Events can provide a tremendous public relations opportunity, if handled well. The challenge lies in handling them well. As a business what kind of event do you want to host? Open house for prospects and current clients? VIP show for current clients to maintain customer loyalty? Trying to showcase a product? Need client feedback on a new service? All valuable reasons for conducting an event.
Just be sure to evaluate the result. Because all kinds of things can go wrong with the success of an event.
- Wrong day of the week (i.e. don’t target a male audience on a Monday night football game or playoffs).
- Wrong time of day. Important to know when your target audience can get off work or leave mid-day or whether they’ll come out on a weekend.
- Wrong month.
- Wrong length of time. You host a 5 hour event, people are only going to come in the middle. And likely only for an hour and a half. Can’t be too short. No one arrives on time for a one hour event, so hold it at least 1 1/2 hours.
- Too many barriers: traffic, road construction, parking competition for space with neighbors or the weather–any of these elements can deter attendees.
- Incorrect venue for event. People can’t find it; it’s too big, too far, too shabby, too…who knows.
- Wrong tools–fliers rarely work when left in a windshield. And in some states leaving them under the wipers is illegal. Check.
- Insufficient time. It takes 3 months to plan an event for 50-100 people, when you’ve done it before. Newer events or large scale events may take longer.
- Inept message. I’ve seen invites that don’t have the date of the engagement on them. Or missed an event I might have been interested in but it was too cluttered with irrelevant information and I didn’t see the key info.
- Not enough notice. I’m booked months out. Two weeks notice clients aren’t likely to reschedule for you.
- Not enough follow up.
- Horrible food will kill an event every time.
- No plan to capture client information–remember why they are invited.
- Catering fails to bring enough food.
- Beverage bar runs out of drinks-almost worse than no food.
- No event publicity. The media aren’t going to repeatedly promote your event; you need other options in addition to media publicity in traditional outlets.
- Inaccurate information on event invite. You HAVE to proof that the date actually is the day of the week written. Nothing more irritating than to see Monday, March 18th and realize that’s not this year’s date. Is it Monday the 14th or Friday the 18th?
- Wrong KIND of event. Not like you’ll host a tea for a bunch of construction workers (pardon the stereotype), but you can go wrong by throwing your kind of party and not the kind your client is interested in or motivated to attend.
- No RSVPs; more RSVPs fail to show; more people who fail to RSVP show. Not sure what happened to manners, but few people have them for events.
- No mechanism to evaluate who attended and why, let alone what they took away from the event.
This is the tip of the iceberg for event evaluation. As you plan a business event, know what you want to get out of it and be sure you plan for the right occasion for the right clients at the right time.