BY RACHEL HARTMAN
WHETHER IT’S a grand opening or free
workshop, hosting an event offers key ways
to interact with the community. Those who
attend will learn more about your business,
and you’ll have the opportunity to create
potentially long-lasting connections.
“The best events will surprise and
delight your guests,” notes Serena Holmes,
a Costco member and president of Tigris
Events, an event-marketing agency headquartered in Toronto.
Here’s how to create an experience that
will be remembered.
Define your objective
Ask yourself what the purpose of the
event is. Are you looking to create awareness of your company or introduce a new
product? Do you want to build loyalty with
customers or showcase a new building?
Setting a goal will guide the choices you
make when planning.
Know your target audience
In addition to reaching current and
potential customers, you might include
employees or those involved in a recent
project, says Costco member Maureen
McCabe, founder of McCabe Marketing in
Toronto. Don’t be afraid to invite others,
such as your local Member of Parliament,
councillor, mayor or a local celebrity.
Look at logistics
“Make a list of every possible expense,”
suggests Ioulia Chtankova, founder of
Adwise Marketing & Communications
in Vancouver. This might include food,
drinks, a photographer, entertainment,
advertising, signage, balloons or prizes.
Find out if the activities you have planned
require a permit or additional insurance.
“Establish how much money you can
set aside for the event,” Chtankova, a
Costco member, tells The Connection. Use
a Google spreadsheet to record each cost
and track the overall spending.
Think about timing
Avoid scheduling your event too close
to the holidays or peak vacation times.
Also consider other local events your target audience may be interested in.
Once you’ve chosen a date, “grab a calendar and work backward to determine
important deadlines,” notes Chtankova.
For most events, sending out invitations
two to three weeks in advance is sufficient.
Spread the word
To let those in your area know about
the scheduled activities, post informa-
tion regarding the date and time on social
media. Also consider advertising in the
local paper or handing out flyers.
“If people register for the event, be
sure to send out reminders,” advises Kristy
Kivia, a Costco member and planner at
Black Licorice Weddings in Calgary.
Make it stand out
“When it comes to food, don’t be
afraid to get creative,” points out Holmes.
“People love to see new things, whether
it’s miniature versions of regular food or
food that is served in a unique way, such as
nitrogen ice cream.”
You might also hire an entertainer,
such as a caricaturist, magician or come-
dian, to engage with guests.
Offering prizes can also go a long
way: If you run a spa, attendees could win
a beauty basket. At a music school, the
chance to win free voice or piano lessons
could be appealing to guests. C
Rachel Hartman is a freelance writer who
frequently covers small-business topics.
Hold an event that lingers in customers’ minds
TRY THESE tactics to connect with
guests in the future.
• Do place sign-up sheets at the
door and other visible spots. In
exchange for opting to receive future
updates, offer guests a free sample or
the chance to win a prize.
• Don’t ask for too many details.
While visitors may readily provide their
name and email to stay in touch, they
generally won’t be interested in filling
out a detailed questionnaire.
• Do look for ways to connect in a
timely manner. Consider sending out a
thank-you to let guests know you appreciated their attendance at the event.
• Don’t expect immediate sales.
Building a relationship takes time, and
sending out occasional updates or promotions will keep your place of business on customers’ radar. When they
need your product or service, they’ll
know where to go.
• Do familiarize yourself with
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (fight
Costco warehouses and Costco.ca carry a
variety of items to prepare for an event.