One of the most important, yet most challenging, things that every business owner must do is get new customers and keep the ones they have. Organizing an event to bring your customers together is one of the most exciting and challenging things you can do. Here's some insight into why and how to create an event that turns your customers and prospective customers into passionate evangelists.
1. Organize small events in your office
Have an open house on a regular basis inviting customers and prospective customers to come to your office to hear and discuss a particular topic. Don't sell your product or service at this gathering, but share useful information.
2. Invite a guest speaker to speak and invite your guests
Maybe you don't have anything to say or you're not a good speaker. Why not invite a guest speaker -- a local hero or awesome customer, for example -- to speak at an event?
3. The venue is important
You can have an event just about anywhere, even if your own office. But if you don't have space for seating or for more than a handful of people, consider renting space in a nearby hotel or other meeting space.
4. Encourage customers to speak with each other
Your customers are interested in networking, trust me. They want to know other professionals who can help them build their business and they want to speak with other professionals about your product as it relates to their industry.
5. Big events
You can have a small networking type event in your office, but you could also do a large event with hundreds of people. Sure, this kind of event takes a lot of human resources (i.e. staff) and money, but it can be very worthwhile for the visibility of your brand and massive exposure to more customers
6. Media attention
Invite the press to attend your events. Remember, they aren't going to attend just because it is an event, they'll come for the information they might glean for their audience, or to educate themselves.
7. Get sponsors for financial support
There is no need to invest all of your own money on an event. Why not let "co-sponsors" whose services and/or products that compliment your own join in and share in some of the costs?
8. Getting the word out is not that hard
You have an automatic list of people to invite: your customers. However, you could also work with other organizations (professional associations, for example) to get the word out about your event to the local community. Give them some visibility at your event and they'll share the event with others.
9. Let technology help
Don't manually register your guests, but use a service such as Eventbright or Ticketleap to let guests register themselves. You want to do as little as you can and allow technology to seamlessly manage the event.
10. Be social
People like to see who is coming and connect with each other. Why not leverage social media and allow your attendees to have this information? This means even before they come they can know who else is coming and make the connection of a life time.