While Trudy and I were at the Guardian Small Business Showcase Awards a couple of weeks ago, it got us thinking: you really can’t beat a good launch event.
The food and drink was delicious, the venue was lovely, and we got to meet and network with some really exciting small businesses. Everything went off without a hitch. We may live in a digital world of fast-paced tech innovations, but sometimes the old tricks still work the best.
Save the date
If you’re launching your startup anytime soon, a well-organised, impeccably-branded event could be the key to generating media buzz around your emerging brand.
Real talk: launch events always take some time, effort, and budget. They needn’t cost the earth, but you have to be sure an event is the best way to launch your startup to the media. If you’re going to do it, do it right: follow our handy checklist on how to plan the perfect launch event.
Define your goals
Planning the perfect launch event requires strategic thinking. What are you trying to achieve through holding this event? And what will your guests get out of attending?
Allow yourself enough time
If you’re planning an event to coincide with a particular date, make sure you start early enough to get everything organised on time. Book a venue and send invitations well in advance.
Pick a venue
This should be the right size to accommodate your guests comfortably, and be completely on brand. A group of pregnant bloggers probably don’t want to go to a club.
Set the time and date
This should be most convenient for your guests, not you: you want as many influential people to attend as possible. Be mindful of what else might be going on (holidays or festivals), and consider how your guests will fit it around work.
Create a guestlist and send invitations
Be ruthlessly selective. Your guests should be potential influencers and brand ambassadors: journalists, bloggers, vloggers, researchers, celebrities. Anyone that can help get your brand out there. Give an RSVP date (you can always invite more guests later on).
Make sure your branding’s on point
Anything and everything about your event should represent your startup’s values. Incorporate your brand colours into any decorations, and make sure your logo is on any promotional material.
Many of your guests will spend a lot of time at press days and events; you need to make sure yours stands out. Show off your creativity, and don’t forget things like music and entertainment.
Make it fun
While you can’t buy good media coverage with a fun event, it certainly doesn’t do any harm. Remember that your guests are giving up their time to be there. Food and drink should be a given, and if you can stretch to a goodie bag, even better. Keep guest speakers on brand, and captivating.
Be active on social media
Create your own hashtag and include it on any promotional material so you can interact with anyone who’s talking about your events. Tweet and share pictures from your event to pique the interest of others – make them curious about your brand!
Consider how guests will make their way to and from your event. If you can’t arrange transport, make it easy for them to do it themselves. Include maps, and details of local hotels.
Managing the event
Consider keeping the reception area open throughout the event, not just when guests arrive. That way, there’ll always be somewhere people can go to ask questions, or to leave luggage.
Have a back up plan
It’s rare for a live event to run totally smoothly. Consider in advance what you’ll do if certain people can’t make it, or an integral part of the event doesn’t go to plan. Brief your team thoroughly.
There’s a lot to remember, but it’s not impossible! Our best advice is to be really organised, allow yourself loads of time, and write lots of lists so you don’t forget anything. Get it right, and a launch event could be the perfect way to kick off your startup with a bang. Good luck!