Live events in times of Covid-19: night at the stationery store

5th Long Night of Writing on 10 June 2021

In times of Covid-19, live events and customer events in the store are difficult to plan. But just now is the perfect time to wow customers with welcome diversions such as entertaining activities and by providing inspiration and keeping in touch with them.

Are events even possible with Covid-19 safety regulations?

Retailers who want to surprise their customers despite all imponderables will have to walk new paths in times of the pandemic. It is still uncertain if, and to which extent, shared activities will be possible – but an open-air event in compliance with all necessary safety regulations might be imaginable. If even that unexpectedly does not work out, plan B comes into action: the activity is held as an online live event.

Joint advertising creates greater awareness

Planning an event on your own means investing a lot of time and energy into PR and advertising. Therefore, it is wise to acquire fellow campaigners. Maybe other retailers or the local advertising community can be won over by your idea? Or you can become part of a nationwide event. The German Initiative Schreiben association, for instance, is inviting everyone to join in on the 5th Long Night of Writing on 10 June 2021. The more retailers take up the idea and participate by planning an activity, the better, as joint promotional campaigns increase media awareness and customer resonance. 

The Long Night of Writing

This year’s motto is: hand + writing = happiness. The perfect theme for a time full of challenges. Going on the lookout for the little moments of happiness spread throughout the day or making a loved one happy with a handwritten message spreads positivity all around. Whoever would like to participate can fall back to Initiative Schreiben’s thematic suggestions and advertising material or even come up with their own event ideas.

Open air activities

With a bit of luck, 10 June will be a mild summer evening perfectly suited for an outdoor lettering activity. For example, hand lettering or calligraphy can be turned into a spectacle as a street painting (clarify in advance whether you need a permit). In dry weather, a good idea is to create impermanent works of art with big brushes and water, as it is done in China. A workshop involving the shop window is another option to realise The Long Night of Writing outdoors. And if multiple shops take part in the event, a sort of art tour can be brought to life. Or each participant could receive a clipboard and a folding chair with the task to design a letter or a short text in the theme of happiness, which can then become part of a collage displayed in the shop window. In order to give customers a lasting memory of the evening, they should have something to take home with them. Maybe they can be sent a professional picture of the completed joint work of art or a surprise goody bag. For the event to receive attention on social networks, it is easiest to request the participants’ consent to publication when they are registering for the workshop.

“Social distancing” ideas

If an event is not possible in the store or on the high street, customers can instead have the “handwritten happiness” sent home. People interested in the event can write down something that means happiness to them and send it to your shop via e-mail, and then receive a hand lettered post card or short text including their idea. Or the activity can work as click & collect does: whoever comes to the shop can send their word via phone to a calligrapher sitting behind the shop window, watch them handwrite it and receive their card at the shop entrance. If you want the participants to enjoy your event without the worry of any pandemic restrictions, an online workshop is the way to go. When registering, each participant could receive a little package with materials (packed up nicely with a little surprise) and can take part in the workshop in an online meeting room.

Joy, warm-heartedness, and creating connections between people are the most important ingredients of any successful event. Retailers that find a way to pass on a little bit of happiness will enjoy a long-term and profound relationship with their customers.

About the author

Sabine Gauditz is an expert in visual marketing in the retail sector. Since 1986, she has been designing and arranging sales-promoting product presentations for various industries and redesigning the ambience of retail spaces. Together with Hans Schmidt, she founded the visual marketing consultancy, Arte Perfectum, in 2002. Since then, she has been holding seminars and workshops and offering in-house consultancy services.

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