How to get the most from hosting a business event
If you’ve decided to host a business event, then you’re going to want to make sure it’s done right. A big part of getting it right is setting yourself up to secure clear business outcomes. Here’s how.
You’ve heard that having an event can be beneficial to your business. So you’ve committed and decided – let’s have one. Great! That’s half the work done.
Now, here’s what you need to do to ensure that your event is a success and that you reap rewards and generate sales leads.
1. Keep building on your winning formula
Events can take time and practise to perfect, so it’s important to learn from each event and use the knowledge for the next event to continually improve.
If it’s your first event, you’ll need to monitor and measure as much as you can about your event, as this will create your benchmark. For example, what promotion seemed to get the most people through the door or on the webinar?
Identify what went well at the event and what didn’t go so well. Brainstorm what could be done to improve and then capture this information to use for the next event.
Always implement the suggestions for improvement and try to resist the temptation to do exactly the same thing as last time.
2. Know your audience
You want to make sure that you’re running your event at the right time, in the right way and with the right sort of coffee (or other beverage) for your target audience.
Factor in research time as part of your event planning stage to shore up your success.
The sort of research you might undertake includes things like contacting and surveying prospective attendees, customers and other business owners who have run similar events. You should also consider attending others’ events in the lead up to your own to get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.
3. Allow 6-12 weeks’ planning time
Events require planning and lead time to invite people several times to your event.
Social media and other online software have made managing events easier and people are receiving more invitations than ever before, so your invitation won’t automatically stand out.
To get cut-through for your event, you’ll need to send out multiple invitations using different methods and follow-up reminders.
A ‘save the date’ communication well in advance can work as well.
4. Use PR to extend your reach
If you’re wanting to attract a wider audience, consider engaging a PR consultant to further promote your event.
For best results, create a point of difference or something newsworthy around your event and engage a consultant at least three months out from the big day.
5. Promote before, during and after your event
Often we think it’s all about getting bums on seats, so most of our promotional efforts go into getting people to the event.
There may be interest by people in the event even if they can’t make it, so posting live on social media during the event can be an effective of increasing the value of your event by reaching a wider audience.
Writing a blog, posting a photo album or reporting on the event in a newsletter can also extend the life (and value) of your event.
6. Call in the professionals
To make your event really stand out, consider engaging a professional MC to help create the right mood, better connect with your audience, run to time, achieve your objectives and look slick all at the same time.
An experienced MC can offer some great suggestions, so book them early and involve them in the planning stage of your event. Also, an MC can really sell your services without it coming from you.
If your budget can stretch, contract a professional photographer to capture the night and provide photos you can use in future marketing efforts.
7. Capture details of all attendees
If you’ve set up your RSVP process properly, you should be able to capture all attendee details well ahead of the event itself as well as those who were interested, but didn’t manage to attend. Follow this up with a check-in process on the night (such as collecting a name badge) to get an idea of who attended and who didn’t.
You can take this further by having a special raffle drawer at the event. Make the prize substantial so that people will be willing to give over more information about themselves.
Finally, make sure you provide an ‘opt in’ to future promotional offers and, by the time your event concludes, you’ll have a new, highly qualified and segmented pool of prospects.
8. Provide a takeaway or further information
It’s great to offer some tangible takeaway as a memento of the event, so that your company stays top of mind for a little longer.
A good quality promotional product is one that people will use, hence the popularity of pens, USB sticks and drink bottles. Consider which options are most relevant for your brand and, if you manage to secure something a little left of field, it can add a nice touch as a thank-you gift.
If your event is online, then offering a special gift that can be downloaded like an e-book or software tool after the event is a good idea that also gives you an indication of which attendees show added interest.
If you have a special offer at the event, make sure you provide plenty of information for people to access and take home with them.
9. Run to time
Always start and finish on time.
If the event is still in full swing at the advertised finishing time, always close the event and offer the chance for people who wish to stay longer to do so. As mentioned above, a professional MC can help with these situations.
10. Phone RSVPs
To make sure you get people turning up to the event, consider phoning those who’ve replied to your invitation to make a first connection.
You could use the call to advise about parking or public transport details. And it will increase the chance of the person showing up on the day or night.
Events get better the more you do them, and there’s always room for improvement. If you’re about to embark on your first event, then put these 10 points into action and it’s sure to be successful.