Party Time! Events for Business Promotion
By Annalisa Berns
After restrictions across the country are lifted, everyone will want to celebrate! Here are some ideas to get the party started.
Hosting an event to promote your business introduces new clients to your services and creates multiple networking opportunities—or can even be a way to recruit new staff. When you decide to host an event that connects people in your community, it elevates your business and you as an innovator.
Now is the time to start planning for some festivities. Here are some tips to make it happen!
Plan Way in Advance
For all but the smallest of gatherings, it is best to plan as much in advance as you can. Start working on the event six months in advance or more. The first action to take is to create a vision. Consider making a list of goals or even make a vision board. This part of the planning process is a fun way to include staff.
Set a Goal
One of the primary goals for the event should be to increase business. It’s important to create a way to measure that specific goal. For example, your goal might be to increase your email database by 50 new emails and schedule 10 facility tours. Having a specific measure and goal for your event gives you something to strive for.
A word to the wise: if you think it is easy to host an event, think twice. If you have seen someone else host an event and you muttered to yourself “that looks easy,” you are probably mistaken. What is visible to the public or a guest is about 10% of the work involved. (Just think about the last get-together you hosted and everything that went into it from dusting the floorboards to making dessert.)
There are two ways to deal with the amount of work. One way is to keep it small. An event that is kept to 20 attendees or less keeps it manageable. Think Yappy Hour, bowling party, tea party, or arts and crafts party-type events. However, a smaller event will likely have less of an impact on increasing business.
Another way to deal with the amount of work is to enlist the help of others. Do you have a friend with skills that would help produce an event? Approach them to work together. You want a team of people working for a common goal. A good rule of thumb is for every 50 people you want at an event, you need one additional person helping you with planning and execution. If you want 200 people to attend a party in the local park with vendors, for example, having you plus four co-hosts would be a solid strategy. (Plus volunteers or paid staff for the day of the event.)
Planning as Promotions
Use the planning process to network and promote your business. Reach out to other pet-related businesses or nonprofits and ask if they want to collaborate. Even if they decline, they are made aware of your business. Ask about events they are involved with and if they would share your event information on their social media.
Another approach to a “no” is to ask about a product donation. This is one of the joys of planning an event—collecting cool swag! Most often the item is the company’s product itself, like a dog treat company gifting free dog treats. Sometimes it is a company-branded item. For example, a pet-themed event is a perfect match for the local insurance company to provide branded dog toys or bowls.
Ask staff and your most devoted clients for event suggestions. People often appreciate being included in the planning process. Here are some ideas: adoption events, local business events (like a Wine Walk), classes (like yoga with your dog or learn to draw your pet), open house, guest speaker, book signing, contest (like your town’s Mutt of the Year or Best Dressed for Halloween), beer tastings and fundraisers. Refer back to your goals and make sure what you decide is in alignment with them.
Find a Location
With your goals in mind, consider location. If you want to connect with new clients, then you might want to go where people congregate. Locations to consider include a local dog park, picnic area, convention center, camp or even a gallery or museum. Think outside the box! Many popular locations book-up months (or even years) in advance. When you find a location, ask them right away how far in advance you need to book and about rental fees. It is ideal to find a location that does not require a deposit, or only a minimal deposit with a generous cancellation policy.
Set a Date
Finding a location should come first. You don’t want to set your date only to find that all locations are booked. Try to set a date that isn’t close to a holiday, unless you are planning a holiday-themed event. Don’t try to compete with a popular event, like a local music festival or graduation day.
Create a To-Do List and Schedule
Outline a schedule for the event itself and then fill in the necessary action steps from your To-Do List on a calendar to help keep you on track. One important key point is to refer back to your goals for the event. If your goal is to get new clients, then you want to make sure you have a way to collect contact information from guests at your event or have a coupon to give them as an incentive to try your services.
Devil is in the Details
While details and nice touches are what make an event more than mediocre, it is easy to get stuck on them. Don’t let little details take over. Keep your eye on the big picture, and work smarter not harder. If you find yourself getting sucked into nice details, make a list of 3-5 details or nice touches to include in your event, and skip the rest.
If you are planning a smaller event, advertising may consist of a sign at your business or personally inviting a few individuals. However, if you want to draw a crowd, you will have to take more time to advertise. Remember to advertise your business, not just the event.
One benefit of advertising an event versus promoting a product or business, is that local news outlets have opportunities to share your event at no cost. Request that your event be included in the local calendar at the visitor’s center and online. Write a short press release and submit it to the local news media. Also use your email list and social media to spread the word.
Day Before & Day Of
Magic happens when everything starts to come together right before your eyes. Be realistic with how much time it takes to tackle a task. It almost always takes longer to execute than estimated. Plus, you want some moments to enjoy. Remind yourself that it is impossible for everything to go as planned; there will always be some missteps, miscalculations and mistakes.
Give yourself plenty of time to rest after a large event, or at least plan on sleeping in after a fun party. Before too much time passes, strike while the iron is hot with any new contacts. Send pictures of your event to the local newspaper and post on social media. Thank businesses involved and ask how you can collaborate again. Thank attendees and follow-up. Don’t let potential business slip through your fingers!
If needed, assign someone with your work tasks after the event so you can devote yourself to this follow-up. Take time to look back at the goals for the event, reflect on what you and your team accomplished, pop the champagne and celebrate a success!