Hosting a party, a conference, or another type of event can be a great way to promote your company, sell products or services, and forge new business relationships.
But you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure your goals are met. Here are some pointers for making your next business event a success.
Focus on your guests. Your invitees — as in the employees, partners, peers, prospects, and/or customers you hope will attend the event — should provide the basis for all of your planning. Use their preferences, requirements, tastes, and availability to determine your event’s date, location, agenda, duration, dress code, decorations, entertainment, and more. Plan your event to meet their needs and exceed their expectations.
Identify the business purpose of your event. Whether you intend to generate leads, build brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, celebrate success, or something else, the more clearly you can state your event’s purpose as a written goal you want to achieve, the more likely you will stay focused and achieve what you want.
Avoid date/time conflicts with other events. Check local, regional, national, and industry calendars before selecting your event’s date. The closer you schedule your event to another one of interest to your potential guests, the more likely they’ll feel pressured and conflicted about attending. On a difficult date, you may also encounter issues with finding people to help to set up, tear down, mop up, or otherwise work the event.
Develop a sensible budget — and stick to it. Be just as careful with your event spending as you are with other business expenses. Develop a budget, even if you start with estimates, and then firm it up with bids from all those you may hire. Remember to figure out how you’ll fund this budget: Do you have sufficient general or marketing funds? Will you seek vendor support and other sponsorships? Should you sell tickets? Reduce your expenditures by soliciting “in-kind” donations when you can. (Carrie and Dave Kerpen, owners of Likeable Media, started their business after their sponsored wedding, which cost them nothing.)
Market the event as you would a product or service. Create a comprehensive plan to promote your event, and work the plan relentlessly, right up until the event kicks off. Offer persuasive reasons why your potential attendees should actually show up — one of the most difficult tasks in all marketing. Beyond “helping a good cause” or “meeting your neighbors,” think in terms of tangible benefits, such as a chance to interact with someone important and charismatic, an opportunity to learn something vital and interesting, a promise of satisfying entertainment, or even the potential to win a valuable prize.
Compel your guests to RSVP. Call key people and get them to promise to show up. Get permission to publicize their attendance and do so. If you’re selling tickets, offer “early bird” discounts. Consider offering other incentives — preferred parking and seating, a photo-op with a celebrity, a gift bag or other handout — to anyone who commits before a specific date.
Maintain a positive attitude. Your attitude will influence how others think and feel about the event, so stay as positive as you can. Overcome any obstacles without feeling victimized or unlucky. Bring in positive, upbeat people to help you with the event. Most importantly, from the opening bell to the closing curtain of your event, openly enjoy yourself!