A Corporate Event is Not Just a Party

Corporate-PartyWant to know something about me? I love a good trade show party. Not just attending them, but the planning them too. Brainstorming a theme, exhibit design, choosing decor, scouting locations, food and wine taste testing – I love it all.

Even for experienced marketers like me, it’s easy to get caught up in the planning process and forget the most important detail of all: WHY am I hosting this event in the first place?

Every corporate event – regardless of its size – should be viewed as a marketing tool with clearly defined goals and well-laid out strategy. Yes, you should still have a cohesive theme and outstanding food, but details such as these should simply be a means to support your ultimate end-goal.

What should that end-goal be? That answer varies from one company to the next. I can tell you that these are some of the most frequent reasons why our trade show booth clients host corporate events.

Building and Strengthening Relationships

In a world where much of our communication is done electronically, corporate events are the perfect place to engage and connect in person. Personal interaction can build brand loyalty and generate new interest with potential prospects and existing clients alike. Take the time to have meaningful conversations and get to know your guests.

When you shift your focus from only thinking about sales to developing business relationships, attendees are likely to become more responsive and share their positive experience long after the event is over, which could turn into new referrals for you.

Enhancing Brand Awareness

Corporate events can be a powerful extension of your company’s marketing strategy and are an excellent way to enhance brand awareness. Just as you would for a brochure or advertisement, ensure your event is consistent with your company’s corporate culture and identity.

In addition to the obvious such as your company logo, pay attention to the small details as well. Everything from the selected venue, exhibit design colors to the tablecloth color can further your brand message.

Generating Leads and Referrals

A corporate event can be a lead-generating machine. Just by showing up, your guests have proven that they have an interest in your company. Don’t just do a Rolodex dump, but carefully vet guests based their potential to become a quality lead.

Typically, you’ll invite existing and potential customers, but you can also use a corporate event to reach out to employees, business partners, suppliers, vendors and other important groups to your business.

Educating Attendees

One of the main reasons people come to corporate events is to learn more about your company’s products and services. Seize the opportunity to educate! Since people prefer different learning styles, an event is the perfect way to hit them from all angles: printed material, live presentations, speakers, one-on-one conversations and even audio-visual components.

Remember, education doesn’t have to come across as “salesy,” which can be a quick turnoff for your guests. Instead, offer compelling content supported by case studies or proven statistics that positions your company as a thought leader in the industry. When done right, attendees will reach out to you for more.

Customer Appreciation

Who doesn’t love a thank you? Especially one that comes with a live band and an open bar? Seriously though, hosting an event to show your appreciation for your best customers makes smart business sense.

There are lots of statistics tossed around about the cost of customer retention vs. acquisition, but we can all agree that customer retention is both less than customer acquisitionand can deliver a higher ROI.

Of all the types of corporate events, this is the one that has the biggest potential of losing sight of the end-goal and becoming a free-for-all. Keep your end-goal in sight at all times.

No matter what type of corporate event you plan to host, the key to success is to approach it with a well laid-out plan that focuses on the “why” first and the “how” second.

At Excalibur Exhibits, we’ve been planning corporate events (from the initial ideas to custom exhibit design to execution) for companies around the world since 1997. Let us show you how to execute on your corporate goals while still showing everyone a fabulous time. Contact us today at 800-217-9479.

Peggy Swords

About Peggy Swords

Peggy Swords is the founder and president of Excalibur Exhibits, a $10 million Houston-based exhibit manufacturing and production corporation. Excalibur Exhibits designs, builds, delivers, assembles and disassembles as many as 300 exhibits per year. Swords was named as a finalist for NAWBO Houston 2003 Woman Business Owner of the Year and 2005 Enterprising Woman of the Year Finalist. Additionally, Excalibur Exhibits is a five time member of the Inc 5000, a three time member of the LSU100 and a two time member of the Houston Fast 100, a list of fastest growing privately held companies.