For years I produced dinner programs and full-blown conferences for professionals who worked with the printing industry. With no experience whatsoever, but with two uber-capable associates, I jumped into the event business.
How hard could it be?
If I had known back then what was involved, I might never have continued.
Every time I had one of my events in the rear-view mirror, I learned new secrets for improving them. And though I’m now out of that field, I get calls from industry people asking for help with their events.
So I thought I’d share just 6 of my best secrets for hosting a successful print customer event. I didn’t know any of these when I started.
- Make sure the program or general purpose of your event is attractive to your guest list. If it’s educational, the topics and the speakers have to be spectacular and relevant. If it’s purely social, make it super convenient in every way (date, time, location) and entice your prospects with great food and maybe the chance to win some fabulous prizes.
- Plan your event 9 to 12 months in advance. The more time, the better. For starters, pick your date carefully, noting the following: federal, state and religious holidays; school vacations; competing industry events; potential bad weather complications. Aside from getting the date right, you must create and implement a promotional strategy across multiple channels. Proper event promotion takes 3 times longer than you think.
- Leave sales out of it. If your event smacks of being highly self-promotional, people won’t attend. Whether it’s a dinner program, an open house, a conference, or a day at the ball park, keep your eye on entertaining or enlightening your guests, not selling to them.
- Be professional about everything. Make your event a classy one. This requires attention to every detail and being hyper organized. Develop it well. Describe it accurately. Promote it cleverly. Deliver excellence. Make your guests comfortable. Act like an event “concierge.” Conference guests will complain about bad or insufficient food, cold (or hot) session rooms, lousy signage, and lame speakers. They have every right to, so think like a guest as you approach your event.
- Don’t do it alone. Events are a lot of work and might require a hefty investment, so get the right help to do it well. Consider who will handle things like promotions, creating the guest list, registration, venue management, catering details, signage, program development, handouts and giveaways, feedback, speakers and so on.
- Give guests a little bit of razzmatazz. Great customer events have a “wow” factor or two that keeps attendees talking about them for long afterwards. Aim for this “long tail” feature. Maybe you had an incredible speaker or held your event in a famous popular locale. Maybe your program was spectacular in ways that competitors can’t touch. Always gather feedback after your event, too.
Approach your customer event with one goal: to knock your guests’ socks off. Make them feel it was well worth their time (and money if you’re charging).
A successful customer event reflects well on your company for a long time. Don’t underestimate the attention you must devote to even the simplest of events you’re hosting. I hope these 6 secrets help.
If you’re planning a customer event and need my help, please get in touch.
©2014 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.