Feb 21, 2012

Ten tips for throwing a great client event

A great article written by Grail Noble in August 2011. Great to keep these Top Tens fresh!!

A great way for any business to increase its likeability is by hosting a customer event. But be cautious: Events are live productions and must be done well. Here are ten tips on how to throw a good business event:

1. Select the right venue and the right guests. There are three factors that influence attendance: the content, who’s hosting and attending, and of course, the venue. The first two make sense, but venue is something that is often not given the consideration it should be. If you are selling a high-end product, don’t select an airport Holiday Inn because it is convenient. People will travel to an ‘aspirational,’ trendy or interesting venue and associate it with your brand, but you need to know your audience.

2. The 4-1 invite rule: I have had many clients tell me they are expecting 100 people only to find they have invited 120. They are then dismayed when only 30 RSVP. We consistently see a 4-1 ratio of invitees to attendees at customer-facing, free events, so if you want 100 guests, you need to invite 400, or adjust your expectations accordingly. This does vary slightly by content and employee-facing events can be slightly higher but a good rule of thumb when determining the size of your event and invite list.

3. The 7-minute rule: Did you know that every attendee, regardless of how outgoing they are, arrives with a slightly elevated heart rate and measurable low to mid-level angst? It’s human nature: the fear of walking into a new environment with new people. Make your audience comfortable in the first seven minutes. It will impact how and if they absorb your message. Physically walk through your attendee experience – from the parking-lot to the entrance. Make sure you have adequate signage. No one likes getting lost on their way and they will arrive flustered. Use human signage too. Live events are about getting people face-to-face, a human experience. Position representatives at key locations to greet, direct, answer questions or just smile. And please make sure you have a coat check that is organized. Nothing creates angst in attendees like the fear that their coat (containing their house and car keys) may get lost. The sooner you make guests comfortable, the better your event and their retention, the vibe and overall success.

4. The in-hand rule: Humans are just more comfortable in a new environment when they have something in their hands. Cigarette companies have capitalized on this for years. But this in-hand rule applies only to beverages, not hand-outs. If you are hosting a cocktail event, do a “pre-pour” so that waiters greet guests with trays of drinks on entrance, ensuring they have something in-hand sooner and decreasing the risk of bar line-ups. If it is a breakfast event, ensure the coffee station is close to the door and well stocked. People immediately relax when they have a beverage in hand. The opposite is true of hand-out materials. Place them on the chairs, give only what is relevant, provide something to carry them in and if you can, replace with mobile apps that download info to their smart phones or drive to on-line to retrieve materials. Your guests and the environment will thank you.

Read more here.