Your Guide to Hosting a Successful Business Event
Events give you an opportunity to showcase your firm’s expertise, build a strong relationship with your clients as well as helping clients in more areas of their business.
They can involve a bit of time and cost but also deliver new business and stronger connections with your clients. If you are considering an event, here are some tips to help with the planning process.
It all starts with your goals
The first priority is to think about what you would like to achieve with your event. Nothing beats face-to-face time but make sure your event also delivers on two things:
- Value for your audience – you’ll want to create an event that your attendees want to come to, and when they do, they learn something useful or gain knowledge and insight for their own ventures. You will have added value for them!
- Value for your business – events can be expensive and time-consuming, so before you start, think about what you want it to deliver to your firm. You might want to highlight other services you offer that clients aren’t aware of and therefore grow average revenue or you might be looking to grow your client base.
Your event might have short term goals such as attracting new clients or longer-term goals such as building your reputation as a thought leader or specialist in a niche area. Understanding your end goal will help clarify the best way to achieve a return on your investment. It will also shape what your event would look like and help you to make decisions on the specifics, such as:
- What do you want attendees to do? Is there an action you would like attendees to take and how will you encourage them to do this?
- What is the event topic or theme? This might be your area of expertise or a session that supports your clients in an area of their business.
- Who is your target audience? Is it existing clients or new prospects and how many attendees do you need to cater for?
- Where will you host it? Can you host at the office or do you choose somewhere more interesting? Make sure it’s set up for the numbers and if the final numbers are small then can you close off areas to make it more intimate? Is there easy parking? If your location and timing make it difficult for people to get there, your attendance will suffer.
- When is the best time? You will know what will suit your audience best, based on their business week; whether it’s morning, midweek or after work.
- What equipment might you need? If someone is speaking at the event, will you need sound and visual equipment? Have you got someone who can take photos for your social feeds or a newsletter?
- What else will you need? Event materials, catering, staffing, signage, audiovisual equipment, insurance etc
- A budget Your event should deliver a return on your investment so set your budget around what you would like to achieve.
You don’t need to do it alone
Combining with others can help you reach a wider audience, as well as giving each business an increased credibility by association. It also helps to share the event planning, marketing, and costs. It’s worth thinking outside the square about other businesses you could partner with. For example, if you were targeting clients in construction, you could partner with a building supplier or construction lawyer.
Tell people about it
Get in early with a ‘save the date’ so that you give people enough time to block the time in their diary.
Keep it simple and give them a reason to attend. Make sure you focus on ‘what’s in it for them’. You might want to offer an incentive such as a free guide or something they can take away from the event. If your event is invitation only, send the details via email and include a link to register. You can use BOMA’s landing pages to collect registrations and then follow up with reminders closer to the date. For open events, post on your social channels:
- Use your event’s key benefits to create posts over the weeks leading up the date, to build awareness.
- Ask people to share your posts on their feed with others you may be interested.
- Introduce the guest speakers if you have one, and link to their social pages
- Write a blog on the topic to post on your website and share across your social pages.
- Create a landing page in BOMA to collect registrations and capture details.
- Give your attendees some homework before the event so they really make the most of the information you are going to share.
- Create a Facebook group and invite attendees to join and communicate with each other about shared experience and knowledge (remember to check in to accept people wanting to join, and to keep the conversation going).
- Send a reminder in the week before and any information about getting there or what to expect.
Event follow up
Thank people for attending – you might want to include topic materials, such as checklists and guides or offer a time to discuss in greater detail for their specific business needs.
Your attendees are great prospects and they will be a receptive audience in the days following the event, particularly if you have given them something to think about. Make the most of this opportunity and use your event as the springboard to the next conversation or to help them on a deeper level with their business.
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