Boost Social Media Marketing by Hosting Offline Events

31668257_mIf you ask any event professional about the current state of events, tradeshows and conferences, they’ll tell you that business has never been better.

Why is this? Because people still enjoy meeting and talking with others “in person.” Offline events also provide excellent opportunities for networking and learning from the experts within their industry.

For a while now, “brick-and-mortar” companies of all sizes have used social media marketing as their primary way to effectively promote their events. But what if you have an online business which offers the same products or services as your brick-and mortar competitors? Could hosting offline events work for you?

As an online business owner, you already have an advantage in that you know how to promote your event online. You also know what it takes to attract people to register and attend your event.

What you may lack, however, is the budget and/or the know-how for setting up and hosting an event. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can hold a successful and memorable event without breaking the bank.

The first thing to remember is to allow yourself a sufficient amount of time for planning.

Here are 6 things to consider when planning offline events

1. Select a theme for your event

Choosing a workable and appropriate theme is important, regardless of your event’s size.

Here are two reasons:

  • Themes appeal to your event’s attendees by giving them a sense of structure and consistency.
  • If you are the person organizing the event, a theme helps you stay organized and simplifies all additional planning for the event (i.e. your venue, decorations, menu, etc.).

2. Choose the right venue for your event

Selecting the right venue is probably the most important decision you’ll make when planning an event. It is also usually one of the most difficult decisions you’ll make.

Of course, the cost of the venue is most likely your number one concern, especially when you must stick to the confines of a small budget.

Aside from cost, here are a few other essential details you should consider when selecting a venue for your event:

  • Ambiance: Does the venue’s architecture and atmosphere match the theme you’ve chosen?
  • Services and amenities: Does the venue have the furniture you need? Does it have a kitchen/catering? Finally, what type of AV and/or connectivity capabilities does the venue have?
  • Location: It’s a good idea to choose a convenient location for your venue so that is easy for attendees to find. If you are inviting guests from out of town, then choosing a location that is easy to get to using public transportation is a must. Finally, choosing a venue in a safe location is also important.
  • Capacity: Consider choosing a venue that is large enough to accommodate the number of guests and that also gives them enough room to mix and mingle
  • Accessibility: If you are expecting guests with special needs, you should consider choosing a venue that is ADA compliant.

Source: Whova

3. Hire the right vendors

Finding trustworthy vendors for your offline event is also important – even one wrong vendor can make or break your event. Your event’s success relies on each vendor coordinating with you and the other vendors.

Here is a sample of the types of vendors you may consider hiring for your event:

  • Caterer/bartender
  • Furniture/linens/plates/flatware
  • Florist
  • Photographer/videographer
  • Entertainment

 

In a recent post for Sparksight, Clarissa Gonzalez shares the following tips for choosing the best vendors when planning events:

  • Determine your event’s requirements beforehand: This helps ensure a potential vendor understands your specific needs up front
  • Use other resources besides Google: Talk to coworkers and others who have planned events for vendor referrals
  • Make a connection: Make sure the vendor is someone you like and can communicate with; ask plenty of questions
  • Request multiple quotes: It’s a good idea and can help you be knowledgeable during the vetting process
  • Don’t make costs your bottom line: One important thing to keep in mind is to make sure the vendors’ quotes are all-inclusive; you don’t want to find out after the fact that your “extras” cost extra.
  • Go with your gut feeling: You should feel completely confident and comfortable that the vendor you choose is qualified and won’t let you down.

4. Keep things simple for your event’s décor

Decorating for your event can be as simple or lavish as your event’s theme allows. This can also be the one area where you could easily go overboard with costs.

One way you can save money on decorations is by choosing an attractive venue, or a venue that includes decorating in its rental costs.

Another way is through embracing simplicity. For example, you can forgo the expensive florist and find a vendor who can create less extravagant (and less expensive) floral arrangements and centerpieces that are still spectacular.

5. Create and send out invitations

When it comes to invitations for offline events, you can feel confident in knowing that creating and sending them online is perfectly acceptable these days.

Going with digital invitations is one area where you can potentially save a lot of money.

As it turns out, there are several sites you can choose from for designing invitations that suit the theme of the event you are planning. Each of these sites typically offers its users the ability to easily create and send out innovative invitations with a personal touch.

Here are some sites with creative (and budget-friendly) event invitations you may consider reviewing as you’re planning:

6. Remember to brand yourself

A final item to consider when planning offline events includes finding ways where you can tastefully incorporate your organization’s logo into your event. This is, after all, one of the main reasons for hosting an offline event.

From signage to swag bags, you have dozens of opportunities for branding your startup.

In a post titled, “Try These Tips to Brand Your Event—Without Going Overboard,” Meetings Imagined shares 4 ways you can integrate brand elements “seamlessly and discerningly” at your event:

  1. Project your business’ logo onto a wall or walls for a subtle and sophisticated touch.
  2. Everyone loves freebies, aka event swag! The more awesome, the better. Display your brand by serving drinks in souvenir cups or glasses with your logo – or perhaps try using custom-designed water bottle labels. (iCustomLabel, for example, offers a nice selection of water bottle labels for dozens of different industries). Other trendy swag items, regardless of industry, are tech gadgets such as mobile device chargers and USB flash drives. (You may want to check out GeekTech Branding. They are a leading supplier for custom printed high-tech promotional products featuring your logo and branding).
  3. Incorporate your brand into tasty treats such as cakes, cupcakes, and candy.
  4. Include your branding as part of the overall décor.

 

Although planning successful offline events requires a good amount of time and patience, it will be completely worthwhile when you see the attendees enjoying themselves and singing your praises.

Have you ever hosted an offline event? I would love to hear your ideas and suggestions that have worked for you – please feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Image: Copyright: ‘http://www.123rf.com/profile_ints‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Jennifer Hanford

Freelance Blogger and Social Media Manager at j+ Media Solutions
Jennifer is a freelance blogger and social media community manager. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, baking, and pinning on Pinterest.