10 tips for organising a business event
Throwing an event is a great way to drum up new business for your company, make new connections, and raise awareness of your brand.
But events are inherently stressful. They take so much time, effort, and money to organize, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re not worth the trouble.
But if done right, they can have so many huge benefits for your organisation. To help take the anxiety out of the process, here are ten tips for organizing a business event.
1) Have a goal in mind
No one organizes a business event just for a bit of fun. You need to have a goal in mind before you start planning. Ask yourself what is the specific purpose of your event? Do you want to find new customers for your business or enhance brand awareness?
Maybe you want to announce a new product launch to an audience of your peers. Or maybe you are just trying to grow your professional network and establish yourself as an industry thought leader. Whatever your aims, make sure you are clear about them and have your goal in mind when you enter the planning process. This will help inform all your decisions and keep you focused throughout.
2) Create a budget
Business events can be expensive, so you don’t want to end up going over your budget before you’ve even sent out the invitations. Create a budget before you get started so you know exactly how much money you have to work with. Plot this against your expected benefits from the event to determine whether or not you’re looking at a good return on investment.
There will be a lot of costs to cover, including venue hire, catering, branding, and advertising to promote the event. Be careful when making purchasing decisions and compare quotes from different companies to try and keep your costs down. Keep track of everything you spend so you have an idea of whether or not you are going over budget.
3) Decide on a format
No two business events are the same and there are loads of different routes you can go down. There is nothing wrong with a traditional networking event in a spacious venue – it’s a classic format for a reason. This enables people to easily mingle amongst the crowd and have group conversations or private one-on-ones to discuss important business matters.
Alternatively you could organize a more formal sit-down meal such as a breakfast club for local entrepreneurs. This helps to provide a talking point and makes it easier for people to spark a connection.
But if you want something a bit more exciting, feel free to get creative. There’s no reason your event can’t take a more unusual form like speed networking, in which people have a limited amount of time to chat to each attendee, thus enabling them to get down to business and make contacts more efficiently.
4) Pick a venue
The location of your event is extremely important. You want a space large enough for everyone to roam comfortably without feeling crowded. You also need plenty of seating for those who want to eat food and have comfortable chats. There should be areas of privacy for sensitive business conversations and ample toilet facilities to cater for everyone.
The venue must be easily accessible either by car or public transport to increase attendance, and simple to locate. If you want your event to stick out in people’s minds, try to choose a location that is eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing in design. If the space is already impressive you don’t need to spend as much time and money on decor.
5) Choose a time
Think hard about the time and date of your business event. You want to pick a time during which the greatest number of people will be able to attend. This means you should ideally avoid business hours, when most attendees will have more pressing commitments.
Weekends are not great either, as people will need to travel from home specially for the event and would probably prefer to be spending time with their families. The best time to throw a business event is either early in the morning or later in the evening. This way, it is convenient for the majority of people to attend before or straight after work.
6) Spread the word
How are you going to let people know about your event? The more effective your marketing strategies, the more attendees you’ll get, thereby increasing your chances of attracting new business.
A good place to start is with your existing contacts. Get in touch with people you know and invite them to attend. Word of mouth is a highly effective technique so ask them to share the invitation with their own connections too.
Don’t forget the traditional marketing channels like email lists. Sending invitations to your database with inviting subject lines and easy calls-to-action should increase your numbers.
Social media is probably your best bet in this day and age. Post regular updates about your event in the weeks leading up to it, and consider a paid advertising campaign to spread the message to your target audience.
7) Delegate responsibilities
Don’t feel you have to take on all the responsibility by yourself. Use your employees to help you organize the event. You could even choose someone to be in charge of the whole event and take the burden off of your own shoulders. Get your team together to brainstorm ideas for the event. With more brains focused on the task, you will benefit from great suggestions that you’d never even consider.
Delegating tasks makes the whole organisation process a lot more manageable and increases your chances of throwing a successful event.
8) Get eyes on your brand
One of the big reasons for throwing an event is to get more eyes on your brand. There will be lots of attendees who know nothing about your company, and you want them to leave with an understanding of who you are and what you do. This can lead to follow-up conversations and potentially new business.
Make sure there is plenty of branding dotted around the event displaying your logo and brand colors. This could include teardrop flags, posters, flyers, and freebies like USB drives and pens.
9) Provide refreshments
If attendees start to feel hungry or thirsty, they will want to leave the venue a lot sooner. That’s why it’s essential to provide refreshments to keep them fuelled and lubricated. Hire a catering company to serve food and drink for your guests.
It’s up to you what type of food you choose. You could opt for a buffet-style service to enable people to help themselves and keep the conversation going. Or you could even go all out and order an elaborate sit-down meal. The choice is yours, but as long as the food is delicious it shouldn’t matter too much!
10) Follow up
Once the event is over, you don’t want to let all that hard work go to waste. Hopefully you have gone home with plenty of business cards and contact details in your pocket. Make sure you follow up on all of these connections you’ve made.
Send emails or make phone calls to thank people for coming to your event and opening the way for further conversations. Even if they’re not a prospective customer, you never know when a contact might be useful to you in the future.
By following these ten tips, you will be guaranteed an event that is memorable and meets your business goals. Good luck!
Photo by Teemu Paananen