Community events are the best way to connect with your customers, but they can also be stressful. From planning and promoting to securing sponsors and vendors, community events are a lot of work for one person — or even a small business team.
So how do you get all that done?
The secret is simple: You just need to think like an event planner. If you want your community event to be successful, then here are some tips:
Give value first.
You have to give value first, or no one will come. You can’t just say, “Hey, we’re having a community event and you should come!”
Instead, think of what your community wants and needs from your business and offer it up.
Maybe you want to teach people how to use new technology or show them how they can save money with your products or event services.
If so, then plan an event where you demonstrate this; but don’t sell anything right away. If you give value first, then people will want to come back for more.
If you're wondering how to design that value into your events, there are a couple of ways:
- Teach people something new. This could mean giving them a free class on how to use your product or service, showing them how it works and how they can benefit from it. You can also offer up tips and tricks for saving money by using your products or services.
- Give away something. This could mean giving away a free sample of your product or service or offering a discount on the next purchase. If you're not sure how to give away something of value, ask yourself what your customers would want. What do they need or want? How can you make it easier for them?
The goal is to make your customers feel appreciated and give them some incentive to come back. It doesn't have to be something huge, it just needs to add value in some way.
Create a sense of urgency.
If you have a goal for the event, then let people know what it is. You can also offer special deals or discounts to encourage them to attend.
For example, if you’re planning an event where you teach people how to use new technology that just came out, then tell them about it and offer them a discount if they sign up before the end of the month.
Get to know your audience.
When you plan your event, it's important to know who it's for and what they want.
The first step is to get a sense of what your community needs by talking to them. Find out if there are any pressing issues in the area that need addressing.
Once you know their needs, you can start thinking about how best to serve them through an event or series of events.
Once you've identified the people who need help, it’s time to figure out who those people are and where they gather.
You might find your audience at local businesses or community colleges, or even on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Especially if there’s been recent news coverage about something related to their interests (such as local elections).
Give your community a place to go and things to do at the event.
Make sure there are activities for all human design types at your event. That means that you have to factor in demo info like: gender, age, location, interests, needs, lifestyles, etc.
- Be sure that the activities are free or low-cost.
- Include fun and educational elements in your planning.
- Have activities for all ages and interests. You can do that by: offering a variety of activities, such as:
- Workshops or classes (especially if you’re partnering with local businesses)
Do something different every time.
Don't do the same event every year. This can get boring for your attendees, so make sure you’re always doing something new and exciting. Offer different kinds of activities.
For example, you could have a live music performance one year, then a dance party the next time around. You could also include educational workshops that teach people how to do something new or interesting.
This way, you’ll always be able to draw in new people and keep your event fresh.
Promote your events far in advance.
Don’t rely only on social media to promote your community events, especially if you are trying to reach new audiences. If possible, include a sign-up sheet for the event at every single organization or venue you work with so that people can put their names on it as soon as they see it and then bring friends later!
Also, make sure you have a mailing list that you can use to send out event updates and reminders. You should also make it easy for people to sign up by putting a link on your website, social media pages and email signature.
Be personal with your advertising.
Use your own social media channels. You can also use your own personal social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter, to promote the event. If you have a lot of followers who are interested in what you do, they might be interested in coming out to an event!
Be sure to include the date and time of your event so that people know when it is happening.
Don't forget to make sure that the event you are planning is relevant to your audience.
Include a personalized email in with the invitations to help encourage people to respond and say they're coming or have already replied, as well as sending out reminders closer to the time of the event if necessary.
Invest in those who invest in you.
When you hire a catering company to provide food for your event, don't forget about the local businesses.
If you are having a wedding, include a few of their gifts as part of the giveaways at your event.
Do not be afraid to ask them for things they might not have thought of on their own. This will help make your community feel appreciated and loved, which is what we all want in the end!
Also remember that giving back is just as important as receiving. It's time that some of those big companies started doing more for small communities like ours in order to make them thrive again!
Don't take on too much at once.
Many people start out by planning multiple events in their communities, but they spread themselves too thin and fail to complete any of them.
If you are going to host community events, make sure that the most important one is fully planned before moving on to the next one.
Consider hiring professionals if necessary so that you can focus on other things in your life like work or school.
A strong community can support your local business
The best way to establish relationships with your customers is by getting to know them. Doing this can be challenging, but it's not impossible.
Community events are a great way of doing this.
By planning community events and hosting them in your store or around town, you can get to know some of your customers better and learn about what they want from your business.
You should also use these events as an opportunity for marketing purposes. You could have an open house when a new product comes out, for example, or host a cooking class featuring fresh ingredients from your store.
If you're feeling ambitious enough, you could even try setting up an employee training program that encompasses both employees from different departments (like salespeople learning how inventory management works) and front-line workers (who might not have had much opportunity before).
We hope that with this blog post, you are better equipped to organize your next community event. If you follow our tips, we’re confident that you will create something memorable!
If you'd like to learn more about building communities that will help your growth in event planning, click here to learn more about our next Event Planner's Expo where you can meet with other event planners, learn from industry experts and find out what it takes to be an expert in your field.