By Rachel Hartman
WHETHER YOU WANT to showcase your
restaurant’s new menu, hold a craft workshop
at your retail store or partner with another
business to raise money for a local charity,
hosting an event can be a solid way to draw in
new clients and build your brand.
“We’ve hosted more than 100 events over
the last 10 years of doing business,” says
Mousumi Shaw, a Costco member and
founder of Sikara & Co., a modern fusion
jewelry company with headquarters in
Austin, Texas. “These are essential to building
community amongst customers and in our
neighborhood, and also in giving back.”
To create a lasting impact, what goes on
before and after the event can be as important
as the big day itself. Follow these steps to
make your event a success from start to finish,
Know your purpose
Do you aim to spread your company’s
name, reward loyal customers, bring in new
clients or teach the community new skills?
Peli Peli, a South African restaurant with
two locations in Houston, regularly carries
out community-focused events. In June 2015,
the restaurant closed the doors of one of its
locations to the public, and served a complimentary dinner to 150 residents and staff of a
local homeless shelter. More than 45 customers volunteered to help.
“Our projects help us forge a stronger
relationship with our customer base and also
help spread the message of encouraging one
to get out of their comfort zone to help oth-
ers,” notes Thomas Nguyen, owner and chief
marketing officer for Peli Peli.
Plan for the target audience
Once you’ve created a goal, it’s time to
develop a plan to best serve the demographic
you’ll be inviting.
“If your guests are a ‘meat and potatoes’
crowd, that’s what you should offer,” explains
Greg Jenkins, partner and co-founder of
Bravo Productions, a full-service event planning and production company with headquarters in Long Beach, California.
Families might be drawn to an experience-driven event, such as a toy-building
workshop at a construction business, photography classes for every age at a studio or face
painting and a clown performance at a business’s grand opening.
Get the word out
“Events need to be promoted effectively
and far in advance,” notes Bill Corbett Jr., a
Costco member and president of Corbett
Public Relations in Floral Park, New York.
If you want to invite local VIPs or celebrities, contact them at least six weeks in
advance. Notify the local media a few weeks
ahead of the day. You might also create flyers,
invite customers on your email list, post
information on Facebook or start a countdown on Twitter.
“Get customer information from the
guests before the event or when they arrive,”
Take your event
to the next level
ON THE DAY of the event, follow these
do’s and don’ts from Greg Jenkins of
Bravo Productions to make it truly a
Do make it personal. In addition to
gathering names, ask—and take note
of—guests’ interests and hobbies.
Don’t try to oversell. “There will be
other opportunities to sell your services,” explains Jenkins. The event
might serve as a step toward a sale
Do include a surprise. “A ‘wow’
factor can be memorable and ensure
your guests have a blast,” notes
Jenkins. Consider an unannounced
guest appearance, a drawing for a
large prize or free gifts for kids in
Don’t let entertainment take over.
“It should be viewed as an enhancement,” notes Jenkins. If you play
music, keep it in the background.—RH
The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses and Costco.com carry
a variety of items to prepare for an event.
Costco also offers a number of small-business services. For more information, go to
Costco.com and click “Services.”
How to hold an event that
lingers with customers
advises Jenkins, a Costco member. Ask for
names and email addresses; after the big day
you can get in touch with a survey.
When asking for feedback, “keep it simple,” adds Jenkins. Create a survey that takes
only a few moments to complete, and consider offering a gift card or coupon for your
business to those who complete it.
“Post information, video, photos and
other materials online,” suggests Corbett. And
if you included a contest, announce the winner on your Facebook page.
Reach out to your new contacts to let
them know of upcoming promotions. “If the
people had a good time, help them to remember it and the way they felt,” says Corbett. C
Rachel Hartman is a freelance writer who
frequently covers small-business topics.
© MATEJ KASTELIC / SHUTTERSTOCK