7 Ways to Make Your Kick-Off Gathering a Successful One

Hosting an event is a great way to kick off the New Year.  No matter the type, an event gives your business or organization an opportunity to make a more personal connection with the people you meet.  This can give you a huge advantage, especially in a tough economy.  Here are 7 ways to make your event a successful one and start 2012 off on the right foot:

1. Get the word out early. Sending a save-the-date email as soon as you firm up your event details allows invitees to reserve the time. You can follow up later and ask people to RSVP and register in advance. If you’re charging, ask people to pay in advance as well– they’ll be more likely to be there.

2. Create a sense of excitement and exclusivity. Everyone wants to feel like a VIP. Email a coupon to attendees that they can redeem at the door, or if there will be a cash bar, send a free drink ticket that attendees can redeem if they bring the coupon.

3. Increase the urgency when needed. As the registration deadline nears, send a reminder email to anyone you’ve invited who hasn’t signed up yet. For example, “Only 5 spots left. Register today!”

4. Encourage guests to bring their friends. If you’re hosting a fundraiser, incentivizing people to bring a friend can mean double the donations, or if you’re a consumer-oriented business, rewarding customers if they bring additional guests could mean even more purchases.

5. Involve the community. Want to spice up your event with a little entertainment? Look no further than the local schools. Invite a school group to sing or play at your event. They’re cute, free, and they’ll bring their parents.

6. Put all event details on your event homepage. Don’t make your guests work to find your event. Put all the pertinent details about your event on a special event homepage and be sure to include a link to a map for directions.

7. Use multi-channel marketing to promote your event. Don’t just use email or event marketing tools for planning and promoting your events. Use all of the tools in your marketing toolkit. For example:

· Provide a link to your event homepage on all of your social networks.

· Use social syndication tools to allow invited guests to promote your event for you.

· If you’re co-hosting with other businesses or organizations, share the cost by cross-promoting the event on each of your websites, via social media, and in other outlets, such as community newspapers (which often place nonprofit bulletin board ads for free).

Start the year on a memorable note

Running a great event doesn’t have to cost a lot (particularly if you team up with your business neighbors). With some thought, planning, and promotion, you can begin the year on a high note—and hopefully pick up some great new prospects during the process.

Want to learn more about how you can run a successful event? Join the conversation with Event Marketing from Constant Contact on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ctcteventmarketing.

Gina Watkins is a leading expert on e-marketing for small business – and has a real passion for helping businesses to succeed. Her ongoing series of dynamic lectures are filled with real-world examples, humor and results-driven wisdom garnered from more than two decades of sales, business development and marketing experience. In addition to owning her own business, she is an award-winning direct marketer, has been featured on WUSA Channel 9’s Mind Over Money show, Dr. Gayle Carson’s Women In Business radio show, Morgan State’s Briefcase Radio program, and in numerous other media. In her role as Constant Contact Regional Development Director, she’s presented to more than ten thousand seminar attendees about the keys to success with easy, affordable, highly effective technology tools that grow trusted business relationships.