First time organising or holding a small business event, conference, or seminar for your SME can be a daunting idea. Below we have detailed some of the benefits of organising and holding an event and have also listed ideas to help you market your event.
Benefits of organising and hosting an event for your SME:
Give your SME a head start in the pursuit of growth marketing and scalability (i.e. raise brand awareness, increase traffic to a website, generate revenue etc);
Share knowledge and expertise on your industry/market to build trust with your market audience;
Showcase & launch your new product or product range, physical location, website service or promotional material;
Boost SME morale and retention;
Increase fundraising efforts;
Create opportunities for networking and collaboration.
Planning your event:
First and foremost, define goals and objectives - What do you want to achieve from the event and what approach will you be undertaking to achieve your goal?
Consider Joint Marketing by teaming up with another company for the event. With 1+ more companies, joint marketing is better than one. You'll be able to reach more people, increase online visibility and scale up;
Consider reaching out to influencers who could benefit from your event and vice-versa;
Create landing pages for your event. If you already have a website and your hosting an event, then add an events page that will provide valuable information to your readers about your event, you can even create landing pages on event web pages, a popular one to use is Eventbrite;
If you're going to make a habit of hosting the same event (monthly or annually) it's worth creating a dedicated website with event branding;
Set up an event email subscription box and set up event newsletters;
A short video teaser trailer or video-invite doesn't have to cost a penny to make and can be distributed for free on a social media channel. For example, Snap Chat;
Hire an SEO and Digital Marketing professional to take care of your Search Engine Optimisation and your online marketing needs. Doing it all yourself is time-consuming and can be 'messy' and 'sloppy' when you don't know exactly what you're doing;
Showcase 'behind the scenes' event planning scenes via live streams, show and tell your audience how you're preparing (without giving away too much) and how excited you're are;
Use your contacts and reach out to local businesses that could help out in catering, entertainment, etc or sponsor you in return for free exposure;
Budget and allocate event handling and marketing budget wisely;
Give yourself enough time to prepare for the event, use project management tools and methodologies to help you meet your deadlines.
Managing your event:
Invest in a CRM system that will help manage the event with ease. With a good CRM system for events you could manage host and organiser information, detail attendees, add multiple location detail, and so much more.
Communicating your event:
Emailing your address book contacts and event subscribers will help you spread the word in an instant;
With your email contacts that have shown an interest and with genuine subscribers, be sure to regularly update them with event news and updates, offers and or a countdown.
Have a press release done to promote your event. This doesn't have to cost a fortune, there are free PR sites or affordable PR companies for small business. It may even be worth asking the SEO and digital marketing expert, company or agency you've hired to see if this is something, they/we can arrange for you using their contact base and small business offers;
Advertise on pages you already own (i.e. website, social media pages etc). Using your pre-owned digital resource pages is cost effective and helps you gain event exposure and put it straight out to your existing web and social media fanbase;
Paid advertising campaigns will give your event marketing campaign a 'boost' and perform better with event geo-marketing;
Showcase vlogs and micro-content including live streams and short, snappy and consistent hashtag for your event on social media to raise brand awareness;
As important and effective as it is to promote your event over the Internet, it is still important and effective to promote offline using traditional WOM (Word of mouth) and print advertising. Download digital print copies of flyers, posters, merchandise etc and distribute them offline.
Promoting on the day of the event and post-event:
Live streams are great for showcasing the event to people who were unable to attend and make them feel part of it. It is also great to show non-attendees what they're missing or can expect from the next event. A Facebook live stream, Twitter live tweeting, or even Instagram or SnapChat short story can create hype around the event and get attendees generating content and promoting the event with you;
Free WIFI marketing on the day can benefit you greatly with ‘real-time collaboration’, proving free and easily accessible WIFI to your attendees can help them connect, engage with their audiences and raise awareness of the event;
Show your appreciation with a 'Thank you' e-card or email;
Create an event voting poll or request an honest review for your event feedback, doing this will help you gain an insight into what people actually thought of the event to help you see what you did right and what could improve next time your next event. Doing this can also help increase your online visibility and engagement rate.
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