With tax season behind us and spring officially here, a new season has begun – event season. As accounting firms come up for air and begin to look at marketing, one of the first marketing activities they tend to think of is hosting an event. An event, when done properly, can be a great boost for your firm’s marketing program. A firm-branded event can create awareness, foster relationship building and open doors to new business.
But events can be expensive, and if not planned strategically, they could be a waste of valuable money and time. Here are some important concepts to keep in mind as you plan events at your firm.
Objectives and Measurable Goals
As you begin the planning process, determine main objectives for hosting the event and how you will measure success. Creating awareness and networking are not specific enough objectives. For example, do you want this to be an event that is focused on client appreciation and retention? If so, your measurable goal might be to have attendance from 80% of your top revenue clients. If you want this to be an event that generates leads and new relationships, your measurable goal might be to have at least 10 new prospects or COIs attend the event. And since the objective of all marketing efforts is to grow your business, we recommend having a measurable goal that demonstrates a new client or opportunity that developed at least partially as a result of your event.
Reaching the Right Audience
Once you have determined main objectives for the event, you’ll want to focus on identifying who should be there. When creating your invitation list, determine specific parameters, such as companies or individuals, industry or service focus areas, geographic region, and prospect types. Once you’ve identified who you want to invite, make sure your promotional strategy will reach them. We recommend a promotional strategy that includes a blend of email blasts, printed materials, social media and personal outreach. Since personal outreach often accounts for over 50% of registrations, be sure to promote the event internally to facilitate outreach by all market-facing partners and managers at your firm. You will also want to make sure your invitation list is sufficient to meet your attendance goals. If you want to have 25 people attend your event, you’ll want to have at least 1000 contacts on your invitation list.
Creating a Compelling Reason to Attend
Creating the right content and having the right speakers will be critical to getting people to attend your event. A good way to think of this is to put yourself in a client’s shoes. What would make you step out of your busy day to potentially drive to and spend a few hours at an event? When possible, focus on the business benefits of a topic versus just technical aspects. Additionally, it will help to find dynamic speakers from both within and outside of your firm. Securing outside speakers can boost the interest level for the event and demonstrate your ability to bring great topics and speakers to your clients and prospects.
Once you have planned and hosted your event, follow-up will be equally critical. Remember to touch base with those that attended and track progress your measurable goals or ROI. By taking the time to plan ahead for your events, you will begin to see a greater benefit of hosting events as part of your overall growth strategy.