Events are one of the most effective ways to build brand loyalty and trust - but are sadly underutilized by solopreneurs. Since most business nowadays is conducted online, it makes sense that focusing on growing your online brand is important (and crucial to targeting a wider, global audience). However, there is unappreciated value in taking your marketing strategy offline to give your customers a face-to-face interaction with your brand.
Hosting an event doesn't have to be a big undertaking. Run your business alone and don't have a lot of time or a massive budget? Here are three simple events that will connect you with your audience and grow your brand, while achieving the following objectives:
Objective 1: Position Yourself as an Industry Leader
The Showcase Event
What better way to advertise your business than to put your amazing skills on display for your audience? Whether you are an accountant, digital marketer, interior designer or business coach, rather than just organising an online webinar, deliver your information in a face-to-face workshop for clients and subscribers in your local area.
How To Organise It
Venue: From your living room to a community centre, or a local cafe to a co-working space, a showcase event can be hosted anywhere. Check your local area specifically for venues for entrepreneurs to hold events and use space flexibly at a minimal cost. (We recommend BHive here in London; they have beautiful rooms and facilities specifically for female solopreneurs!)
Guest List: Limit your guest list to 5-20 attendees for maximum interaction. Advertise the event on your website, to your list, and via your social networks. Create a listing on Eventbrite or Meetup, where you’ll likely garner some new audience members. Limiting registrations also gives you the opportunity to create a waiting list, effectively growing your email subscriber list with people who are interested in what you have to offer. Win, win!
Sample Event Itinerary:
- Guest Arrivals: 5-10 mins
- Icebreaker: 10-15 mins
- Presentation/Showcase: 20-30 mins
- Q&As: 10-15 mins
- Group Exercise/Interactive Activity (relate it to what you’ve presented): 20-25 mins
- Thank you/Closing (use this time to upsell a service or product, if applicable): 5 mins
- Mingle: 15-20 mins
Total Time: 1.5 - 2 hrs
Helpful tips: Get your branding in the room - a pop up banner, table decorations, etc. Provide some sort of branded literature or giveaway your guests can take home. Also, make sure you provide refreshments!
Bonus option: You don't have to do everything - get a guest speaker to come in and speak about a related topic in your industry that your clients would benefit from.
Objective 2: Boost Customer Engagement
The Insider Event
The Insider Event is a great way to get your customers to engage with a new project or service - such as an ebook, printed book, or e-course.
For example, so many e-courses available today offer exclusive access to a private Facebook group or Google+ hangout for members. Why not take it offline in your local area? Offer a special meetup event where you can go over course materials or bonus materials and go into things in more depth. It doesn't have to be complicated, but your students will automatically feel like VIPs, and they will be able to connect with you directly on the material you've created - creating a super engaged customer base.
How to Organise It
Venue: The venues mentioned above will work just fine for this type of event, too.
Guest List: Invite those customers who bought your e-course, book or service. The size of the event will depend on who lives in the area and the number of people enrolled.
Sample Event Itinerary: This one really depends on the type of product or service you are delivering. If you are selling an e-course and organising a post-course celebration meetup, make it festive and get your students to give feedback. Here is an example Insider Event itinerary for an in-depth review of a module in an e-course or e-book:
- Meet and greet: 10 mins
- Introductions/icebreaker activity: 10 - 20 mins (depending on the number of guests)
- Presentation/review of module: 20 - 30 mins (depending on the content)
- Q&As: 15 - 20 mins
- Individual and/or group exercises: 20 - 30 mins
- Regroup, analysis and lessons learned: 10 - 20 mins
- Thank you/closing: 5 mins
- Mingle: 15 - 20 mins
Total Time: 1.5 - 2.5 hrs
Helpful tips: Create a recording of your in-person event so that you can post it online for non-local participants who couldn't attend. Better yet, provide resources for them to host local meetups near them related to your book or course!
Bonus option: Extend your offering, course or service beyond its end date by making these in-person meetups a regular thing.
Objective 3: Establish Interest
The Networking Event
The Networking Event is a staple for any business, no matter the industry. Bring like-minded people together around your brand and services, and give them the opportunity to mingle and network amongst each other.
How to Organise It
Venue: Have a favourite pub or cafe in your local area? Reserve a few tables and hold the event there - it’s a relaxed environment where people can easily come and go.
Guest List: Invite your database of locals. Similar to the Showcase Event, advertise the event on Eventbrite or Meetup. Also consider running a quick Google search for “local event calendars” where you can submit.
Sample Event Itinerary:
- Meet and greet: 15 mins
- Welcome/Introduction: 5 mins
- Presentation: 20-30 mins
- Freestyle Networking: 30-45 mins
Total Time: 1 - 1.5 hrs
Helpful tips: Invite your attendees to bring a guest(s). During the event, collect everyone's business cards/contact details by holding a raffle or giveaway, and grow your list in the process. Again, be sure to include a little, branded takeaway for everyone (pens, decals, you name it!).
Bonus option: Collaborate! Co-host a networking event with another related solopreneur in your area - you can share the costs, expand your network, and promote your services to a whole new captive audience.
Grow your brand -- offline
These are just a few examples of different events that you can organise and that will get your audience to connect with your brand. Remember: start small, keep it simple, and always inject your brand’s unique personality into your events.