Your company can benefit greatly from participating in and holding events. I’m just going to jump start with a couple statistics to backup this idea.
Your company can increase awareness and even become a leader in your industry by holding and participating in local or professional events. As humans, we are social creatures that develop the strongest bonds in person. Although the Internet gives us an incredible ability to connect with each other just about anywhere, it is still just a substitute. In person events give you the opportunity to get insights from your audience and make those personal connections with people that help drive your business.
Do your research
Before you attend, sponsor or host your event, first you should do a little research. Start by asking a few questions.
- What events has your company attended in the past?
- What kind of events are held in your industry?
- Do you have a budget and an audience to hold your own event?
I remember an afternoon several years ago at a small show where I expected to be speaking with people about the importance of user experience in web design. After an hour, I learned that the event attracted job seekers. The afternoon was spent explaining what the company did and taking resumes of people who weren’t qualified – what a bust. You can avoid getting trapped at an event like this by doing your research beforehand. If you can take the time it takes you to drink a cup of coffee and go through a couple potential events, you will be well on your way. If you know someone who has attended a specific event, ask them how they liked it and why.
Attend events and get inspired
At the very least, you should be attending events, connecting with people, strengthening relationships and starting new ones. Natalie Tarini from the Canadian Wood Council spoke with me about the series of events they have been holding for nearly three decades which now span across Canada. The events include keynote speakers, workshops, companies showcasing products, and resources for architects, engineers and students. All of this revolves around how wood can be used in construction, and the events continue to grow. This year, the Wood Solutions fair in BC has been expanded to two days because of the demand.
“Some people say that we’re just preaching to the converted, but the converted still need to be inspired”
Natalie Tarini – National Communications Coordinator at the Canadian Wood Council
Inspiration is a key point because it’s what can make someone excited about what they do, or spark passion in someone new. As the Canadian Wood Council’s goal is to increase awareness of wood as a strong and dependable building material, they gauge the success of their events through an exit survey. This gives them invaluable insight into what stands out at each event and what people want more of.
- Let yourself be inspired by the people and ideas at events.
- Connect with people in and outside of your industry.
- Learn what makes the event great and why people attend.
Get involved and be a sponsor
At a well organised event, you will receive some prominent exposure and demonstrate community involvement and social consciousness. This will get you in front of people who may never think of you otherwise. The added bonus is that you will usually receive tickets to the event which let you engage with other attendees.
- Align your organization with a community or social cause.
- Increase awareness through the exposure before, during and after the event.
- Connect with new audiences.
Hold your own event and make sure it stands out (in a good way)
I have never been enthusiastic about going to events, but an event that shows it will teach me something in a new and exciting way gets my attention every time. Would you go out after a long workday because a new business is opening? Probably not. What if there was an axe throwing competition at the opening? That’s what Bad Axe Throwing did when opening up their location in Ottawa. They didn’t just invite people in and talk about themselves, instead they put an axe in your hand, taught you how to throw it and then had all the attendees compete. That was an event that was fun and worth talking about.
“We take pride in the relationships we build with our clients, our ability to listen and interpret our clients event vision and exceed their expectations. We have a combined 30+ years in the event industry, our expertise in logistics, maximizing a budget, sponsorship, food and beverage, travel, policy and procedure is really what makes us stand out and deliver for our clients.”
Speaking with Julia O’Grady from ITM Events, I learned more about all of the tiny, yet incredibly important pieces that need careful consideration to make an event great. It can sometimes be more than just what happens at the event, but what doesn’t happen. Everything from the food, the registration process, and how people flow through the space. This is an extremely detail oriented responsibility and usually comes with unexpected surprises, which is what makes the talents of a event planning company even more important to a smooth and memorable event. I saw how passionate Julia is about creating events that are remarkable and have people coming back for more.
Ensure the event is aligned with your goals
The bottom line of hosting events may come down to the ROI, but there are different ways to measure your return. You may want to increase awareness of your product or you may want to show your support of the local community and garner good faith.
Raise awareness of your organisation
If you want to get people talking about your company or something new you offer, an event is an excellent way to generate interest. This goes far beyond your list of contacts and attendees. If you are marketing the event effectively, you can expect an improvement in your online presence as people search and learn about who you are, what you’re doing and why.
Support the local community
Your company is likely involved in the community at some level and an event is a good way to demonstrate that involvement further. Whether you support a charity organization of host a Christmas party that invites all the business on your street, people appreciate when you take an active interest in the local community.
Events such as WordCamp or the Marketing Evolution Summit attract a lot of attention because they educate and inspire. Engaging speakers with innovative ideas are what drives these events to be successful each year. If you’ve been in business for a few years, there is a good chance you know at least a few people whom you find inspiring and would be happy to take part in an event – assuming it’s something you can get people excited about.
Do something extraordinary that will make people excited to come to your event year after year.
Here are a few places to help you get started:
- Reach out to your network and see what events people are planning on attending and why.
- Take a look through some of the events taking place in your industry or region by going to canadaone.com/canadian_business_events/