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How to Host an Event for a Small Business

Have you been toying with the idea of hosting an event for your small business but aren’t sure where exactly to start?

It sounds like a fun idea and a nice way to get some buzz built up around your business and you’re excited to jump in, but you’re not sure where to start, how to plan, or what type of event to go with.

Today, we’re going to work through the process of planning for a successful event. We’ll look at those very questions you were unsure about and see some small businesses that’ve pulled off great events in the past.

Event planning is no small task, but it can be a great way to bring in some new faces and to get people excited about what you have to offer.

Step 1: Define Your Target Customer

If you’re hosting an event, you’re probably trying to get a certain clientele in the door. If you own a fashion boutique, maybe it’s women ages 16-30. Or maybe you want to attract a new demographic—like when a sports bar hosts a “Ladies Night” event. Regardless of who you’re trying to attract, your event needs to have some sort of lure for those specific customers.

When targeting your audience, consider:

Example:

7 for All Mankind, a denim lifestyle brand, hosted a special shopping event called “7 After 7” at their New York retail store. The evening event (which began after 7 pm) included host Keiko Lynn ( a fashion blogger,) cocktails, a DJ, and a gift with a $250+ purchase. Not only did the host blogger bring in some new shoppers from her loyal readership, but the fun environment made for a unique shopping experience.

7formankind

Step 2: Set a Goal and Be Prepared to Measure It

What is it you want to accomplish with your event? It is just to get some new customers acquainted with your business? Are you trying to get some press coverage? Encourage business during slow times?

Setting your goal allows you to have a clear objective when planning for your event. Special events are not always about casting a wide net—they can also help with problem-solving.

When setting your goal, consider:

Example:

EnMast.com offers free webinars on different business skills that create value both in the form of making new business connections (for their business) and in the form of providing (free!) expertise to those who attend. Costs are kept low because it’s a virtual meeting space—but you’re still getting all the benefits of hosting an event. Win-win!

Don’t forget the possibility of online events.

enmast

Step 3: Plan The Logistics

Planning is all about preparation. When getting ready for your business event, there are LOTS of angles to address. You’ll need to think about everything from supplies to checking with your insurance company about hosting the event. And even when you think you’ve covered all your bases, there always seems to be something unexpected that pops up anyway. Be prepared!

When planning your event, consider:

If you can answer those basic questions, you’re off to a good start.

Example:

BAM Marketing and 93.7 The Bull partnered for a fundraising event that benefitted Beverly Farms, a local equestrian therapy charity. The two partners came together and pooled their resources to bring in entertainment, food, and music—all while getting some nice brand exposure, displaying their philanthropic efforts, and creating a chance to connect with potential new customers. The event sold out and brought in about 500 guests for an evening of fun (and fundraising.)

bammarketing

Step 4: Get Promoting to the Right Audience

How will you spread the word about the event? Putting up a page on your website and crossing your fingers is a bad idea.

Before you being to promote to strangers, make sure you’ve established a guest list of those you already know.

Be sure to invite:

When promoting the event, contact influencers who can help you spread the word, even if they can’t attend. Contact local news agencies, Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs, and other groups that might have members.

And of course, make sure you’re offering something worthwhile. Inviting them to a new hotspot could make-or-break the decision. Consider renting out the bowling alley rather than a standard restaurant.

Step 5: Review and Follow Up

After the event is over, take the time to reflect on what worked well…and what didn’t work so well.  This step is your time to look back at the event and make notes you can use when planning your next event. You should also have collected some valuable information from your guests that need follow-up efforts. If you gathered an email address, maybe that means sending out a survey about the event or just a simple thank you note.

When reviewing, consider:

Overall, hosting an event at your small business can be a great learning experience. Not only will you gain knowledge about your business, but you’ll learn more about your customers, too.

Keep in mind: Every event has its pros and cons.

There are always ups and downs to any event—you’re not alone in that. But with proper planning, a clear objective, and a little bit of help, an event can be a great way to expand your business’s reach.

Your Turn: What was one successful event you helped make come to life?

  • http://www.enviroequipment.com Enviro Equipment, Inc.

    Last year (2013) was our company’s 20th year in business and we had “planned” to have at least two events to celebrate this so as to gain exposure with local press. Unfortunately, we kept putting it on the back burner and when December rolled around, it was too late to do anything. The sad part is, we’ll never get a second chance to hold a 20th anniversary event; the best we can do is start planning early for he 25th anniversary one.

    • http://www.emmasiemasko.com/ Emma Siemasko

      Thanks for the comment. The 20th anniversary would’ve been a great excuse for an event (and congrats on all those years in business, by the way), but there’s no reason you can’t hold one next year or the year after that. Hopefully this post has given you some more ideas on the types of events you could hold. If I were in the area and you held a 21st anniversary party, or you just hosted an Enviro Equipment barbecue, or you hosted a 5k running race, I’d still come :)