5 Guidelines for Successful Business Events

Published 03/22/2018

You want to share your business expertise with your clients and prospects, so you decide to lead a seminar. Or, you just moved into a new office and are planning to hold an open house. What if you invited people to your business event and no one RSVPd?

Perhaps your mind would harken back to that recurring nightmare when you dreamt that your parents mailed out invitations to your 8th birthday party and no one came.

Before you think you’re wildly unpopular and no one cares about your event, take a deep breath and relax. The reason for no-shows doesn’t lie in antipathy for you or your business, rather it lies in the competing force of life itself. People are simply too busy.

This doesn’t mean they won’t attend your event, however. It just means that you need to follow these tried-and-true marketing recommendations to help ensure your success at gathering an audience in-person:

Invite them via multiple ways. Direct mail is alive and well, especially in today’s digital era. Consider mailing your event invitation via U.S.P.S. and hand-address the envelope in ink if at all possible. Keep extra printed invites on-hand to give to people you as you network. Create an email version of the invitation, and post it to your website and social channels.

Send reminders. Email is best for this, as are social channels. Don’t overdo it by spamming your target audience of invitees. A good rule of thumb is to remind them one week prior to your RSVP date, and then a day or two prior to the event itself. This is why Monday isn’t such a good day to hold an event, because you will need a business day or two prior to send the reminder out.

Follow up. Phone call follow-up is recommended for, at minimum, those key persons you really want to attend. It underscores the importance of your event and your guest may have missed seeing your invitation. Have talking points at the ready for why they should go and convey what they will get out of it. Practice out loud before making the call. Avoid scripted remarks which sound impersonal and don’t reflect positively on your business. Be ready to leave succinct voice messages, as not everyone readily accepts phone calls these days.

Hold the event no matter what. If your RSVP date is approaching and you were hoping for 35 people and only got 3 confirmed attendees with 1-2 maybes, do not cancel the event. Change the venue if you must, but forge on as best you can. The three people who attend may be your best prospects or influencers.

Get over it. Don’t wallow in self-pity. You asked people who may not know you from a hole in the wall to come away from their busy lives and businesses for a certain two-hour period on a certain day, likely for no charge. When events are free, people aren’t as committed to attend as they have no financial skin in the game. If a family member is sick, a big client calls a meeting, the weather is inclement or they get backlogged with work deadlines, it’s easy to “blow off” going to your event – especially if there was no follow-up phone call made to personally appeal to them. Next time, make contingencies for a Plan B when RSVPs are low, such as holding the event in a smaller room at the same venue.