So you want to run a promotional event to get people excited about your brand, products and services. Where should you start? Well first you need to be sure your event meshes well with your audience. A local-based family-oriented business might fit great with a picnic/bbq concept. However, a truck driving cross-country traveling clientele might not have the time or interest in stopping by your picnic.
I recommend you do some polling of you customers, possibly a mailer or email saying that your company is so grateful to have such wonderful customers that you’re planning a customer appreciation event and would they be kind enough to pick which out of three events (that you list) they would like free admission to.
Once you’ve got an ideal event, in this case the picnic/bbq concept won, you’ll need to find a good place to hold the event. Public parks are excellent for company bbqs and often have pavilions you can reserve ahead of time in case of bad weather. If you’ve got the space, hold it in your office or parking lot –especially if you’re an ice-cream parlor or other food-related company. The bonus of using your facilities is you can give tours of your business and increase the brand recognition. Just don’t force it if it simply won’t work out because of location or size.
Next, figure out the entertainment. If you have friends or friends of friends who can play music, do magic tricks, face paint or other picnic-related activities, find them first. See if you can pay them in gift cards to their favorite restaurant or barter products/services for their attendance. Then comb other places for bands or musicians, magicians, jugglers, balloon sculptors and other interesting talents. Some sort of central entertainment is useful, but not necessary.
You can of course go very low budget on this with Frisbees, some kickballs, a softball game, and other outdoor yard sports. Right now tailgating games are super popular and make a great addition. Make sure you have someplace for people to sit, or bring lots of blankets and chairs.
Finally the food. If you’re going on a budget there’s nothing wrong with the standard picnic fare. Hotdogs, hamburgers, chips and potato salad are standbys for a reason. Make sure you have plenty of things to drink, but even that doesn’t have to cost you a bunch. Big spout-based coolers filled with tea, lemonade and water have even been seen at wedding receptions I’ve been to. After that of course, the sky’s the limit. Chili cook-offs, bbq contests, catering, nutritional taste tests, who knows?
Protip: make a list of all the things you will need including the stuff you might forget later like condiments, ice, plates, napkins, bugspray, etc. Having a checklist makes the event day much easier to organize.
Again a lot of your event needs to be carefully thought over and matched with your audience.
Finally promote, promote, promote!
Facebook, website, twitter, youtube, newsletter, e-newsletter, emails, mailers, fliers, posters. Get the word out! Have everyone you talk to on the phone be reminded about your event. Call people and invite them. Get rsvps where you can since that will help you plan how much food you need!