So many small business owners pay large sums to get a table at someone else’s event. They want to tell their story and so they buy a space along with 25 to 100 other “hopefuls”. They don’t know who is coming, or exactly what their interests are, but there is always hope that a few leads can be generated. Yes, these events provide some exposure and yes, the odds are that if you attend enough of these types of gatherings you will find a few prospects. Yes, continue this type of marketing but along with participating in someone else’s show, do some out of the box thinking: Create your own event!!!!
Why: first and foremost, it’s your “show”. You get to invite who you want to attend. If you invite current clients, past clients, and prospective clients you can interact with them, tell your story and add that all important “human touch”. All these people will see you in a “new light” and you are building your brand as well as creating a new and positive image for yourself and your company.
Format: Depending upon the type of business you have, your big event can be a short evening show, a half day show, or an all-day show. Consider the following possibilities:
- Client session in the morning; a great opportunity for you to tell your story and to have your clients’ network with each other.
- Trade show can run all day or in the afternoon or only in the evening. To help offset some cost, consider inviting your suppliers or support businesses to have a booth (for a fee & a promise to invite potential clients for your and their business). They will benefit by meeting your clients and those of the other, noncompetitive vendors.
- Find a central location that meets your room and budget criteria.
Theme: every trade show needs a theme to generate a buzz. This theme will be used in all your marketing efforts. Use the theme and logo for give a ways such as imprinted t-shirts, etc. (hopefully sponsored by one of your vendors or supporters)
Marketing: your show should be planned no more than four months in advance. I like urgency and the synergy that is created in having a short time line for putting on your special event. Yes, a full detailed marketing/promotional plan should be worked out and should be put together during the first two weeks of the planning process. Once the system is developed, then responsibility needs to be allocated along with time accountability.
Follow up: with a list of invitees and with a careful registration process on site, you will have a list of prospects and clients that need to be thanked. This may take several steps in order to maximize the benefits of your event. ( e-mails, phone calls, personal visits, etc.)
THIS HAS TO BE A “WOW” EVENT: a lot of “out of the box” thinking will create a request for another such event in the future. You want this to be “the talk of the town”. Consider having a charity or non-profit organization play a role in the event. Invite the media to cover in person if possible, or by printing the news releases you send.
I have only scratched the surface of this potential event that will feature your business. Yes, we will be happy to incorporate this event as we develop an overall marketing plan for your firm.
Courage is an action you take not because of the absence of fear but because you know the effort will bring business growth.
Nick J. Petra CFP Reach us at www.strategicduck.com “helping you grow your business is our business”.©
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