You’ve perfected your products, refined your ‘core brand values’, set up your shop and you are feeling ready for business. But how will people know you exist? A well-executed launch event is a highly effective marketing opportunity, a chance to convey your brand message and gauge your audience’s interest.
The key to being remembered in this era of instantaneousness is being creative and concise with your planning. “Impact, originality, honesty and PR-ability are the most important factors of any brand launch,” says Mark McDermott, senior account manager at Amplify marketing and advertising agency. Here’s the need-to-know:
Set your budget
Managing Director at Story Events, Sarah Kay, insists that a successful launch “is all about the ideas, not just about spending money – people won’t really notice if it’s Prosecco and not Champagne,” says Sarah.
Make a list of all costs in order to set yourself a budget for the event and then work backwards from there. “You need to know what your limitations are when it comes to budget,” says Jodie Shepherd of independent fashion magazine, Noctis. Whatever it is you’re launching, it’s imperative that you set yourself a realistic budget and consider all extra costs that might incur like venue, catering, entertainment and installation charges.
Stick to it
Sticking to your budget is sometimes just a case of being creative with your options and being smart about where to invest. “It’s always worth exploring any negotiations to keep costs down – be it a discount on venue rental or a partnership with a local printer for event collateral,” says Jodie of Noctis, who managed to waiver a venue hire fee at her local party-spot for the magazine launch.
Know your audience
“Considering what your consumers value and what your audience expects is really important,” says McDermott. Amplify partnered with five young creatives to turn an abandoned warehouse into a creative hub and gallery for Converse: aligning brand and audience values.
Who do you want to engage with your brand and what will most impress them? Think about what they’re used to seeing, what has gone before for your industry and how you might be able to offer something different.
“The biggest mistake that people make is that they compose their guest lists far too late in the process,” says Sarah. “Plan in advance and have your guest list at the very beginning – that way, you can hone your concept from invite right the way through to the event execution.”
It’s not only about who you invite, but also how many, “Always invite 50% more people than you expect to arrive, there will always be people who can’t make it and that way you don’t spend too much on food and drink.”
If you’re inviting press, remember that they receive a high number of invites so sending them something that stands out is more likely to lure them to your launch. “For one foodie event, we sent all guests an edible invite. It was a spice kit with a recipe card attached to each spice,” says Sarah.
Craft your concept
A launch event can be anything from an exhibition, a panel conversation, a Q&A with interesting people connected to the brand, screenings, book readings or even an interactive webinar that is available globally on the Internet.
“Your concept should always be true to your brand,” says Mark at Amplify. “Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you’re a really high-end luxury alcohol brand, a hip East-London style club night for your launch may not be the right fit. Stunts don’t always equal long-term consumers or advocates.”
“The concept is all about the atmosphere and the flow of the event,” says Sarah. “If you’re launching a high-tech very efficient product, you want the atmosphere and nature of the event to match that. For example you would check people in digitally or you might serve food on Perspex trays. Everything from the serving bowls to the styling of the staff should link back to your brand.”
Sarah’s top tip on concept curation: “Think of the brand then ask yourself – ‘if this brand was a venue, what would it be? If it was a canapé, what would it be?’”
Your venue is one of the key aspects of the event and one you should consider early on, alongside your event concept. Remember, you must have a clear idea on your audience and size to begin choosing a venue. Look for a venue that will best suit your needs – from its size, travel connections and concept. If your business is based in a physical space, consider whether it’s appropriate to host the event, this would save you lots in venue hire fees.
“Conversations with venues will inadvertently end up being technical ones – what’s important is that you visit the place in order to understand if the look and feel of the venue will achieve your brand’s aspirations” says Mark at Amplify. His advice is to attend a recce with someone that understands audio visual requirements or make a list of your requirements before heading to check out potentials and ask as many questions as you can to gauge what you can and can’t do with a venue. “You should be asking questions about availability, production limits, bar licenses and outsourcing food and drink from external suppliers,” says Mark.
The launch festivities don’t just end once you’re all wrapped up and tidied. Think about how you might want to follow up with your attendees after the launch as it gives you an opportunity to thank them for coming and perhaps send them an exclusive discount for your product. “An easy way is to ensure you have everyone’s email addresses when they confirm their attendance, that way you can reach them with a post-event email send-out,’ says Mark.
Sarah insists that social media is key to most consumer facing events now and it’s a very good way to follow up with your guests. Noctis magazine asked guests to like their Facebook page and tag themselves in photos taken on the night, to improve their social following and shares.
“There are certain elements that people notice at an event,” concludes Sarah. “If you want press on the event and want to engage people, think about things people will want to take pictures of and share.”
Running a memorable launch event then, isn’t just about bagging the most impressive venue or a guest list full of VIPs – know your audience and pay attention to the finer details. Hopefully, you’ll see those details after the event through the nostalgia-tinted hue of your guests’ Instagram filter…
Written by Anastasia Miari