If nothing newsworthy seems to be happening in your business, you’re probably not looking hard enough. Following are some ideas to get you moving in the right direction. Check those that interest you and note your thoughts on the lines that follow.
Open house events — An Open House event for a grand opening or a special event coinciding with a public celebration (i.e. Valentines Day for example), can become a festive occasion.
Customer appreciation events — Why not show your appreciation for your customers by hosting a celebration?Perhaps you’ve been in business for 25 years and would like to show appreciation to your loyal customers. You might offer special deals designed to encourage customers to bring referrals, or to try new products or services.
Public service — If it fits with your corporate values, giving back to your community, your industry, or any other worthwhile cause can benefit your business significantly. For example, you might donate all of the proceeds for one month from the sale of a particular product to help build a local children’s playground.
Public workshops — Perhaps you have a product that people would like to learn more about. If you sell art supplies, for example, you might offer a beginners workshop on painting.
Seminars, presentations and other speaking engagements — When you teach others, you position yourself as an expert in your field. People are more likely to seek you out when they believe you have the solutions to their needs.
Speaking events can be moneymaking occasions in themselves, or you might volunteer to present a topic to an interested audience. In either case, they often present an opportunity for publicity, especially if your topic of discussion is newsworthy.
Have someone other than yourself introduce you whenever possible. Third-party endorsements are much more effective than self-promotion. It's also a good idea, and quite acceptable, to write out the introduction for them. This will eliminate your chances of having to recover from a poor introduction.
Do not use your presentation as a selling platform. This is important. People will feel cheated, even if they did not pay to see it. Your presentation must provide value to your audience. Once you are done, however, it's usually quite acceptable for you to promote your business. You might let people know about the books you have for sale at the back of the room, or you might offer them a free booklet of information in return for their business card. You may even have whoever introduced you make the sales pitch for you when you are done, giving the impression of a third-party endorsement.
To make the most of a special event, be sure to capture the names and contact information for all or as many of your attendees as possible. People may not offer this information freely, but if you offer something in return your response rate will skyrocket. For example, you might offer to send a free, informative booklet to those who give you their business cards. Of course having people register before they sit down will get this information for you as well, but why not do both? When someone shows a special interest, they instantly become a much warmer lead.
Professionally record the event. You can send copies to your customers or to the event attendees afterward. You might also find the media is willing to use it. It could end up as part of the local news, for example.
Whenever possible, invite your best customers to your event along with any guests they may wish to bring. If the event is held in conjunction with a larger seminar or trade show, include a couple of free passes with your invitation. This promotes goodwill with your customers, ensures a larger audience for your event, and improves your image for the media. Send tickets to the media. A media pass may get them in the door, but sending tickets shows that you care and improves the chances of them showing up.
Once the event is over, be sure to follow up with those who attended. Send a personalized letter of thanks along with any information or literature they may have asked for. If you recorded the event, you might offer them a free copy. This is also a great time to offer your products and/or services.
A follow up phone call may also be in order. You or one of your employees might ask for their feedback on the event and offer to answer any questions. Remember the long-term value of relationship building.
Special events can be organized using a project planning form.
List five possible promotional events you might hold. Brainstorm with your employees and even your customers for ideas. This will become an ongoing list and will form part of your Publicity System.