By Jonathan Morse
Now that the holiday rush is over and 2019 upon us, many small businesses are taking this period of the new year to evaluate and create a strategy to increase sales and revenue. Are events part of your plan?
They should be. Events have become a successful way to drive new business and reconnect with current customers. 84% of business leaders believe in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success.
Whether you’re just getting started as an event organizer or you’ve been doing it for years, you know there are a lot of details you need to get right in order to create a successful event that will benefit your small business. Here are six key points that small businesses must consider when planning and hosting events.
Set a goal
The most important step for planning a small business event is to ask yourself why you’re having one. What do you hope to accomplish with this event? In other words, what is your goal? It could be any number of things, including sales, building relationships, sharing your expertise, or a way to drive awareness of your business. Once you choose a goal, then it’s time to determine what actions you want attendees to take to meet your goals and measure the success of your event, such as the number of products or services sold, prospects, total attendees, customer signups for your email list or new social media followers, discounts or coupons redeemed, or other actions that will help you grow as a business.
Now that you know what your business wants from the event, you need to look at it from the customer’s point of view. What value are you providing to them with this event? If they don’t see a benefit for themselves, they’re not going to be motivated to participate. The benefit could be anything — getting a discount on your products or services, learning tips and best practices from your expertise, staying in touch with a business that could help them solve their problems, or being entertained — but make sure there is one and it’s something you know people will want.
Decide on your event type
Next, choose an event type. The list of types of small business events is long and varied: classes or workshops, demos, product releases, anniversaries, grand openings, promotions, sale days, parties, speaking events, networking events, happy hours, community engagement events, block parties, tastings, or special events for VIP customers. Choose an event type that will help you accomplish your small business’ goals and provide a customer benefit.
Choose the right venue
The location of your small business event will set the tone for the event and can have an impact on the event’s success. Look for a venue that is a good fit with your event type and has the right amenities and accommodations. Your business could fit the bill, but don’t rule out restaurants, hotels, or unique venues for your location. These spaces might be a better setting because of their aesthetics, setup, audio/visual equipment, proximity to public transportation, or capacity. Plus, working with an events team at a venue can take a lot of the planning and decision-making off of your hands.
There are a lot of pieces involved in pulling off a great small business event. Fortunately, there are a lot of great choices for online tools to help you keep track of everything that needs to be done. Using an event management software can help you manage your event details, documents, tasks, invoices, reports, discussions, and so much more.
Promote your event
Get the word out about your event early and often by using the right marketing tools and consistent communication. Use email marketing to target customers or prospects who are interested in the benefits of your event, and send them promotional emails in advance to save the date, but also closer to the event to remind them to attend. Share your event on the social networks that prospective attendees are more likely to use, and continue to promote it in the weeks and days leading up to your event date.
Your event isn’t over until you take care of a few items for you and for your customers. First, send attendees a thank you email and post thank you messages on social media. Ask them to fill out a survey to find out what they enjoyed or would like to see improved for your event. Then, review the goal you set at the beginning of the event planning process. Did your event meet your expectations? Review what worked, and what didn’t so you can gauge your success and use your learnings to make your next event even better.
Find your formula for success
Following these six points can make a huge difference and allow you to pull off a successful, well-executed event. Once you’ve executed on them for multiple events, you’ll know what it takes to offer guests the best possible experience, guarantee a strong attendance, and ensure the event runs smoothly from start to finish.
Jonathan Morse is the CEO and founder of Tripleseat, a web application for restaurants, hotels and unique venues, chosen by more than 35,000 Event Managers and Restaurant Owners. Tripleseat helps these businesses increase their event bookings and streamlines the planning process.