Hosting events is a great way to connect with your clients and prospects outside of the office environment, give education on recommended products and say thank you for their business.
Unfortunately, event planning gets a bad rap. It’s easy to get sucked into creating unnecessary details, blowing both your budget and sanity and that could lead to you just throwing your hands in the air and saying, “Forget it!”
If you follow a few, simple guidelines, though, you can navigate your way through the endless maze of event planning options and create something memorable and effective for your guests.
Create a Purpose
First, decide why you are doing this event. Is it a thank you for your current clients? Education for your prospects? The purpose of your event will determine a lot of things – the set-up for the room, the types of equipment needed, even what you will serve.
If it’s an education-based get together, you’ll need to provide paper and pens for note taking and have table-service so your clients can focus on the presentation.
If you’re hosting a social occasion, you can have more standing room and places to move around. Will you serve passed food or a buffet-style meal? Consider background music or special lighting to help set the tone.
Define Your Limits Early (and Stick with Them)
Since money is rarely (if ever) unlimited, you need to set a budget and make sure you stick with it. That may mean paring down your guest list or eliminating some extras in lieu of essentials. Do you really need flowers and centerpieces? Could that money be spent elsewhere, like on a special speaker or a more complete bar?
Don’t forget product partners, of course. In exchange for being able to speak to your clients about their services, they can help you pay for the event.
Give Your Guests a Reason to Attend
“Hey! Come over and let’s hang out!” That may work with Saturday afternoon get-togethers with neighbors, but in the business world, you need to give your guests ample reason to come to your event. They may be sacrificing family time, church obligations or any number of other events to come to your shindig, so make sure they know what’s in it for them.
Whether it’s a guest speaking on a topic that is near and dear to their hearts or a sincere, “I want to say thank you,” message, always give your invitees a reason to come see you.
Piggybacking on giving your guests a reason to attend, invite them to bring a guest. No one likes to show up to an event alone, not knowing if they are going to have someone to speak with. Allowing invitees to bring a plus one will increase the likelihood that they will attend.
It’s always a good idea to send a reminder out to your guests a day or two ahead of time. Our world is one of multiple functions and obligations each night of the week. A simple email that says, “We are so happy you can join us and we are looking forward to seeing you at…” may be just the jog to the memory a guest may need to be certain to attend.
The ESA Advantage
Executive Scheduling Associates can take the hassle out of event planning. Let us work with you to create a plan and a budget, send out invites, track down RSVPs and work with the venue to ensure a seamless and memorable event. We’ll take on as much or as little as you need us to.
Tell us about the best business event you’ve ever attended in the comments below.