Have you been toying with the idea of hosting an event for your business but aren’t sure where exactly to start? It sounds like a fun idea and a nice way to get some buzz built up around your business and you’re excited to jump in, but you’re not sure where to start, how to plan, or what type of event to go with.
Today, we’re going to work through the process of planning for a successful event. We’ll look at those very questions you were unsure about. Event planning is no small task, but it can be a great way to bring in some new faces and to get people excited about what you have to offer.
#1 Target your audience
The first step — before you do anything else — should be to clearly define who your target audience is. From this all the other decisions will fall into place in terms of format, content, prices, location etc. This structured approach will also help you to stay focused on achieving specific goals and not allowing the scope to become too broad or watered down. A good way to find your target audience is Facebook Audience Insight.
Location is key to throwing a successful business event. Think about the theme of your event, the vibe you want to create, and what type of location will best support it. Do you want the event to feel more like a cocktail hour (bar), or a serious meeting (coworking space or conference room)?
#3 Set a Goal
What is it you want to accomplish with your event? It is just to get some new customers acquainted with your business? Are you trying to get some press coverage? Encourage business during slow times? Setting your goal allows you to have a clear objective when planning for your event. Special events are not always about casting a wide net—they can also help with problem-solving.
#4 Day and time
One strategy is to have the event on a typically slow day to bring in additional revenue during a slow sales period. Avoid planning it during your busy times because you will not be able to provide great service to both the attendees and your regular customers.
Also consider the schedule of your target audience and select a day/time that will be convenient for them. For example, lunchtime and after work is a popular time for targeting professionals while weekday mornings may work for targeting parents with young children.
The first step to attracting speakers is to find a topic based on what your audience is interested in. It will be much easier to attract speakers once you have a concrete topic or theme in mind because it helps them envision their role in your event. Collect speaker submissions and then search your network to see if you know anyone in common. Getting a personal introduction from a mutual contact can go a long way.
Do you need to bring in more chairs for eating or watching a performance? If it is outdoors, do you need to provide portable toilets or are restrooms conveniently located? If appropriate, be sure to decorate your business with tasteful and festive decorations that fit the theme of the event.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are very effective in raising awareness and generating excitement about events. Post about the events once a week, and more frequently during the week of the events. Engage followers by, for example, asking them what they are most excited about in attending the events.
Communities. Tap into established and devoted communities like Boy Scouts, hiking groups, Meetup groups, whiteblaze, and backpackinglight. Ideally, find a person who is respected within the community who can be the event champion—their efforts will be more efficient and effective than those of a newcomer.
#8 Excellent Service
During the event, make sure that you provide excellent customer service and effectively showcase your products or services. By serving your world-famous cheesecake or offering your best-selling chair massages, attendees get a taste of what you offer without feeling like it’s a thinly veiled sales pitch. Make sure that you have enough staff working to give each customer stellar service. Be available to assist the guests who seem interested in your product, but the no-pressure atmosphere is key to motivating them to come back next time.
#9 Gather contact information and follow up
One of the keys to turning a large event turnout into increased business is to gather contact information and keep in touch with the attendees afterwards. You can add them to your newsletter, send a Friend Request on Facebook or call them to personally invite them to an upcoming sale. Just be sure to stay on the conservative side of the fine line between spamming people and communicating.
It is important to track the number of attendees who turned into customers to gauge the success of the event. To get feedback, you can talk to customers during the event or send out a survey afterwards. Another strategy is to give special coupons to attendees and then track how many are redeemed to determine the percentage of people who returned to your business after the event.
Overall, hosting an event at your business can be a great learning experience. Not only will you gain knowledge about your business, but you’ll learn more about your customers, too. There are always ups and downs to any event—you’re not alone in that. But with proper planning, a clear objective, and a little bit of help, an event can be a great way to expand your business’s reach. Keep in mind: Every event has its pros and cons.
What kinds of events would you like to see hosted at KOI? Let us know!