In the event management industry, we like to show off pictures of our BIG events and the mass of people who attend them. But in my years of experience, I’ve facilitated many small, lower cost, but just as relevant events that increased business. These more exclusive, intimate events can make a customer feel special and like a VIP versus being among the masses at large user groups or giant parties. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for the masses, but you can still provide a wonderful experience for your prospects, clients and partners with less budget and a lot more personality. Here are five steps to help get you there:

  1. Know your audience – Have they been clients for a long-time? Are there targeted prospects you want to include? Are you planning on including channel partners to stay top of mind? Are they mostly male or female? This may sound silly but many times companies try to “be everything to all” and you end up having too many of one and none of the others, usually resulting in no clients/prospects and only partners and staff in attendance. In addition, knowing your audience’s interests will help steer you down the path of the type of event. Do they like hockey, baseball, cocktail hours, harbor cruises, cooking, art and wine, etc.? Knowing who the event is targeted for and the objective of the event, will help shape the right experience for the right group.

  2. Location, location, location – this isn’t just about venue. In sales terms, this can be a region, patch, and/or territory and this has a lot to do not only with potential venues but how many of your target audience are located there. Are there tons of customers/prospects in a particular city? If you’re focusing on customers/prospects but there aren’t many located in Jacksonville, Florida, for example, having an event there is probably not the best bang for your buck. Consider where you will have the biggest audience.

  3. Time of year – things across the country are seasonal. Once you’ve determined your audience and have an idea or two on location, think about what may be going on during the seasons. Is it hockey season in Minneapolis? Spring Training in Arizona or Florida? Are there any big-name concerts coming up in the territory? The territory and time of year seasonal activities, can also help drive attendees and even the date in many cases. But again, know your audience.

  4. Having sales people involved-  Will they be creating the lists to invite? Will they be doing much of the footwork to get clients/prospects to attend? This has a lot to do with how to market the event and their objective for the event. If sales people are the ones driving the event, they themselves have a lot at stake as well. They want the business!

  5. Create the experience that is the best fit based on above – Sometimes a simple Lunch & Learn or Wine at 5 are exactly what is the best experience for introducing yourself if you’ve just taken over a fresh territory. Renting a suite at a Rockies game to host clients and invite high-level prospects can be exactly what fits for an audience in Denver on a mid-week summer evening. These allow for smaller, more intimate settings and greater conversations not only to create sales opportunities, but also build relationships for down the road.

Smaller, personalized events are just as relevant and important as big events, but if you have a limited budget and it must spread across multiple regions, clients, etc., the advantage of smaller events the ability to create an authentic and personalized experience for your attendees which ultimately grows the relationship and potentially their business with you. In addition, you may find that you can do more of them!

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