Bring out those burger buns, fire up the grill, it’s time for a barbeque. Summer is the time of year where people love getting together… especially when there’s delicious food involved! But I bet you’re wondering: “Come on, Lily. What does a barbeque have to do with gaining new business?” Excellent question! The simple answer is that you can actually use this “get-together” mentality to your advantage, and I’ll explain why.
Take your local Barnes & Noble for example. They most likely have a coffee bar in addition to their bookstore. Oh, and that little store known as Ikea, they have a cafeteria for customers to hang out and indulge in frozen yogurt after a purchase. Why? Because they’re capitalizing on the fact that clients like to enjoy a positive buying experience. Even in the IT industry, clients are looking for more than just a provider, and they want that exceptional experience packaged with their partnership. A great way to attract and gain new clients for your business is to check off this next item on our MSP Summer BuckIT List: throw a summer BBQ mixer and invite prospects and current customers to mingle!
Why a Summer BBQ?
Most prospective clients don’t just come knocking on your door, so you have to go out and get them to come to you. Selling and marketing yourself is a challenge that every business will eventually face, but is there a best approach? The answer is actually no. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to promoting your business to prospects. However, in the spirit of summer I thought one of the best ways to stand out to both current and prospective clients is to take advantage of the amazing weather this season offers and throw a BBQ mixer.
The purpose of this is not only to flaunt your grill master skills. You should also show new prospects and current clients that you are the one they should begin or continue to do business with. If it’s not the pricing that separates you from the rest, it should be the personality! Don’t be afraid to add a personal touch. In the end, you’ll be able to better relate to the people you’re targeting, to boost existing employee and client morale, and to also gain highly-qualified prospects and leads. So go ahead, break out those BBQ tongs, and get started on planning your get-together.
The Set Up
In a perfect world, you’d have an unlimited budget to market your business to new prospects. You could run endless public promotions, advertise both online and offline, and launch campaigns to build awareness. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. The reality is that most small to medium-sized business these days have limited resources to put towards new client acquisition. But no matter how many resources you have, what matters most is how you use them!
Get the word out
Creating awareness for your event doesn’t have to be costly. Remember that when done correctly, the little investment you put in now will pay off significantly in the future. Before you start sending out the RSVPs, it’s best to narrow down who they will be sent to. Instead of trying to reach the most amount of people with little interest, focus on defining who your highest qualifying prospects are and target them. Your guest list is going to vary depending on your individual business. At the very least, you should include your targeted prospects and leads, your existing clients, and some of your employees or executive team. If you don’t want to keep it strictly business, it’s also a nice gesture to extend the invitation to their families. Once you have your ideal guest list, you can start building awareness for your BBQ get-together.
The most cost-effective way to approach this would be to start off by creating an email campaign around your summer BBQ. Put together a fun, catchy landing page, and allow your recipients to RSVP directly from there. It’s always a good idea to get a feel for how many people will be attending so that you can budget and save money, but also ensure you have enough hamburgers and hot dogs for everyone. Make an invitation email template that mimics the classic picnic blanket look, or if you don't have the bandwidth, a simple Evite email works too. Also, if you want to go the traditional route, you can send invitations by "snail mail" that have a red and white checkered envelope. A little extra effort in these details goes a long way!
Pick your place
Next, you have to choose your destination. There are a couple of options here, like renting out a pavilion or country club, or holding it in the office parking lot. There’s also the option of working with an up n’ coming restaurant, renting a BBQ food truck, striking a deal with your local caterer and see if they’ll give you a 10% discount, or even have everyone bring their favorite dish. Whatever it is, it’s up to you to decide what fits best for your business.
What to Do at Your BBQ
As I mentioned before, you want to make your individual personality pop. Each event should be organized according to your business. Above all, this event should encourage interaction between your current clients and your prospects, so come up with a fun way to make them mingle. An idea that I love is to create a “find these people” scavenger hunt. By paring up clients with prospects, it will create an opportunity for conversation, which allows your current clients to champion your brand and talk about the great partnership they have with you. Then, you can identify which clients will be good to approach about giving you a testimonial, which can be developed into a case study! It’s also a good idea to give away little souvenirs or door prizes. For example, you could create a customized bottle of barbeque sauce and attach your business card. Aim for something that will make you memorable in your prospects’ eyes.
This event doesn’t only have to revolve around marketing yourself. You can also make it a client appreciation event by giving out awards, because clients respond very well to being recognized and it shows your prospects how much you care. However you choose to go about your summer BBQ, make sure to encourage mingling, keep it enjoyable, and make it memorable!
Have any other ideas for a promotional business event? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
By Courtney Swift
By Scott Wittstock