Why have a business event? Do it for the networking, celebrating an anniversary or launching a new brand, service or product. Whatever your own reasons are, the event itself will be different depending on the goals you’ve set. The type of event will also dictate which venue you would book and who you invite. It even has a lot to do with how much you spend.
Here are some tips on small business event planning to make them enjoyable and memorable:
Have a Business Plan
Planning an event involves using resources and staff — even if it’s a one-man operation — so drawing up a formal plan and budget will the ball rolling before the bills and hours start piling up. Thinking about the original idea of why you wanted to host an event and who you had in mind to invite can shape the answer to “But where?!!?”. A celebration of success like an anniversary or landing a big new client can take place in an intimate event place that fits the occasion and size, while an workshop or team development day will likely require a venue with audiovisual capabilities and presentation space.
Start brainstorming and reviewing your mailing and business lists for who must be invited, such as loyal clients, influential members of the community or local media personalities.
Setting a budget will help prioritize the guest list and make decisions about the next stages of planning.
Start creating buzz by making the upcoming event look really inviting so people will want to be there and will RSVP “yes.” Using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as your company website or personal blog, can get people talking and can replace costly and time-consuming paper invite mailings.
Making the RSVP process easy for invitees will help you stay on track and on budget, and an option to toggle a simple yes or no without having to explain why someone will attend makes it even easier on guests. It might be worth it to invite some special guests, like the media and VIP clients mentioned earlier, with a more personal touch such as a handwritten note and/or a follow-up phone call or.
Budget and Barter
If your company can make a deal with a catering company or local photographer, that can be a win-win for your budget.
Budget a set amount and stick to it. Having a best- and worst-case scenario for spending makes it easier to enjoy the party and your guests, too, because there won’t be as much running around to add “this and that” right before or during the big event.
Partnering with other small and even large businesses can be a big payoff whether the party is a success or not. If you have services to offer a catering company or local liquor store, maybe in the way of editing their Web sites or printing fliers at cost, bartering can be a win-win. Some companies even offer goods and services in exchange for setting out cards or linking to their business Web sites from your event site, and the more business owners you contact, the more potential for word-of-mouth and getting your own services on the minds of others who might not know of you otherwise.
Be the Life of the Party
Your small business is often your “baby,” and having a vested interest as well as an emotional connection to what you do shows. Event-planning can be as stressful as launching a new venture or plunking down an investment in the future, so stepping out of planner mode and into party mode isn’t always easy. Being a host, however, is a perfect opportunity to show your energy and passion for your products, services, customers and potential clients.
Be determined to have a good time whether 10 or 200 people walk through the door, and especially if one of those is covering your event for the local news. Most of us remember a business or individual from a mention in an online article or print newspaper and we’re sure to know about those places where friends and family have had bad service or experiences, so plan for success as a business ambassador, as well as the life of the party.