Running an event for your customers is an excellent way to engage a large group of the people that your business relies on to survive. By rewarding customers with a fun evening or afternoon or making it a full day event you'll help to cement their loyalty and drive future sales.
Many business owners assume that the budget that is necessary to run a customer focused event successfully will be beyond them. In reality there are many ways to raise the money needed, including sponsorship and charging for entry. With a little creative thinking, it should be possible for all businesses to show that they appreciate their customers with an effective event.
Once you've got an idea of the budget that you will have available to spend the next step is to put together a guest list. It can be a good idea to segment your customer base and run different events for each. This allows you to create more personal experiences, which allows for more targeted communications and increases engagement.
Be selective when inviting your guests. It is important that the event is relevant to attendees otherwise your messages will fall on deaf ears. It is also an ideal opportunity to raise awareness of your brand, ensure that you invite relevant thought leaders and industry mavens. They will provide your event with much needed klout, convince customers that they have made the right decision to use your products / services, but can also extend the reach of your event through their channels. That is if you effectively encourage attendees to share on social media channels pre, during and post event. Inviting customer facing staff and the CEO will also help to make a good impression on attendees.
If you want as many guests as possible to turn up to your event, then you must ensure you start your marketing as soon as you can.Just because they are your customers it does not mean they will automatically turn up.
The more time you have, then the greater the buzz you can create. As well as sending out invites and regular email updates, you should identify the watering holes of potential attendees and ensure your event has a presence within these, be it publications, LinkedIn groups, blogs / forums, networking meetings, get the word out there. A little bit of research can go a long way to delivering the results you need to make your event a success.
Once you have received an RSVP don’t take it for granted they will definitely attend, follow up RSVP’s with a call closer to the event to confirm attendance, it’s a great excuse to speak to your customers. You could even include the use of EventsApp, allowing you to send push notifications straight to the devices of attendees in the lead up to the event. It also increased attendee interaction with your event and can allow attendees to engage with each other before during and after which all adds to the overall event experience.
Type of Event
When deciding on the kind of event that you are going to run, it makes sense to ask some of your better customers what they'd like to see. This helps to ensure that your event is not simply a reflection of your personal taste, but rather a genuine attempt to please the people who keep you in work. The more input your customers have in your event then the greater the success will be. Content will be engaging and informative, it will encourage them to attend and leave them feeling cared for, informed and closer to your brand. It makes sense to invite some of your best sales prospects. By showing them a room full of happy customers you should bring them closer to making a purchase.
It can make sense to run your event during working hours rather than one in the evening as many people will be unwilling to go out after work due to family commitments. You can always let the event run on into the evening for those who are keen to keep going. An approach to this is to run your own conference with talks from various speakers that will be of practical use to attendees, maybe even make use of the mavens & thought leaders you have invited. A post-conference dinner and drinks reception would help extend the event into the evening for those who would appreciate this.
The event that you run must be something that will be appreciated by your audience, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the event has to be pure fun and games. Many people prefer to experience something educational rather than something that is solely entertaining. It makes sense from a business perspective for educational material to be delivered about your company and its products. Any such material mustn't be allowed to degenerate into sales talk. But building an experience into your event can really add value and make the event more memorable. Examples could be the use of VR/AR, gamification, an inspiring guest speaker, the opportunities are endless.
The venue that you choose for your event should be of a standard that will impress guests. An uninspiring location for your event will detract from everything that you do and could even end up feeling like an insult to guests who have been among your best customers.
Events that don't allow people to mingle and talk with you and with one another should be preceded by a simple networking opportunity which could be made to feel more special through food and drinks.
Giving customers gifts is a great way to ensure that they feel valued. Bags of promotional items are almost always welcomed. Make sure that the goodie bags are filled with good quality items rather than budget pens and keyrings. The greater the wow factor, the better the impact. Make sure that everyone at the same event receives the same gifts and try to ensure that they are branded with your company logo wherever possible.
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By Anthony Kelly
Anthony began his marketing career back in 2008 after studying business management & marketing at the University of Stirling. He joined the events and incentive travel industry in 2015 after spending a number of years in the engineering, oil & gas and transport & logistics industries.More articles by Anthony Kelly