6 Tips for Planning the Perfect End-of-Year Event

The holidays are the busiest time of year for businesses and nonprofits, but they also present the perfect opportunity to recognize your customers and supporters for their patronage and loyalty over the past 12 months by hosting a holiday event. By inviting customers and members to a special event, you're building relationships the old-fashioned way – with personal, face-to-face contact.

And here are 6 ways to ensure your end-of-year event is successful: 

1. Get the Word Out Early 

Sending a save-the-date email as soon as you firm up your event details will allow invitees to reserve the time. Follow up with an invite that asks people to RSVP and register in advance, even if your event is free. If you're charging admission, ask people to pay in advance – that way they'll be more likely to be there. 

2. Create a Sense of Exclusivity 

Everyone wants to feel like a VIP. Email a coupon that attendees can redeem at the door. For example, "The first 20 people get a free [insert branded promotional item of your choice: t-shirt, white paper, flash drive, etc.]." Or, if there will be a cash bar, send a free drink ticket that attendees can redeem at the event. 

3. Encourage Guests to Bring Friends

If you're hosting a fundraiser, incentivizing people to bring a friend can mean double the donations, and a more fun time for attendees. If you're a consumer-oriented business, reward customers if they bring additional guests and you'll see even more purchases. 

4. Involve the Community

Want to spice up your event with a little entertainment? Look no further than the local schools for the most popular entertainers in town. Invite a school group to sing at your holiday event. 

5. Use Multi-Channel Marketing to Promote Your Event

Don't just use email marketing or event marketing tools for planning and promoting your holiday events. Use all the other the tools in your marketing toolkit. Include pertinent event details on a special event homepage and share links to that page on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If you're co-hosting with other businesses or organizations, cross-promote the event on each of your websites, via social media, and in other outlets, such as community newspapers. 

6. Increase the Urgency When Needed

As the registration deadline nears, send a reminder email to anyone you've invited who hasn't signed up yet. For example, "Only 5 spots left. Register today!"

A special event adds a personal touch to your holiday marketing efforts. It doesn't have to be difficult or cost a lot. With some thought, planning, and promotion, you can end the year on a high note — and kick off 2012 with more prospects.

For more tips on getting started with event marketing, visit Constant Contact’s Learning Center.

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