Ticket to Valentin's Day
By Paul Holewa
Typically the most important thought that comes to mind when watching television is changing the channel before the next commercial. But earlier this year when Helain Pesis watched a trailer for the movie Valentine’s Day she hatched an idea for a once-in-a-lifetime customer appreciation event.
With the star-stubbed movie opening on the Friday before Valentine’s Day, Pesis and her husband Jimmy decided to celebrate the day dedicated to lovers with their customers. The owners of Minneapolis-based Continental Diamond created an event that sent home the message of gratitude with a creative attitude.
Customers who spent $150 or more received two free movie tickets and a large complimentary bag of popcorn. Additional movie treats weren’t Goobers or Raisinets, but drawings for prizes.
The top give-away was a pair of diamond stud earrings with subsequent drawings including gift certificates for local restaurants and Continental Diamond store swag (t-shirts, baseball caps and miscellaneous items).
Roughly 15,000 direct mailers were sent out to customers. Of those numbers, roughly 400 people showed up for the movie, 50 people shy of the store owners’ goal for the event in order to fill two movie theaters.
Posters, which were a variation on the direct mailer artwork, were hung throughout the store. Other promotional outlets included the store’s website, the periodic e-newsletter as well as Facebook and Twitter. An email blast and strategically placed phone calls to customers were the eleventh-hour reminders.
The first task to organizing the event was finding a movie theatre that could be rented for a single showing of a movie on opening day weekend without breaking the promotional piggy bank. Creating the direct mailers, the posters and tweaking the customer database was all that needed to be done in the weeks leading up to the big day.
Being the consummate creative jewelers, the Pesis’ wanted their Valentine’s Day event to have a little something special to it. “We asked our staff to find a customer who was getting ready to make an engagement proposal,” says Helain. “So we staged a drawing that would allow this ‘winner’ to take the opportunity for an impromptu proposal during the event.”
Other crowd-pleasers included radio personality, “voice of the Minnesota Vikings,” and store ambassador Paul Allen emceeing the event’s activities. And, a customer’s wife hired a singing quartet. The crooners wore Valentine’s Day-appropriate red shirts and matching ties.
On the day of the event posters from the store were brought to the movie venue. Repurposing the in-store signage was a money-saving effort that helped brand the event. Post-event branding included posting raffle winners on the corporate website and loads of digital images uploaded to the store’s Facebook profile, allowing for interactive customer content for both online platforms.
The cost of the event totaled $5,000. Even with the movie event landing on the final day to make last-minute Valentine’s Day sales, the Pesis’ thought it was worth it. “How often do you have such a golden opportunity to plan such a movie event for your customers,” says Helain. “This event could never be duplicated, unless they make a sequel.”
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