Special Events for Small Businesses
The goal of a promotion is to get your business noticed. Special events -- including open houses, educational seminars, and sporting events -- are effective ways to positively differentiate your business from the competition.
Corporate special events may conjure up visions of lavish, expensive extravaganzas. But with a little discipline and creativity, you can put together an impressive event without ending up in the poor house. Here are some tips to help you plan a successful, cost-effective event:
Set clear goals for the event. Are you looking to generate goodwill, or is the event tied to a strategic objective? Establish specific, quantifiable goals that can later be analyzed and used as a benchmark for future efforts.
Carefully define your target audience. Is your event aimed at your entire customer base or a specific customer segment? Will you include your business partners and employees? Clear answers to these questions will help you to prepare.
Select an in-house coordinator for the event. Make sure you have one person with final responsibility and authority of the event's success. Chances are you won't have the budget to work with an outside event agency or consultant, so select an employee to act as the point person.
Don't be afraid to ask your business partners for support. If you'd like to offer gifts at your event, ask one of your suppliers to share the cost. In exchange, recognize them by placing their logo on the gift. You might even find a supplier willing to sponsor the entire reception in return for recognition. It doesn't hurt to ask, and even if you get turned down, you're still making a statement to your partners about your company and its commitment to aggressive marketing.
Keep a detailed record of preparations, and monitor the results. Keep a log of the event's costs, both direct and indirect, and track each form of exposure. Make sure you know who attended the event, and maintain records of any local publicity.
Have a follow-up plan in place before the event. Even if your event is moderately successful, you'll still get leads. Don't wait until after the event to figure out how to handle them. Hit the ground running and start converting those leads into new sales. And keep track of how effectively you convert those leads into sales so can you accurately judge the success of the event.
For a small business with limited staff and budgets, the prospect of hosting special events may seem pricey and daunting. In truth, they are one of the most cost-effective ways to give your overall sales and marketing efforts a major boost.
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