Create an expense line in your annual budget for events.
Every year businesses determine what their marketing, sales, sponsorship, advertising, social,etc, etc line items will be in the budget.
If you are an entrepreneur and not doing this I would highly recommend you find a money manager and start doing this.
What many businesses forget to think about (or it's an afterthought) is events.
Events are magic.
Alright, maybe that's not the best selling point for me to give to justify adding events into your annual budget. Let's look at every major consumer brand in the US. Every single one of them does events. They spend hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars to get eyeballs on their brand and samples of products in consumer hands.
The #1 reason to do events is visibility and brand awareness.
These brands look for an ROI, but do you know that it's not always a cash/revenue ROI that they want to see?
They want to see impressions. How many people saw our product and within that there are calculations to figure out the reach of what one individual consumer is actually worth in impressions. It's a complicated math game.
So, if these brands think it's important why don't you?
You don't have to spend hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Let's start small.
You are an entrepreneur and have a service that you offer (coaching, tech, social media, etc). You can invite 5-20 people to an event and charge then $0-300.
This event can be held in your living room, an art gallery, a golf club or resort, a gorgeous meeting space in a local hotel. Heck, even the library. These spaces will cost you anywhere from $0-$1500.
Your invite your guests to come to a local half day or one day event to learn from you on a specific area of your service.
You show up and deliver an abundance of value and they walk away feeling like they just won the lottery. What really happened here?
You just made an impression. Hundreds of them.
If you delivered tons of value:
- They are going to see you in a different light. They will see you as the expert.
- They will tell their friends and business associates about you.
- They will share your info on social media.
- They may hire you for your expertise.
An event like this doesn't require:
- A lot of planning
- An event planner
- A large budget
Let's simplify this even more.
Invite 5 of your closest business associates to a 2 hour session for free or for a very low price to give you feedback on a presentation that you have been working on. Ask for feedback and referrals. Let them know up front that you'll be asking for feedback and referrals, so that they come prepared.
Do this. Experiment. Get out of your comfort zone.
The do it again with a larger crowd. Invite your 5 friends back and ask them to bring one person with them the next time.
Each time you do this you begin to get more comfortable and confident in your content and the service that you offer. Talking about what you do will feel less and less salesy.
Create monthly or bi-monthly events. All low cost. All local. Create a routine and become familiar to your local community. Once the word gets out that your are offering high value information in your events you will attract your target audience and before you know it, you will need to create a bigger event at a larger venue.
If you start out small like this you can create a line item for events of $10,000 or less and create something impactful in your first year.
If you want to create larger events, I recommend that you start planning and budgeting 12-18 months out. If you know your event is going to cost $30,000 then every month you start tucking away and saving money that is specifically earmarked for your event.
This process makes it easier to pay deposits when they are due. Rather than stressing about how to come up with the money, you know you already have it in your event budget and can comfortably right that check or put down that credit card for the deposits.
What I see happen all the time is business owners decide they want to create an event, then they realize the cost and they either scramble to find the money causing way more stress than needed or they toss their dreams aside and forget it OR they try to create a Ritz Carlton event on a Motel 6 budge….. ON THEIR OWN….and fail miserably, swearing off events for the unforeseeable future BECAUSE events don't work!
Events work, but just like everything else in your business you need to have a budget and a strategy.
If you run a marketing agency, especially a digital marketing agency and don’t have an event arm in your business strategy you are doing your clients a disservice.
Hold up, don’t be mad. I’m trying to help you out here. There is so much focus on the digital side and you are working SO diligently for your clients. It’s an uphill climb to get visibility, to get their product or service out, to get engaging customers. I know your struggle. We live in a very loud world where everyone is trying to get everyone else’s attention.
How do you stand out in the chaos?
This well known but underutilized tool called events.
If you showed up with an event strategy for your clients that pulled their customers into a face to face, hands on experience you’ve just changed the game. You’ve now opened up another marketing channel that probably was not in use… WOMM. Word of Mouth Marketing. WOMM is a powerful marketing tool. It is not dead. It is alive and well. Look at every movie you’ve watched and who have you told about it? What about that bad customer service or the great sales on shoes? You’ve called your friends, told your co-workers, cousins, bosses, nanny, neighbor, everyone and shared an experience that you had with a brand, company, movie, etc.
This is why events are so dynamic and this is why it’s your responsibility to show your clients that value of creating live events.
If we go back to my post about having an event budget, you will see that I talk about what the major consumer brands are doing. They are actively every year putting their products in the hands of their consumers.
I hear you saying, well I don’t have a product that I can give away. I disagree. You can pull anyone in to play and test your product in your offices. Create a fun tech day and invite potential customers to come in, eat some food, learn about your services and get their hands on your product live and in person. SIMPLE.
You don’t have to pass out millions of samples, you can invite 5 to 10 local businesses in for a day or a couple of hours.
Be innovative. Your clients will appreciate that. They want that. They need that. They are hiring you to help them stand out from the noise. If you are just doing to some old offerings and programs you give to EVERY.OTHER.CLIENT. then you, my friend, are missing an amazing opportunity.
Expand your services, hire an event consultant (ahem...I’m available) and create some interesting and innovative ideas for your clients. Now YOU are standing out from the noise and are helping them do the same.
Let me say, that I see the lack of event ideas in the small, entreprenurial marketing agency space. The big digital agencies have this down to a science. I recommend taking a page from their book and increase the offerings and calibur of your business. Watch it change your world.