Friday, July 20, 2012

Throwing a fabulous event for your small business: Part 1

A couple months ago, I decorated for an event that had a variety of guests who were looking for ideas to promote their businesses. It's inspired me to write a couple of blog posts about small business events, I hope you find them helpful!

Whether you are launching your business, promoting a new product, relocating or thanking your customers for their business, nothing quite draws attention like a well-planned event.  Today we're going to go through the big picture - Why, Who, Where, When, How, What.  Next week I'll go over the details, then a couple of examples of great events, and lastly we'll talk about special considerations for non-profit events.

WHY - Are you launching? Promoting a product? Thanking your customers? Relocating to a new area? The first item to work on is why you are having your event, and the purpose of your event should not be sales.  Yes, hopefully the event will draw attention and you will get sales, but you shouldn't be going hard core salesperson on your guests.

WHO - Obviously you'll be inviting your customers, but if they are mainly parents, consider hosting a child-friendly event.  Customers may appreciate not having to find and pay for babysitting, and might be more likely to come.

WHERE  - Where you have the event depends on what kind of business you are, and what you are promoting.  If you're launching and you have a great office space or store, host the party there.  If you don't have a store or studio, and you're a creative business, consider a trendy restaurant, loft, or not well known location.  

WHEN - Christmas season can be very busy, so host events during this time of year with caution - yours will need to sound amazing to appeal to guests, who have a variety of engagements to attend.  Consider holding your event before the rush - even at the end of October or in November.  On the other hand, during the Summer many people are away at the cottage.  

HOW - I'm always amazed at the number of businesses that hold an event, send out a mass email, and are surprised at low turnout.  Email is a great way to reach people, but your email invitation needs to be outstanding and well designed.  Consider snail mail, but only if you're going to write a personalized note on the invitation - it will stand out more.  You may need to reach out personally by phone or email to get a positive response.

WHAT - If you have a yearly party,  however, you may be in luck.  If you have an awesome party that everyone looks forward to every year, it'll be easier to promote and turnout may grow as your customers spread the word.

Once you've found something that works, stick with it.  For example, if you are a real estate agent that hosts a party for your clients and their families every year at your home, and it is successful, you can change the event slightly each year to make it memorable.  One year you could have a magician that does table tricks walking around, the next year you could have a great band, and so on, and there are endless variations of food (for example you could do a global theme and feature a different country each year), or themes to use.

Next week we're going to go over some details to consider at your event.  Hope you all have a great weekend!

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