How to Host a Successful Promotional Event
Learn from an event and marketing consultant about effectively generating interest in your business.

A Q&A on Hosting a Promotional Event
Promoting your business is a smart marketing move. While you might typically display signs and banners, hand out flyers and send direct mail, an exciting way to engage customers is by hosting a promotional event. It gets the curious to come into your store to find out what the promotion is about, and it serves as a way to thank your current, loyal customers.

We recently asked Marcy Twete, an event and marketing consultant, for tips on and benefits of hosting a promotional event. Here are her responses:

FedEx Updates: Why would a business want to host a promotional event? What are the benefits?

Marcy Twete: Events are a fantastic way to generate interest in your business. Hosting a special event can do what no e-marketing piece can do. While e-marketing can have low response rates, events are a concentrated way to get potential and current customers in the door. At an event, you have the undivided attention of every attendee — they're in the palm of your hand, waiting to hear what you have to offer. With a promotional event, your one-on-one connection with a customer will help create ambassadors for your products and services.

FedEx Updates: How far in advance should a person plan for an event?

MT: At a minimum, allow eight weeks to plan an event. Given the time you'll want to spend marketing the event, potentially sending postcard invitations, calculating RSVPs and managing logistics, you'll want to give yourself ample time to plan a well-executed event. Nothing can sabotage an event more severely than poor planning. If a business is going to invest in a promotional event, it must invest time and energy to make the event a success.

FedEx Updates: Is a theme necessary?

MT: A theme isn't a necessity, but it can often be a clear way to differentiate your event from others in the same field. If you do choose an event theme, however, make sure it's relevant to your business and marketing message. It should add to the event and complement the event logistics, but should not be the only message your guests hear or see.

FedEx Updates: Is it a good idea to tie an event in with a local or national holiday or celebration, like Consumer Awareness Week or some other recognized affair?

MT: If you can connect your event with an important time for your business, you might find more success. However, the goal of any event is to attract attendees. Therefore, ensure your event doesn't fall during a time when your target customer would be least likely to attend. If your ideal customers are small-business owners who might have families, the week of July 4th might be the worst time for an event because of travel and vacations, even if it fits your business or your theme.

FedEx Updates: Who should the invites go to?

MT: Determine your target audience for the event. Are you wanting to keep loyal customers or are you focusing more on building a new constituency? Once you've determined your target audience, you'll have an idea of who should be invited to the event.

FedEx Updates: What are the best ways to promote the event?

MT: The key to promoting the event is knowing your target audience. If your target audience is current customers who frequent your location, the best way to invite them might be through word of mouth or via in-store flyers. However, if your target audience doesn't typically frequent your store, your best bet may be direct mail or e-marketing. Use the tools you have at your disposal to launch a multifaceted marketing campaign. Your website, e-marketing, direct mail and in-store collateral pieces should portray the same messaging and theme so as not to confuse potential attendees.

FedEx Updates: Is it beneficial to partner up with other businesses and hold a community-type event?

MT: You certainly want your business to be front and center, but partnership with other local businesses can bring additional traffic to the event. Working with other businesses can give you more marketing points of sale in your area. Again, ensure that the partnerships will only enhance your brand and messaging and not detract from the purpose of the event.

FedEx Updates: What kind of special offers should be made on that day? What about prizes or mini-events, like face painting?

MT: Prizes and incentives are powerful ways to get event attendees in the door. Ask yourself at every marketing message point, what is the incentive for someone to come to this event? How will they justify coming to the event, and what will make them stay?

FedEx Updates: What’s a good time frame to hold an event? One day? A weekend? A full week? Is there a threshold at which people stop coming?

MT: If you're planning on having a true "special event," schedule it for one day. However, extending specials all week can be a powerful come-back feature for event attendees.

Marcy Twete is an independent events and marketing consultant in Chicago. She can be reached at marcytwete@gmail.com.

Announce your event
With easy-to-use tools from FedEx Office, you can invite your guests using FedEx Office® Direct Mail Services or by sending out double-sided postcards with a message promoting your event. And for an even broader reach, flyers are handy for distributing to potential customers in your area and inserting into your neighborhood newspaper.

As the date approaches, create attention-grabbing signs, posters and banners that announce your event to passersby.

Once you've got them through your door, have brochures available that describe your services and products.

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