4 Tips for Hosting an Event
According to Hubspot, hosting a customer event twice per year is a good way to ensure that you don’t lose touch with your customers for a significant period of time.
“People work on relationships these days,” Jack Noble, owner and president of Event Lab, a company that organizes corporate events, says.
Whether it’s a grand opening, an open house, a fundraiser, or a get-together “just because,” hosting an event is a great way to form a stronger relationship with your customers. Dusty Kubly, owner of Kubly’s Automotive in Brodhead, Wisc., had his shop’s 25th anniversary open house in September to connect with as many people as they could, current customers and new, and the shop did just that. In a rural town made up of only 3,000 residents, the shop was able to bring out over 150 people, with some new customers scheduling appointments at the event. Here are some tips on throwing an event that will help retain your current customers and draw in new ones.
Tip No. 1: Plan ahead.
If you’re going to throw a well-thought-out event, you’ll need to plan well in advance, especially when food, drinks, and entertainment are involved. Noble, who created the event decor and design company, says it’s important to know who guests are and around how many are going to show up so you have enough food and drinks for all of them.
Two months before the event, Kubly and his wife, Roxy, started planning: the date, time, seating, food, drinks, entertainment, guests—the list goes on. Kubly even involved the shop’s employees for feedback and ideas—one employee suggested having a bounce house to attract more families to the shop.
Once all of the plans were in place, the shop started promoting the event. And the closer the event got, the more promotion they did.
“If you do it [promotion] too soon, people will forget about it and if you do it too close, people will already have plans,” Kubly says.
Tip No. 2: Make it appealing.
A key factor in hosting an successful event is to provide some sort of entertainment, like having a band perform, hosting a live auction or providing games for attendees to play. Noble says big games, like life-size Jenga, are extremely popular at events his company helps put on. Rule of thumb: make the event something customers will want to attend. And if you want to throw a quality event but don’t want to fork over a lot of money, talking to the people in your network is the way to go.
At Kubly’s open house, everything from the bounce house down to the tables and chairs was provided by vendors and community groups the shop is a part of—he didn’t spend a dime.
When planning was happening, Kubly had talked to his parts suppliers and vendors about the open house. The bounce house and the door prizes were all donated by vendors. One of his vendors, AutoZone, even told him if he ever wanted to put on an event, they’d provide all of the food and drinks, all he needed to provide was the grill. And for the picnic tents, tables, chairs, he contacted the local sports booster club the shop’s a part of; as a member of the club, they can help business owners host events that promote their business.
Tip No. 3: Get the word out.
With any type of advertising or promotion, businesses need to use different platforms to do so. The customers that are on one social media platform may not be on another; the ones that aren’t on Facebook may still check the local paper; and the ones that don’t check the paper may be subscribed to the shop’s text messaging system. The more forms of communication you use, the more people you will reach.
Six weeks leading up to the event, Kubly’s Automotive posted a lot on its Facebook page, sent out email and text blasts to its current customer base, had an ad in the newspaper and put flyers up all around town [Psst: there are more ways to promote your event. See: Get Creative].
Tip No. 4: Focus on connections, not sales.
How fun does it sound to attend a timeshare presentation talking about why you should buy their latest package deal? It doesn’t. Yes, you’re trying to promote your shop with this event, but that doesn’t mean preparing a sales pitch on why customers should stay with your shop.
“People don’t want to go to a sales event,” Noble says.
The point of hosting an event isn’t to sell your customers on your shop’s services. As Noble says, it’s more of a ‘come in and check us out’ event. The whole idea is to help keep companies close to the community and its customers.
“The biggest thing is the interaction with the owners and the customers,” Kubly says. “That was the biggest opportunity I had to have open conversations with people.”
But as Kubly, his wife, and his two kids walked around talking to attendees, other attendees just walked in the door, where they signed up to get their tickets for the raffle. Kubly says everybody that attended the open house was on that sheet with their email addresses attached. Now, after the event, he can follow up with new potential customers.