Eight Ways to Think Outside The Candy Box for Retailers

by Diane Hardy
Retailers seeking to plan a special event should tap into the creativity of their staff. Ask the members of your team for ideas and offer an incentive (cash, day off, prizes, etc.) for the most unusual special event idea. Investigate your resources. Is one of your staff currently studying journalism, media relations, marketing or public relations? Ask them to help devise a special event involving one of your store brands and give them outside work for pay. Ask them to write a concept, approve it, then ask him/her to write a press release.
If not, there are plenty of books at the library that can help you write your own media pieces. Every piece must answer in detail the “who, what, when, where and why” of your event.
Befriend the media. Check out the most updated media contact book (there are several out there) of places in your area to send press releases, faxes and e-mails. Always call first, then after sending a release, follow up with phone calls. Proofread it several times to make sure the piece is typo-free. Sending a little something will help them remember you.
Stage pre-event photos. So that they can visualize what your event will be like, provide digital photos of your concept, even if you must stage them. Tie in a good cause. Charities are always looking for a boost. Why not tie them in with one of your brand’s charities — or one of your own — to offer your event a little goodwill angle? The situation is a win for everyone.
Utilize your consumers. Customers are loyal, you’ll find, when they hear you need help. Print padded flyers about your event and ask them to tell their friends about your event or do bag stuffers for each store patron.
Marketing communications vehicles are a must. Besides padded flyers, consider door hangers in your community, posters on your storefronts,
mailing list postcards and ads anywhere you can get them. Perhaps a local newspaper may opt to be a sponsor, thus working with you on an in kind basis. Neighborhood papers often look for community events to sponsor.
Partner with vendors. Many vendors, especially national and regional brands, set aside promotional dollars for sponsorships, as long as their brand name, logo and product samples are on the forefront. Use the financial arm of one of your candy vendors. If it ties in with their product, perhaps they may consider it a promotional investment. Ensure you go into the program as a team, keep them informed on what’s progressing, and don’t forget to provide a post-event report.
Diane Hardy is a Des Plaines, Ill., writer and marketer with 19 years experience in marketing, public relations, and sponsorship sales and service for nonprofit and for-profit companies. She can be reached at dhardy@ameritech.net.
Chocolate Fashion Show Makes Charity Look Sweet
Turning up the jams like “Candy Man" or "Yummy, Yummy” once on the airwaves is one thing, turning them up to 15 children marching in
outfits made of candy…well, that’s quite another.
During the Long Grove, Ill., Chocolate Festival last month, event coordinators of the World’s Largest Chocolate/Candy Kids’ Fashion Show helped bring four C’s — candy, chocolate, children and charity — to the forefront of this popular Midwest festival, which annually draws 40,000 chocolate lovers
The event — hosted by Long Grove Confectionery and Jelly Belly Candy Company — helped benefit Misericordia, a Chicago-based provider of services to the developmentally disabled.
As a result of good advertising and promotions, hundreds of patrons witnessed what appeared to be a successful event. Themed “A Confection for Every Season,” the fashion show featured children wearing outfits doused with Jimmies, candy dots, gummy bears, licorice twists, mint meltaways, Long Grove Confectionery Myrtles, JBz from Jelly Belly, and other confections.
As a result, confectionery sales at the event were strong and patrons left happy. The event also received a good dose of media hype — everything from local television networks to “The Today Show.”