Five budget-friendly business event ideas

People buy from people and they buy from people they like. And it works both ways – as a business you’d want to work with clients you like. Engaging in a conversation, via online or face-to-face events allows you to interact with your audience on a personal level, create and build relationships and understand them better. The ultimate objective of any marketing activity is to get and keep people’s attention for as long as possible and events can keep their attention for longer than most other marketing channels – especially if you make them worth remembering.

Here are a few event format ideas to consider:

  1. Breakfast briefing

You can hold a breakfast meeting at your office, or see if you could borrow one of your client’s meeting rooms. Or have a look at co-working spaces that offer meeting rooms for hire. Here are a few suggestions for co-working spaces in London worth considering. Think of a timely topic, relevant to your clients which you can link back to your business’ offering. They can be very short networking meetings with coffee and pastries, with a quick presentation to start with, followed by a discussion. You can turn your breakfast meetings into a series where you follow up on any new topics that come up during the discussion. Be mindful that people will have to go to work after, so make it early and short and host it in a location that is well connected.

  1. Debate

A slightly different approach to events, but one that is very effective. You will need a bigger room, with a presenter area and projector, but again a meeting room would work. You will need two speakers and a moderator and a topic that people have different views on. This way of presenting an idea allows for a lively discussion and will educate your audience. Consider inviting your clients as speakers – it will add extra credibility and help to build a relationship with your clients. Give your speakers 10-15 minutes to present their arguments, and then open a discussion with the audience. Because new ideas and opinions will emerge it’s a good idea to create a write up after your event to summarise the outcomes.

  1. Workshop

If you are looking to show off your expertise and get people actively involved, running a workshop is the best way to do this. Experience sticks with people for much longer. It will also trigger emotions that they will associate with your business. Depending on the complexity of the topic, you can run them for an hour or an entire day. Try to make it as experiential as possible and provide practical takeaways and ensure your attendees leave with a knew skill or knowledge. If you are running a longer workshop, allow for breaks and refreshments to keep your attendee’s minds fresh and focused.

  1. Roundtable

Great for a discussion combined with a wine and dine experience. Your location doesn’t have to be fancy, but make sure it’s enjoyable and relevant to your audience. Both lunches and dinners work, with a select group of people who want to connect with their peers, learn what’s new and share best practices. By bringing people together for your event you are not only connecting your business with them, but you are also expanding their own networks. Overall a great networking and learning experience.

  1. Webinar

This online event format is less personal than the others but still very effective. Technology is a key success factor so ensure you are using the right tools, have strong internet connection and test it multiple times before your live session. Google Hangouts offer a free webinar functionality or you might want to consider paid options with more advanced tools. Your speakers don’t have to be well known, but you should promote their expertise – this is another opportunity to get your clients involved. Give your audience the opportunity to speak up during the session. Having them involved in the conversation completely changes the dynamics of the event. Recording the session will give you additional content and a reason to follow up after the webinar.

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