What Target’s Philosophy Can Teach you About Planning Great Events
Trill or Not Trill?
It’s the absolute definition of what’s “pop” in the retail world- it’s the bullseye logo that can be seen from miles away, or that overwhelming feeling of joy stepping through the sliding doors into a sea of red and price cuts. Target, otherwise known as Targé has successfully positioned itself as a discount store with style. Through exclusive partnerships with high end designers, high levels of civic engagement, just enough customer service and out of the box marketing strategies, Target has become a beloved brand.
I for one am 150% obsessed with the store. Those who know me, know it, and I’m not shy about my 11PM Target runs, or my “going in for milk and coming out with the whole store” plights. It only makes sense that I use my love for Target to translate it into a lesson that students (or student affairs professionals) can learn from. We are going to use Target’s purpose and beliefs (credit: https://corporate.target.com/about/purpose-beliefs) to show how you can plan great campus activities!
Target’s Purpose: “We fulfill the needs and fuel the potential of our guests. That means making Target your preferred shopping destination in all channels by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional experiences—consistently fulfilling our Expect More. Pay Less.® brand promise.”
Target has a clearly stated organizational purpose. And that’s where you, as student programmers need to begin as well. Target makes one thing clear: it’s about the guest experience and how they intend on providing it. As a programming board, you also need to figure out exactly what your purpose and goals are and then lay out how the team is going to reach it. After all, you want your events to be the “preferred shopping destination” out of all the groups on campus. It won’t happen by itself, so you’ll need a well thought out plan to attract students.
Belief #1: “Great shopping, anytime, anywhere.”
Regardless of how Target positions itself, they will be in an ever-crowding marketplace. They not only have to face off against arch rival Walmart, but also equally competitive Amazon and any other start-up. The days of brick & mortar are no longer as guaranteed as some think, so embracing the digital age is imperative. Plus, millennials do not take the idea of a store being closed as an excuse of not being able to shop at 3AM. Target believes that the shopping experience should be great whenever and wherever you want to buy. As student programmers, you too must be willing to span events across the different days & time of the week. While it’s great to hold evening programming, it’s important to also have events during the day for commuters and day time students. Plus, think outside the box with locations. Having events in a busy student union lobby could work! Finally, don’t be afraid to go digital. Market hard and creatively on social media, hold contests, and get students to friend you, follow you, or tweet with you.
Belief #2: “Design for all.”
As Target states: “When we talk about our dedication to good design, we don’t just mean how something looks, but also how it satisfies a need, how it simplifies your life, and how it makes you feel.”
One of the lessons my good ol’ mass communications degree in undergrad taught me, was the value of a brand and what separates the good ones from the bad ones. Student programmers must also figure out what sticks with their audience. Everything Target does- from its store formats, to the commercials, to the target dog itself- is all related back to the brand. What you feel when you see the bullseye logo or when you walk into the brightly lit store is all brand related. The look and feel of your programs, advertising and symbols play a major role in event attendance and buy-in. Along with your team you’ll want to figure out a logo that will be easily recognizable with the students as your programming. The same goes with program series. Be sure to also think about the experience. What types of giveaways are used? How are people reacting to your events? Be observational!
Belief #3: “More for your money.”
Target uses a number of different ways to ensure you pay the lowest price possible while trying to get the bang for your buck (My personal favorite is piling on coupon after coupon). Quite simply, I’m going into the store to spend money, so I might as well get as much as I can for the best amount possible. It would be worth the thought for student programmers to think the same regarding students attending their programming. Students pay tuition- and should be getting the highest quality experience from that tuition. A major part of that experience is the type of programming you put on! Never slack…students deserve the very best!
Belief #4: “Celebrate diversity and inclusion.”
Another point of pride for Target is the importance on being diverse from every angle. Whether it’s the type of products they sell, the people they hire, or their attempts to be inclusive (read: Target moving away from gender-based signs); Target tries to appeal to the mass audience. After all, Target does want everyone to come through their doors to shop, and wants those people to feel comfortable doing so. As programmers, your aim is to also ensure that you are providing workshops, activities and other events for all different types of students. Will you please everyone? Probably not…and that’s ok. What’s important is that you make the intent to. Figure out what your population wants (surveys, evaluations), and don’t be afraid to be creative! Another good tip from the professional side of things (also something Target practices) is feeling free to be diverse with the vendors you use. As student affairs professionals we like to rely on companies that are familiar, convenient and those we have long standing relationships with. I’m guilty of that…but I’m also guilty of ditching companies used and bringing in new offerings. Something as simple as laser tag may feel new and fresh if you choose to go with another vendor.
Belief #5: “Community support and engagement.”
From the beginning Target has always given 5% of their total income to the community (source: https://corporate.target.com/about/purpose-beliefs). Target RedCard holders also have an opportunity to choose what schools they want to donate spending towards. One of the biggest reasons why Target is viewed so favorably against Walmart is the good will Target has built up being high on civic engagement. Programming boards should take on the same type of spirit. Not only is engaging in community create a opportunity to team build, but it helps develop the notion of being a productive global citizen. Offering community service projects are also a good way to get other students involved and connected to the team, and the student affairs area. You may also meet students who may not necessarily come out to a comedy show, but love donating time. Most importantly, as I’ve stated before; engagement is a huge factor with retaining students on campus. Make them feel like the institution is a home away from home!
Belief #6: “A fun and rewarding place to work.”
This is a no-brainer. You want to enjoy your college experience inside and outside of the classroom. Target wants to ensure its employees enjoy working, but also learn and develop. Target “is committed to building a team that does the right thing for our communities, our shareholders and, above all, our guests.” As a programming board you should want to make sure those who benefit from your programming have a great time, but it’s even more essential that the programming board has a great time doing it! Have a little fun…and you’ll see it’s contagious.
And on another note…watch this epic Black Friday Pep talk from a Target manager in 2014. Who wouldn’t want to work for that dude?!
I’ll see you all in Target tonight. By tonight, I mean any night.
Scott Siegel-Ortiz is a well-rounded higher education professional with over 8 years of dedication to the development and success of students. His passion for making an impact knows no boundaries and is constantly striving to reach the next level while encouraging his students to do the same.
Scott also loves long walks down the aisles of Target and likes to post lots of pics of his cats on social media.