There are many ways to create a unique experience for your employees, customers, and potential customers. Hosting a business event like a happy hour or networking event is a great way to get in front of people and learn more about them at the same time.
Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse to have a party? But first ask yourself, “what are the goals of this event?” Is it to gain more customers, is it to show your employees that you appreciate their hard work, or are you thanking your customers for their loyalty? Who is this event for, and what’s the benefit for you and your attendees? Once you have your goal(s) in mind, like every event, you have to plan ahead. Use these tips and ideas to make business event planning a breeze:
Planning Your Event
- Set your budget – How much can you afford to spend for the event? What will you need? Some of the usual costs associated with events include the venue, food, drinks, decor, marketing (printing/postage), giveaways and labor.
- Create a guest list – How many people (and who) will you invite? How many people do you expect to show up? These answers will help you with the rest of the items on this list. Start by looking at your customer base and work from there. Use other networking events that you attend to pass out info about your event, if appropriate.
- Select a date – When is the best time for your event? Select a few dates that work for you your potential invitees. Most people won’t be able to play hooky from work just for your event. Keep in mind that your date needs to coincide with your venue availability. The more flexible you are, the better your chance of getting a great location, and a good price.
- Scout locations – Should your event be held at your business, or do you need to check out other locations that might work? How much room do they have? What does the venue include (i.e., food, drinks, staff, audio equipment)? Can you use their venue in exchange for getting more people in their door or in trade for something from your business?
- Pick a theme – Having a theme can help brand your entire event from invitations to decorations, food, and drink ideas. Remember, the holidays are right around the corner and people LOVE holidays. Use Pinterest to your advantage for finding inexpensive and fun ideas for your theme.
Promoting Your Event
- Questions to ask yourself: How are you going to promote your event? What’s the right way to reach your target attendee, email, social media, print invitation? What will you offer people to get them to attend?
- Create a a timeline – Once you’ve selected a date for your business event, work backwards and decide when you’ll send out your save the date, invitations and reminders, as well as your post event thank-yous. Also consider when you’ll need to order giveaways (if applicable) and any other items.
- Send invitations – Try using different methods (paper, email, social media) to send out your invitations. You know your audience, what will work best for them? You may want to use multiple methods.
- Consider piggybacking other events in your area. There might be a annual event in your town or neighboring town that can establish some traction for your event. There’s a Small Business Week in San Francisco that we’ve used to propel our customer events with extra marketing.
- Find a similar or complementary business to co-host an event with you. You can use their customer list to gain more attendees for your event and possibly more prospects for your business.
- Get donations from other business that might benefit from your event. They can sponsor different aspects of your event or help with giveaways or swag.
- Have invitations available at your place of business (if you have one), and on you all all times to pass out. You never know when you’ll need them.
- Social media is free! Make sure to use it to your advantage. You can offer invitees a deal for sharing your event with their friends.
- An unexpected surprise? Send folks who were not able to attend the event a virtual goodie bag with a special offer like a discount for your services and merchandise. They’ll still feel important and recognized.
- Check out these helpful food and drink calculations based on the number of people attending and what they’ll potentially consume so you don’t run out.
- Last but not least, play the host/hostess. Make sure during the event that you work the room and keep the event, conversation, food and drinks flowing!
Have a business event of your own coming up? Share your planning tips with our readers in the comments!
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