Wilshire Media Systems has been successfully staging spring and fall events for years. Excellent planning is the key to a great event; your reward is an event that runs smoothly and a satisfied audience eager for follow up sales conversations. Reaching your audience in today’s connected world has changed over the years. Here is our event marketing best practices 8- point plan to ensure event success:
- Assign a lead point person to manage all aspects of the event. This person assumes the role of Marketing Coordinator and is assisted by other staff for various outreach tasks.
- 8 weeks prior to the event the point person sends out vendor letters that define sponsorship levels and asks for commitments, as well as requests for raffle and door prizes. Six vendors is a good number and over the years we’ve enjoyed having Leon, Sonance, Sony, AudioQuest, Savant, Harman, Core Brands, Bowers & Wilkins, Integra, Stewart Filmscreen, Sonos, and Monitor Audio participate. Our budget for an event that has an expected audience of 120 people is around $6,000. Our vendor sponsorship levels range from $500 to $1,500, excluding products we use as giveaways.
- 5 weeks out from event day we compile our list of trade partners, customers and local VIPs that we wish to invite. We select and schedule the caterer and bartender. We collaborate with other merchants who speak to our target audience. For example, our local Jaguar dealer displays some cars in our parking lot to lend an air of luxury to the night. A side benefit to collaborating with local merchants or the latest hot restaurant is that each partner can hit up their own database with eVites to increase the turnout. Those partnerships should be cemented at this time.
- 4 weeks out we start to email invitations. Printed invitations are out and yielded very poor results. We create an HTML invite and ask our staff to personally forward the invite to their specific contacts. We ask people in the community and our trade vendor network to help spread the word. At this time we issue our first press release.
- At this point, excitement starts to be felt throughout the company. Week 3 from D-Day sees a second round of HTML invites go out and our staff begins to make personal phone calls to their contacts. Vendor signage for the event is created. In week 2, a third round of eVites goes out, staff continue reaching out personally, rental chairs and tables are reserved, and we begin to build the buzz via social media.
- With 1 week to go we send out the ‘last chance’ reservation blast, the guest list is nearly complete, name tags are created and Special Offers for Attendees Only are finalized. A vendor demo rotation (10 -15 minutes per demo) schedule is created that we post at the event, giving our attendees a sense of what to expect and how they might choose to budget their time.
- 2 days out we send a reminder email to those who have RSVP’d, including directions to the showroom.
- On the night of the event we check in our guests at the door, so we know exactly who attended. Based on that list and interaction with the guests during the event, our sales staff follows up with them over the next week. This is in addition to the “Thank you for Attending” email and “Special Offers” email. Finally, as a courtesy we also send a “Sorry we missed you” email to those that RSVP’d but never showed.
If you plan properly and build a buzz on social media, you’ll create an event that runs smoothly, hits the right buttons for your trade partners and customer base, and gets people talking about you. You should also see a healthy ROI if your sales team follows up in a timely manner.