Among the many marketing techniques that small businesses employ, client events are one of the most popular. Done well, these events can prove an ongoing source of business and cement customer loyalty. Done badly, they can be disastrous.
Funnily enough, the difference between a good client event, a great one, and a train wreck usually comes down to the attention you give to the most mundane details.
Many of the suggestions below may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how frequently these little things are overlooked.
Here are 10 of them:
An entertaining guest speaker, sparkling venue, and fine wines will be wasted unless all of this connects to a business objective. Perhaps it's about showcasing your expertise in an area you're not usually identified with, or it could be about demonstrating your relevance to a younger generation, or maybe it's about solidifying your relationship with your current niche. Whatever the objective, ensure the event links to it.
The client event should not stand alone. It should be an integral part of a wider messaging campaign. This begins with the promotion of the event, but continues with the post-event emails and materials.
Plan this out beforehand: your event can reach a wider audience through social media, for example, by encouraging attendees to share videos and photos with an accompanying hashtag; you can also incorporate it into your long-term strategy by documenting it with a polished event video.
Whatever action you take, this is the way to think about it: "you promote the event, and the event promotes you."
A noisy club or restaurant won't work if you are featuring a guest speaker. AV issues are one of the most frequent sources of disaster. Make sure everything works and that there's someone for you to call if, at the last moment, you discover that the HDMI cables are missing.
A well-run event has a clear beginning, a middle, and end. Get the formal part of the evening done early, particularly before people have had a few drinks. Choose your MC wisely. Minimise your slides. Keep your messaging tight. Ensure there are staff in the audience to help with questions.
One frequently successful approach, especially if you have banquet seating, is a multiple-choice quiz with a prize attached. These quizzes help people settle down and often act as an ice-breaker if people are strangers to each other. Ensure you have a staff member at each table.
Leave on each table or chair brief promotional material about your firm, photos of the principals, email and phone contacts, and a summary of the services you offer. Invite people to download a free book or report from your website in return for their email address.
A successful event, all up, should go for no more than two hours. Top and tail your speaker with key firm messages and ensure attendees have something to take away with them. A frequently successful technique is to invite people to participate in a survey.
If the event is a success, why not make it a regular part of your calendar – each year, six-monthly, or quarterly? You can build it around a set-piece, like the end of the calendar year and a government budget, or a topical and popular theme like sustainability or time management or technology. Just be sure you hold your firm's message inside the wider subject.
Ahead of time, ask people what speakers or topics they'd like to see. Ask them if they prefer a breakfast, lunchtime, or evening timeslot. After the event, survey them on what they thought of the speaker, venue, food, drinks, etc. Invite them to bring other friends and family next time.
Obviously, thank the speaker on the day and thank everyone for coming out. Tell them you understand their time is precious but you really wanted to share these ideas. Send a follow-up email newsletter with key messages, links, and other resources. Get them on your mailing list.
A corporate event can be easily paired with a video marketing strategy, to ensure that it can receive a broader reception in the long-term. If you'd like to find out how we can help you in this and other areas, please feel free to get in touch.