Promoting your practice’s services through a big event can be an important investment in your business. Jane Braithwaite details everything you need to know to ensure this – or any other event – goes smoothly.
Make your party go with a swing
In today’s event-centric society, it has become increasingly important to host a well balanced, well organised get-together.
From a small intimate gathering of ten people for a presentation and a private dinner through to a large-scale conference for 250 people, we have come to expect a certain level of execution from any and all events.
Every event, whether personal or professional, will have a driving reason behind it, be it to launch your product or service and develop awareness, build relationships with key colleagues and/or patients, a timely thank-you to staff and colleagues or education events and conferences.
Or perhaps events are an overall part of your business plan and you intend to profit from them. This will ultimately underpin most of the decision-making for your occasion – target audience, venue and overall theme.
So, remember to remain clear on what you’re trying to achieve throughout the planning and execution stages.
In the tandem driving seat is the budget; often smaller events start with no clear monetary specification in place.
Gathering several quotes for the venue and catering will give you an estimate of what you need to spend per head. Costs can differ greatly from venue to venue, which is why it’s essential to shop around.
Even if the budget is small and you are keeping costs very low, the investment in time and attention will be significant. Keep track of the budget and review after the event so you develop a better understanding of the actual investment you are making and can consider the return and budget for future events.
The content of your event is obviously of utmost importance. If you are presenting personally and asking others to present, it is important to plan early.
Each presentation should be driven by your objectives for the event so that you achieve what you set out to do.
Arrange a briefing meeting early in the planning process and ask for presentations to be submitted, allowing time for changes to be made, if necessary. Ideally, you would also hold a rehearsal and, while this is time-consuming, it will make an enormous difference to the flow at the actual event.
Clear communication with guests is paramount. The earlier you can send a ‘save the date’ warning, the better. The remaining details can be offered in a more formal invitation when you have finalised things. Don’t be afraid to include specific details, specify start and finish times, dress code.
The internet is awash with good ways to notify your guests: Eventbrite is a favourite with most and will enable you to track who is coming to your event so you can finalise a guest list, confirm goody bag numbers and follow up with thank-you notes after the event. Paperless Post is another good option.
For more business-specific events, marketing your event can help to maximise guest attendance and will give you coverage and impact beyond those attending on the day.
Scheduling the day of the event clearly with a timeline is a great way to guide you ‘mentally’ through the event and will allow you to envisage any logistical problems you may encounter. Imagine the event. Imagine being there. What will it feel like? Who will be there? How will it end?
Run through the schedule with your team – if you have one – and ask for their feedback. Always bank on guests arriving early and plan for this.
If you are working with a team, be clear on what each person’s role is and discuss collectively on a regular basis to ensure that nothing has been missed, overlapped or misunderstood.
A good venue or events company will take care of most of the details for you and will ensure you haven’t overlooked anything in your planning.
They will also be in a position to advise ‘what has worked before’ and how you can overcome any problems you might be facing. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help; you might find it’s more productive than taking on the events ‘burden’ yourself.
Work through the details including coat and bag check, extra glasses and crockery, guest check-in; in fact, everything. And always have twice as many glasses as you need.
People put their glass down and pick up a fresh one. You do not want to be washing up on the night.
Its a good idea to give each guest a ‘thank-you’ gift, which could include collateral about you and your practice. Perhaps hand out a goody bag on the night.
Personally, I prefer to send something the next day, which acts as a reminder of the event and helps to secure your messages in your guests’ minds.
The follow-up after the event is equally important. Video the presentations by your guest speakers and take photos.
Both videos and photos are great to post on your website, YouTube and social media channels. Take the time to send a thank-you message to all your attenders and use this to suggest a follow-up action, whether it’s a request for a follow-up meeting on a more personal basis or a request to refer patients to you.
And finally, plan an enjoyable event. Your guests probably attend lots of functions and you want them to remember yours favourably, so they come along next time too.