Whether it’s a fundraiser, an open house, a donation drive, or a patient appreciation party, the key to success for your event is people! The more people who come, linger, and have fun at your event, the more chance it has of achieving its goals.
How can you ensure that you’ll get the numbers you need to make your event a success? Here are some ideas.
Use Your Cheerleaders
Everyone and every business has a support network. USE this support network when you’re planning out your event. Individually reach out to your employees, your biggest customers, and your affiliates, and make sure that they’re feeling welcome to come, and that you’re mobilizing them to be cheerleaders for your event.
Help them catch the vision of it, and encourage them to communicate with their network on your behalf. For example, do you have a food truck hired for your event? They usually have a huge social media following, people who are curious where they are from one day to the next.
Produce an image that they can share about your event ahead of time, with details about where they’ll be and what else will be featured at the event. Most importantly, make sure that they know that everyone is welcome!
Sometimes it’s nice to provide an extra incentive to certain people. For example, your employees will be even more eager to come if they have a task to perform there that they’re excited about (like running the fortune telling booth).
You might also consider some kind of contest between them leading up to the event. For example, whoever can get the most people to come can decide which charity proceeds will go to.
Get on Social Media
This is tied to utilizing your support group and cheerleaders, but there are some practicalities of social media that no one should neglect.
- Use pictures from previous events, details about the schedule and main attraction, and even pictures from your preparations for the event to build some hype and remind people to plan for it.
- Use video and photo content whenever possible. Facebook, particularly, puts a lot more weight on these forms of media, and they’re very shareable.
- Create a Facebook event and make sure that it’s public. Invite whomever you can think of, and Facebook will do the rest of the work for you, informing people about updates, reminding them about the event on the day of, and popping up in friends’ feeds and sidebars.
- During and after the event, continue to build the hype. Have a hashtag for the event so that participants can share their own photos, and make sure that everyone who didn’t come wishes that they had!
Make the most of foot traffic by attracting attention on the day of. Make sure that it’s known that you accept latecomers and looky-loos.
This can happen with noise, banners, and large focal features. I remember driving by an apartment complex that had an inflatable water slide out front and a booth with music playing. I was automatically curious, but wasn’t about to crash someone else’s party.
However, if there’d been a banner saying all welcome, I would definitely have explored it.
Get Your Name Out on Calendars
A lot of cities have calendars of events going on in the area. Most of the time, all that’s necessary to get on there is an email to the administrator, so do a lot of outreach.
Contact local radio stations and newspapers. If there’s something noteworthy going on there (like a charity drive, an attempt to break a world record, or even just a free bounce house and popsicles for all the kids) they’ll be more likely to feature and promote it for free.
Think hard about your focal audience. Do they like outdoor sports? Maybe you need a flier at REI and a booth at a 5K race that occurs a month before your event. Are they families? See if you can get the word out at your local Gymboree or PTA.
Think hard about who your event will appeal to the most and then link up with related events and venues.
Have Cool Features at the Event Itself
Every event will be different, but make sure that there are a few things that will draw people to your event, and make it stick in people’s minds. Here are some ideas:
- Limited edition swag
- Games that make people stay (raffles, contests, etc.)
- A feature that attracts attention as soon as you come in (like a mini bungee game or a bounce house.)
- Share information in an interesting way. If you want to promote health, have a fun interactive booth. If you want to familiarize potential tenants with your facilities, make it easy to do a walk-through and explore the features.