Six tips to make your next business event a success

Admit One - Tips for Special Event MarketingSpecial events, whether held at a physical location or simply an online event, can be successful with the right planning and the right implementation team. If you don’t have time to put together a plan, cancel the idea entirely, because for the event to be successful, it has to be done right. Here are six tips for getting started.

1.  Begin with a team – Even if you operate an online business with a team of one, build an event marketing team to help you. Consider offering volunteer opportunities and internships to local high school and college students.  Reach out to industry colleagues and friends, civic groups (Rotaries, Kiwanis, etc.) and others in your network. Your goal is to build a team whose members have strengths that you don’t. For example, if writing a press release isn’t your forte, invite a public relations practitioner to join the team.  The key is to think strategically and to surround yourself with people who can do what you can’t. There is tremendous value received from working with teams.  You are blessed with the unique perspectives and ideas of each team member, and the power of their networks.

2.  Give yourself enough time to plan – If you haven’t already developed a business Marketing Plan, put this at the top of your list. Convene the team and go through the process. Planning forces you to look into the future for opportunities.  It also requires developing a timeline for implementation, which will help you stay on track and better organize tasks.

By creating an overall marketing plan filled with strategies, your team will be able to quickly identify opportunities to promote the special event. Special events are strategies that you will use to help meet your plan goals and objectives. As you identify opportunities for special events or sales events, your next step will be to create individual marketing plans for each event.

3. Delegate but share the responsibility – Let those on your team lead the tasks where they excel.  Back to my public relations example, let the professionals do their stuff. But at the same time, keep up with what they are doing, so that you learn these important skills.  Even though you delegate some duties to those who do it best, everyone should hold equal responsibility for helping each other. There will be some tasks that will be the responsibility of everyone, such as creating awareness, selling tickets or filling sponsor tables. The reason this is important is because you don’t want the difficult jobs to only be assigned to people who excel at doing them. Ask everyone to contribute or you’ll burn out your volunteers in a flash.

4.  Research, Research, Research – Technology changes every day and with it comes new ideas for promoting your special events.  Allot ample time for research as you build your marketing plan. Let your research include time for benchmarking your competition.

5.  Integrate your efforts – Evaluate all of your online and offline channels and incorporate them into the event marketing plan. For example, let’s say you decide to create an event hashtag to help build momentum for the event and to allow attendees to share about the event.  Is this hashtag on your event flyers and posters? Is it on the event invitation? Is it on your Facebook page? Your email signature?  Think about each and every marketing tactic and how you can use it across digital channels, but also with your offline efforts.

6. Send your plan to your network – If you own a small business, you’ve been building a network. It’s the secret sauce for any successful business. LinkedIn is probably your best resource for growing your network. Once you have a finished the event marketing plan, send it out to those in your network who specialize in marketing or have experience holding business events, and ask for their input. While these people may not have the time to volunteer for your planning committee, they will more than likely be glad to take a final glance and offer suggestions. The key with this strategy is to approach them in advance and make the ask and let them know it is coming.  Then, make sure you to give them ample time for review, at least a week or preferably two.  As with anyone who lends you their time, be respectful of this gift.

Once you go through the process above, you will immediately see the value of this strategy and it will serve as a template for the next event.  But for now, it’s your turn.  What special event marketing tips do you have?

Don’t miss next Monday’s issue… I’ll focus on “how-to” use social media channels to market your event.