Though we live in an age in which our connective tissue is digital, and it’s possible to Tweetup, chat, Q-and-A, Google Hangout and otherwise interact 140 characters at a stretch without truly interacting, there is something very meaningful to be said about the process of gathering people together under a common interest. Small businesses in particular have learned to rely on digital and social means for communicating the developments big and small (a rebranding, a relocation, a flash sale, a new product arrival.) However, hosting business events can still be an exceptional way to make a change or promotion stand out.
The last thing you want to do is put together a cocktail party – a loose assemblage of entertaining good vibes with exciting energy but little purpose. Here are our favourite tips for planning and executing business events that are both appealing, impactful on your customers and meaningful from a business development standpoint.
Find Your Target Audience and Reach Them
Who is your event’s target audience? How can you reach them, and what can you say or do to entice them to participate? Think about the channels they use – would it be more appropriate to send an email blast, a postcard, a social media missive, a video, or a combination thereof?
Control, Shape, Create: Assemble the Right Crowd
Business events are somewhat like experiments, in that there many variables. Scientists in labs do much of their work trying to control excess variables, making the results clearer when they emerge. Knowing your audience gives you control over an extremely important variable: who to invite. If your policy is to simply fling open the doors, open-house style, it will be harder to predict the reactions that your event generates. However, if you do a bit of research beforehand, you can make a point of inviting members of the community who you know will have an interest in what you do – and a desire to share it. Think of local news organizations, bloggers, fellow small businesspeople, or potential business partners: put these at the top of your list when thinking about who should be attending your proposed business events.
Send a Message
An event will get people excited: it can be dramatic. It can be aesthetically pleasing. It can stir conversation. Channel that excitement and take advantage of your attendees’ increased receptivity to the important messages your business wants to send. In the process of setting goals for an event, one of the most important to consider is the message your attendees should take home at the end of the event and distribute to their own networks, broadening the impact and importance of having held the event in the first place.
Pinterest, Facebook and the like have made showcasing lavish, enthralling business events online a relatively easy process. Doing up a fancy shindig, as it were, will impress your customers and followers – however, it will also have to be considered in the accounting process. Estimate the costs of things such as location, amenities, promotion (both physical and online) and built-in flexibility for your plans. Don’t be tempted to overextend yourself – show sound understanding of your capabilities and their limits!
In a previous post about business events, we talked about them as a rich vein from which to mine demographic and experiential information and feedback from your customer base. This still holds true! Consider the value of this data as a significant added incentive for return on investment in a business event plan.