Planning and marketing a small business event

Events are an extremely effective way to attract and keep your potential customers’ attention and nurture your client relationships. People prefer to work with people they like, so connecting with your target audience face to face is a great way to build long lasting relationships.

Hosting your own events doesn’t have to be expensive – you can keep them small and simple, as long as your guests are learning something new and enjoying the experience. People attend events because they are interested in networking with their peers and keeping up to date with latest industry trends and best practices. They don’t want to be sold to and events should serve as a marketing tool to generate interest and start conversations, not to be trying to sell your services and products.

Effective as they are, planning and marketing your events requires a lot of time and at first glance it might seem a bit stressful. But it`s not as difficult as you think. Don’t make assumptions, keep track of everything and allow yourself extra time – and you will be fine:

1. Create a plan

Plan for the worst case scenario. It’s better to be ready for disasters and not experience them than not being ready when disasters occur. Share your plan with everyone involved so that you can all manage your time and expectations. In addition to the tasks, include who is responsible for completing each task and by when. So when things are not so good, people can take responsibility and fix the issue.

2. Prioritise

When you create your plan, make a note of how time-consuming each task can be and start with the ones that take the longest. This is obvious knowledge, but not so obvious practice. In general, allow extra time for those aspects that are out of your hands. The most important thing to determine when you start your planning and promotion is to set your event’s objective and work backwards.

3. Focus on quality

There is only one complete disaster that you should be concerned about – if no one turns up. So you need to have something interesting to offer and promote it in a compelling way that will make people want to attend. Things that will trigger your guest’s interest are:

  • a relevant topic
  • innovative format and experience
  • attractive venue and speakers
  • useful takeaways

If you get half of these right, you have no reasons to worry.

4. Stay connected

To many of us a confirmation of attendance is all that matters. However, it doesn’t end there. As your guests will agree to attend a while before the event they will easily forget about it. To keep it high on their agenda, take the time to send individual calendar placeholders and keep in touch sharing the agenda and guest list in progress. This serves as a reminder as well as great way to increase their interest. If you don’t hear back from them, do reach out. It’s a nice touch and it will make it easier to confirm your final numbers.

5. Do your research

You may not necessarily know everyone you invited, however you should definitely know your guests. Do your research before the event – anything that will help you to get to know them and their business is valuable. It will help you to start and keep a conversation during the event.

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