Over the years, there will be many reasons you may choose to host an event. You might be planning to celebrate your small business’s anniversary, offer information evenings to potential clients or launch your new product. These 4 steps will help you to make your local business event a success.
So whether you’re deep in the planning stage, or just starting to think about your event, you’ve come to the right place!
1. Goals & audience
Before you do anything else, you have to define your target audience and your goals. This is vital to make your local business event a success!
And have a look at what you want to achieve: Do you want to give something back or generate new business? Do you want to increase brand awareness or prove your expertise?
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.
For example, you can expect more customers to attend if your event takes place after work or at the weekend. Business clients, however, are more accessible during working hours.
Read more on how to define your small business’s target audience.
To make your local business event a success, start your marketing around 4 to 6 weeks before the event. If you are targeting potential clients and customers or have a longer and larger event in mind, it might take longer to get people’s attention.
Also, send out your invites in several stages. One invitation is often not enough to get a response, so send at least one reminder. And don’t forget to advertise your event on social media and your newsletter.
A great tool for your local business event is Eventbrite. It will help you organise the ticket sales for your event. And it’s great if you’re reaching to people who don’t know your small business yet. Even better: It’s free if you don’t charge for tickets.
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 to make your local business event a success.
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 to make your local business event a success: 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. And be clear on any health and safety guidelines – ensure you and your guests are following any restrictions that happen to be in place at the time.
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 notes for your follow-ups if necessary.
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 your 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, for example, attach the presentation, the handout or any links and offers you have mentioned.
Also, link to your social media platforms and website, where they can ideally find photos and videos from the event. Encourage them to share these to widen the reach for your small business event even further.
As with any live event, expect the unexpected! Be as prepared as possible but try not to stress if there’s a glitch. People can tell the difference between an unavoidable tech error and a lack of organisation, so no-one will blame you for a minor bump in the road!
And most importantly? Enjoy yourself! As the host, your energy is contagious – nerves are natural, but try to have as much fun as you can. And give yourself a pat on the back for all of the work you did to prepare. The more you enjoy it, the more everyone around you will.
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
7 Networking Events and Clubs to Join in Edinburgh
Small Business Events to Attend in the UK
How to Win New Business Through Public Speaking
6 Tips for Exhibiting at a Conference or Trade Show