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How to Plan an Event That Inspires Guests

How to Plan an Event That Inspires Guests

If you’ve ever planned an event, you’ve likely realized the challenge of planning a fun agenda while ensuring guests leave knowing the purpose of the occasion.

Putting on a good party isn’t enough to inspire guests to get involved, and most importantly, inspire them to give.

Here are some tips for planning an event that guides your guests through getting to know the mission and vision of your organization – and inspire them to play an active role!

Have a “Game Plan”

Greet guests with an outline of the activities and expectations for the event. This is best done with a program book they receive upon checking in. This will show them the order of events for the evening. But more than just letting them know when cocktail hour ends and dinner begins, this is an opportunity to tell them about the various “stations” and activities you have planned that they can take part in to learn more about your organization. When guests know what to expect, that are more likely to notice – and remember – the important elements of your event.

Highlight Each of Your Core Programs

Group your organization’s services and initiatives into 3-5 program areas. Then plan stations and activities throughout your event (yes, the ones that you should highlight in your “game plan”) that guide guests to learn more about your program areas through interactive experiences.

Make it Visual

Use signage, posters and any other visual element to grab guests’ attention. A unique item that represents a core program area is an opportunity to spark a conversation and answer questions. From centerpieces to the decorations on your stage or podium, there are so many ways in which you can incorporate visual elements. For guests who are visual learners, this is one more way to ensure you make a mark on them!

Make it a Game

Present the activities at your event like a game or a scavenger hunt and challenge guests to partake in as many activities as possible. They can earn points, stickers or stamps to track their progress and compete against fellow guests to earn as many as possible. This gives your event a purpose and your guests a goal!

Offer Incentives

In theme with the game-like activities, you should incentivize guests to step outside their comfort zone and interact with your “learning stations” throughout the event. The best way to do this is to offer a prize! You could reward the first guest to complete all activities or have every guest who earns so many points enter their name in a drawing for a grand prize. Think about what would motivate your audience and what type of prize they’d really want to win.

Leave Guests with a Clear Call to Action

Finally and most importantly, be sure your guests leave the event with a clear call to action. Do you want them to volunteer? Maybe you want them to donate? Or maybe you simply want them to spread the word about what you do? Make sure it’s clear to them how you want them to help. Include this call to action in your closing remarks, at the end of your printed program book and, if applicable, give them something on the way out the door so that they remember the action you want them to take.

Do you have another tip to share? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment!

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So You’re Different…Just Like Everyone Else

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


So You’re Different…Just Like Everyone ElseAs I continue to define the scope of my Public Relations work – particularly the emerging trends and most effective strategies for my clients, I’ve been confronted with one reoccurring scenario. Every business wants to share the message of why they’re different from all the others. But so often the differences they provide me with read like every other brochure, billboard or tagline I’ve seen time and time again. “We care….We put our customers first…We provide you with the best quality of service.” If you’ve already tuned out while reading that last sentence, you’re not alone. In fact, your reaction is the same reaction such statements receive when they’re placed on any plethora of marketing materials. Either the message is forgotten as soon as something else catches our attention or it’s glazed over altogether, never standing the chance to be absorbed into our subconscious. Neither result is desirable for the businesses who are trying so hard to differentiate themselves.

What makes a business truly different?

Truthfully, at the end of the day…very little. For the most part, products and services can be replicated (even with the best copyright laws and patents in place). There are millions of family-owned businesses with “small town values” representing every size and industry. And words like loyalty, honesty and quality – while all very good things for a business to have – are often read as ambiguous marketing fluff by customers. In very rare cases, a compelling story of how you overcame mountains of adversity to start your business may draw a unique spotlight your way, but inevitably the light will fade and a story of such depth is hard to convey on a billboard or Facebook ad. By focusing your marketing and public relations on answering the question “What makes me different?” you’re missing the question that really matters which is “How can I get remembered?”

Recognize your lack of differences with honesty.

Simply put, people appreciate honesty. The initial and obvious reaction to this fact is to position a company’s honesty and integrity as a “unique value.” But I beg of you to take at least one step outside the box. Customers aren’t easily fooled into thinking that you’re the only honest business on the block. They likely do business with many other people who they would also classify as men or women of integrity. So instead, make yourself memorable by evoking an unexpected emotion or reaction from your audience. With the right communications strategy you can make them laugh, make them think or even make them blush. You may be bold enough to directly say “We’re actually not that different from the other businesses out there,” and catch your audience completely off guard. Being remembered is the end goal and by going against the grain just a little, you’ll have a much better shot at achieving this. So long as you remain honest and genuine with your customer base, the sky’s the limit for creativity!

Actions (and brands) speak louder than words.

Nike is far from the only company that makes and sells athletic apparel. This is a huge industry and really no advertisement or marketing that I’ve seen has fully convinced me that any certain running shoe or t-shirt is all that different from the rest. Even when a seemingly revolutionary product is launched, it’s only a matter of weeks or months until 10+ other companies release their own version of this product, claiming the same technology and benefits. So what does Nike focus on to position themselves as a leader in the industry? Their brand. It’s the swoosh, the “Just do it” tagline, the distinct style of commercials and the carefully chosen celebrity spokespeople who create this solid brand. Instead of contributing to the white noise of long-winded and confusing advertising jargon, Nike has instead chose to build a brand that is so powerful and well-defined that a big white smudge on an all-black billboard is enough for anyone to recognize that as the Nike brand. While they still strive to be “first” and “different” in many aspects of athletic apparel, they know this will only every last so long until the next big thing hits. So instead, they focus their communications efforts on building up what can’t as easily be knocked down – a timeless brand.

You may not be the only one, but you can still be the best one.

Finally, there is one area where you can truly stand out and that’s at the top. By being the best at something, you leave no room for a competitor to join you on this stage. However, in communications the term “the best” is overused, misconstrued and there’s really no form you need to fill out or ribbon you need to receive to make this claim. At all levels and in all industries, there are certain awards that can help back up your claim to fame and provide a great point of differentiation for your business. But regardless of whether you’re hoping to use this title as a future marketing campaign, you should strive to be the best for no greater reason than to serve your people and your business well. There may be many other businesses out there just like yours, but if your customers truly feel like you are the best based on the quality of your service or product, I promise you that they will be back for more!

Whether you’re trying to differentiate your business or yourself, remember that for no other reason than the sheer volume of competitors, being truly different is not always possible. Instead, focus your communications efforts of getting remembered. And with this thought, I’ll close with a final inspiration:

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. “—Maya Angelou

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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How to Craft a Killer Mission Statement

on mission

As a business owner, you’ve likely been told at least once (or countless times) that you need a solid mission statement to communicate what it is you do. I agree that this is good advice, but so often the person giving it doesn’t have the slightest clue as to what makes a mission statement good or why you really need one to begin with.

I’ll admit that I didn’t know either until I re-educated myself on the topic. What I found was a lot different than what I remember being taught in my Public Relations classes in college. Here’s a look at the modern makings of a solid mission statement, starting with basics.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement serves both an internal and external purpose for your business. It shares a message with your employees as much as it shares a message with your customers. Internally, your mission statement creates focus, provides purpose and builds a solid foundation for making important business decisions. Externally, your mission statement defines who you are (especially points of differentiation) and it communicates how your work is making a difference in the world.

A good mission statement does 2 things:

  1. It tells the world why what you are doing matters. No matter your business or industry, the services you provide help people in some way (why else would they pay you for them?). Express this in your mission statement to demonstrate why the talents you bring to your customers matter – they help make their life easier, more enjoyable or fun.
  2. It leads your organization to do what matters. As I mentioned about the internal influence of your mission statement, a well-crafted one will inspire your employees to exemplify these core values every day. How they choose to interact with customers, their decision to go the extra mile and their commitment to you can all be influenced by your mission statement.

Now let’s get into the meat of things. Hopefully you are inspired to revamp your own mission statement and here’s the best way to get started. Ask yourself these two questions and immediately write down the various answers that come to mind. How you respond will help shine a spotlight on what you should include in your mission statement.

How are you different from competitors or industry stereotypes?

This question is critical for not only informing your customers, but reminding your employees of the qualities that make your business stand out. These are qualities that you should hold near and dear and promote as often as possible. Your mission statement is one big megaphone that will do just that.

What factors affect your pricing and quality of service?

This question may seem a bit more abstract, but believe me, it’s relevant. As a business owner, you need to have an intimate understanding of the factors that affect your pricing and quality of service – and select these strategically. Factors like the education or experience of your employees, commitment to innovation or attention to detail and customer service may mean you aren’t the cheapest business out there. And that’s okay! Be sure to call out these factors – that are really benefits – to your customers to ensure they understand that your mission is to compete on quality, not price.

If you get writer’s block, remember these 5 things:

  1. Don’t stress over word choice. This is the easiest part to nit-pick later on and the least important for initially developing your statement. Focus on the overall direction/meaning.
  2. Keep it short! The best mission statements are two sentences or less.
  3. Keep it simple! Too many organizations have long, flowery mission statements that make it difficult for the reader to comprehend what you’re really trying to say.
  4. Say it out loud. Does it sound awkward? Memorable? Catchy? Human? It should reflect you and your brand. Make sure that it sounds like something you would say.
  5. The “Disagreement Test.” Essentially this is if no one would disagree with your statement (because you say things like “make the world better” or “act with integrity”) then your statement is too generic. Don’t hide behind clichés! …Or at least save those for your vision statement.

How to Use Your Mission Statement:

Once you’ve put the time and effort into crafting a new mission statement, get the most use out of it that you can! Place it on your website (the Homepage and About page are two logical choices). Incorporate it into your social media profiles (Facebook has its own category for mission statements on its business pages). Carry it across all of your promotional materials and press releases. And finally, incorporate elements of your mission statement into the personal introduction you use at networking events and other business functions.

And because we’re on the topic of mission statements, I would be remiss to not share my own as an example:

At Bennis Public Relations, it is our mission to be your strategic partner that creates innovative and effective communication solutions that help your business grow a powerful and consistent brand.

What do you think? Share your own questions and insights about crafting a killer mission statement by commenting below!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 12, 2015 in Business & Success

 

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Can You Earn a Million Dollars Honestly?

million dollars

Is Ben Franklin congratulating you or judging you?

You may have heard this quote from William Jennings Bryan, “No one can earn a million dollars honestly.” It’s quite a bold statement to make. Millionaires across the globe might take more offense to such an accusation…if only they weren’t already too busy enjoying their lavish vacations and  luxurious lifestyles. Joking aside, I wanted to dive a little deeper into the idea of whether or not you can earn a million dollars honestly. As a business owner and an aspiring millionaire (I can dream), I worry that such a big income carries an even bigger price tag. Must we compromise our values or risk selling ourselves short in pursuit of those six zeroes?

Earning a million dollars is something many of us will do over a lifetime. Spread out over years of work, it won’t make you a millionaire and – in this economy – it won’t afford you that stereotypical millionaire lifestyle either. My concern is that during our years of chasing after a healthy income, can we do so honestly or will we inevitably contradict some aspect of our business moral code? Here are two key instances in which I feel like though the money is “earned” it is not earned honestly.

Are you selling yourself short?

In an effort to sell as much as you can of your products, services or time, sometimes what you’re actually doing best is selling yourself short. You must always maintain a value for your time otherwise you risk giving it away for far too cheap or wasting it completely. For example, in an effort to gain a client, you may lower your prices. You may make that immediate sale, but you actually lose money in the long run with the opportunity cost of a future client that’s willing to pay you market value. I find this to be one of those instances in which the money earned here isn’t quite “honest.” Sure it’s in your bank account, but you’re left with a time deficit for what you’ve invested versus what you were paid. One way or another, you will have to reconcile this imbalance in your business ledger.

Are you doing a disservice to others?

I talked about selling ourselves short, but what about selling our clients short? This is another instance in which money is not quite earned honestly. For example, if you overcharge for your services, overbook your time or over promise your results all in an effort to earn a greater income, this is not money earned honestly. It is also a disservice to the client as much as it is to your business for they’re not likely to return to you in the future. You may have earned a small profit from them now, but in the long run you have missed out on a growing relationship and bigger opportunities.

I do believe that a million dollars (or more or less) can be earned honestly. But to do so, we must remain aware of the temptations that exist to cut corners or rush along the natural process of increasing our earning potential. This is no easy feat as dishonesty can be cleverly hidden or attractively wrapped inside good intentions. However, if we approach every decision and every client with the same level of integrity, we just might someday join the ranks of honest millionaires.

 
 

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So You’re Different…Just Like Everyone Else

differentAs I continue to define the scope of my Public Relations work – particularly the emerging trends and most effective strategies for my clients, I’ve been confronted with one reoccurring scenario. Every business wants to share the message of why they’re different from all the others. But so often the differences they provide me with read like every other brochure, billboard or tagline I’ve seen time and time again. “We care….We put our customers first…We provide you with the best quality of service.” If you’ve already tuned out while reading that last sentence, you’re not alone. In fact, your reaction is the same reaction such statements receive when they’re placed on any plethora of marketing materials. Either the message is forgotten as soon as something else catches our attention or it’s glazed over altogether, never standing the chance to be absorbed into our subconscious. Neither result is desirable for the businesses who are trying so hard to differentiate themselves.

What makes a business truly different?

Truthfully, at the end of the day…very little. For the most part, products and services can be replicated (even with the best copyright laws and patents in place). There are millions of family-owned businesses with “small town values” representing every size and industry. And words like loyalty, honesty and quality – while all very good things for a business to have – are often read as ambiguous marketing fluff by customers. In very rare cases, a compelling story of how you overcame mountains of adversity to start your business may draw a unique spotlight your way, but inevitably the light will fade and a story of such depth is hard to convey on a billboard or Facebook ad. By focusing your marketing and public relations on answering the question “What makes me different?” you’re missing the question that really matters which is “How can I get remembered?”

Recognize your lack of differences with honesty.

Simply put, people appreciate honesty. The initial and obvious reaction to this fact is to position a company’s honesty and integrity as a “unique value.” But I beg of you to take at least one step outside the box. Customers aren’t easily fooled into thinking that you’re the only honest business on the block. They likely do business with many other people who they would also classify as men or women of integrity. So instead, make yourself memorable by evoking an unexpected emotion or reaction from your audience. With the right communications strategy you can make them laugh, make them think or even make them blush. You may be bold enough to directly say “We’re actually not that different from the other businesses out there,” and catch your audience completely off guard. Being remembered is the end goal and by going against the grain just a little, you’ll have a much better shot at achieving this. So long as you remain honest and genuine with your customer base, the sky’s the limit for creativity!

Actions (and brands) speak louder than words.

Nike is far from the only company that makes and sells athletic apparel. This is a huge industry and really no advertisement or marketing that I’ve seen has fully convinced me that any certain running shoe or t-shirt is all that different from the rest. Even when a seemingly revolutionary product is launched, it’s only a matter of weeks or months until 10+ other companies release their own version of this product, claiming the same technology and benefits. So what does Nike focus on to position themselves as a leader in the industry? Their brand. It’s the swoosh, the “Just do it” tagline, the distinct style of commercials and the carefully chosen celebrity spokespeople who create this solid brand. Instead of contributing to the white noise of long-winded and confusing advertising jargon, Nike has instead chose to build a brand that is so powerful and well-defined that a big white smudge on an all-black billboard is enough for anyone to recognize that as the Nike brand. While they still strive to be “first” and “different” in many aspects of athletic apparel, they know this will only every last so long until the next big thing hits. So instead, they focus their communications efforts on building up what can’t as easily be knocked down – a timeless brand.

You may not be the only one, but you can still be the best one.

Finally, there is one area where you can truly stand out and that’s at the top. By being the best at something, you leave no room for a competitor to join you on this stage. However, in communications the term “the best” is overused, misconstrued and there’s really no form you need to fill out or ribbon you need to receive to make this claim. At all levels and in all industries, there are certain awards that can help back up your claim to fame and provide a great point of differentiation for your business. But regardless of whether you’re hoping to use this title as a future marketing campaign, you should strive to be the best for no greater reason than to serve your people and your business well. There may be many other businesses out there just like yours, but if your customers truly feel like you are the best based on the quality of your service or product, I promise you that they will be back for more!

Whether you’re trying to differentiate your business or yourself, remember that for no other reason than the sheer volume of competitors, being truly different is not always possible. Instead, focus your communications efforts of getting remembered. And with this thought, I’ll close with a final inspiration:

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. “—Maya Angelou

 
11 Comments

Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Business & Success

 

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