Although your business may predominantly operate through the Web it doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities to be had from the local scene.
A big city gives you prime opportunities but even the small towns are bound to have individuals interested in what you have to offer – all that’s needed is an idea and location.
If you could muster even just 10 individuals into attending a local business event you could walk away with new sales, additional word-of-mouth marketing, and better insights to your business.
Not sure where to get started with hosting a local business event? Follow these steps…
Step 1: Identify the purpose and ideal attendee
Ask yourself the purpose of this local business event:
- Could it be for networking?
- Could it be to generate sales?
- Could it be for brand awareness?
You could certainly make it into an event that captures these three but it’s best to stick to a single goal since it will help direct you when developing the event (the others will come naturally).
Secondary (but just as important) is to identify the type of individual you would want to see attending. Based on the purpose of the event you will want to attract the types that share the same goal or, in the case of sales, are the type very interested in your product.
Step 2: Select an appropriate time and location
As they say… location, location, location.
Since the event isn’t aiming to be on the industry-level convention scale you can pick smaller locations which fit the budget. There may be local clubs that rent out rooms, hotels in your area doing the same, or you could even host it at the business (and turn it into something akin to a BBQ).
Timing matters so you should try to fit it on a date that will give maximum flexibility. Don’t place it too close to a holiday (since people will most likely have prior plans). Reflect back to the main purpose of the event and base it around something like a product launch.
Step 3: Develop an engaging (and interactive) presentation
The main presentation is going to get you to the goal of the event so it’s important that you begin working on it the moment you decide to host.
The presentation doesn’t need to be flash – it simply needs to be engaging and interactive. Present a strong topic, share information, and then hand it over to attendees for discussion. In many ways you are allowing the attendees to create the sale because they will be asking questions and receiving answers which encourages them to make an investment into working with your business.
Step 4: Consider the side entertainment, activities, and hospitality
The event should be relaxing even though it’s about business. To take care of that you can cater the event with food, play music (or have a DJ), and create “islands” where people can congregate and form groups and networks.
Step 5: Promote the hell out of it
Get on the horn and do everything you can to promote the event (but try to keep it segmented to just the locals since it would be moot to reach the international crowd you may have):
- Make an announcement on the blog
- Share the event information on social media
- Send out fliers and mailers to your local customer list
- Email (segmented) to those in the area
- Consider advertising it (targeted audience, though)
Step 6: Mingle (and encourage networking)
You don’t need to be the perfect host because much of what will be going on is the individuals mingling with one another. However, you should ensure that you personally meet & greet with each person that attends.
Strike conversations that gets people talking about themselves. Listen intently and follow-up with questions that further get them to open up. Gauge their interest in the business (along with their expressions) to find ways to pitch the brand as a solution if they share problems.
Step 7: Keep it short and sweet
Don’t bother making it a three day event. Hell, don’t bother making it a whole day event because people have things to do and if it drags on then you lose a lot of hype and interest as the crowd begins to dissipate.
Try to keep it to a short afternoon – like having a casual dinner with friends – so maybe 2-3 hours.
Step 8: Track engagement and conduct follow-ups
Place systems that allow you to track the engagement such as using a Twitter hashtag, getting people to check in through Facebook, encouraging people to video and upload to YouTube, signing to an email list, or creating specific landing pages for promotional material.
By tracking the engagement you can do proper follow-ups with interested individuals which should streamline the sales process and provide great feedback for the business.
The steps are boiled down to the essentials and, no doubt, there’s more too it than just that but use this as a launching point for hosting an event of your own. It doesn’t need to be some massive, flashy industry event after all; keep it personal and you’ll develop those personal connections that will bring more income, engagement, and feedback for your business.