The Customer Engagement Calendar for this year is now officially online! For those of us who crave structured time and fill our weeks and months accordingly, a fresh calendar is like a drift of snow waiting to be romped around in, sculpted and thrown around in general merriment. For others, it is an overwhelming obstacle course. Whichever camp you fall into, understanding what exactly is on the calendar is a great way to start brainstorming. The calendar has a lot on it, but fear not: we’ve broken down the content into five key categories.
You’ll notice that some months have an overarching theme, like National Hobby Month, or when a particular season begins. Think of the month as draped in whatever art supplies the theme intersects with. This includes the history of the specific technique or material, influential artists who use it, relevant trends, fun facts about the manufacturing process, amusing puns. More than tangential information, these topics can inspire displays, product education opportunities, classes, make n’ takes, sales and events that keep customers coming to your store to feel connected to the art world.
Below is a summary of the monthly themes if you prefer to see them all in one spot. It’s a lot… but remember, don’t do them all! Try choosing the top three that you think will work best for your business.
January is National Hobby Month and National Papercrafting Month, February is Black History Month. March is a big one, with four themes: National Craft Month, Crochet Month, Women’s History Month and Youth Art Month. April is National Decorating Month, along with Kites and Woodworking. In May, we’re choosing to focus on plein air, though no one has declared it a national month, we see May as the perfect time of year to gear up and embrace creating art in the great outdoors. Independent Retailer Month and World Watercolor Month fall in July. August is National Back-to-School Month, and October is Inktober and National Arts and Humanities Month.
Go-To National Days
Some of the National Days on this calendar fit right in with our industry. National Spray Paint Day, National Pencil Day, National Ballpoint Day…the days that feature a specific art supply are a given. Take advantage of them and offer a fun fact, sale or attractive bundle at your point of sale. And don’t be afraid to get scrappy: remember Ben Franklin Oconomowoc’s National Tie-Dye Day event last year? With no classroom or event space, they just used one of the aisles for a pop-up tie-dye session!
Off The Beaten Path: The Other National Days
Even the quirky days, like National Unicorn Day, offer opportunity for connection with customers. Choose a craft, artistic style, artist or specific medium (glitter?) and design a fun make n’ take for your customers.
Participate in a Monthly Challenge
Monthly art challenges, like Inktober and World Watercolor Month, have gained traction over the years. Choose monthly challenges based on what your community will respond to. Remember, it’s always more engaging if the staff participates in some way (staff drawings, window displays, product-specific promotions, classes, culminating art exhibit).
Celebrate Artists’ Birthdays & Art History
In the interest of celebrating the arts and staying inspired, we’ve featured about 150 renowned artists in the new 2020 calendar; check out this Pinterest board that features their artwork! Honor an artist whose command of a specific medium inspires you, your staff and/or your customers: use their birthday as an educational opportunity to inform your social media audience with the hashtag #onthisday, display the artist’s photo, bio and a work of art near their chosen medium, or create a class that teaches in the style of their work.
Five Steps to Success
- Stick to a “Two Month Rule”: Time creeps up, and other projects often take priority when something feels far away. Start planning two months ahead!
- Check the numbers: The most profitable event in 2019? Do it again and do it better.
- Designate point-people: This is especially successful if the team member has buy-in or is particularly interested in the day, theme, challenge or holiday.
- Use the Social Media Kits: We’ll be sharing out Social Media Kits (ready-made copy and images) three months at a time to support specific days on the calendar. Designate a point-person who will take a look at the kits and plan your social media strategy / store strategy in advance.
- Learn from the Art Dog community: Learn from other retailers in the In Your Store, Retailer Spotlight and Industry News, categories that feature stories about successful events and unique initiatives. Feeling ambitious? Look through our Gallery Walk series to get inspired.