4 Expert Tips for Planning Your Next Small Business Event

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Many small businesses plan in-person and virtual events throughout the year. These events may be intended to build camaraderie among staff members or acquire new customers for the business. 

Most of the time, events offer some type of monetary gain for organizations, allowing them to supplement their regular revenue. This can be a major asset to the organization, helping the company reach the goals outlined in its business plan

However, small business events do require extensive time and planning to be successful and achieve a positive return on investment. In this guide, we’ll cover tips and resources that your company can use to effectively plan your next event. These tips include: 

  1. Set Goals for Your Event 
  2. Consider Your Event Capacity
  3. Ensure Event Team Members Understand Their Roles
  4. Use Event Data to Prepare for Future Events 

The best way to make the most of this information is to see it in action. We’ll use the example of an event hosted by a local dance studio throughout this article to illustrate our tips and tricks. 

1. Set Goals For Your Event

The first step to achieving event success is defining what success looks like for your business. This means setting goals for the event. What is it you’d like to accomplish by hosting this event? 

Some of the common goals that small business owners may have for an upcoming event include the following: 

  • Promoting a new product or service. This may take the form of a launch party or another celebration longstanding and new customers are invited to. 
  • Expanding your audience and attracting new customers. Organizations focused on new member or customer acquisition might host a conference or another gathering that encourages potential customers to come together. 
  • Team-building among your staff members. Team-building events can help your organization improve relationships between departments, promote diversity, and create a more positive working environment. 
  • Bringing in additional revenue for the organization. Events can become great opportunities for supplemental revenue. This is especially true for companies that make most of their revenue from memberships, as it creates a new opportunity to provide value, engage members, and earn funds. 

In many cases, companies hope to achieve several of these goals through their event. However, it’s important to choose one primary goal to focus on so you can hone your approach to maximize success and easily measure progress. Then, other goals can become secondary objectives during the event. 

Let’s consider our dance studio example. The studio may choose to host a recital for dancers with the primary goal being to bring in revenue for the company. However, a secondary goal may be to promote the dance studio to the community. The further the word spreads about the recital, the more people will learn about the studio and its class offerings. 

2. Consider Your Event Capacity

Your event capacity may dictate many decisions that your business can make about your upcoming event. You should estimate the number of event attendees, then keep an eye on the number of tickets sold so you can make informed decisions during the planning process. 

This information can help your organization make decisions about your event such as: 

  • The venue space necessary to host the event. 
  • Any limitations you’ll need to place on the number of tickets you sell. 
  • Whether you’ll need to livestream the event to provide virtual access to those who can’t make it in person. 
  • If you’ll offer registration at the door or require it prior to the event. 
  • Numbers of volunteers necessary to control event check-ins or check-outs. 

In the example of our dance studio, the recital attendees will be limited to those who fit in the recital hall at the studio. Therefore, the studio may limit the number of tickets to be sold to the number of seats available.

DanceStudio Pro’s ticketing guide also explains that scanning tickets at the door for this type of event is essential. Many people will arrive at the same time, and scanning check-in can keep the entryway clear and help guests find their seats quickly. 

3. Ensure Event Team Members Understand Their Roles

It takes a village to plan and execute a well-run event. To make sure everything runs smoothly, you’ll need to gather a team of effective staff members and make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. 

Some roles and responsibilities you might consider filling include: 

  • Checking in your attendees at the event.
  • Troubleshooting technical concerns, especially during virtual or hybrid events.
  • Serving food and beverages if you plan to make them available at the event.
  • Keeping event activities organized and on schedule. 
  • Announcing activities and changes to event attendees.

Some of these roles may be filled by your staff members, but others could be done by volunteers in the community. Volunteers may be a great option if your small business partners with other businesses in the community or if you work for a nonprofit organization. 

Our example dance studio may recruit staff members for roles like managing the recital acts and announcing the dancers. However, they may recruit parent volunteers to check people into the event and sell concessions to earn additional revenue from the event. 

4. Use Event Data to Prepare for Future Events

Chances are, your business won’t simply host one event and be done. You’ll likely plan and host annual or even quarterly event opportunities to accomplish your various business goals. 

One of the best ways to improve future events is to collect data throughout each opportunity. 

Data may come from many sources, such as activities your attendees participate in at the event, the marketing materials they used to find out about your event like images and videos shared on social media, and the number of registrants who actually attended. 

Your event management and ticketing software isn’t the only source of data you can use. You should also consider asking questions of event attendees themselves. MemberClicks’ guide to designing post-event surveys offers example questions that businesses can use in these surveys. Some of these questions include:

  • How would you rate the event on a scale from 1 to 10?
  • What did you enjoy the most about the event? 
  • How do you think this event could have been improved? 
  • How likely are you to attend future events? 
  • Why did you choose to attend this event? 
  • How would you rate the ticket price? 

The dance studio from our example can collect data regarding how people found out about the event using a short survey after the registration page or in a follow-up email. This will help them evaluate their marketing strategy and determine which channels to continue using to promote future events. After the event concludes, they may send out another survey asking attendees about whether they enjoyed the event and what opportunities they see for improvement. 

Events can be incredibly useful for small businesses to achieve goals throughout the year. From improving marketing initiatives to boosting customer acquisition, you can leverage events to bolster your business. However, you’ll always achieve maximum results when you plan your event effectively. Using the tips in this guide, your organization will be able to plan and execute events that help you reach business goals.

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