How to Plan a Successful Special Event

A special event can supercharge your small business and help kick-start sales in the spring and summer.

Business expansion, Business ideas, Customer relations

Hosting a special event as a small-business owner is the perfect way to connect with customers, boost sales, increase brand awareness and build relationships with local influencers. Different special event possibilities include talks by experts, informal meet-and-greets, and exclusive sales and community fairs that invite new buyers to come through the door. Holding a successful event starts with having a clear goal and strategically investing in event promotion to get the word out. Here are four steps to make sure your event is a success.

1. Determine the Goal for Your Event

Customer events take a lot of work to plan, and it's easier to succeed when you start the process with a clear idea of what success looks like for you. When planning your event, goals to consider include:

  • Customer acquisition: Attract new customers and raise awareness of your brand.
  • Expansion: Promote new product lines or services and help expand your brand image into new areas.
  • Retention: Show appreciation for your customers and help build deeper relationships with them.
  • Reputation building: Become a trusted expert in your community and the go-to source for your products or services.

2. Decide What Type of Event to Hold

Once you've determined your goal, decide what type of special event to hold. The best format depends on what you're trying to achieve. For example, building your reputation means showing expertise. A law firm might give a free talk on how to set up a will. A landscaping company might sponsor an expert lecture on local flowers. A focus on attracting new customers might mean attending or co-sponsoring community fairs, hosting an open house or offering a sale with discounts for first-time customers. Retaining customers or expanding your business might include an exclusive promotion, a reception-style event or access to an expert who can answer your customers' specific questions.

3. Develop a Marketing Strategy To Promote the Event

Determine the best ways to market your event. For example, reaching out to existing customers might include an email blast to your newsletter list and putting signs in or outside your office or store. Connecting with new customers could also include a direct mail campaign or placing ads or announcements online or in local papers. Think about the different channels available, including social media, local outlets and your physical location.

4. Invest in Necessary Supplies for the Event

Create a checklist of the materials you will need to have on hand to make the event a success. These may include: printed documents that attendees can take home with them with more information; supplies like cups and plates for refreshments; or decorative items like plant stands, to help give your meeting space a splash of visual appeal.

You may need to print coupons or special discount promotions if you're having a sale, or have promotional items on hand to distribute and keep your brand fresh in attendees' minds, such as bookmarks to put into bags or gift items like branded t-shirts or pens. Consider how you will showcase your brand throughout the event, including posters and banners for your in-store design and decoration.

Whether you're launching a new product line or simply want a timely reason to reconnect with customers you haven't seen in a while, hosting an event as a small-business owner is a great option.