In a digital world, many marketers are fixated on how to reach their audience online. However, online marketing is not the only option that could work for your business. If you have ever thought about hosting an offline event, you know this can be a great way to generate leads or retain contacts that are already in your pipeline. While events can be a complex type of marketing, a successful event gives you all kinds of leverage and long-term benefits. Here are 6 key elements to throwing a successful event for your business.
1. Know Your Budget
Events cost money. Before you start coming up with the big creative ideas, work out a ballpark of your budget. Break it down into the different types of costs that could be involved. (If you are looking for ideas, I have a comprehensive list here). By doing this up front, you will help keep yourself on track during the planning process, and it may help you make decisions along the way.
2. Target your Target Markets
Events have multiple target markets. Of course, you already know that you want to have attendees, and even those attendees could be from multiple target markets. You also might want staff, volunteers, sponsors, partners, vendors, etc. The list could be quite lengthy, and it is worth making that list many months ahead of time. Your goal is to use the context of this event as a means of reaching them with a specific message. Each group is on a communication pathway of its own, so get clear about who you need to reach so you can be more effective.
3. Plan the Right Type of Event
If you know who all of your target markets are, the next step is to ask yourself exactly what type of event they want to be part of. Are they looking for a certain type of unique activity? Networking? Education? Are they looking for a good meal? Do they want to feel like they are contributing to a cause? Figure out what would compel each target market to get involved and see if you can incorporate those elements into their event experience.
4. Strategize Your Before-Event Timeline
An event is not one event. It’s a hundred little moments all rolled into one campaign. One of the biggest turning points my clients have is when they understand that their event is actually the backdrop for dozens of impressions with each target market. Create a timeline for your outreach so you can maximize it. And – for bonus points – look at all the items on that timeline that give you an opportunity to partner with another business or influencer to get more reach with your message.
5. Outline the Next Steps for Your Audience
The event doesn’t end on event day. Just like you had a timeline for communications before the event, you can have one for after the event, too. What are all the ways you can contact each target market to extend the conversation? You can thank them, give them updates, tell them how much money you raised, send them pictures. There could be any number of options. If you don’t plan this out before, you will be way too tired afterwards to think of ideas and execute them.
6. Have Adequate Staffing at the Event
Make sure you have enough people to help you get this event across the line. Train some next-in-command personnel or volunteers so you can free yourself up to work the room on the day of. Frankly, most events involve a massive amount of grunt work, and you really don’t want to be taking care of menial tasks when you could have been doing high-powered networking with all the people you brought in.
Of course, offline events are not a simple thing. But, if you do an event well, the benefits could last well into the future and give you many points of leverage for your next communications. Before you decide to double down on online marketing, consider how an offline event might work into your strategy. And use these 6 key elements to throw a successful event for your business.
Guest Post by:
About Melissa Forziat
I am a small business marketing coach and event manager with international experience in event and brand management. A former artistic gymnast for 18 years, I “retired” at the age of 22 and turned my love of sport into a whirlwind career of contracts with huge brands like the Olympic Winter Games (2006 and 2010), Rugby World Cup (2011), and the US Olympic Committee. Now, I own Melissa Forziat Events and Marketing and enjoy helping small businesses and nonprofits to make the most of their marketing and events and to reach more people with their message. Connect with me at www.melissaforziatevents.com.
Melissa Photo Credit: http://cjphotonw.com/
Photo Credit: Small Business Trends