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Event planning for small businesses

So your small business is growing. You feel like you’re creating a great customer base and solidifying your brand. Things are going well and you want to keep momentum going. You think, “Maybe it’s time to host an event?” Whether you’re a cafe looking to host an Italian pastry event or a pet store wanting to throw a summer pool party, it can be both very exciting and very daunting. But with the right plan, you can execute your vision with precision.

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The most important thing is to create a guest list. Your event may be open to the public but it’s important to have a clear idea of who you want to attend. Are you looking at your current client base? Do you want to reach new clients? This will dictate how you get the word out about your event. A small grass roots event for current customers can be relayed by word of mouth in store. But if you’re looking to expand and bring in new clients, you need to start looking at marketing options. Maybe you want to contact local bloggers and influencers. These people have large and local followings and it’s becoming more mainstream to connect with them.

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The next step is to make a list of what you need. Do you have a space or do you need to find one? Will you have food at the event? Entertainment? All this depends on your event and what you’re planning, of course. Hosting in your space (if you have one) would be the cheapest option, but you still need to consider fire codes and possible licenses. Research is vital in this stage. You don’t want to have everything ready to go only to find out on the day that you’re not allowed X number of people in your space. For food classes, for example, you need a kitchen that is certified through the health inspector. Even using store bought, pre-packaged food counts as food prep. Similarly, it’s important to be sure you’re following all the right rules and regulations if you choose to host a singer or band. Again, research in this stage is vital. Make your list of what you want: food, drink, music, and research research research. Leave nothing to chance.

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Keep things realistic. As a smaller business, make a budget and stick to it. Don’t spend everything you have on an expensive sound system and then be left with pennies for your food and drink budget. Knowing your limitations is a strength and being self aware will benefit your event greatly. A budget isn’t a suggestion, it’s a guide to keep you from going into debt. Yes you have to “spend money to make money” but if you spend too much money on one aspect of your event, the rest will likely suffer. The same goes for your ticket pricing. Sure you can charge people $100 per ticket to make a profit, but are people willing to pay that? Ticket pricing is a subject in itself. Most of the market leaders charge per ticket plus a percentage (we don’t btw). Something you have to consider when setting a price. Do you include these extra fees in your ticket price and put the extra charges on your customers? Or do you sacrifice profits in the hope that the cheaper ticket price will bring in more people?

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Your next step is getting the word out about your event. You want your existing customers to know and possibly offer them some kind of incentive, such as early bird access. But most people host events to bring in new clients. This is where you want to turn to marketing strategies. If you have an email list, it’s time to craft a fantastic, but not intrusive, announcement. It needs to be sincere and to the point. Include images and pricing in the email. Nobody wants to read 6 paragraphs of text and not know how much something is going to cost. Similarly, you want to look at social media marketing. If you have an online presence, which you absolutely should, start getting the word out in posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Get people engaged and excited about your event. The right images or video clips are vital here. Instagram and Facebook especially can be great for reaching your audience with paid ads. You can set a target audience and have your ads run on a schedule. But they need to be well crafted or people will simply scroll by. This is where Step 1 comes in. Know your audience. Foodies will almost always stop and watch a video with someone making some kind of dish. Dog lovers will almost always stop scrolling when they see a tail wagging. Use images and videos that will engage your audience and make them want to click that link! This would also be the time to reach out to influencers and local bloggers. The people that follow influencers tend to trust their opinions and recommendations. 40% of people have reported to having made a purchase based on an influencers recommendation.

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The last point ties in to much of the above. Get online! People today don’t want to call you for information. They don’t want to come in and buy paper tickets. You need your customers to be able to buy their tickets online and arrive with that ticket on their phone. Nobody wants to print out their tickets anymore (most people don’t even have printers at home). You may already have a website, or you may not. (You should). There are plenty of places you can go to create a simple website, even if you’re not totally tech savvy. Their templates make it easy. Still too daunting? This is where we step in. With our platform you can create a simple, hosted event page. We also have a widget that allows you to sell your tickets directly on your own website, so you’re not re-directing your customers away from your brand. Lastly, we offer a free ticket validation app. With this app, you can check people in to your event on your phone. No need for a bulky, expensive, ticket scanner. It’s easy and effective and your guests will appreciate not having to print off tickets. Being wholly online and paperless is the future. And it’s not difficult to accomplish with our platform. Our hosted web pages and widget are completely mobile friendly which means your customers can find your event and book their tickets without getting up from the couch. Our validation app means nobody will ever “forget” to print their ticket or leave it at home. Because everyone has their phones on them, at all times.

It’s getting easier for small businesses to succeed in today’s climate. Social media and an online presence means you can reach more people in a single day than you could have 10 years ago in a year. And with the right strategy and planning, you can grow your small business steadily. Similarly, hosting an event may have been a daunting thought a few years ago. But with the information available online, it can be relatively straightforward. Do your research and make a plan. Set a budget and stick to it. 


And don’t forget to have fun! Your event should be something to enjoy and hopefully do again!

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