Sleigh bells ring – are you listening? Jump on the band wagon…another corporate event for the holidays! Why is it that Christmas comes and it is the only time of year we like to look back and reflect on our good fortune and share our joy and thanks with others. Perhaps it’s the dawn of a new year or the festivities of the holidays but isn’t Christmas already busy enough with our personal engagements, children’s holiday concerts, guests converging on our homes. Why do I need to spend another Thursday night with business partners and apologize to spouses for our late arrival home?
Planning a corporate event for the holidays – WHY?
Who are you really planning this holiday event for? How is this event going to be different from the next or from the one up the street planned for the same evening, with likely the same group of clients? Who are you kidding…clients are shared, no one sinks all their eggs into one basket these days, so how are you going to make your event stand out?
First thing – leave the party planning to the professionals. You take pride in your trade, don’t try to fancy yourself as this great planner extraordinaire. Sure you have a better idea of your client, but trust someone to help you put the spin on your event. Beyond getting guests in your door, what is going to keep them there? When they leave, will they still be talking about “the great party” or how appreciated they felt for their contribution to your successful year?
Great food, wonderful wine and winning personalities will only get you so far, make sure there is a return on your investment. If it’s not there, then perhaps consider a more intimate lunch date. Even a few selective lunches at the swankiest restaurant in town will be more cost effective and you’ll actually get to start AND FINISH a conversation with your guest
Lunch would be a great opportunity to do a little cross marketing as well. Invite a colleague to join you. Make it informal, take the soft approach. Make a simple introduction and allow the relationship to grow naturally without any pressure for additional business. Follow up in the New Year if there truly is a connection. Perhaps what would have been a daunting cold call before, is made easier by the soft introduction and relaxed approach you can now take. The client will be more receptive and business can grow. Return on investment!
If you’re stuck on doing the big splashy event or as I always heard “we’ve done it every year, it’s expected,” consider included spouses or families. Change it up and truly show your clients that you appreciate their business and have considered them in your decision to host an event during the busiest time of year. Look to your partnerships. Is there a way to host an event that might be beneficial to a client or help expose their business to a greater audience? Showcasing a wine, hosting in a new venue or hiring entertainers are all ideas that can be incorporated to make your event a personal one.
Don’t feel the pressure to stick with status quo. If you are going to host any event over the holidays take a moment to reflect on the reason you are doing so. If it’s to blow a bunch of money and say “we did it” – Have FUN! And make sure you enjoy the party too. But if you want to show your appreciation to a client or colleague, do so by honouring their time and your relationship.
Looking back, what is the most successful event you have been to? What of that event sticks out in your mind?
If you would like any advice about your upcoming law firm or professional services event or any future events you are interested in hosting, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org