NutriSource Blogs

How to host a successful event at your pet supply shop

December 06, 2019

When it comes to showcasing everything your independent pet supply shop offers to the animal lovers in your community, nothing does the job quite like an in-store event. In-store events deliver such an impressive ROI (87% of consumers plan to return for a purchase after an event, according to the Event Marketing Institute), they’re well worth the planning and effort.

Whether you host a day-long celebration, workshops, classes, demonstrations or a zany photo booth (find more ideas for in-store events here), here are some pro tips to make sure your shindig runs smoothly and gives your brand that extra glue to make it stick in the minds of pet parents.

Define your goals

Think of each in-store event as a marketing effort. The purpose is to build connections between your brand and your ideal customer. Before you plan anything, each event must serve a purpose. Why are we doing this? Think about which behaviors you’d like to inspire or influence. Here are just a few:

  • Get noticed by the local media or generate social media buzz with a share-worthy event.
  • Inspire sales during the event. Is there a particular service, category or product line you’re hoping to kick-start?
  • Build loyalty and connection with pet parents.
  • Introduce your brand to a new batch of pet parents.
  • Get a jump-start on selling the old inventory.
  • Offer free-of-charge value for pet owners through fun and engaging educational or entertaining customer experiences.

Promote, promote, promote!

Social media tools are an event planner’s best friend, so use these to the fullest.

  • Several weeks before the event, build a series of promotional posts, and use the automation features to get them queued up on the calendar.
  • Create a unique hashtag for the event, and reward people who use and share. (“Show us your shared post for 50% off one pet toy!”)
  • While you’re at it, reach out to your most loyal brand ambassadors and local influencers, and ask them if they’d be willing to help spread the word on their own pages. You’d be surprised what people are willing to do if you ask.

Make flyers. Hang posters that pet parents can photograph, or create a stack of bag stuffers, so anyone who comes through can learn all about the fun that’s coming their way!

Visit your neighbors as well as any related organizations in the neighborhood (pet groomers, animal rescues, etc.) and ask if they’d be willing to hang a flyer in their shop or pass out bag stuffers.

Reach out to local media. Even if your event doesn’t attract coverage, they may have space to promote local events for free, so take advantage!

Create a dog-friendly event space

While you’re already used to playing host to well-behaved dogs, it’s also smart to prepare for the extra influx of four-legged friends. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure safety is taken into consideration. Allow enough space to prevent a breakout of canine fights. Assign staff to facilitate human and canine crowd control.
  • Check the supply closet for paper towels, in case of accidents.
  • Create a defined area for toilet breaks, if needed, and set up a station with doggie bags and a waste receptacle.
  • Provide access to water or help them cool off with “pup-sicles.”
  • Of course, treats will always get those tails wagging, so have plenty of those at the ready.

The more the merrier!

Doing whatever you can to make the event worth the trip will only raise the impact factor. So pick up the phone and start dialing. Would a local rescue group love to host a meet-and-greet with available animals? Get in touch with your favorite sales reps. They may be willing to send someone to the site for in-store demos or free samples. You never know what’s possible until you ask!

Designate and delegate any and all tasks

Successful events are a team effort. If everyone has a share in the success, they’re more likely to get involved. Well before the event takes place, make your list and check it twice. In addition to things needed to prepare the event, it should also feature things that need to be done during the event. Make sure your bases are covered and think of broad themes and categories, like promotions, supplies, and maintaining a clean and safe environment during the event.

Put your best foot forward

Take full advantage of the extra people and new faces walking in the door. If they want to learn more about you, what do they need to know and how will they find the information? Now’s a great time to take a look at customer-facing communication with fresh eyes. Check your online presence and see if store hours and other important details need a quick update. What about flyers and other take-home information?

Gather data from event attendees

Sure, you want your event to create a nice sales spike, but you don’t want to overlook those who do not purchase anything at the event. That’s why it’s equally important to expand your database of pet parents. Set up a means to let people opt in to your newsletter; to sweeten the deal, be sure and offer a one-time discount code.

Good planning is half the battle. Use the above tips and your in-store event should inspire plenty of tail-wagging fun and strengthen your relationship with pet parents in your community.

Make marketing more manageable. Access and download social posts, curated by NutriSource Pet Foods, delivered right to your mailbox! Just visit to set up your free, ready-to-publish pet content. Then, share it with your customers so you can do even more to help pet families live happy, healthy lives.