....Everyone Loves a Party!
'But the party doesn’t start when you walk through the door, no. It starts when you receive that mysterious and alluring little white envelope containing a personal request for your attendance. Whether you're four or forty the effect is the same; receiving an invitation is a thrilling prospect. These days, invites tend to come in the form of Facebook events, emails or Google hangouts which, of course, still make you feel special but lack the ‘certain something’ of a paper invitation (for a start, you’ll never see one on a fridge!).
Savvy business owners understand the impact of singling out their customers; everybody likes to feel special and an invitation to an event is a great way of encouraging brand loyalty or rewarding loyal custom. In tangible format, for instance a paper invite, the impact of an invitation is amplified. Seen by many, read by many, it is also an effective method of reaching new customers. Appreciating the merits of sending a paper invitation is easy; eliciting a response… less so.
However, whether you reach out virtually or in the good old fashioned way, some things never change. If you've ever tried to organise an event requiring an RSVP from attendees, you'll know how hard it can be to get even the slightest acknowledgement out of people.
Using printed invitations, I’ve come up with five surefire ways to overcome this obstacle (and others) to encourage customers to attend and, of course, make sure they actually show up on the day. Let’s get this party started!
1. Invites with impact - On the day, you can almost guarantee that half the people who said 'yes' will be absent, and half the people who didn't reply will show up. Unfortunately, you can't guarantee the numbers will compensate for each other.
Printed invitations send a message in the truest sense of the word, letting people know that their attendance is not just requested, but is genuinely desired too. It’s proof you care enough to go to the trouble of having an invitation designed, printed, personally addressed and delivered to them.
It's a small gesture, and it doesn't cost the Earth in the context of arranging an event on a grand scale, and yet it carries significantly more impact than a generic Facebook or LinkedIn alert.
You should, however, make it clear that an RSVP is essential. For organisers this makes the invitation worth the paper it's printed on, quite literally.
2. Dress to impress - When designing your invitations take inspiration from the weddings market. Masters of formal etiquette wedding planners and brides-to-be do these kinds of things to a very high standard. Bespoke invitations will always contain the same message: with clear instructions about the day, a no-nonsense request for an RSVP, and a handy 'save the date' card.
In business, you can draw on the core characteristics of a good invitation, so that you send out something eye-catching yet professional, which provides all the information about your event in one place.
Best of all, when you include a wallet-sized 'save the date' card, you effectively get your business card into the recipient's wallet into the bargain!
3. The human touch - Digital invitations can be sent out via social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook, or as an email template to your mailing list, but, while sufficient for an ad-hoc meeting or coffee date, I feel these methods lack gravitas.
Receiving a tangible invitation with your name and address on it makes the invite seem personal, as it should be.
You may choose to have individual names printed for a professional finish, or hand-write them into a blank space on the invite for the personal touch. Either is preferable to being one address among hundreds in the BCC field of an email (or even worse, the CC field).
4. Real feels - Receiving an invitation triggers emotions. It conveys a sense of individual value, something you just don't get from yet another 'come to our seminar' email clogging up the inbox.
The impact begins when that envelope hits the mat; your invitation will stand out, instead of it being just another marketing email the spam filter missed. That in itself gives you a great chance of grabbing a recipient’s attention.
Equally, there's something more tangible about receiving an Invitation and signing an RSVP slip to say you are going to attend. It might not be legally binding in the contractual sense, but it does feel more like a moral obligation to actually show up.
5. Don't waste the space - Finally, an invitation is a warm lead and business people don’t get many of those! It’s a way of legitimately contacting your customers, business partners and other associates without coming across as overtly ‘salesy’ so make the most of the opportunity!
Keep the details of your event front and centre, of course, but include any pertinent marketing messages too, along with contact details or at least a website URL or email address.
Even if the recipient doesn't attend your event, there's a good chance that they'll contact you about something else or end up on your website, where you may land that sale after all.
Author, Marcus Cummins, is a Director of Oriel Studios Digital Limited
No army ever rode into battle waving an iPad on a stick. True, digital marketing has its place, but in the real world you need to raise the bar; you need to raise a banner.
It's easy to forget the true meaning of a banner, but it's everything a good brand is all about. It unites people under its colours, it informs onlookers of your message, or it can fly proudly over everything you do.
Not all banners are free to flutter in the breeze (some are supplied with eyelets so they can be tied to a fence or attached to a wall) but, in principle, they still serve that same purpose of inspiring passers-by, not to mention achieving the simple task of letting people know you are there.
The versatility of banners is plainly obvious, from serving as temporary (or even permanent) shop signs when you move into new premises, to promoting your latest sale or special offer, to attracting attention when you hold marketing events on the high street or at corporate conventions.
If you can design it on paper, you can put it on a banner; and if you can put it on a banner, there's a place for displaying it – whether indoors or outdoors, freestanding or affixed to a fence, wall or lamp post.
All size considerations are easily accommodated, with typical banners ranging from less than a metre in width and around two metres high, to building wraps made in high grade Banner Mesh to withstand the elements over an extended period of time.
The latter are one of the most modern types of banner, and one of the most versatile. In any city centre you're likely to see them used to disguise scaffolding with an image of the building front, or to create advertising space on a truly epic scale in the heart of the business district.
Not all banners are created equal, as the scale of some building wraps can show – however it's not only size that matters.
When designing your banner, remember that you are working with a print medium, not online, and your images will probably need to be in CMYK format for printing with cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks – that is unless your printer advises you otherwise.
Images should be the best quality possible, particularly if you are designing a very large banner, as a low-resolution digital image stretched to several metres wide and high will simply not do your favourite image justice.
The general rule of thumb is to put the most important information at eye level on free-standing banners, or those that will be placed close to the ground. Remember that people will instinctively read from top to bottom, and generally from left to right too.
Make sure your text is clearly legible. Make it big, bright and bold, and test how well it can be seen from a distance, especially if the banner is above ground level.
Bright colours can help to enhance contrast while also making your banner more attention-grabbing, so make good use of the colour palette in your design, without going overboard.
And finally, keep in mind where the banner will be seen. If it's adjacent to a road or a railway line, you will only have a few seconds at most to get your message across, so keep it simple.
In contrast, if your banner is to be positioned in a waiting area or a car park where people are likely to spend a little more time, consider more of a mix of big bold headline at the top with smaller sized wording further down – then you won’t miss the opportunity of communicating your complete message to those who have the opportunity to read it all.
Author, Marcus Cummins, is a Director of Oriel Studios Digital Limited