Brand Strategy for Small Business Events

brand strategy through events

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You have been working hard to make sure people know about your business and your brand. You know all about traditional marketing techniques. You have all of the staples:

  • Website? Check.
  • Social media? Check.
  • Business cards? Check.

If not, there is a variety of resources out there to get these things and other aspects of your business going, but we’ll stick to marketing here.

Speaking of marketing, how about an event? The benefits of having an event to boost your brand are more significant than you might think. For starters, you can choose how you want your business portrayed and what type of audience you want to attract.

In addition to increasing brand awareness, having an event also could generate leads in the form of new customers or potential business networks. Events also have been known to increase customer engagement because people chose to be there and have fewer distractions, which allows them to focus more on getting to know you and your brand. Lastly, you can use this time to educate people on any new products or services. Making the rollout a production will get people’s attention.

Like many people, the sound of hosting an event probably makes you see dollar signs, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Of course, it will cost some money, but it doesn’t have to put you in the poor house. After all, the goal is to build your brand and increase business, right? So, let’s take a look at six ways to build your brand through an event without putting your business in the red.

Partner with another small business

Depending on the type of event, you could offer another small business the opportunity to join you as a co-host. This will cut your event costs in half. Be sure to choose a partner from a non-competing brand, so you aren’t taking business from each other, and you’ll be able to expose your brand to a broader audience. It’s also important to choose a partner whose business you also believe in to make sure you will reach the largest audience. Do your homework on prospective partners before you join forces. Check out their websites, social media pages, and product/service reviews.

Once you’ve got a partner, you can work on a plan for cross-promotion. Make an online event to share on each other’s social media, or come up with a hashtag you’ll want to use throughout the event. This will expose your brand to all of your partner’s followers and get you more likes and shares. You also could share the event on each other’s websites with information about the event. And, while it was the event that initially connected you, there’s no reason why your cross-promoting partnership can’t continue when it’s over.

Produce a video

If you want to get more people to your event, you’re going to need to bring the hype. One way to do that is by producing a video to advertise your event. Film a trailer of the event to encourage people to register; show behind-the-scenes footage preparing for the event; preview some of the products or services available; or get someone to interview you to explain the event and its purpose. If you aren’t sure exactly how to do this, you can always hire a producer that can help.

With the right content, your video could go viral and generate a lot of buzz for your event. You could use a character that you plan to have at the event as a way to bring the video to life. Include your event’s hash tag to keep the fun going during the event with live video updates. Include relevant information such as the event location and ending time in case people want to stop by and check it out. Encourage event attendees to make their own videos to share.

Continue the series with a wrap-up video after the event to show people what they missed and include attendees’ shared videos. Don’t forget to let people know you’d still like to meet them at your business even if they missed the event.

Contact local media

The more excitement you build for your event, the more awareness you create for your brand. It’s important to alert people about all of the cool things your brand is doing. One low-cost way to promote your event is through the media. Write a press release about your event and send it to local newspapers, television and radio stations, as well as, local bloggers or social media influencers.

Invite them to preview the event, but also invite them to attend the event, too. Be sure to include information that might make your business stand out or warrant a longer, feature piece from the media such as a milestone anniversary, raising money for a cause, or a grand opening in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

Like most businesses, many media outlets are doing more with less and might not have the resources to give you coverage. In that case, offer to send photos from the event with a summary. This still doesn’t cost you much and gets your name out there. It also lets reporters know you are easy to work with and they might think of you when they need a source for another story later, which also keeps your name and brand out there.

Give them something to remember you by when they leave

Your work definitely isn’t done on event day. This is your best chance to connect with potential customers on a personal level. Work the room and talk to as many people as you can, and be sincere. Letting people get to know you will make them feel connected to you and your brand—and more likely to use your business.

Talking isn’t enough. Give the people a memento of your time together. Plus, who doesn’t like free stuff? Be sure to hand out branded items that are tailored to the event.

For community events, you could put up a background cloth next to a box of fun props and take pictures. Slip the photos into a customized photo folder to remind people of all the fun they had at your event. For trade shows or conferences, give out a pack of matches, pens, or notepads. This way, they’ll think of you every time they light a candle, write something down, or write a quick note or grocery list.

Offer discounts

Another thing you can hand out at your event is discounts. This could be in the form of coupons to use in person or promo codes for your website. While it might seem like you’re giving away business by offering discounts, it will benefit you in the end.

Offering discounts convinces new customers to take a chance on you and rewards existing customers, too. It also has a good chance of increasing your sales because people might buy non-sale items once they get in your store or check out your website to see what you have to offer. Discounts also help you move inventory that wasn’t selling well to make room for new products.

You also could boost your brand’s reputation if you choose to offer special discounts to a specific population such as veterans or senior citizens. This shows that you want to help people who might be on a fixed income, and you’re patriotic. Another way to boost your reputation is to offer a discount connected to a cause. For example, you could give a discount to people who bring in canned goods for the local food shelter or pet supplies for the area animal shelter.

Have a contest or raffle

Contests and raffles also are a good way to get people to notice your brand. They also boost excitement and engagement at your event. Information gathered to enter the contest can be used for your mailing lists for emails and text alerts, too. This also could help give you a better idea of who is interesting in your brand.

You could have people fill out entry forms at your business leading up to your event and draw the winner at your event, or do everything at the event. Depending on the event, people could have been entered in the contest when they registered to attend. Add a social media connection to the contest such as a retweet or like and share campaign for more brand awareness.

Prizes will depend on your budget and how many raffle tickets are sold. A fancy trip definitely is a draw, but smaller prizes such as gift cards or customized apparel also will work. Be sure to check on your state’s laws regarding raffles and contests.

Time to start planning

Use this tips to strengthen your brand through an event. Be sure to set clear goals of what you hope to accomplish through the event whether it’s an increase in sales or social media followers. Have a way to measure what you hope to achieve to make sure you are spending your marketing dollars wisely and getting the most out of your event.

Further reading

4 Reasons to attend a business conference

Benefits of sponsoring an event

How to get the most out of a business conference

Benefits of being a guest speaker at a conference

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