An event can be the launch of a new product, a new store, a birthday celebration — anything that is interesting enough to draw a crowd. It can take place at your business premises or in a public venue hired for the occasion.
Whatever the reason and wherever the event takes place, the purpose is to expose as many customers and prospects as possible to your business, its products and services. It aims to stimulate traffic that can come into contact with you and your sales staff by creating a climate within which selling — either at the event or afterward — is made easier.
No matter how exciting your event, the public has to be aware of it in order for it to be successful. Obviously, planning is important so that all the finer details can be attended to on time and by the right people responsible for them. It’s always best to draw up an action calendar, filling in when things must happen and indicating who on your staff is responsible for them. Such a calendar or chart must be positioned in a prominent spot so that everyone involved in the promotional event can see it and study it regularly.
Follow up with regular meetings to check on progress. Brainstorm with your staff — you’ll be surprised at the ideas they come up with once you’ve outlined the basic theme and objectives.
Pick a theme for your event, something that your local community can respond to and identify with. It’s often wise to divide your action calendar into:
- Pre-event activities
- Actions during the event itself
- Post-event activities.
- Budgeting: Prepare a budget for all anticipated expenses, and keep tabs on them as you progress. Items you should plan for are:
- Advertising and promotional material
- Newspaper space
- Banners and flags
- Printing of invitations, name tags, programmes
- Venue costs
- Hire charges of sound equipment and public address systems;
- Decorations, special serviettes;
- Guest speaker;
- Additional items such as competition prizes, accommodation costs, gifts.
- Plan how you will publicise the event, and reserve advertising space.
- By when must the adverts be ready, and who will approve them?
- Will there be a Press Release, and by when must it be ready? When must it appear? Be flexible; it might be necessary to release a press statement earlier than planned.
- What other methods of promotion should be used? Posters, banners, flysheets? Flags, paper cups, place mats, balloons?
- When publicising your event, remember to: announce the time and place; state whether all are welcome.
- Invitations: An event might well be open to all, but there will always be special guests you would like to invite by name. Make sure the invitations are printed and mailed on time if you require a RSVP.
- Also prepare a method of capturing names during the event, so that follow-up communications can take place afterward.
- DON’T FORGET TO INVITE THE MEDIA!
- Arrange name tags.
- Book the venue if one is required.
- Make sure the media know well in advance of the event. Invite them in writing, along with an explanation of what you are planning. Build their interest.
- Make contingency plans if the weather is a factor.
- Organise catering, cutlery, seating.
- Arrange whatever equipment is needed for announcements and entertainment.
- Arrange for a guest speaker or celebrity appearance if this is needed.
- Arrange parking facilities.
- Establish a programme of events.
- Arrange display material, brochures, slides, videos etc.
- Check with all your suppliers — printers, product — that what you need will be supplied on time.
- When deciding on a date for your event, check that it does not clash with other community activities, and make sure that it leaves you enough time for preparation.
- Make sure the public address system is working.
- Are your sales staff fully briefed on what is expected of them?
- Are the staff identified by means of name tags?
- Check on the caterers.
- Are guest speakers familiar with the programme?
- Double check that the press will be there on time.
- Arrange a follow-up press release, preferably with photographs.
- If names of guests have been obtained, use these in a follow-up email or direct mail campaign thanking them for their presence.
- Send the guest speaker a thank-you note.
- Ensure you return all hired equipment on time to avoid additional charges.
- THANK YOUR STAFF.