Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Host a Customer Appreciation Event: The Invitations and SWAG

Over the past two weeks we have hashed out all there is to know about budgets and the 5W's.  Now let's go over the invitations and the SWAG or promotional items!

The Invitations:
How many times have you received one of those impersonal e-mail invites asking for your attendance at a swanky event? Probably more than you can remember. It is completely worth it to invest a couple hundred dollars into actual hard copy, old fashioned, snail mail invitations! Trust me, it will speak volumes about the seriousness of your event and show your guests that you are willing to put in the extra effort.

However, we understand if this is not in your budget and since I did stress how important it is to stay on budget, you do have another option - e-mail invitations.  I suggest that you shy away from generic and plain e-mail invitation templates. These will not excite your guests and will likely result in extremely low RSVP's.

Choose a web-based event-marketing tool that has graphical invitations.  On the plus side, most online event marketing tools have a registration management on the back end - this will allow you to track who has responded, who has opened the invitation, etc. You must be careful though. A downside to e-mail invitations is that sometime they get placed in people's junk email boxes.  If you are not hearing from anyone, send a follow up email from your company e-mail address asking if they could check their junk boxes.

No matter what format you use, hard copy invites or e-mail invites, always be sure to include an RSVP (if this is a hard copy invite, make sure the RSVP is already stamped and ready to be mailed - DO NOT make your guest pay for this postage!).

One week before the event, call all guests with a reminder. Many people have things come up at the last minute and forget to decline, or feel as though it is not necessary.  By calling all guests, you will be able to hone in on your final number!

The SWAG (Promotional Items)

Just like the 'wedding favor', do not have a customer appreciation event without an appreciation gift.  Preferably, this gift should have your company's logo or event branding on it.  Put your creative hat on again and look for unique items that people have not seen before.  New promotion items come out everyday!

Consider a product(s) that your customer base will likely look at or use everyday.  Also, try to relate it back to what your company is all about.  Giveaways are an effective way to keep the name and memory of your event top of mind long after the event is over.  If you are serving a custom made signature cocktail at your event, create a recipe card and put it inside a cocktail glass as their gift. This will ensure that every time your guests drink out of that glass or make that recipe, they think of your company and your event.

Big No-No's: Flimsy t-shirts and substandard pens and notepads! Everyone already has plenty of those. If you are going to give away 'cheap' stuff, you are better off giving nothing at all.

Be sure you are not giving away swag that was distributed by your company at past events - this will make it seem as though you are just rounding up whatever you have.  Also, everyone at your event should receive the same gift. Do not favor your biggest clients - this will greatly irritate your average and small customer base - something you definitely do not want to do at a customer appreciation event.


Next week: How to Host a Customer Appreciation Event: Additional Tips!

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