1. Who’s in the headlines?
One major advantage to hiring a ‘name’ quilter to teach at your store is the im- mediate recognition that your customers will have. His or her name will have appeared in publications, on title pages of their books, on television programs and in social media. Obviously not all will be household names but in many cases your customers will be excited to meet a ‘famous’ teacher.
Professional teachers arrive ready to instruct the class – handouts, step outs, and tried and true levels of instruc- tion and knowledge. Working with a professional teacher you can count on receiving materials in a timely fash- ion and in most cases all of the details surrounding the visit will be handled efficiently. No ‘hand holding’ will be necessary. This is how these people make their living and they know how to do it.
Professional teachers inspire the class with the quality of their quilts and techniques. Usually published, often these instructors have a host of books, DVDs, fabric lines and notions that increase the retail opportunity for your store.
What can you do to ensure success?
1. Choose the date wisely
Timing is key to your success, make sure there isn’t a competing event that will draw your customers away and consider the time of year. Just because the store has a typical slow period doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right timing for a professional teacher to come and teach a class. Find out from the publishers who is going to have a new release and book a class to coincide with the national advertising that the publishers do in advance of publi- cation. Be ‘the first’ to offer a class with the author’s new book. Find out from editors who is in the editorial line up in their magazine, who is coming up on The Quilt Show, on QNNTV, or on radio shows or blog tours.
Look for partners in your area to co-host or sponsor an event to help share the expenses of a professional teach- er. Work with other stores in your area for a shop hop, book signings, or to host additional classes.
Contact local quilt guilds to see if they would like to host an event – a trunk show perhaps – with your teacher. Suggest that you provide a ‘merchant mall’ at the trunk show and bring everything that students would need for the class.
3. Stock Up
Get a comprehensive supply list from the teacher with brand names where applicable and make sure you have those items in stock when she is there.
2. Professional Teachers make a living teaching.
3. Accomplished Quilters
2. Partnerships and Sponsorships4. Kits
Produce a ‘kit’ with all of the items on the supply list.
5. Other Events
Before the class have a social event at the store – a book signing perhaps – to give your customers a chance to meet informally and be inspired by the samples. If you have a classroom don’t put the teacher in there – have her in the store mingling – with a place to have a stack of books to sign – you want to keep people in the store where they might see something they can’t live without.
6. In Store Fun
To ensure that people move around – as opposed to parking themselves by the teacher – have a ‘treasure hunt’ and offer prizes for the winners. Instead of them bringing the ‘treasures’ back to you have them write them down on a piece of paper you provide and the person who spots the most treasures gets a fat quarter (or whatever you decide to give). The ‘treasures’ can be ‘find what doesn’t belong’ – and hang a can opener (or some other inap- propriate gadget) in with the notions. This will require them to actually look at the notions wall instead of just walking by it. Prizes, contests, and giveaways are always a popular idea.
7. Marketing and Advertising
Display in-store signage. Put articles in your store newsletter. Place a story and / or advertising in your local paper. Put announcements in community newsletters and listings in local community events calendars. Ask the teacher to put a link on her web site to your web site. Make sure your store is listed in her online calendar or teaching schedule. Make a ‘fuss’ on Face Book about the upcoming visit. Send out notices to guilds in the area to be sure that anybody within driving distance knows she is coming. Capitalize on existing advertising from publishers, magazines, and social media. Work in conjunction with another local community event.