The complete event marketing guide for small businesses

Marketing your small business to new and existing clients is all about grabbing their attention and creating interaction which will (hopefully) lead to future purchases or /and cooperation. When it comes to attracting and keeping your potential clients’ attention and nurturing your existing relationships, event marketing can be extremely effective – if done properly.

People buy from people and they buy from people they like. And as a business, you want to choose customers you enjoy working with. By engaging in a conversation with your clients, you will be able to learn more about them which will help to determine if a business opportunity is worth pursuing. People also love 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.

The ultimate marketing objective behind any campaign is to get and keep people’s attention and  events have the ability to keep people’s attention for the longer than most other channels as experience sticks with people for much longer. It will also trigger emotions that they will associate with your business – hopefully positive ones which will make them want to learn more about you.

The objective

Every event is different and has its specific objectives which you will have to decide yourself. It’s important that you define what they are so you can work towards these objectives throughout your event planning and management stages.

You can consider setting your objective along these lines:

“To provide an interactive networking and learning platform to showcase our expertise and experience for clients and prospects, via three key concepts: experience, educate and explore.”

The benefits

There are many ways in which networking events will help to promote your business and bring lots of benefits such as:

  • Client relationship management
  • Prospecting
  • Brand exposure
  • Research
  • PR

The audience

It’s not easy to fill a room for your event – and it’s even harder to fill it with relevant attendees. Avoid inviting everyone,  instead focus on segmenting your audience and create a tiered approach when sending out your invitations. It’s about the quality, not quantity – unless you are happy with a limited return on investment.

When segmenting your audience, look at different aspects – for B2B, look at seniority or department, for B2C you can consider your audience’s interests and shopping habits.

The marketing plan

Always plan for the worst case scenario and allow plenty of extra time for planning and invitations. You are highly likely to be sending our reminders following your initial invite and you need to allow time for RSVPs.

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The invite

Make your event invites as personal as possible – your guests are more likely to respond if they feel that they are not just part of a mass campaign. Use a variety of channels to reach your guest list – email, social media, text or printed invites.

Track the RSVPs and follow up straight after with a calendar placeholder with the location, timings and agenda to make sure the event won’t be forgotten and your guests will be reminded every time they see their calendar.

Divide your RSVPS between invitees who want to attend, are unable to attend and the ones who expressed interest to attend future events – you can use this info for future potential conversations.

Mention the event on your website and social media platforms to generate interest, however make it clear that the event is invite only and ask anyone who’d like to attend to register their interest, instead of allowing direct registrations.

In your invite, include  the following:

1. Subject: Your invitation to …. 

It’s important that you make it clear in the subject that this is an invite – in most cases the subject line is the first and last thing your recipients will see. Include the name or topic of the event so it’s easy for the recipient to decide if this is relevant.

2. Date and location

Include the date and location in the first part of your invite as it’s crucial for your invitees to make a decision based on their availability and location convenience.

3. Event overview

Provide a short overview to give them an idea about what to expect. Avoid too much detail and unnecessary info.

4. RSVP 

Provide an easy way to RSVP with a deadline. If places are limited, mention this in your invite so your invitees are aware that they should respond sooner rather than later.

The follow up

The post event follow up is one of the most important parts of the campaign. Follow up with each attendees by sharing any relevant materials such as slides and giveaways and ask them to provide feedback via a short survey. You can also ask attendees if they would like to be included in the circulation of the attendees contact info so they can have each other’s details for future networking.

You can also use insights from the event and produce a write up which you can use as part of your blog and PR.

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