Promotional events have been used for years by various organizations to debut their brand new products or ideas. They are a great way to highlight new features, introduce new lines, or simply get buy-in and create excitement. Every business has its approach towards promotional events, and every promotional event will have its respective things to consider. But there are some key factors to keep in mind when planning your business’s next promotional event to become aware of.

Identify Your Goals

The first step in planning a promotional event is to understand why you are planning the event in the first place. Are you launching a new product line that you are trying to get some excitement about? Are you including a new and exciting feature on an existing product that you want to educate your customers about? By asking yourself some important foundational questions, you can ultimately uncover your goals and the key message you are trying to get across. This will ultimately provide insight into whether a promotional event is the best route of action for those goals or not.

Strategize Your Approach

If you have clearly defined your promotional event goals, you need to strategize the approach you are going to take to get your message across effectively. This will likely take up a large chunk of your time. Are you going to have an employee speak directly to attendees live with a PowerPoint presentation? Will you create a promotional video that is shared after the attendees have gotten a chance to mingle, read teasers, and eat free food? You should intentionally plan out and strategize every single step of your approach from beginning to end.

There isn’t just one approach toward getting a message to your audience, so be sure to look into all of your options to determine which is the best method for you and your brand.

Create a Budget

Like most any business venture, return on investment is likely at the forefront of your or your chief financial officer’s mind. Whether you have gotten the stamp of approval to do a promotional event, or you are going to pitch the idea to board members, it is important to create an event budget — and stick to it.

Your budget should include anything and everything. Costs like food, beverages venues, giveaway/swag, photographers, event speakers, sound equipment budget, etc.

Be sure to create a running list of the things you need to have for a successful event, the dollar amount it would cost, and the importance (on a scale of 1-3) of the budgeted item so you know where you could cut costs first if needed.

Create a Schedule

You need to plan out every intimate detail of your event. This isn’t just the day of either. You should have the weeks and months leading up to the event planned out as well because more often than not, there are steps you need to implement before the actual event. Make sure that your scheduled items include a task, key details/instructions, who is responsible for the task, and a deadline. It is best to schedule things in a manner that gives you a bit of buffer time in case an unforeseen issue arises.

Prioritize Food and Beverages

All great promotional events have food and drinks at them. If you were to invite a bunch of investors to an event right before lunchtime and you just jumped straight into a pitch, there is a good chance it wouldn’t be as effective as if you had served them all a nice plate of tacos to soften them up right before.

There are also small things you can do with food and beverages to promote your organization or new product lines. You can serve appetizers with custom toothpicks that have your company logo on them. You can call for a toast to new business ventures with branded drinkware. The options are endless, but the bottom line is that you should always provide some form of food or drinks at promotional events — especially if they are around mealtimes.

Plan Out Attendees

Who you invite to your event is one of the most important factors. When people hear the words “promotional event” they can oftentimes jump straight to “free stuff”, so you need to be intentional and strategic about how many people you invite to your event and what the attendee’s potential value is.

Create a list of different potential attendees with your team. Do this at the beginning of your event planning. Gather different names with insight surrounding each respective one. Include things like who they are, where they work, what their role in their organization is, how much money they may have, etc. so that you determine which attendees to prioritize and which you can weed out.

Seek Out Sponsors

When everything is said and done, promotional events can be a pretty costly venture. Sponsors are a great way to help offset some of the costs associated with promotional events. Companies sponsor events for varying reasons from brand awareness to social responsibility, but many are willing to offer to cover some (or even all) event costs.

This doesn’t mean that getting sponsors will be easy. You may already have some established connections you can reach out to, but there are several different ways to secure an event sponsorship to look into.

Promote Your Event

Promoting your event is one of the most important aspects of organizing your event. If no one knows about your event, then how are you going to get people in the door? You should take advantage of every event promotion idea. This can be posting on your social media, paying for ads in the local newspaper, reaching out to existing customers, harnessing the power of social media influencers, and many other options. Look at all the different avenues and do your best to get exposure in each respective lane.

Follow Up With Attendees

It is always a good idea to follow up with anyone who attended your event. There are several ways to follow up with your event attendees, but you need to be sure to have contact information to follow up with first. Be sure to gather attendee information. Create a sign-in right as they walk in that collects basic information like what their name is, where they work, what their role is, what their email is, and what their phone number is. Use this information to follow up with all attendees. Thank them for attending the event, then devise a powerful call to action.


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