When they’re done right, corporate events are powerful marketing tools. Hosting a successful corporate event can help your brand stand out in your industry, give your business positive PR, and boost product sales. It can facilitate an interactive experience between you and your customer base while making employees feel like part of an exciting company. Everybody stands to win from a corporate event that goes well- but your business stands to lose a lot of money and customers from one that goes poorly. We realize that planning a corporate event can be a daunting task, so we’re breaking it down for you. Here’s your guide to throwing the ultimate corporate event.
Set Goals for Your Event
The first thing you need to do is set goals for your corporate event. In Hollywood and other cities where many corporations are connected to the entertainment industry, it pays to tap into it. Hotel franchises, accounting firms, tech startups, PR companies, and even the restaurant industry often cash in on invaluable networking opportunities by hosting movie-themed events. Why do these companies want to make themselves relevant to the entertainment industry? Well, many of their client or customer base is in either the entertainment business or connected to it.
Sometimes the goal of an event is to promote a shift in the culture of a brand. As the importance of self-care, balance, and relaxation becomes ever more popular, many corporations have been criticized for valuing productivity more than their employees’ well-being. As employees become more resistant to the idea of being overworked automatons with no personal value to their employers, many industries have seen an increase in entrepreneurship and self-employment. People’s values systems are changing, and corporations have felt the pressure to adapt.
In recent years, many small and large corporations have been making efforts to integrate values such as wellness, self-care, and self-actualization into their brand. That’s one of the reasons we see so many corporate events held at spas or resorts. Some major airports even have centers dedicated to meditation and relaxation so that travelers can stop and recharge before continuing on hectic journeys. Tech leadership has used events to integrate with feminist and minority populations, giving representation to groups who don’t necessarily get enough of it in mainstream society.
Make Sure Your Marketing Strategies Are Aligned With Your Goals
Here’s an example: Corporate events that focus on specific new technologies often only attract people who work in that field. In order to become more inclusive, these companies often use their promotions to reach audiences outside their niche. By incorporating SEO content related to women and families and including kid-friendly tech exhibits in events, many tech brands have expanded their customer base.
If you’re a fairly new brand, you may still be trying to establish your customer base. While you want to develop your niche audience and build a loyal customer base, what you need most is exposure for your first event. Are you introducing products? Hosting free interactive demonstrations and featuring free giveaways are great ways to give people a firsthand experience with your brand- without having to pay for a commitment. You can also build your customer base by offering free product giveaways online. If your following on social media still has a long way to grow, see if you can join forces with an influencer who already has a moderate fan base.
Why moderate? We suggest that new or growing businesses reach out to influencers with moderate followings for a few reasons. Most popular influencers are usually inundated with sponsorship and requests to partner up at events. If your request is even noticed or considered, it will usually have to be processed by staff or marketing teams before reaching the influencer. Remember, even influencers with “moderate” followings still reach a lot of people on a daily basis, sometimes internationally. If an influencer endorses your project or posts about your free giveaways, trial periods, or limited time offers, the people who trust them will give you a try. The same goes for events. If a favorite influencer is involved in your event in any way- even if it’s just to promote it on their page- many of their followers will become your attendees. Your social media content and copy on your website should be targeted toward niche or diverse audiences, depending on your corporate goals.
Beauty brands frequently make a name for themselves by getting noticed on social media. Many events are devoted to women in tech and teach entrepreneurship to women. Film producers are offering movie experiences such as extra and even production assistant roles to people who fund the making of the movie. Experiential marketing goes a long way toward promoting corporate events- you just have to strategize with goals for your event in mind.
Our social media app, Plans, gives planners and attendees a new perspective on corporate events. Designed to cultivate quality experiences, Plans is a fresh alternative to social media tools that mostly just curate images. Here’s how it works. The events that populate your newsfeed are based on the experiences you share with your friends and communities- and the interests shared by your friends. Now more than ever, attendees want to attend corporate events and training workshops that do more than just teach them new skills and keep them on the cutting edge of their industry. They want high quality, interactive experiences. Plans helps people find corporate events that will have personal and professional value to them.
Mix Business With Pleasure
You’ve probably been told about a hundred times not to mix business with pleasure, but when it comes to corporate events, that’s not good advice. Party culture is trending in just about every event niche, and corporate events are no exception. These days, corporate events are merging more fully with the entertainment industry than ever. Festivalization of corporate events gives attendees a fun, entertaining consumer experience. Businesses are creating interactive workshops, organizing social media meetups at interesting venues, and having conferences in resort-like settings. Some nonprofit organizations ask for small donations for entry to guided tours. Recently, an organization dedicated to bringing art to underprivileged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area got really creative: They hosted a guided tour of street art in San Francisco, much of which shows the city through the artist’s eye. These tours were sometimes guided by an organization leader, and other times by a street artist who created some of the murals that make the city so vibrant and interesting. The goal of the organization was to raise money and community interest. They accomplished this taking small donations and marketing the tours as a cultural experience.
You should also consider having an interactive workshop at your event. Setting up these training or demonstrative workshops takes time and resources, but it pays to invest in the kind of experiences that let attendees interact with you, your speakers, and any products you might be launching. Always include your staff in this experience, incentivizing them with product giveaways or insider experiences at your event for employees who go above and beyond your expectations.
Consider Hiring an Event Planner
With corporate events, sometimes it takes a village. So if you can afford to hire a professional planner, it’s well worth the investment. Are you up to handling the logistics and details, hiring and incentivizing staff, and optimizing the event to meet your goals in a time-efficient manner? Even if you are, you’ll need to relegate some responsibility to paid staff members. Planners can also help you allocate your budget and choose vendors and suppliers wisely.
What to Do If You Can’t Afford an Event Planner
If you can’t afford a corporate event planner but think you have the skills and resources needed to host your own corporate event, there are a few key things to keep in mind. For one thing, make a list of details early on. These include selecting a venue, working out transportation, creating the perfect content, and so on. If you don’t think you have the resources, our best advice is to wait to throw the event until you do. Your business not only loses money when corporate events fail but makes a poor impression for your employees and attendees.
Again, planning your own corporate event requires you to set realistic goals. Working on a limited budget or with limited resources may require some creativity and DIY skills on your part. Your marketing plan should be detailed and well executed.
Fundraising resources like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can help you raise the money you need to host a high-quality corporate event. You can also use crowdfunding to your advantage. With crowdfunding platforms, attendees are required to pledge for tickets, or the event does not take place. If you go this route, spread awareness for your event and create excitement around it on social media. Most people only make donations if your event benefits their business or lives in some ways.
You should make sure to schedule your corporate event on an ideal day and time. If your event falls on the same day as other very similar events by competition companies, you may have less attendees- especially if the competition already has a well-established customer base. Obviously, you want as many of your attendees to be free to attend as possible.
Select the Venue Wisely
When picking a venue, make sure it’s appropriate for your corporate event, its goals, and your attendees. Experiential marketing statistics over the past few years show that the feel of an event is sometimes even more important than the content. Whether attendees consciously realize it or not, the look and feel of an event makes a first impression that sticks.
Start with the basics. Is your event conveniently located? Is it easily accessible by public transportation? Is parking a nightmare or a short hike away from the venue? In today’s fast-paced society, convenience and accessibility are a must. Then take a look at the space. Is it too big? Events that are too large for your number of attendees may give people the idea that no one really showed up. Yet you don’t want the venue to be too small or crowded, either. For example, corporate exhibits held at shopping malls tend to hit or miss. Crowded malls bring exposure, but is it the right exposure for your business, or are people trampling over your space like a stampede in search of fast food and seasonal sales? Is your venue space too small for attendees to avoid claustrophobia and move comfortably around? Does the space accommodate your setup and schedule?
Get to know your venue well. Ask yourself what kind of crowd spends time there and if the venue is compatible with your employees or niche audience. Take note of the benefits of your prospective venue for your corporate event. Is it located near a major shopping center, airport, or a tourist hotspot? Is the mood and aesthetic of the venue and community aligned with the culture of your business? Industry meetings and conventions held nearby major movie sets or studios add novelty to the event- and your brand.
If you’re thinking about planning a corporate event, we hope we’ve given you the knowledge you need to get started. Our parting advice? Do it all the way, or not at all. No event is perfect, but if you don’t think you have the resources you need to make it worth your attendees’ while, hold off on the event until you do. In the meantime, try exhibiting your products or services at other events hosted by businesses with large customer bases. We wish you luck and savviness on your corporate event endeavor!