Trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and networking dinners…these are just some of the typical business events entrepreneurs get invited to on a regular basis. As an entrepreneur, you surely have attended many of these get-togethers to promote your business but have you ever considered hosting an event of your own? Putting up your own event may seem like a monumental feat but all the time and effort will be worth it.
Even if you are a small business, you can position yourself as a business leader in your area and industry by hosting an event. At the same time, it is a chance for you to make new connections and gain potential clients.
So, how do you go about setting up your own event? There are many different factors involved in running an event and you may need a professional event company to help you put it up. However, there are some essential tips that you can keep in mind to ensure that your event will generate new business.
Make the event convenient for your guests
There are many business advantages of running an event but it would be difficult to reap these benefits if your event has poor attendance. You may have thought of the most creative event theme or maybe you’re hosting it at the most exclusive venue, but if it is not accessible for guests, there is a higher risk of failure.
Your event should be easy for guests to attend. If you’re requesting for RSVP, it should be a one-click process with the minimum information required. You can request additional details by setting up a laptop or tablet at the registration booth during the event itself. If you are asking for personal details, ensure your guests that you are enforcing laptop security measures to safeguard their details and a avoid data breach.
Another important factor is to choose a venue, date, and time that your target attendees will find convenient. For example, avoid scheduling your events too close to a holiday as many people already have their own plans. Scheduling it too early or too late in the day can also be inconvenient. Make sure that you also check the local event calendar so you’re not hosting your event at the same date as another popular or much bigger event.
Expand your guest list
It is normal to feel anxious about whether people will attend your event or not, but one good technique is to make sure you start with a great guest list. Cast a wider net by not just limiting your invites to businesses in your own industry. It is better to over invite than inviting just a small number and risk a small attendance.
One rookie mistake most entrepreneurs commit is just inviting their current clients and people they already know. Keep in mind that the purpose of holding an event is to actually expand your network which means you have to be more creative in building your guest list. Think about different industries that may benefit from your products and services, go through all the people who have sent you inquiry in the past year, and ask attendees to bring a plus one. This will widen the networking prospects in your event.
Be up close and personal
Hosting your own event is a great opportunity for you to personally meet people and talk about your business. However, a networking event where people are more relaxed may not be the right time to discuss your product offerings at length and in detail. Instead of bombarding your guests with a full-blown monologue, prepare an elevator pitch that will give them an idea about your business then focus on getting to know them, too. Ask about their business, their goals, and their current needs. The more you know about your guests, the more insights you’ll get on how your product can fit into their current set-up.
Take time to chat with your guests about different topics, not just about your business. Talk about current events related to your industry or maybe ask them what future events they are planning to go to. This will also give your guests a chance to get to know you personally so you can gain their trust. If you gain their trust and show them you are credible, this will make them want to do business with you instead of the competition.
Use multimedia tools to engage your guests and follow up
Most small businesses have a lean team so it is physically impossible to attend to several guests at the same time. Plus, there are also many people who are not as adept with networking. To keep your guests occupied, you can set up a number of video screens where your guests can watch videos about your company. This is also a smart way to push brand awareness without constantly going into sales pitch mode yourself.
Another useful tool is to send the guests a thank you email after the event where you can also provide them with additional information about your company. Instead of giving out a USB drive they will most probably never check, a more practical way is to embed a link in the post-event email where they can easily download the materials. This is also more economical especially for smaller businesses because you can use free laptop cloud storage such as Google Drive and its alternatives to store your product videos, flyers, or pitch deck.
Give out incentives
A popular way to make people enjoy an event is to hold a raffle and give out prizes. While this may be a good strategy if you have sponsors, smaller businesses do not really have the budget to give away prizes. Plus, once you give out the prize, it usually ends there.
A better way is to give freebies and discounts related to your service or product. For example, if you have a subscription type of service, give attendees a one-month free subscription so they can try out what you’re offering. If you have a physical product, give out samples during your event so the guests have something to take home with them. This will remind them of your product even after the event is done.
An Eventful Opportunity
There are many benefits that come with hosting your own business event. While it may cost you time and money, you can be sure that you’ll get the return on your investment by following these valuable techniques.
Richard Kao is the Sales Director of the UK-based event and tech solutions provider COS Rental. His day to day tasks involve managing client accounts, helping customers with queries, and directing his team to ensure the best results. He has extensive experience in the B2B world and lots of knowledge to share as a result.