How to run small business events
The role of events in the business world has grown exponentially over the years.
In fact, research shows that a staggering 80.4% of organizers view events as the primary avenue for reaching their business objectives.
However, the success of an event doesn’t happen by chance. It requires meticulous planning, from understanding your audience and setting clear objectives to choosing the right platform and executing the logistics flawlessly. The stakes are high, but so are the rewards.
This article will highlight proven tips for planning a successful event for your small business. It will also give examples of free and paid event planning platforms for your next event.
How to plan a small business event
Planning an event for your small business can be a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. Whether it’s a product launch, a networking session, or a customer appreciation day, a well-executed event can elevate your brand and foster stronger relationships. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure your event is a success.
1. Define your goal
Every event should have a clear purpose. Are you aiming to introduce a new product, celebrate a milestone, or perhaps educate your audience? You can better tailor the event’s content and activities to meet that goal by pinpointing the objective.
2. Set a budget
Financial planning is crucial. List out all potential expenses, from venue rental to promotional materials. Allocate funds wisely, prioritize essential costs, and always set aside a contingency amount for unforeseen expenses. After all, data shows that the event industry has been in a recovery state since 2021, further reinforcing the importance of monetary efficiency.
3. Choose a date and venue
Select a date that avoids major holidays or industry events. When choosing a venue, consider accessibility, capacity, and the facilities offered. Online platforms can be a cost-effective alternative for businesses on a tight budget or those targeting a global audience.
4. Plan the content
Outline the event’s schedule. If you’re hosting speakers, coordinate with them on topics and timings. Ensure you have the necessary materials and facilitators for workshops or interactive sessions.
5. Pick the right events platform
The platform you choose can determine how effectively you can market the event and enhance your attendees’ experience. Some of the most effective strategies to promote your event include working with sponsors, sending targeted email campaigns, running referral programs, and hosting events virtually.
Consider factors like user-friendliness, cost, and features offered. Platforms like Eventbrite are great for ticketing, while Zoom or Hopin might be better for virtual events. Research and choose one that aligns with your needs.
6. Promote the event
Effective promotion can make or break your event. Ideally, you should harness your business’s social media channels, email newsletters, blogs in your niche, and even local media. A successful promotion should utilize content to the fullest, regardless of the channel. Likewise, early bird promotions or special offers can also boost registrations.
7. Coordinate logistics
This involves the nitty-gritty. If you’re hosting a physical event, consider aspects like parking, equipment setup, and catering. For virtual events, ensure your technology is reliable, and consider doing a test run to iron out any glitches.
8. Follow up
A post-event follow-up is a gesture that goes a long way. Send out thank-you emails, share event highlights, or even offer exclusive deals to attendees. This fosters goodwill, strengthens your business’s relationship with its audience, and gives you a chance to get some valuable feedback.
Platforms for hosting and promoting events
Choosing the right platform to host and promote your event is a critical decision. Here are some of the top choices, with each having its own unique features and purpose:
With Facebook Events, you can create, manage, and promote your events to a vast audience, given Facebook’s extensive user base. Whether your event is public or private, you’ll have the tools to share updates, post photos, and engage with attendees.
Since many people are already on Facebook daily, it’s a convenient and familiar platform for both you and your potential attendees.
Eventbrite offers a platform tailored for various events, from intimate workshops to grand concerts. You’ll find tools for ticketing, registration, and promotion.
Plus, its seamless integration with other marketing tools and social platforms means you can easily get the word out about your event. Its intuitive interface ensures that even if you’re new to event planning, you’ll find it easy to use.
Type: Free, but they take a cut of ticket prices
If you’re looking to organize gatherings around shared interests or causes, Meetup is for you. It’s perfect for setting up recurring events or community meetups.
You can create groups based on specific interests, and members get notified of upcoming events. It’s an excellent way for you to build a dedicated community and ensure consistent attendance.
Type: The required paid subscription lets you run up to 3 unrelated meetups, and you can collect dues, donations, and pledges through PayPal.
Cvent is a powerhouse in the event management world. Beyond just ticketing, it offers venue sourcing, mobile event apps, and on-site check-in solutions. It’s best suited for large-scale, professional events where comprehensive management tools are essential.
Originally a video conferencing tool, Zoom’s widespread adoption during the remote work era has made it a popular choice for virtual events. While the free version offers basic features, paid plans provide extended meeting durations and additional tools suitable for larger events.
Type: Free basic plan; paid plans for more features.
Factors to consider when choosing a platform
Here are some key factors to consider when making your choice:
- Event type. What kind of event are you hosting? Is it a one-time seminar, a recurring workshop, or perhaps a monthly meetup? Different platforms cater to different event formats, so picking one that aligns with your event’s nature is crucial.
- Audience. Think about who you’re targeting. Where does your desired audience spend most of their time online? Some platforms might be popular among certain age groups or demographics, making them more suitable for reaching your specific audience.
- Budget. How much are you willing or able to spend? Some platforms offer free options but may charge for additional features or for hosting paid events. Understanding the cost structure and ensuring it fits within your budget is essential.
- Discoverability. How easy is it for potential attendees to find your event? Some platforms have built-in audiences and offer better visibility, especially for niche events. If discoverability is a priority, choose a platform known for its search and recommendation features.
- Features. Consider the tools and functionalities you need. Do you require a ticketing system, RSVP management, analytics, or integration with other software? Ensure your chosen platform offers the features crucial for your event’s success.
Maximizing discoverability on event platforms
Getting your event noticed is key. Here’s how to boost its visibility:
- SEO for events. Use relevant keywords in your event title and description. This makes it easier for people to find your event when they search online.
- Social media. Share your event on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Encourage others to share it, or think about hiring an influencer.
- Email marketing. Send out invites to your mailing list. A reminder email closer to the date can also boost attendance.
- Collaborate. Team up with other businesses or influencers. They can help promote your event to their audience.
Get ready for your first event!
Organizing an event for your small business is a valuable opportunity. It’s more than just a gathering; it’s a chance to strengthen your brand’s relationship with its audience. With the right tools and planning, you can create memorable experiences that benefit both your attendees and your business. So dive in with dedication, and let every event be a step forward for your business.