Categorized | Down to Business, Marketing

You should have an event!

How holding an event can help market and benefit your future business plans

Whether you call it a get-together, networking, an event, or a party, holding such anactivity has proven to be one of the most effective ways to market your business. With a high return on investment, we wanted to know what all it takes to and why you should host an event.

Two specialists in corporate meetings and events, Becky Wyatt and Tricia Deckard, take a few minutes to answer some of our questions.

Q: Why should small business owners consider events?

Becky: You know, when you think about it, there is less and less face time with your customers, prospects, co-workers, and even with your friends. Meetings and events allow you to have valuable human interaction, and let’s face it: Sitting down in a friendly atmosphere to talk and network is an experience that can’t be achieved online or on the phone.

Tricia: Even more than that, many studies show that the return on investment for events beats just about any other type of marketing your business can do. One study from Cornell University found that nothing rivals face-to-face events if you want to capture attention, launch something new or different, or if you want to build positive emotional connections or human networks and relationships with your customers, prospects, or employees.

Becky: Plus, there is a lot of research lately that demonstrates the advantages of trade shows and conferences to growing your business. For instance, you might want to hold a private trade show so your customers and prospects can meet with partners, suppliers, and company members. Options in the event marketing industry are limitless.

Q: But don’t you find that while we are in the midst of a sluggish economy, events can be replaced by something less expensive?

Tricia: I learned that during a down economy, you need to keep marketing. Unfortunately, in the last few years, events have been criticized because of the excesses of mega-corporations. For those with small businesses, creating a budget dedicated to events is one of the smartest things they can do.

Becky: Budgets! Yes, that magic word. Creating a budget for events means that you can turn to experienced event planners and they can help you create something within your budget. You can have a memorable event without breaking the bank. And looking to professional meeting and event planners can result in unbelievable savings on contract negotiations with venues and suppliers.

Q: How do you plan an event with a client?

Tricia: Beyond setting a budget, you need to determine what you want to accomplish. For example: Is this a fundraiser? Is it a celebration? Are you introducing a new product? These big picture elements become an event planner’s goals.

Then an event planner can help establish objectives: How much money do you want to raise? How many buyers do you hope to attract at the product launch? Do you want to get people to switch to using your product rather than Brand X? and that kind of thing.

When there are set objectives, then you can measure whether your event accomplished what you wanted it to.

Becky: Another major piece of planning an event is to define the personality of the companies or groups you work with. Are they very corporate? Are they a creative, artsy group? Are they “techies” and “geeks”? All of that helps an event planner come up with the right event for each client.

Tricia: Another thought: Don’t forget the people who work for you. Events where you celebrate good work and achievement build internal loyalty almost better than anything else you can do. An event planner can arrange recognition events as well as incentive travel for top achievers.

Q: We read a lot about ‘green’ initiatives. Does that play a factor when planning events?

Tricia: Most people today understand that it’s important to be environmentally responsible. Many event planners can create events that are earth friendly by not using a lot of unnecessary paper products, by specifying reusable catering items, and encouraging responsible promotion or events.

Becky: Absolutely! The more an event planner can source locally, the greener the event. Having a vibrant local business community is one of the best things about being located in Jacksonville—there are so many amazing resources and venues here that you really don’t have to go anywhere else.

Q: If someone likes the idea of holding a company event, what should that person do?

Becky: If you don’t have that budget planned yet, put one together. Figure out what it is you want to do, how you want to be perceived by your attendees, and how you can grow your business as a result of this event. And remember, an event planner can surely help and guide you every step of the way.

Tricia: There is more to event planning than simply “throwing a party,” particularly if you want to get the most return for your investment. One thing about being an event planner is he or she pays particular attention to all the details that too often are overlooked.

For example, one real headache in planning events is the registration process. Event planners are experienced in this area and can take that task off your shoulders. Working with professionals—just as you want your customers to do—is the key to successful meetings and events.

Becky Wyatt and Tricia Deckard, specialists in corporate meetings and events, are owners of Jacksonville’s Plan Ahead Events. Becky’s resume includes planning business meetings, fundraisers, and golf events as well as extensive experience working in the non-profit sector. Tricia, with a master’s degree in Organizational Management, spent 15 years in sales and marketing, which included planning promotional events for businesses and universities. They can be reached at 904-361-8197,, or through

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