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Apr 7, 2022 11:00:00 AM by Casey Dorman

Make Your Small Business Event the Talk of the Town: 4 Tips

Make Your Small Business Event the Talk of the Town 4 Tips

In close-knit communities, events can draw in new customers and bring new opportunities for your small business. Even if attendees don’t make purchases during the event itself, it’s a chance to gently introduce unfamiliar, hesitant consumers to your brand while fostering community. 

In fact, it generally takes six to eight touches before a potential customer makes an initial purchase. Especially if you’re a new, local business, events are a major touch. When you’re planning an event, here are the essential steps to take to make a splash:

  1. Recruit community volunteers.

  2. Market with incentives.

  3. Leverage partnerships.

  4. Invest in powerful software.

Any business can put on a decent event. But with these tips in your back pocket, you can put on a great one!

recruit community members

Recruit community volunteers.

If you’re a small business just getting started, you may be tight on resources and don’t have the money lying around to throw an extravagant party. However, with an estimated value of $28.54 per volunteer hour, volunteers can save you a ton of money on event staffing, providing financial flexibility to host a memorable event.

volunteer management software

You may be familiar with what it takes to recruit volunteers for nonprofits. While a similar process, recruiting volunteers for a for-profit business requires its own set of steps:

  • Step 1: Identify what you need from your volunteers. Consider the number of volunteers you need and the length of their shifts. Not only can volunteers help as additional hands for general event set-up and tear-down, but they will likely also have unique talents valuable to your event. Determine the skillsets of your ideal volunteer and consider recruiting specifically for people with the skills you need. For instance, if you’re not practiced at creating aesthetically-pleasing images, you could recruit a volunteer with a graphic design background to help create marketing materials.  

  • Step 2: Identify what your volunteers need from you. Who does your business appeal to? More on this in the next section. But suffice to say, volunteers will likely want to see your appreciation in return for their time and energy. 

  • Step 3: Write clear job descriptions. As we mentioned in Step 1, recruit for the things you actually need help with. Additionally, as you review these descriptions, make sure to review the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which requires that certain types of volunteers be paid for their time. 

  • Step 4: Plan your recruitment strategy. You already know you need to promote your event. But the same goes for finding volunteers. If you don’t advertise your volunteer opportunities, people won’t know they’re available.

  • Step 5: Create an easy sign-up page that syncs with your software solutions. This should include a description of open opportunities, a list of FAQs, photos from past events in action, and contact information to reach out to you with any questions.

Once you have your volunteers recruited and trained, don’t try to hold all their information in your head. Instead, to save yourself additional administrative work, use a volunteer scheduling solution to streamline everything volunteer-related—recruitment, promotion, scheduling—in real-time.

market with incentives

Market with incentives.

But how do you recruit volunteers to help with your event? Incentives can be a surprisingly powerful tool to attract volunteers and attendees. Tailor your incentives to match the interests of your attendees and volunteers. Depending on your industry, you might offer: 

  • Discounts for future events or your business’s services

  • VIP experiences (such as a party for volunteers or investors)

  • Contests or raffles for a free product or service

  • Catered food and/or drinks

  • Merchandise (such as t-shirts, facemasks, water bottles, or tote bags)

It’s simple: People are drawn to freebies. According to Gingr, 88% of free merchandise recipients remember the name of the advertiser. Reinforce that connection by consistently branding your incentives—and really all of your event marketing—to your business. Elements of your brand include your: 

  • Logo

  • Name

  • Brand story

  • Slogan

  • Typography

  • Color palette

  • Imagery

  • Voice

Overall, your brand should be unique and specific to your organization. Because they’re visually and tonally tied to your business, a wearable event incentive—such as a soft t-shirt with your logo and slogan—can act as free publicity for your business long after the event is over.

leverage partnerships

Leveraging partnerships.

Depending on your needs and their interests, partners may be able to provide you with volunteers and staff, cater food, a space for your event to take place, products to give away (such as auction items), financial support, and/or brand recognition.

But the ideal partnership shouldn’t be a one-sided deal in which only one partner realizes any benefits. Rather, it should be a win-win situation in which all parties (including your customers) gain something from the partnership.

For instance, being the main sponsor of a popular charity event can help boost your brand’s recognition while simultaneously doing good for the community in which you operate. For every charity marathon, fundraising auction, and fancy gala, there’s a nonprofit event that needs a sponsor. This has benefits for both nonprofits and businesses. 

For nonprofits, the benefits include:

  • Increased awareness and credibility around their cause

  • A way to acquire new supporters

  • Funding for their event

For your for-profit business, the benefits include:

  • Positive brand recognition

  • Attracting new customers to your business

  • Happy, civically-engaged employees

As you consider partners, be thoughtful about who you team up with. Find a non-competitive, well-loved brand in your community that attracts your ideal customers. For example, a doggy daycare might leverage the connections in its database to partner with a dog shelter to host an adoption event. Don’t, however, partner with just any business. If they have unsavory practices—or terrible Yelp reviews—you don’t want to associate your brand with theirs. 

invest in powerful software

Invest in powerful software.

Even though you’re not a big-box store, your small business can very much still take advantage of cutting-edge software to streamline processes and make real-time, data-driven decisions.

During your event, you’ll (hopefully) be inundated with potential sales, and you don’t want to slow down lines by fumbling with a funky receipt printer from the 1980s. 

For your event to run smoothly and efficiently, invest in an all-in-one integrated platform with industry-specific features to seamlessly handle transactions. With robust event software, you can:

  • Sell event tickets to supporters.

  • Schedule, train, and check-in volunteers for their shifts.

  • Streamline event communication and updates.

For example, at your doggy daycare adoption event, you wouldn’t want to use software made for a hardware store. Rather, if you’re a dog daycare, you want software made for dog daycares. If you’re a groomer, you want software made for groomers. If you’re a kennel, you want software made for kennels. Ultimately, choose the software that’s built to make the work you do easier—not more difficult.

As you choose your software, make sure they offer a variety of integrations and are compatible with one another. If your software can’t work together, it won’t work for you. Period.

volunteer management system



After your event has successfully concluded, your work isn’t done. Follow-up with attendees by:

  • Sending an event thank you letter with a discount coupon. 

  • Providing an easy way (an email or phone number) to get in touch with your business. 

  • Asking for feedback about the event with a survey.

In general, use the days and weeks following your event to create additional opportunities for attendees to engage with your business. By following up, you can leverage the incredible buzz generated by your event to convert attendees into devoted customers.

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