Collaborative post by Hannah & Archele
Whether you’re launching a business or looking to re-familiarize your customers/clients with your brand, you should consider hosting an event. Here are a few tips [from a marketing point of view] for planning and executing a successful event for your small business.
Before the event
Hosting an event is a great way to engage your consumers face-to-face, and increase brand awareness and loyalty. But is that all you want to do? Your first step in planning an event needs to be to establish the ultimate goal. Having a goal is the crucial difference between a successful event and a fun gathering.
Are you a fashion label looking to promote your new line? Maybe, you’re a restaurant owner and want to introduce people to your menu? Put measurable objectives in place to determine whether or not your event is quantitatively successful. New fashion line? Create a hashtag for party invitees to use when trying on clothes at the event and track of the interactions using that tag. New menu? Give out taste testing cards to record consumers’ responses to the new food.
Now that you’ve identified the goal of the event, decide who you’re going to invite. Existing customers? Prospective customers? A subset of one of the two? One of the keys to accomplishing the goal of your event is to make sure you have the right people present. And don’t forget press and media contacts. Inviting bloggers and media staff writers to your event can get you good publicity.
This is essential to the success of your event. You’ve made a goal, set a measurable objective, established your target audience, but many are unable to attend, why? Because you picked a date and time that was inappropriate for your event’s demographic. For instance, if you’re trying to attract successful business people, housing an event in the middle of a workday is a bad idea. Choose an appropriate date and time to maximize the likelihood of a successful event.
Sure, if your business is located in a hot, new location, people may show up just for that; but, this is probably not the case for most. Whether it’s door prizes and freebies, food and drinks, or live music, offering your guests a little something extra will provide incentive for them to show up. You should definitely plan to send everyone home with a memorable gift that is a reminder of your brand. Gift cards/certificates/coupons (if it’s trackable, even better!) and product samples are good options.
None of the work you’ve put in to your event will matter if you don’t develop a plan to let people know about it. Consider the audience you want to attend and the best ways to reach them, then tailor your plan accordingly. And don’t rely on just one medium. Use a mix of communication channels like PR, social media, email, the web and more, to get the word out.
Don’t forget about invitations – creative invites can evoke excitement and/or intrigue from those on your guest list. If your event is public – make sure you make your invites shareable (in case you don’t know, your invites should definitely be digital – and physical when relevant). Be sure to mention the incentives in your promotional activities.
From location and decor, to the flow of guests during the event and the agenda, be sure you consider all the details of your event carefully and deliberately. A negative experience for your guests could reflect poorly of your brand; but a positive experience will give a boost to your brand’s credibility and increase your guests’ likelihood of engaging with you again.
During the event
Once the day of the event arrives, your work doesn’t stop. Beyond day-of coordination, you should have someone posting to social media on behalf of your brand to let the rest of the world know what they’re missing. Implement a special hashtag to use on social media during the event so you can keep up and engage with social content pertaining to the event. You should make use of professional photography and videography to create media that you can use to recap and to promote your brand even after the event has ended.
One other thing to do during the day is to provide your guests with the option to connect with you in a way that will be valuable beyond the event. Whether it’s signing up for your emails or connecting with your social media channels, you should make the option conveniently available.
After the event
While planning an event can be exhausting, the last thing you should do once it’s done is slow down. You should thank those who attended your event and send an email to those folks who signed up for your mailing list with an effort for continued engagement. Post a recap to your blog full of pictures and video. Repurpose the images and videos for continued marketing activities, and be on the lookout for any coupon/gift card redemptions that may come through from your giveaways. Lastly, write an internal recap and list the things that went well and the things that could be improved should you decide to do another event.
Those are the basics! Hosting an event can be intimidating, but if you take the time to plan carefully and use the tips above, you’ll surely be on your way to a successful event.
Housed your own successful event? What worked? What didn’t work? Share your tips in the comments below!