Whenever you attend an event or function as a guest (unless perhaps it’s an exhibition or a charity dinner) there’s going to be host. When it’s your turn, or the turn of your company to host, you find that thousands can be spent on hosting. But what return do you get from the investment? Not just the investment of money, but the invisible (and often large) amount of time spent in its preparation by both chargeable and non-chargeable staff?
Preparations and Planning
Let’s ask some basic questions like why, what, where, when, who and how.
Why is this event being held? Is it to:
• launch a new service or product?
• celebrate a milestone for the company or an individual?
• announce a new market place?
• say thank you to existing contacts and clients?
• raise your profile?
• impart knowledge?
• commemorate a particular time of year?
• use up the marketing budget?!
A bit flippant, that last one, but I believe some companies hold events which are just as irrelevant. Try, ‘because we did it last year’ or ‘the competition does it’ or ‘it seems like a good idea’ or ‘the senior partner likes synchronised swimming and the National Championships are coming to our City’. You think I’m being sceptical? Far from it; I speak from experience. Remember, I was in a professional partnership for 30 years so I’ve seen it all. I say here and now, I was probably a key culprit in choosing some or all of these (wrong) reasons for hosting events. Make sure you know WHY you’re about to spend vast sums of time and money before moving forward. If you can gather together a wide range of interested parties right at the start, I believe you will come to a more objective conclusion
What sort of event should it be? Should you:
• hold an intimate lunch?
• run a seminar?
• host a stand-up buffet, lunch or evening event?
• invite clients to your professional institute’s or association’s dinner?
• host an awards ceremony?
• take people to a sporting or cultural event?
• take them out for lunch or dinner?
• invite them to a networking event?
Still under the what section, what do you want from the spend? Is it:
• to build on a relationship?
• to start a relationship?
• to try to sell more services to the same client?
• to try to convince your professional contact why they should send you more referrals?
• to find out why the existing contact has stopped sending you referrals?
• to simply keep in touch?
Return on your investment
Don’t forget whenever you play host, it costs money AND time. It’s the time that tends to get lost in the equation, but, if you ponder a moment, it’s often the time and not the money that needs to yield a return. Money can be replaced, your time can’t! Every time you and your company spend money you want a return. If it’s a new colleague or capital expenditure, you calculate the extra income this new person should contribute or the savings on the capital spend. It should be no different when you organise an event. I worked with one major professional firm who were investing approximately £100,000 sponsoring an event. They said their target was an extra £1,000,000 fees over the next 12 months. Now that sounds like a return.