Hosting an event for your small business can offer many benefits. It can give you a chance to mingle with customers/clients, provide additional networking opportunities, and even help produce some revenue. However, hosting an effective event requires a lot of planning and preparation. A hastily thrown-together event can damage your business by wasting money or tarnishing your brand. Below are some questions you should consider before taking the plunge: 

Who is the event for? 
Before you even begin to plan an event, you need to have a clear idea of who this event is for (beyond your own business purposes). Who would want to attend? Why would they want to attend? What would they hope and/or expect to get out of it? How can you ensure that you meet or exceed their expectations? 

Your event should be thought of as a type of marketing, and just as with other forms of marketing, you should keep the target audience in mind. Otherwise, it's going to be a waste of money, and you'll end up worse off than you were before the event. 

What do you hope to get out of it? 
What do you hope to achieve with the event? Is the goal to make sales? How are going to leverage the event to do so? Is the goal simply to network? How do you ensure you attract the right crowd? Think hard about your goals for this event, and consider how you can work to achieve them. Also consider how to measure your success afterwards with an after-action report that can tell you whether it was worthwhile.

What do you need? 
What do you need in order to host the planned event properly? How much do you already have? What are the things you still need to acquire before the big day? How much is it going to cost you to obtain these products and/or services? Is your expected outcome worth the money you're putting into these things? 

Where will you host it?
Where will the event be held? Is your office or store ideal for such a thing, or will you need to rent out space somewhere else? Will you be able to provide necessary accommodations and refreshments? If you’d like to provide alcohol, make sure you know the local regulations and have the necessary permits. How much is a location going to cost? Will you have to share it with the public? Finding the right place really depends on the type of event you're hosting, so the answers to these questions will be quite different for different businesses and their goals. 

Who can help you host it? 
Any event is going to require some help. It will probably be too difficult for a business owner to be solely responsible for an entire event. Who will be able to help you make it a success? Are there certain employees that you want to help out? Your entire staff? Will you be required to hire outside services to help you pull it off? What will they charge you?

How much is it going to cost? 
In estimating how much the event is going to cost you, include the location, all the materials and services you need to put on the event, the cost of paying everyone who’s helping, the entertainment, and anything else you can foresee. 

How to budget
How do you expect to pay for the event? Will it be through sponsorships? Do you expect to use ticket sales to offset the costs? If so, will people be willing to buy tickets, and will your event be worth paying for? Again, you can think of your event as a type of marketing, so it may be that you allocate some amount of your marketing budget to pay for it. Is crowdfunding an option? It may be that some combination of these options is the best way to budget. 

How to get people to come
Once you have a pretty good idea of what the event is, what you want out of it, where you're going to host it, how you're going to pull it off, and how you're going to pay for it all, you’re ready to invite people to come. 

When scheduling the event, be sure to consider what other events might be taking place around the same time. You don't want to blow it by inadvertently hosting your event at the same time the hometown sports team is having a game, for example. This could hurt your attendance. Do some research to find out what else is going to be going on around town. 

It's going to take money to get the word out about your event. Some options for doing so include: signage at your place of business, newspaper advertisements and local media websites, local bloggers, your own blog, social media, billboards, television and radio ads, and your email newsletter. Your reach in these (or other) various channels should play a direct role in the marketing mix you choose. 

It's also a good idea to get the word out as early as possible so people can start marking their calendars and planning to attend. As the date approaches, however, you need to make sure your message is as visible as possible so people don't forget about it and so they have one last chance to learn about it. 

A business event can certainly be a big undertaking, but if you can pull it off, it can also have tremendous benefits for your company. Your event will be worth doing if you can see these benefits in advance and carefully plan how to achieve them. 


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC