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Small business events checklist: How to get your money's worth

Wondering whether it’s worth your time and money to run an event to promote your business? A good starting point is to answer these three questions - what kind of audience are you going to attract, what’s in it for them and what will you take away from the event. 

Once you decide that running an event is good for business, here’s a checklist to ensure it’s worth every penny you spend on it.

Strong and clear communications that provoke action.

Identify the purpose of your event. Ask yourself - what sort of value does it create for your business and the audience?

Return on investment is critical, not only for you and your business, but also for your audience. What’s in it for them? Jack Collis, author of Work Smarter, Not Harder, would talk about your day-to-day and business life in the framework of going out into the marketplace to trade. He asked “How well did I trade today?” If you apply the same consideration when talking to your audiences, then you start to question whether your content is valuable enough when weighed up against their time. 

Make sure you communicate this purpose to your audience. In your emails, banners, posters and all other promotional material, clearly state what people are going to get out of attending this event - it could be:

  • a new skill they’ll learn
  • a networking opportunity
  • a way for people to know the latest industry trends

Whatever it is, if people are giving a couple of their productive hours to you, they need to know why they’re doing it. 

ALSO READ: 7 powerful tools for dominating small business presentations

Always have a call to action.

It seems no matter what we are doing, there is always a message being communicated to us or at us. Cut through the noise by articulating exactly what you want your audience to do. Style your approach to suit your brand:

  • compelling and creative (“Drop your business card in the bowl to win a free xyz” or “Let’s co-brand some content“) or
  • straight-forward and functional (schedule a meeting, download a whitepaper or buy now)

With your follow up strategy, ensure you have a targeted follow up plan. Sort your audience into groups based on their behaviour and tailor a personalised approach. What you send to the people who attended will be different to the guests who registered but didn’t make it on the day. Prioritise the follow up based on their propensity to buy. For example, take a more personalised approach with a phone call for those who are more engaged with your product or brand.

Test different versions to get the best outcome.

When you are close to a project, it sometimes becomes hard to see the forest for the trees. Test the messages before you go out to market. Tap into your business network and ask for their reaction to the communications. Refine your messages before going out to the market by seeking feedback on things like: 

  • your event’s landing page
  • the invite for the event
  • social campaign promoting the event

Multiple mediums. One message.

How will people find out about what you are offering them?

The more touchpoints your event has amongst your audience - from the early awareness stage through invites or ticket sales through to the follow up - the greater success you will have in making the event “sticky”.

Text based emails and SMS are effective platforms you can use for invites and reminders. If it is an ‘open’ event, sharing across your social channels will open the invitation to a variety of networks (business friends, employees, customers, advocates) and encouraging  ‘sharing’ will organically amplify your events reach. It’s also a good idea to promote your event through websites that list the latest events in an area.

Frequency is audience dependant.

The amount of times you communicate to your audience will be determined by:

  • demographics
  • event type
  • location

If engaging with an executive level audience (a roundtable or intimate dinner), ensure 8 weeks lead time including a drawcard venue and a personalised follow-up plan.

Remember your follow up plan needs to be for both those who did attend or those who couldn't make it on the day. Use technology to help you automate your communications and outsource where it’s cost effective. Software such as Hootsuite and Hubspot is as good as a headcount - for a fraction of the price. For a large scale activity, automate your communication to event registrants and attendees prior (directions or agenda information), during (live streaming or social sharing) and after the event (access to session slides or additional video content).

Invest in reusable, engaging and shareable content creation

Capture the moment.

If you are luring people in by having an interesting speaker related to your small business or by hosting the event in a fantastic location, capture it. Hire a photographer, content creator or a video production team. It will help celebrate the success after the program has commenced, and continue to nurture them with additional content or promotion for future events.

Assets will help raise brand awareness.

Every touch point across the customer journey impacts your brand experience. With clever planning, your business can host a memorable event and walk away with reusable quality assets that will contribute to the marketer's efforts to develop those ‘sticky’ relationships and turn a buyer into a brand advocate.

The types of assets that can be created out of your event content include:

 

  • customer case study videos
  • testimonials
  • thought leadership articles
  • highlight reels are

Loop these into your follow up strategy and post-event promotion.

Align your brand with industry leaders and influencers.

What decision makers do you have in the room? Are you providing them with something to talk about? Are they engaging with the content? Bring to the table industry leaders and influencers who will drive engagement and create value for your audience. Having an ‘drawcard’ speaker is also a great way to lure people to your small business event.

Each checklist point is helping your small business shorten the sales cycle by building and communicating your brand’s value proposition.

About the author:

Andrew Everingham is a technology marketer, entrepreneur and advocate for the homeless who has spent his twenty-plus year career doing both. Now, he’s bringing others along for the ride as managing director of marketing and event management agency CAPITAL-e.

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