In today's largely digital landscape, classic customer appreciation gestures such as events, handwritten notes and gift baskets have taken the back seat to mass emails and social media blasts. At the same time, the scarcity of these traditions only adds to their effectiveness, if you can do them right. Throwing an event can revitalize your brand and remind your customers of why they love your company. On the other hand, poorly executed, they can come off as little more than sales pitches with hors d'oeuvres. Follow this party planning checklist to ensure that your company's next event can be labeled a hit.
Send Paper Invitations
If you want to maximize attendance, don't abandon online invitations entirely. At the same time, don't neglect paper party invitations. People love receiving party invitations in the mail, and it shows that your company goes above and beyond to create a positive, personalized experience for both party guests and customers. Send out invitations that match the general theme of the event. For example, if you're hosting a dinner event, a simple, elegant invitation can be the perfect choice. If you're hosting a block party complete with a bouncy castle, go for a lighthearted invitation with a funkier design. If you have the time, a handwritten note or even just a signature really adds that personal, human touch.
Give Out Freebies
If your company is hosting a party, even the most loyal customers are going to be expecting at least a little bit of swag to take home. That doesn't mean you need to give out free products or spend a fortune on lavish party favors. You can simply have some branded promotional gifts on hand to hand out to your guests. From basic pens, magnets and key chains to more elaborate gifts such as USB drives, apparel and flashlights, sometimes a freebie is the quickest way to a customer's heart. A minor investment in some basic gifts can really boost your customer retention rates, and it's a great way to market to people who are already genuinely interested in your company.
Fulfill Your Duties as Host
If you're throwing a party, don't just book an empty room and then wait for the crowd to find their own entertainment. You can be the life of the party, too. Make sure that you have the day or night scheduled with a variety of activities and performances to keep the attendees entertained. If it's more of a low-key event, a cocktail or dinner party for example, you should still act as a leader. Help people find their seats, make a speech and a toast, and walk around the room networking. Have a PA system set up and ready to go. You don't want to be the host that has to shout to get everyone's attention. When nobody is speaking, the PA system can also be used to play recorded or live music, adding a professional feel to the event.
Hold a Raffle
Holding a raffle is a great way to get your guests excited about your company. All you need to do is sell raffle tickets at the door, and then draw a winning ticket at random at the end of the night. Make sure that the prize is something that people are really going to want. If you have a little bit of wiggle room in your party planning budget, consider donating the proceeds from the raffle tickets to a local charity. It's a perfect way to connect with your community, and it can cast your brand in a favorable light. People are also more willing to spend money on more raffle tickets when they know that the money is being donated to a good cause.
Customer appreciation events only happen every so often, so make this one count. At the same time, try not to overthink it. Your goal is to portray your brand as fun and appreciative. If you're not confident in your event planning skills, there's absolutely nothing wrong with seeking outside help from a professional party planner. Make sure that all of the event's promotional materials make it clear what guests can expect, but don't be afraid to throw some surprises in the mix too. Remember that even though it's a party, it's still a business event. Be sure to connect with your customers and strengthen relationships.
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