If you really want to know how to plan a customer event, you should attend customer events. Take notes, take photos, take video and take the time to see what is going on from the perspective of owner rather than worker or buyer. A customer event is a marketing tool that can lead to riches by locating your niches. (Niche audiences, actually.) You can’t possibly pay for data that will tell you more about the kind of customer your business produces than a customer event. Think about it: the customer is coming to you. That takes effort. Learn.
You want to make sure your customer event reaches your intended audience. Just be aware that your intended audience may not be what you expected. You must also make sure that your customer base is open to your objectives. What are your objectives? Could be finding out what your customer base actually is. Could be branding yourself like Coke or McDonald’s does. Customer event objectives could also be to introduce a new product or a revamping of an established product. (Like New Coke??)
The pencil stains over in accounting are your best friends during a customer event. Charge them with finding all the data they can by counting how many people showed up at the event, how many of them made a serious inquiry into your product, how many actual business contacts were made and, perhaps most importantly, how the customers respond emotionally to hearing your business’ name. If all you got were shrugs, you probably aren’t ready to embrace customer events in your marketing plan.
The biggest mistake you can make when marketing with a customer event is lack of organization. Before you plan a customer event, you should attend exhibitions and seminars and all the other myriad types of events that you will be seeking to replicate. Learn from the best how to coordinate heavy foot traffic and low expectations. Learn how to register customers or contacts. Attend a few sponsored events so you can know whether attaching your name to a rock concert or athletic event or arts and craft show is worth the expense. You will be disorganized beyond belief if you try to do those things without a firm knowledge of how others did it.
Finally, be ready to invest heavily in a customer event. You want to get name recognition if it’s low. Branding is the best thing that can come from sponsorship. Create a special web site that is all about the event, but that links back to your company’s official web site. A dedicated event site gives you the latitude to display only that information directly related to the event in question. You don’t want to overwhelm your potential customers who are only interested in the event itself.