Companies intent on turning prospects into customers are increasingly staging events to bring in new business. Entrepreneur identified live events as a major 2018 marketing trend favored by the biggest brands. And it’s no wonder: Using great event-planning ideas to create an engaging experience is just the right approach for today’s sophisticated customers, says event-planning expert Jamie Quickert, director of catering at Culinaire, a Dallas-based food-and-beverage management company. If you’re looking for event-planning ideas you can use in your own business, consider these six essential sales event-planning tips.
Tip #1: Choose the Right Format
Sales events can take many forms. Depending on your goals, you may wish to create a:
- Grand opening
- Seminar or workshop
- Product demonstration
- Brunch, luncheon, or dinner
- Networking event
- Fun Outing
- Field marketing event
- Mini-event at a larger event, such as a trade show
Think about what your goal is and what event-planning ideas might help you reach it. If you’re trying to inform the prospect or customer and display your product, you might use a seminar, workshop, or demonstration. If your goal is to get to know them in a relaxed atmosphere, you may choose to host a meal or an outing. If you’re mainly interested in making connections, a mini-event at a trade show or networking event might be the best event for you.
Tip #2: Focus on the Experience
Whatever type of event-planning ideas you’re considering, Quickert says that the event experience should be your focus. What will set apart your event and make it different from other events? She advises getting out of the conference-room rut and choosing unexpected locations—perhaps a zoo or a beautiful museum.
You may also use entertainment, catering, or other experiential elements that will give attendees something to talk about. The more memorable the experience, the more attendees you’ll likely attract—and they may even help promote your brand with posts on social media, Quickert says. Eventbrite offers advice on the three stages of creating an exceptional event experience.
Tip #3: Feed Them
Food can be an important part of the event experience. One essential event-planning tip is to ensure the food complements the theme of the meeting. Finger foods might be more appropriate at networking events, with more substantial offerings at meals where your goal is to sit down and get to know the attendees. Food can help you keep your audience focused at the event and contribute to the overall experience.
Tip #4: Promote It
Be sure you promote your event to ensure your target audiences are aware of it. One way to promote your event is through targeted emails, an optimal channel to build your audience. According to a recent Eventbrite survey, 78 percent of marketers will use email to promote their events in 2018. Social media, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, can also be very helpful in getting the word out and providing automated calendar reminders, Quickert says.
Tip #5: Deliver Great Content
As you work on your event-planning ideas, think about the content that you’ll want to deliver and the best way to do so. For getting-to-know-you events like networking cocktail hours or mini-events at trade shows, you may wish to come up with a series of elevator pitches that tell prospects what you do in a few short words. For demonstrations, you’ll want to highlight exactly what benefits the product or service delivers. At seminars and workshops, you’ll want a dynamic speaker who knows how to keep audience members engaged as he or she educates them.
Bottom line: Quickert says to avoid the hard sell. Today’s sophisticated customers have likely already done their homework online, so they may know more than you think they do. Focus on educating and engaging them for better results.
Tip #6: Follow Up
Even if your event is successful in generating leads, your efforts will fall flat if no one follows up. A recent survey from Certain, an automation-software company, found that just 30 percent of business-to-business (B2B) marketers are satisfied with their lead follow-up, which is often plagued by inefficiency in the process. To prevent this from happening, Inc. magazine has some event-planning ideas to get sales and marketing teams to work more closely to reduce the likelihood that leads will fall by the wayside.
Food can be an important part of the event planning experience. Need to order catering for your next event?