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Event Marketing for Small Businesses Part 1: Getting Started

March 18th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Event Marketing Series

eventSo much of our life is now digital, conducted online and not with people. Many of us small business owners also work from home with limited-to-no regular, in-person contact with our clients – and that’s where event marketing comes into play.

Hosting or participating in an event is a unique, one-on-one experience that puts you in front of current and potential customers. There’s a reason people flock to big industry trade shows and conferences like SXSW (which encompasses film, interactive, and music):

  • Events are a great way to get to know each other better, put a face and personality with a brand, and build a community.
  • There’s a lot of serendipity involved – you never know who you are going to meet or get introduced to. At SXSW last year, I met Tony Hsieh and Steve Case, and I sat next one of the top venture capitalists in the country. (I also saw Willem Defoe – pretty cool!)
  • People like to do business with people they know and like, so cementing a relationship in person can turn a lukewarm relationship into a long-term, mutually beneficial one.
  • Unlike an email campaign, an event can make a lasting impression and leave people talking for a long time.

Event marketing is not limited to huge, days-long events of course. For a small business owner, it makes more sense to host or participate a smaller event for obvious reasons – time, expense, effort, noise, and quality of interactions.

Three types of events that are most useful for small businesses to either host or participate in include:

1. Seminars

Seminars can be one hour long or a half- or full-day event. Unless you are famous or widely recognized as an expert in your field, you might want to pull in partners for day-long events. With partners, you can each talk about your specific area of expertise around one topic – and attract more attendees.

2. Roundtables

A roundtable can be part of a seminar, or it can be a stand-alone event. Either way, attendees get to ask questions of a panel – all composed of experts – and learn how to do something better or get industry-insider knowledge.

3. Breakfasts, Lunches, or Dinners

Hosting a breakfast, lunch, or dinner is like networking on an intimate scale. It is a terrific opportunity to bring together a small group of people who can learn from each other and possibly work together – customers, prospects, partners, vendors, or a mix. Plus, you get to know everyone better!

Before you start planning an event, there’s one thing you have to do first: Decide why you are hosting the event so you can set goals. You can host an event to:

  • Increase branding and awareness
  • Generate leads
  • Engage with your customers
  • Educate attendees
  • Some of the above
  • All of the above

Whatever your goal, ultimately you want to grow your businesses by landing new customers.

In my next post in this series, we’ll look at how to promote your event. Til then, if you’ve hosted an event, what kind of event was it and what made it successful?

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Series NavigationEvent Marketing for Small Businesses Part 2: Planning and Promoting Your Event
The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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