Whether it’s a home tour, mid-construction visit, finished project party, or sponsored event, there’s a wide range of options for client parties. So the first order of business is to decide which type of event to have. (Our focus here is post-project parties, but many of the planning considerations are common to other client events.)
Next, you need to determine your goals — marketing, lead generation, e-mail address collection, celebration, or some combination thereof — and which client host will be the best choice. “It’s not enough to have a really cool project, you’ve got to have the right client for the type of event,” says Dwight Sailer, owner of HighCraft Builders, in Fort Collins, Co., which holds several events a year in clients’ homes. It’s likely you’ll want someone who’s “a raving fan and an extrovert,” he says.
Regardless of your goals, the event should feel like a celebration not a sales pitch. Your company should do all the work, from spruce up and set-up to breakdown, clean-up, and follow-up, and clients should be able to relax, enjoy, and spread the word about how great it was working with your company.
[ Step 1 ]
Tips for hosting a post-project party in your client's home.
About 30 to 40 guests is the right number according to party planners interviewed for this article, although you also need to consider the size of the home.
Let clients dictate whom they would like to invite: it will likely be friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and occasionally members of the design team. Ask the homeowner if it’s all right to invite other clients or prospects.
When gathering e-mail or postal addresses, make sure people know it’s “opt-in,” says Karla Rodriguez, marketing director at HartmanBaldwin Design/Build, in Claremont, Calif. “We don’t use rented lists,” she says. “All our e-mails are kept in our customer management software system and we manage them through the CRM database.”
HartmanBaldwin runs three types of events — mid-construction, finished project, and home tours — several times a year. To filter the finished project party guest list and take into consideration safety concerns, aside from friends and family, guests are invited only if they have attended one of HartmanBaldwin’s earlier events.
Key to Success: Assure clients/party hosts that guest information will not be used for anything other than sending the invitation. Those who “opt-in” may receive future information.
[ Step 2 ]
Put the U.S. Post Office to work. About two to three weeks before the party, your company should mail out invitations, created either in-house or by an outside agency. Follow up a few days before the event with an e-mail reminder. The invitation should include a photo of the project and your company name. Anthony Wilder Design/Build, in Washington, D.C., includes a color rendering of the project on the back of the invitation with text below it that reads, “This [project type] was designed and built especially for the [homeowner’s name] by Anthony Wilder Design/Build Inc.”
Of course the invitation should include the date, time, RSVP, and directions, as well as the name of a contact person in your office.
Key to Success: Consensus is that the best time for a party is Thursday evening starting at 7:00 p.m. and lasting for two to two-and-a-half hours.