By Jill Lazar
The economic crisis is taking its toll on nearly every industry, and many companies are slashing their marketing budgets to save on expenses. But if we all turn into penny pinchers and scale back on relationship building, our customers are likely to forget about us. Tough times give companies a great opportunity to step out and get noticed. Those who keep building relationships are the ones that can fly ahead of the competition.
Research shows that recessions rarely have an adverse impact on spending overall. In fact, studies in every recession since 1940 show that income — and possibly expenditures — rarely declined more than two percent. People are still spending money, and event marketing can help your company reach clients so they remember you, connect with you and, most importantly, turn to you first with their dollars.
If your marketing budget is still fairly small, a strategy that typically generates a high return on investment is event planning. There are plenty of ways to work around even the tightest marketing budget, and creating meaningful events is essential to your success. Whether you’re sponsoring an event or hosting your own, a special event generates immediate interest from potential clients and positions you as a leader in your industry. The result? Brand awareness and status.
Staging an event also offers networking benefits. Your company can work with local vendors and develop co-marketing or co-branding initiatives in the future. One of the biggest benefits of event marketing is the word-of-mouth effect it creates. When clients are excited about a sensational event or interesting activity, they are likely to tell friends, family members and business associates about it, promoting your business as a result. Simply put, hosting an event can be a powerful marketing strategy.
As an event and marketing professional, I understand the importance of building relationships with vendors. I also understand the importance of collaborative marketing efforts that reach clients through the planning of vendor meet and greets, client socials, and industry expos. By developing one-of-a-kind experiences for your clients, you’ll naturally increase your ROI. You can also measure the success of your event with surveys or tracking purchases. Event technology can easily be used to log client activity to determine if purchases were made after the event, as well as to tally survey results.
I encourage businesses to reach clients by planning events during these turbulent economic times. Here are some helpful tips to get you started on your event:
1. Plan it out. Set attainable goals and expectations for your event and give yourself plenty of time to plan what you want to achieve by holding the event, putting together a budget, and being creative to impress your guests.
2. Collaborate. Team up with vendors to set the stage for sponsorships and co-marketing ideas. This is a great way to cut costs, build relationships and rely on each other for referrals as you both grow your businesses.
3. Hire an event planner or dedicated team member. The last thing you want to do is execute a bad event. You want people to rave about the experience, not complain! If you’re on a very tight budget, consider hiring an event planner only for the day of your event to make sure everything runs smoothly.
4. Promote your business before the event. Plan ahead to create marketing materials and to get the publicity you need to promote the event long enough to generate strong interest. Call campaigning is a great strategy for personalizing invitations. Call attendees to confirm attendance and provide them with the ‘ultimate’ experience from beginning to end.
5. Be resourceful and fun. Consider hosting an event at a restaurant instead of a hotel to save on room fees. Most restaurants don’t charge a room fee for private rooms. Having your event at sites that provide entertainment such as a private charter, upscale venue or cooking school can also help provide a unique experience for your guests.
6. Host a late-afternoon soiree. If you can’t afford to host a luncheon or dinner banquet, consider hosting the event from 2:00 – 4:30 so you can serve light snacks and non-alcoholic beverages instead.
As John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters — one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.”
By building lasting relationships with vendors and clients through event marketing, we can truly see the value in keeping our marketing budgets and seeking opportunity during challenging times.
About the Author
Jill Lazar is the Marketing Associate/Event Planner for Atrion Networking Corporation in Warwick Rhode Island. She is also the co-owner of Everything Events and has over five years of experience planning corporate and social events. Jill holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Event Management from Johnson & Wales University and a Certificate in Event Planning from US Event Guide. She is currently completing an MBA in Marketing from Johnson & Wales University.