Want Inventory Feedback? Host an Advisory Board Event!

by : 

Megy Karydes

March 23, 2015
Marketing Mondays - Host an Advisory Board Event

The best retailers and wholesalers know running a business isn’t a solo affair. Inviting feedback from friends, colleagues and customers is a great way to learn what might do well and what to invest in (or not). Ready for input? Invite some of your customers to be part of an advisory board event to share their thoughts on products you’re considering. It engages them in a way that helps them feel ownership, be supportive, and feel more committed to your success.

Hosting an advisory board event is similar to hosting any other type of event. With this, though, you’ll want to provide rating sheets that have a section for comments, so customers can rate products you’re considering and share feedback. (For example: Rate this product on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “I would never buy this” and 5 being “I want to order this right now!” What about this product appeals to you?)

To set up your Advisory Board:

  1. Consider the products you want feedback on. If it’s apparel, invite customers who would be most likely to buy apparel. If it’s jewelry, invite those who typically buy jewelry. With that said, invite others who buy complementary products. Your jewelry buyer would be a great asset if you’re trying to get feedback on apparel, for example.
  2. Once you create a list of products, create your invite list.
  3. Set a date and consider the space in your shop where this event can take place. It doesn’t need to be a big space because you’ll want your advisory board to walk around and consider the products on their own initially.
  4. Create an invitation and make sure to spell out the date and time and highlight the fact that there will be appetizers, food, and/or drinks. This last part is important because you’ll want to create a festive atmosphere.

Before the event, make sure to pay special attention to what kind of information you’re trying to glean. Is it a new line you’re interested in introducing and want to know if it will appeal to your current customer base? Are you concerned about the price point? Are you hoping to introduce a new category? Write out your questions with the end goal in mind.

As people arrive (some will be early, others will arrive late), greet them, thank them for their time, and give them a pen and a clipboard with the form of questions. Then, step back and let them consider the items on their own. They’re welcome to talk to others in the process, of course, but the feedback you’re seeking is theirs.

As they’re reviewing products, keep working the room, offering to replenish drinks or answer questions. Afterward, encourage people to stay and mingle. Of course, if they want to shop, let them! As a parting gift, give them a coupon for a discount at your store. In fact, I’d suggest giving them two coupons—one for them to use and one for a friend.

Consider hosting an advisory board event every quarter. Continue to invite those who want to be part of the experience but be sure to invite others, too, so you receive a range of opinions.

Building an advisory board for your retail or wholesale business is an easy Marketing Monday idea to implement this month as you consider what you’ll be showcasing this summer.

Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm and freelance writer who often covers retail for various magazines. She likes her calendars, whether digital or on paper, and has her editorial calendar pinned to her board in her office to remind her what day it is! Find her on Twitter at @megy.