Posted: Wed 19th Jun 2013
Is an event the best way for you to achieve your particular business goal? writes Katie (left). If so, what kind of event is going to work for both you and your target audience, and what do you want attendees to get out of it? You'll have to give them a good incentive to come along, so think about how you can make it stand out - find a theme or unique element that will make it memorable, and bring people back to the next one.
Start-ups and small enterprises grow and thrive off the back of collaborations with similar businesses. Creating an event with a complementary business in the same sector means you can share both the budget and the workload - it may also double the number of people you can reach with your promotional and sales activity. A collaborator doesn't have to be another small business, either - larger firms are often prepared to sponsor ventures by smaller enterprises that reach the same customers. Both you and the sponsor will benefit from the profile and added credibility that the collaboration brings.Â
There's a lot to think about when putting on an event, so it's vital to be well-organised and work to a plan. Particular areas to think about will include:
Venue decoration and tech (if required)
Materials for attendees to take away
Post-event follow up.
You'll need to create a solid schedule with timelines and deadlines for each step. It'll almost never go exactly to plan, so give yourself 'wiggle room' to make sure you're not stuck trying to do too many things at the last minute.
There are a variety of ways of taking bookings, from forms on your own website to accepting email requests and phone calls. Far and away the most efficient way of managing bookings, though, is to use a dedicated event booking app. This will handle bookings and payment automatically, in return for a small fee (or none, if the event is free). Software such as Eventbrite gives you a dedicated event page, a unique URL, different ticket types and even promo codes for discounts - plus you can embed details on your own website.
Unusual venues, topical or 'left-field' themes, a great speaker line-up, an inventive format, a great takeaway gift - these can all make your event stand out and get people intrigued enough to book for themselves and tell their friends.
You may not want to charge for your event, but bear in mind that the drop-out rate for free events tends to be considerably higher than when people have actually paid for a ticket. Payment - even of just a token sum - creates commitment.
Think about where your target audience is and promote it via the channels they actually use. Facebook is brilliant for event promotion, not least because it encourages people to share; email newsletters will get the word out to your existing customer base; you can spread the word effectively via Twitter by targeting influencers and using your own hashtag; blog about it, tell your suppliers and business contacts face to face, contact the local press - do everything you can to get the word out. And stress your event's unique selling point at every turn.
Always check people in on arrival - this ensures you have a good idea of who you should begin your promotion with the next time you hold an event. An app like our own free Eventbrite Entry Manager app for Android or iPhone enables you to achieve this in a quick and easy way.
People love to have something material to take away, as well as the information they will have taken in during the event itself. Whether it's a product sample, a smart round-up of the major points or a piece of merchandise associated with your business, giving a takeaway creates a good impression and serves as a reminder of the event itself.
The event doesn't end when guests leave. You can invite feedback on the night, with a simple written form, or email attendees with a thank you and a quick questionnaire. It's well worth writing a blog post or email that summarises the main points, too, and inviting them to sign up for your newsletter, if you have one. Encourage attendees to stay in touch and (with their permission) add them to your email list so they can be the first to know about your next event. Good luck! _Katie McPhee is the community manager for Enterprise Nation partner Eventbrite, the leading event ticketing, management and promotion app._Â
We recently held a webchat with Katie in which she offered tips and advice about managing and marketing events. You can replay the chat and see what other online events we have coming up on the Enterprise Nation webchats page.
Eventbrite is offering Enterprise Nation Club members a fantastic Â£100 credit to spend on running your own events. With Club membership just Â£20 a year, you can get five times your money back straight away!Â Check out this and other great offers on the Enterprise Nation Club page.