Mark Evans, the head of communications firm ME Consulting, was quoted as saying:
“I’m not big on launch parties…Yes, they’re easy to put on, but if it’s not exciting, it doesn’t matter…
The only reason to throw a launch party, and the only way it will work, is if you can turn it into a quasi-news event”.
Marketers often dread planning new company launch parties. There’s just so much that needs to be done: choosing catering, finding the venue, organising promotional clothing and materials, etc. And on top of that, different people within the company might have very different expectations – sales prospects, media coverage, or high-powered attendees – that the organiser can’t always meet. At least, they can’t do it without the help of the entire staff.
This is when event planners come in.
If you’ve hired a marketing agency to plan this event, then you’re already on the path to success. They’ll make sure you have the right location, the right food and drinks and that people know about that the event is happening (always a good step to take). Still, that doesn’t mean all the work is in their hands. It’s still up to you to use your company’s strengths to make this an exciting event for your company and the attendees.
First, set your goals and invite the right people
Your PR team should take care of the journalists, media and influencers, but some of the work falls into your company’s hands as well. Don’t just invite the most high-powered or famous people you possibly can; instead, try to invite the right people for your business. That’s not necessarily the biggest name you can think of. For instance, is your goal to attract sales prospects? If so, get your sales team on board and invite their contacts.
A bit more on the note of who to invite to your business launch party: Invites should generally only go out to people who are on-brand for your business. For example, don’t invite politicians if you’ve never been involved in politics, and what you really want to promote is a high-end luxury fashion brand. Instead, sending out requests to cool celebrities might work a lot better with your brand.
For example, when Fendi opened a new flagship store on New Bond Street in London, they had the likes of models Amber Le Bon and David Gandy, as well as rapper Tinie Tempah in attendance.
Now, we’re not telling you to get the likes to attend your event (if you swapped Whatsapps with Tinie you wouldn’t be reading this, now would you?), what we’re trying to illustrate with this example is how to reach out to potential influencers who could speak for your brand. How do you approach an influencer?
You may think you know who your desired influencer is, but it might change when you do a deeper research on them. Be well aware of the gender and age group they’re popular with, which is not the same as the sector they’re popular with. For example, beauty vlogger Zoella caters to teenage girls and she’s very popular among them, but she’s also got a significant following of forty-something-year-old men. For obvious reasons, I won’t get into. To find influencer demographics you can use tools like followermonk (free) or approach her or him directly. Most influencers will hand you their stats if it’s for business purpose.
- Do research on your potential influencer(s)
- Approach those who cater to a niche audience of your interest
It is a Symbiotic Relationship
Whenever you approach an influencer don’t forget about what you can offer in exchange for their promotion. Although some may charge for their services, this doesn’t necessarily mean money. Some may talk about your product in exchange for a free sample, for example.
- Develop a relationship with the influencer(s)
- Compensate them (with money, free product sample, etc)
- Encourage them to create content with your brand or product (review, haul, etc…)
- Share their content
Give your guests a reason to show up
OK, so your product is really cool and people are talking about it – that’s a good start. But that may not be enough to draw the people to your event, so make sure that your guests have a reason to come. Offering an open bar and a good DJ may be enough to get some curious people stopping by (and you can often get your event sponsors to cover these sorts of expenses). Mention the incentives you’re offering via a private message, but be careful when talking about the open bar. It will certainly get people interested, but it may fill the place with people who have no interest in your product and just want to drink. The key to getting people interested is either:
- Being so famous for organising amazing parties or
- Planning something so out ordinary that people have to check it out
Choose a cool location
There’s nothing necessarily wrong with holding your business launch at the same hotel as everyone else — it’s just wouldn’t be the most memorable location. That’s why many brands make an effort to think outside the box when they choose a venue for their launch party. By picking something that isn’t what people might be expecting, you’re on the way to creating a memorable experience.
Still, there is one very important consideration when you’re choosing a venue…
Keep the event on-brand
Think carefully about who your audience is. Then, ensure that this will be an event that will attract them. It’s tempting to throw a lavish soirée with all the bells and whistles, but if you’re a social network for teens, they might not be quite so into fancy canapés and stuffy waiters. Alternately, you may be leaning towards choosing a really wild venue that nobody else has ever used for a launch party – but if your audience skews more conservative, then it might be time to reconsider.
Instead of doing what everyone else does, just do what makes sense for your company. Inject your personality into the event and show off what makes you and your company special. It shouldn’t be about what other people do. This night is all about you, so it should be about selling who you are and what your company’s mission is.
Note: If you need inspiration check out our 100 UK venues post we did a while ago.
Give a live demo
Your launch party is a celebration (we know, we like to dance and drink as well), but it is first and foremost a promotional event with some clear goals relating to your brand. Don’t forget to do something special at your launch event to illustrate to attendees what makes your product special and unique. Show people what your company offers that others don’t.
Encourage social media engagement
If you can go one step further, try to engage people on social media at the same time as you’re demonstrating their product. Let them try your product or service themselves to see what it can do. At the same time, encourage people to tweet and share photos of your product (custom hashtags are fun if you can come up with a good one), and you’ll be well on your way to a successful launch. That’s a great way to drive buzz and give journalists something to write about.
Let’s look at a big brand for an example. When Ariel – P&G was looking for product launch ideas for their event in South Africa, they teamed up with Guinness World Records to set a record for the most people hand-washing clothes simultaneously. This event engaged their target market with a contextual product sampling and gave a demonstration of Ariel detergents. The event was so successful that used the same technique to launch in Vietnam and beat their own previous record.
Take care of your guests at the event
The mere mention of networking makes a lot of people instantly assume they’ve got a boring event ahead of them. Of course you’ll want to network at your business launch, but don’t let things get too stiff. Make the effort to ensure your guests have a great time, and genuinely interact with them. The whole event is already centred around your product, so don’t give everyone who you chat to a whole sales pitch.
Don’t forget the swag
What is swag? Call them giveaways or souvenirs, that’s the free stuff (a sort of memento, if you will) that people will get to take home with them. If that’s a sample of your product – great. If that’s not within your budget, be sure to send to your guests away with gifts that will remind them of your company. This is about more than pencils and notepads – keep this on-brand too, make it memorable and unique. The more creative the giveaway is, then the more likely it is that people will remind you and your product in the future.
Print your own branded T-shirts!
You can’t blame us for wanting to plug our own business, now can you? A great way to send your guests home with a fun reminder of your company is by creating your own branded T-shirt. Not only will they have something nice, they’ll also be able to do you a favour after the event if they end up wearing the T-shirts out and about – a.k.a. free publicity for you.
Bringing it all together
Just remember that the experience is the most important part in all this event planning stuff. It works on an economy of experience. In a non-marketing talk, that means that if you can give someone an amazing experience, they’ll be much more likely to remember who you are and what you do. So make sure that experience is a positive one!
Got more tips on how to organise a memorable event? Then please send them our way! We always love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below or reach us via any of our social media networks.
In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
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