Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Preparing for a small business event is incredibly exciting. Beyond sales, connecting with your community and seeing how people react to your brand can bring all sorts of uplifting energy to your entrepreneurial journey. Events help build lasting relationships, foster customer loyalty and drive community engagement in ways only small businesses can.
But to achieve event success, preparation is key. Whether you’re holding a grand opening for your new restaurant or selling artisan crafts at a local market, you’ll want to draw plenty of attendees, capture customer attention and leave a lasting impression. Plus, you’ll want to stay on budget, manage your resources efficiently and make sure your branding is consistent.
If that to-do list is starting to feel long, don’t worry — we’ve got the resources you need to make your event a remarkable success. To produce truly memorable brand marketing events, you mainly need to focus on three key areas:
- Getting the word out
- Making your event shine
- Creating a lasting impression
1. Get the word out.
Depending on the event, you’ll want to start spreading the word at least two weeks to a month ahead of time so people can plan ahead and keep your event fresh in their mind. Promote too early, and your event may get lost in people’s busy social feeds.
Maria Vasco, founder of Uvida Shop, a zero-waste gift shop in Boston’s North End, takes a more consistent approach. “I share an events calendar once a month so our customers can see ahead of time all the events that we will have both in store and out in the city,” she says.
Once you’ve determined your timeline — and of course, what your event will look like — it’s time to promote it physically and digitally. There are a variety of innovative products and services available to help spread the details and tap consumers’ desire to not miss out. Here are some tools to start with.
Start with printed products
Postcards are ideal for promoting small business events, whether you’re planning an in-store sales extravaganza, a showcase of your restaurant’s new menu or an appearance at an upcoming fair or market. Send them out to your online customers, add them to product packaging, display them in your brick-and-mortar locations and pass them out around town to spread the word far and wide. Depending on your needs and brand style, postcards can be designed in multiple sizes, thicknesses and stocks, and you can even add an embossed finish or your own custom imagery.
You can also use perforated door hangers to strategically promote your event by including a tear-off coupon at the bottom that recipients can bring to your event to redeem.
Next up, A-frame signs are ideal for placing outside the door to your business to showcase promotions and advertise upcoming events. Created with vivid, fade-resistant printing and weatherproof lenses, these signs will draw in visitors any time you plan a small business event. Showcase your event’s theme with unique graphics or promote multiple upcoming events for the month or season.
Keep in mind that even though your event is in real life, your customers are always online. Bring people directly to your event’s landing page, your website homepage or your social media profiles by adding a QR code to your postcards or signage.
Increase your reach with digital marketing and social media
In addition to printed items, your digital marketing efforts, meaning all the marketing and promotion you do online, including your website, paid advertisements and social media, are vital to spreading the word. Depending on your preferred social channels and engagement methods, you’ll want to have a digital and social media marketing strategy in place to share key details about your event.
For example, you can share posts on TikTok or Instagram with behind-the-scenes clips of your crew getting ready for the event along with a custom hashtag to make your content easier to find. Or, create a Facebook event that people can RSVP to — this will help attendees remember the date, and help you to gauge interest and head count ahead of time.
“Consistent and timely posts on social media and tagging people who are likely to repost the event is our best [promotion] method,” says Cam Frank of Atlanta fashion retailer Clutch Creations. “One of our favorite ways to get more information on the number of people who are aware of the event is by adding in an interactive piece, such as a poll or a slider bar. Starting with a template and adjusting it to match our branding makes the process so much easier.”
To attract even more attention, use VistaCreate to design custom social posts for TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.
2. Gather the day-of essentials to make your event stand out.
Once you’ve promoted your event and you’re ready to welcome guests, you’ll want to ensure your business stands out and looks its best. Create a consistent theme with eye-catching signage, on-brand decor and an engaging set-up that attracts attention.
Here are the basics to make your setup sparkle and your brand appear as professional as possible:
Get the most out of custom signage
To help your personality and your brand shine through — and to tell people what you’re all about! — you need signage announcing your small business.
“It makes the experience a little more immersive when you can create a little world with your booth,” says Chris Bailey, owner of Los Angeles recycled clothing brand Last One Left.
With multiple sizes, easy setup and double-sided printing, retractable banners are a go-to. Or, durable vinyl banners are great for drawing passersby into your small business event, whether placed outside a storefront or restaurant, or for marking your event booth. Full-color and unfading prints can vividly showcase your brand or other messaging.
Foam boards are another effective way to stand out and show your value at trade shows, conferences and in-store by displaying prices, product details or sales info. These signs are just as customizable as posters, but more substantial — display one on an easel for a more professional look.
Yet another great accent is a custom tablecloth emblazoned with your brand colors and logo. Available in different sizes and materials, machine-washable and reusable tablecloths will help create a complete branded experience at each event you host or attend.
Show up with professional branded clothing
You and your staff can distinguish yourselves and show off your company logo at events with custom branded T-shirts. Plus, you can also sell these shirts as merch or provide giveaways to your most loyal supporters. Go with an embroidered logo or a full-color print, or even add a catchphrase on the back if that’s your thing.
VistaPrint carries a variety of tees, polos, pullovers, outerwear and other clothing items from top brands, including Gildan, Under Armour, Carhartt, Bella + Canvas and more.
Increase visibility with a canopy tent
Whether outside or in a convention hall, take your signage up a notch with canopy tents that can showcase your brand from every angle and give you a vertical advantage to provide a helpful visibility boost. In rainy weather, they can also provide coverage for your setup and browsing customers. Nothing says credibility quite like a standout canopy tent with your brand in 360-degree full color.
3. Stay top-of-mind by creating positive lasting impressions.
You always want to leave a good impression on your current and potential customers. “Customers will think about all the positive interactions they had during an event and make decisions on whether they will follow up or not,” says Maria.
To help your brand stay at the forefront of your event attendees’ minds, consider some branded physical goods that you can give out to remind guests about your business later on. Then, after your event, take care to measure your success and gauge if your guests remember you by conducting brief surveys, monitoring your social media mentions and analyzing post-event sales. Other engagement tactics include posting an event recap on social media or welcoming new email subscribers with an email blast that includes a special deal.
For your branded event giveaways, consider the following to start:
Go back to basics with business cards
Business cards are a classic marketing tool. These days, you can customize them more than ever to leave your authentic mark. Consider rounded corner business cards for a unique look, or opt for cards featuring QR codes to lead people directly to your website, your social platforms or an email list sign-up page.
Give away fun free swag
People love getting free gifts, and your complimentary swag serves to remind guests about the experience they had at your event. Plus, anytime they use it in public, it’ll get your brand seen by new people. Consider offering custom merchandise like die-cut stickers, pens, water bottles and tote bags in your brand colors — and featuring your business logo, of course.
“Customers always have a positive reaction when they see us pass out branded giveaways at events because it shows that we know what we stand for and how much we want to connect with others,” adds Maria.
Make your next event unforgettable
Now it’s time to put it all into action. As you prepare for your next small business event, remember that success can come in many forms, from actual product sales and email signups to something as simple as a memorable conversation with a fellow business owner and an exchange of business cards. It’s important to define your goals ahead of time, but also, at some point, just let yourself enjoy the event itself.
“[Sometimes] we would rather educate people about the product and brand and gain followers, but for another event, if we brought a lot of inventory, we’d offer sales and discounts to move more product,” says Cam. “Events will always be successful if you manage your expectations and do your best.”
To make your next event unforgettable, tap into Vista’s extensive custom products to get the word out, wow guests with a distinctive in-person experience and nurture post-event relationships within your community.