You can throw a helluva a party and no one is your client

Everyone loves a party, except maybe hermits. And I know many a PR student who gets in to the field “so they can manage events”. Events can be tricky for marketing your business and I caution businesses to tread lightly when it comes to events.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a party. Every year for the past 15 years I’ve thrown myself a killer birthday party and hosted 60-80 people IN DECEMBER. Friends say its the kickoff to the holiday season.

But from a business perspective, events have several cons:

  • Event hosts aren’t clear in the purpose of an event
  • The bigger the event, the more the cost and less return on investment (unless done really well)
  • Significant time investment to do an event well

Just because people love a party, doesn’t mean they will come to yours and want to be your client–they usually just want to eat your food, drink your booze and mingle with their friends, maybe make a new one. If you still want to have an event, things to consider:

  • Type of event: open house, mixer with the chamber, fundraising soiree to benefit the community, etc
  • Define the end result: new prospects, build awareness/name recognition, capture a certain percentage as clients
  • Know the cost per person to get the client and make sure its feasible. If you host an event that cost $10,000 but only 50 people go, that costs you $200 per person. That’s horrendous if you’re a hair stylist doing cuts for $35; great if you sell New York real estate with million dollar homes.
  • Be sure to have the mechanisms to capture the information about the attendees – whether they come through your bricks and mortar or stop by your booth at a trade show.
  •  Remember the stages of audience in relation to your business: awareness-great for new locations; interest-provide samples; evaluation-provide demonstrations and interactive experiences of your product or service; trial-collect signatures or business cards or have a sign in sheet to build your prospect list; adoption-offer incentives for return.

You can do something as simple as a mixer with your local chamber and offer a few crackers, cheese and wine/no alcohol options. If the chamber does the communication and you do, odds are you’ll have good turn out. Unless the chamber members aren’t your audience. Be sure you connect with the events that someone else is holding which are likely to get you to your audience. If it doesn’t, reassess why you are going or hosting an event.

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