Lots of startups throw parties & events for their customers, investors, employees, partners, etc. – we’ve all got a few on a calendar. At VENTUREAPP, we’re seeing a number of requests for startups looking to get ahead of this process so that their events are a guaranteed success.
Let’s be honest – it’s easy to throw a party together. You just grab the first available venue you can find, order some hors d’oeuvres, figure out your bar/alcohol situation, and invite whoever with an email address. So, it is easy, but doing it half-assed will probably not result in the type of return you’re hoping for. Events can accomplish a number of great things for your company if you follow these best practices.
Figure out your goals. You likely aren’t throwing a party just to throw a party. If you are, good for you – rock on. But more likely, you have some sort of goal(s) associated with the party. If it’s internal, say a holiday party for employees, the goal is to reward your staff and/or for team building. If it’s for customers and partners, it’s to build your community, or maybe to correspond with the launch of a product, etc. You must determine who your audience is for the event and work backwards to your goal. Do you want to educate your market? Raise brand awareness? Generate leads? Garner buzz and word of mouth recognition? Once you answer these questions, you can start to work out the guest list and logistics that map to your goals.
Don’t rush / plan ahead. If your party is tied to an existing event, a holiday, or an internal benchmark, be mindful of the time and resources that event planning takes and give yourself a good 2-3 months to get it all done. Throwing a party that is rushed and poorly put together can be detrimental to your company. If you are crunched on time because of forces outside of your control, consider whether you can feasibly get it done in time and if the party will truly deliver the return you want given these circumstances.
Do research for maximum attendance. If your event is tied to another event (for example, you’re throwing a happy hour after a big industry conference) make sure you know every other party taking place during that timeframe to ensure you aren’t going up against big competition for attendance. If you are throwing a holiday party, give your attendees enough warning so that you get on their calendar before the 10 other holiday events they could attend that week.
For timing, throw your event during the workweek to avoid running into personal weekend plans. But, don’t schedule it too early in the week, such as on Mondays, when folks are more stressed and less likely to come out. That being said, a number of other startup events are likely held on Wednesdays & Thursdays, so just keep this in mind when researching your event date.
Further, setting up an RSVP page (Eventbrite, Splash, evite, or Attend.com are great options) will ensure that you capture a somewhat realistic snapshot of attendee numbers and can continue to send reminders before the event. You’ll have to take into account the likelihood of attendance based on your relationship with invitees. If you know them all personally, you might be able to trust that a majority of your confirmed attendees will actually show up. If you are inviting a bunch of people in the community that are not close or working connections, plan for a percentage of people who RSVP “yes” to be no-shows. While charging attendees will increase the likelihood that attendees will show up, we don’t recommend this for startups unless you have an incredibly enticing reason that people will want to pay to attend. As a startup, most events/parties should be a celebration or reward for attendees to make them feel special. Which brings me to my next point…
Create exclusivity. If this event is open to the community and you are hoping to attract attendees external to your organization and constituents, you have to make your event stand out. Making the event invite-only and private will contribute to this perception. Also, make sure you send personal email invites to your VIPs and influencers prior to making your overall invite page public. Not only will this add a personal touch for the people that you really want to attend, it will also seed an impressive attendee list that you can promote with the rest of the invites.
Lock down the logistics. Create a spreadsheet or checklist of deliverables with deadlines assigned to people on your event team and create an itinerary for night-of. Communicate the event plan to everyone involved and clearly articulate how you expect your entire staff to participate or assist before, during and after the event. For supplies and food/drink, always over-estimate. Nothing will kill a party faster than running out of booze.
Promote, Promote, Promote. If you are trying to get as many attendees as possible, there are a bunch of things you can do to promote the event beforehand. Roundup newsletters and event boards online that will share the event on your behalf. If your event is truly unique and will be news-worthy in terms of who will be there or what occurs there, you can try to garner interest from local reporters or broadcast media to promote it beforehand or attend and write their own recap. Finally, one of the greatest benefits of social media is sharing and promoting physical events to digital listeners – whether they attend the event or not. Schedule posts that promote the event ahead of time, take photos during the event, create a hashtag for other party-goers to share their own thoughts and photos, and promote those social snapshots after the event to keep the buzz alive and demonstrate your company culture on your company profiles & pages.
A quality event that your company will deem a success certainly takes a lot of planning – and it’s not a feat you should take lightly if you want to meet certain goals. But, it can be a great way to show your company’s personality, reward employees, drive attention to your startup, and maybe even create new, valuable relationships with customers, partners, prospects and investors.
Need help planning your upcoming event? VENTUREAPP has access to the venues, solutions and resources you need to make it a good one – get hooked up today.