Business events can take any shape or form. Celebrate your company’s anniversary with your most loyal clients and suppliers. Or start a series of events where your target audience can be inspired by great speakers and thought leaders.
But no matter what kind of event you have in mind for your small business, there are a few things you can do to ensure it’s a success!
1. Goals & Audience
Before you do anything else, you should sit down and have a look at your goals for this event and the audience you would like to attract. It also makes a huge difference whether you’re inviting existing customers or want to attract new business.
Use this info to find the right venue and location, the right day and time, the right format and the right topic for your event. You can expect more customers to attend if your event takes place after work or at the weekend. But business clients are more accessible during working hours.
Depending on your catchment area and the scope of the event, the marketing should start at least 4 to 6 weeks before the event. Especially if you are targeting new business, it might take longer to get people’s attention.
Existing contacts are often more inclined to reply to invitations and emails, so that is always the best way to start. And make sure to stagger your communication: One invitation is often not enough to get a response. Send them a reminder 2 weeks before the event and keep bringing up your event on your social media channels and newsletters.
Another great tool is of course Eventbrite. It is not only a great platform to organise sign-ups and tickets for your event, it is also a very handy marketing platform. People look at Eventbrite when they’re searching for interesting events in their area and the website ranks quite highly on Google. You have to pay a fee for every sold ticket but it’s free if you are not charging for your event.
To increase your ticket sales or attendance numbers, you can also offer some special discounts: Your existing clients and customers might appreciate 10% off or first dips when it comes to ticket sales. Another option is to create an early bird offer, where people can sign up early for your event; an offer that is of course only available for a limited time.
If you have invited speakers or are collaborating with other businesses, you can multiply your reach. Ask them to contact their followers on social media or add the event to their newsletter. Speakers could introduce themselves on your blog before the event or you can use them for some PR in local magazines and press.
3. On the day
Have everything ready for your guests to arrive: An easy sign-in process, name badges, a printed programme, your goodie bags – whatever you have planned, make sure everyone feels welcome from the very start.
I also find it very important to let people know what will happen on the day. If you don’t have an official programme, tell them what to expect so they feel comfortable. Managing expectations is an important part of your job as host.
Also, don’t just run around and try to solve problems or arrange for last minute changes: You are the host, you should be visible and available for your guests. Have staff tackle petulant technical equipment or help the caterers get sorted.
During the event, make sure to have a chat with everyone. If they are existing contacts, find out what’s new and how they are doing. Introduce yourself to new faces and take a note of what their background is and how you could help them. Take notes, you’ll need them for your follow-ups after the event.
Needless to say that you should always have enough business cards and flyers ready. And don’t forget to post on social media during the event – best with a specific hashtag. And encourage your guests to do so, too.
4. After the event
If you haven’t done so already at the event, this is the time to ask for feedback: Within a few days after the event, you should send an email to all attendees with a thank you and a link to a feedback survey.
If you are planning on having more events like these, add a sign-up link for your newsletter and include anything that was talked about at the event: You could attach the presentation, the handout or any links and offers you might have mentioned.
Also, link to your social media platforms and website, where they can ideally find photos and videos from the event.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
Are You Ready to Go Live?
How to Make the Best of Your Exhibition Stand
How to Win New Business Through Public Speaking