“Oh, it’s just a small mixer. We don’t need anything but food and drinks.”
This is a thought we often hear, but we know that there’s no such thing as small or run-of-the-mill when it comes to connecting with prospective clients, building more business, or bringing appreciation to your employees.
These mixers, happy hours, or intimate dinners are hosted with the hope of creating a special experience to build business and make connections, so pay attention to the little details that make an impact.
The ease of getting to the event location, parking, building access at the event, colors, lighting, the best type of seating (high tops, booths, etc.) to aid conversation and movement, and warmly and authentically greeting your guests are all ways to elevate the experience without breaking the bank.
While it’s true that you can host a small get-together with nothing more than food and beverage, the real truth is that you can make quite a memorable experience for your guests at a small mixer or intimate dinner with little more than your food and beverage.
Evaluate Your Event Budget and Allocate Money Where It Matters
It takes a bit of money to run an event, a big one, anyway. But, are those large-scale events the only way to give your guests a memorable event experience? Absolutely not.
Travel is reopening, and most folks and excited to fill their social and business calendars to make up for lost time throughout the last few years of this pandemic, but there are still precautions in place. Because of safety measures and firms remaining cautious of their clients’ and prospects’ wellness, small events are all the rage right now, and they’re more budget-friendly than their big-event counterparts. Plus, small gatherings are a way to make more meaningful connections and talk shop, which increases your ever-important ROI.
Instead of opting for an annual party with all of the bells and whistles, you can dream big by thinking smaller. Think about small lunch-and-learns, CLEs, and quarterly happy hours as a means to make a big impression without breaking the bank. How can you take a small-scale gathering and use it to make a big impact? Let’s take a look.
Personalized Experiences Make Your Event Unlike Any Other
From choosing a venue to booking professional entertainment, those big events offer ways to wow your guests, but so do those more intimate social experiences we mentioned. Adding personalized touches to get-togethers your firm hosts will take you from casual connection to impressed guests who remember who you are and why they continue to RSVP to your invites.
Something as simple as having branded cups and cocktail napkins for a weekly happy hour is a nice touch that shows your guests you’ve put some thought into their time with you, and those branded items can be kept on hand for future use with no expiration date. Trying to create a more upscale dining experience on a budget? Work with your caterer or restaurant to create a custom menu, complete with your brand at the top. Then, for a small splurge, you can add branded etched glassware for your guests’ use and favor for them to take with them.
Speaking of drinks and food menu – these smaller in-person events are the perfect stage to debut some cleverly-named menu items. Think of a firm hosting a happy hour at the brewery or local bar – the perfect opportunity to create a custom menu featuring drinks like “Beyond a Reasonable Stout” or the “GINsburg and Tonic.” Rothschild Marketing loves a theme, so our wheels are always turning to think of clever ways to create a grand experience. Those personal touches elevate every part of the event.
Give Your Event Attendees the Ultimate Experience
Every host strives to cultivate a memorable and immersive experience, and the sky is the limit on ways to impress. Have you seen the latest 360 photo booths gracing the entrance of every big event? So cool! But, does that work for smaller events? Guests love photos. While you don’t have to bring in technical machines to achieve the same level of immersive experience at your next gathering, having cohesive and branded props and signage that fits your theme for a photo-op area is perfect! Simply designating a photo op area is a great start to elevating your next small event. Choose an area near your branded signage, or bring in some of your branded signage you usually reserve for trade shows and big events. Craft a special hashtag that relates to your industry or clients, and ask clients to post with your hashtag (bonus if you have a prize for the photo that gets the most likes and comments online).
The best parts of using your small mixer to make a big impact are the low-stress factor (for you AND your guests), how much time is saved by thinking big on a small scale, and your budget stays in check. Streamlining a big event into small but memorable experiences allows you to focus on what you know and connect with your clients and prospects in a comfortable and memorable setting. A little effort goes a long way and is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Take that annual event your firm usually hosts, and break down that budget into several, segmented events to bring together certain clients and prospects for cross-company marketing. Host a women’s luncheon, or give your individual practice groups the small but focused events they need to shine. You might even consider partnering with a related non-profit to support a cause close to the hearts of your firm and clients. Not everyone can attend big charity galas, but small giving, such as donating a certain amount for every guest who attends or highlighting your annual gift to a non-profit with a mixer is great for morale and business.
At the end of the day (or night), don’t forget to leave your guests with a proper thanks for attending – something they can take with them to remember the night. A tangible token of your thanks that ties into the event and includes your logo shows great thought and intention.
Be very intentional, and your small events can make big things happen.