a guest expert
  • get members of your team to present in areas that they are especially knowledgeable in
  • develop your staff and yourself with training in basic speaking & presentation skills

You want your customers to see you as a solution provider, not just a product seller. When customers see you as the solution provider, or expert, they’ll keep coming back over and over.

And that’s the hidden treasure in your business.

Summary

To uncover the treasure of repeat customers, start digging.

  1. Discover the customer problems
  2. Pick one problem to solve
  3. Provide the solution

Next Step

Does running events seem like too much work?
Learn the The Secret to Running ‘Automatic’ Store Events.

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