After recently hosting a successful Launch Party for my new business; Boyd Office Management Services at Hornsby Council’s local pop-up shop, I wanted to write this article to share my Top Tips.

The evening was a great success and you could put it all down the planning and preparation.
You CAN do this yourself and you CAN do it cheaply… It just takes work.

Here are my top tips:

WHO TO INVITE:

  • Try to keep the Launch local – this makes the businesses around you feel special & encourages people to think of it as a networking event – so already they have a reason to go.
  • I started advertising the event one month before. Do not do this until your website is finished.
  • Make sure you also have a business Facebook page and LinkedIn company page too.
  • Have a PDF and picture of the PDF invitation ready to go for anyone who requests one. It’s best to have a graphic designer create this, as it will be the one article advertising your business for the next Monday

ADVERTISING:

  • In addition to having a party for my business, I also advertised the launch as a networking evening for other small businesses too. I worked with all of the following :
  • Posters on community noticeboards – lots of work for not a lot of response.
  • Distributed a media release to local papers and the radio stations – send one week prior and make sure to follow up with a call two days later.
  • Advertise on Facebook groups/pages – tap into the groups you’re already a part of and make sure you’re then very active on those pages, making useful contributions to conversations (not necessarily about your business; you’re trying to build familiarity as a person too).
  • Utilize your existing network of friends. I encouraged them to bring along other small businesses. This was by far the best method of getting people to come was talking to people who knew me and encouraging them to bring friends who had businesses. People who know you will always be your best advocate.

VENUE:

  • You want a venue that will look full with only 50 people in it.
  • Also one in which there is a small kitchenette so you have access to additional space to prepare food. Bring trestle tables to work on, have tablecloths on all.
  • Remember if you’re serving alcohol and not selling it you’re can’t prepare hot food on site. Also, someone present will require a certificate in Responsible Service of Alcohol.

BRAND EVERYTHING!!!

  • From the Goodie Bags to the nametags, everything should have your logo on it.
  • Have at least two pull-up banners and make sure there are generic so you can use them at other events. Make sure one is at the entrance.

LUCKY DOOR PRIZES & GOODIE BAGS:

  • Everyone loves a lucky door prize or two! And it’s great to invite those coming if they’d like to contribute. As a thank you offer to show their logo on the screen as you present their prize.
  • If you can get your local MP/Mayor to come along ask them to draw out the prizes. Keep this part of the presentation moving though, it can drag on if you’re not a winner!
  • Goodie bags are for “special offers” from launch party invitees.
  • As a courtesy try not to have 2 of any category in the prizes or goodie bags – e.g. don’t let two photographers put an offer in the bag.

YOUR PRESENTATION:

  • If you’re catering people are more than happy to listen to you talk about your business for 15-20 minutes. This is the most important part of the evening for you and you should work on this for about two weeks, tweaking as you go. Get people you trust to listen and proofread.
  • Don’t do the ‘read off the screen” presentation – you can talk and simply have headings in the background. Remember to brand all the screens and allow two hours before the opening to check IT equipment.
  • Have your logo on the holding screen to begin and the last screen something more direct about your business which people will read as you walk away.

TIMING:

  • You need a good 3 months to organise an event. Anyone who says they can do it in less time either misses crucial elements or has a room full of family and friends.
  • The most important time is the 24 hours before the event, plan this time out carefully.
  • In the end I had 70 RSVPs and from this 55 attended – and this was after a month of advertising and networking everyone I knew. Don’t be disappointed in the turnout and make the most of the time you have with people who are there.

DELEGATE DELEGATE DELEGATE

  • List all the jobs for the night – barman, doorperson, catering, walking around with food, packing Goodie Bags, inserting name tags into badges (this takes AGES), IT (projector, computer & testing) and then delegate each to a person.
  • Make sure you brief them on exactly what you need them to do before the night.
  • Family and close friends are always happy to help as long as they know what they’re doing.
  • Get everyone who is working in the space to quickly pop in and see it first, then they know what to expect. Particularly is you’re pulling in the favours and asking family and friends to help. You don’t want them arriving and asking a million questions when you’re frantic
  • Make sure you have someone taking photos and instruct them to take pictures of everyone in groups with whom they were networking.

KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING

  • You’re going to be on a “downer” after the event. So much effort for such a short period of time, the aftermath can be deflating. Now comes the hard work – converting the goodwill form the Launch Party into business for you.
  • Send a thank you email to everyone who attended and include photos in the email. Also “thank” the Facebook group who supported you with a post and photos.
  • Send the photos to the Media Outlets who you sent a Media Release to.
  • If someone mentions the event on Facebook (even if they’re a friend) thank him or her for coming and if you can find a photo with them in it, even better. Ensure you label the photo.
  • Make sure you’ve included an offer from YOU in the Lucky Door Prizes Goodie Bags such as 50% off first consultation. Remind everyone of the offer about one week after the event and extend the offer via the Facebook groups as a “thank you” for the group’s support.
  • Make LOTS of appointments with those who attended or anyone who missed the event.

LASTLY, Congratulate yourself on the back because that was a great deal of work and a huge success!