How to host a successful client event

Bella Babot, director of marketing and human resources at Harrell Remodeling Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., knows how to party. Remodelers have a huge opportunity to build relationships and dispel myths about remodeling companies through hosting client events, she says.

Cookie gift bags

Customized cookie gift bags place a passive marketing component to your event and show clients your appreciation.

“By building up a general liking between them and us, we make them want to be part of the family,” Babot says. The Harrell Remodeling family, that is.

But these are not last-minute events. Babot accounts for events in the marketing budget at the beginning of each year. And each plan requires months of planning because there is more more that goes into an event besides the date, venue and food.

“We plan all of the details ahead of time, like mood, theme, layout and transportation—things that seem intuitive but really require thought ahead of time,” she says.

Here are some tips from Babot.

  • Save the date! Send out a pre-invitation announcement well in advance to ensure guests will make themselves available for your event. Babot suggests the less formal announcement be sent out two months in advance. Traditional and non-traditional invitations are appropriate. “We sent out a digital version of our invitation in addition to a hard copy invitation, to capture each and every type of client,” Babot says.
  • Plan your menu at least a month in advance. Unless you’re hiring a caterer for your event, you’re going to need to know if you need to rent equipment to serve or make the food. Minimize costs by calculating the cost per attendee. For example, $150 per guest includes food, entertainment or transportation. For client events, make it a
    Martini glass appetizers

    Appetizers are strategically placed in martini glasses so guests could easily hold them while mingling and moving about Harrell Remodeling’s event.

    requirement for employees to provide assistance. “We make client events a group effort—we are able to reduce costs when everyone helps out,” Babot says. Also, keep in mind what type of event you’re hosting and plan food accordingly. For Harrell’s 25th anniversary party, Babot knew seating would be minimal to encourage mingling, so she served appetizers that fit into a martini or shot glass. That way people could easily carry them around.

  • Have a theme. Go to flea markets or antique stores and pick up inexpensive items that match your party theme. Have branded company accents throughout the eventing. “Everything at our events mimic our brand,” Babot says. “Our logo is an iris flower, and we have purple tablecloths, logo chocolates and iris-adorned cake.”
  • Judge success. Once an event is over, it’s important to get a sense of your return on investment. “It’s very hard to measure the success of an event because it’s not always a quantitative measurement,” Babot says. She has, however, developed some signs that the event was worth the effort. “I can tell the event was a good one if people stay,” she says. “If you’re having to kick people out a half hour after the event is over, then it’s a good sign they had a nice time.” She also judges success by thenumber of thank you cards they receive after an event.

Events, in combination with other marketing efforts, are vital to strengthening your relationship with your clients, which makes it more likely they will provide you a referral. —Morgan Zenner

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