Corporate events are typically bland and boring. Employees often do whatever they can to avoid going.
Corporate event marketing is challenging because you have a limited audience. You can’t invite just anyone. If you can’t convince the company’s employees and partners (and their families) to attend, you’ll have an empty event. So it’s critical that you create an event the people at your company can’t resist.
In this article, we’ll discuss some important strategies to get your team to attend your corporate event.
1. Create an Event Your Team Actually Wants to Attend
Your first step to get people to attend your event is to create one they find compelling and engaging. No amount of savvy marketing or generous incentives will convince your team to attend your event if they think it will be boring and arduous.
Survey your team about the kind of event they would attend. Here are some questions you could ask to learn more:
- What types of activities do they like?
- What are their favorite foods?
- Do they want to travel a bit, or would they prefer to meet in the area?
- Do they have any limitations (food allergies, activity restrictions, etc.)?
- What do they like to do in their free time?
- What helps them connect with their coworkers?
- What would make them not attend?
Once you know what your team likes and doesn’t like, try to create an event experience that surpasses their expectations. Create something that stands out from their typical work day.
This also means that if you hold the same event regularly, you should take steps to make each of them different from the last. That might entail using a different venue, creating a unique menu, or holding different kinds of activities.
Yes, this will require more work since you’ll essentially be starting from scratch every year, but it’s a powerful way to get your team to attend the event. After all, no one wants to attend the exact same event over and over.
2. Don’t Make the Event Mandatory
Your team will dread your event if you force them to go, even if the event would otherwise be fun and engaging. The fact that they have to be there will ruin it for many people, so don’t force anyone to attend.
Some people resist going to corporate functions on principle. They aren’t comfortable fraternizing with their coworkers outside of work hours. That’s okay. You can’t force someone to have a good time. It’s better these people don’t attend or they might ruin the event’s energy.
3. Host the Event Outside of the Office
You may have a fancy conference room or a trendy cafeteria, but your team will find your event more engaging if you host it outside of your office. People need a change of scenery to have the best event experience.
Bars and restaurants are popular, but look for non-traditional venues, like vineyards, mansions, boats, warehouses, or anywhere else your employees can have a new experience. Exploring and learning about a new setting gives them something to connect over.
4. Host the Event During Work Hours
Your team may be unwilling to attend your event if it’s held during their free time. They might have other things planned, they might be too tired, or they may reject the idea of attending work functions without being paid.
To get the best attendance, try to host your event during work hours. Don’t ask anyone to use vacation or personal time to attend. Accept it as a cost of doing business.
Some events, however, aren’t appropriate during work time. It’s hard to get your team and their families together for a company picnic on a Wednesday, for instance. That sort of thing needs to happen on a weekend.
5. Take the Food Seriously
Aside from the venue, food is one of the most important elements of any event. Good food will bring people together, but bad food will drive them away.
Instead of stocking your food table with traditional dishes that everyone eats at home, plan an exciting and unique menu. An easy way to do this is to create a cultural menu, like Japanese, Mediterranean, or something from the local culture. Something as simple as a burrito bar could be enough to make your event exciting (just make sure to tell people about it before the event).
Furthermore, don’t forget to take people’s dietary restrictions or the account. Have some vegetarian and gluten-free dishes so everyone has something to eat.
6. Set a “Just in Case” Bad Weather Date
Attendance will fall if the weather is bad, even if the event is mostly indoors. Some people just don’t like traveling in rain or snow.
Don’t let the weather ruin your event by working with your venue and vendors to plan a bad weather date. Announce this date on all of your marketing communications so people know you’ll only host in good weather.
7. Don’t Require Participation in Games or Sports
Holding games and sporting contests at your event is a great way to create an engaging experience. Many people enjoy physical activity and polite competitiveness.
But don’t require anyone to participate. If people feel like they won’t have a choice to engage in something they aren’t comfortable with, they’ll skip the event entirely.
Furthermore, opt for accessible, low-impact activities that everyone can enjoy and do well. Football, for instance, is a poor sport for a corporate event because it requires strenuous physical activity and can get rough. Volleyball, cornhole, or badminton are better alternatives.
8. Give Out Prizes and Gifts
There’s no denying that people like free stuff. Set aside a portion of your event budget for gifts for everyone who attends. Then host giveaways, raffles, or contests at your event for bigger prizes. This is a great way to bring people to your event.
What should you give away? Unless you know something specific that everyone on your team wants, give generic prices like movie tickets, gift cards, dinners at restaurants, or household items.
You can subsidize the cost of giveaway items by asking your vendors if they would like to donate something for the event. Some vendors will be happy to give away some free product for the publicity.
9. Make Registration Simple and Pain-Free
If your team needs to register for your corporate event, make the process as easy as possible for them. Give them access to an online form where they can sign up and collect whatever information they need. If they have to track you down to put their name on a list or buy a ticket, some people just won’t bother.
10. Leverage Your Company’s Communication System
Make ample use of your company’s internal communication system. Whether your company uses email, voicemail, Slack, or paper mail, make sure you leverage it as much as you reasonably can to communicate with the team.
Instead of sending a templated e-invite, create personalized and thoughtful messaging. Get creative and exhibit your company values. Explain why the event will be fun, interesting, or productive. Most importantly, tell them how they’ll benefit by attending.
11. Cover Their (Reasonable) Expenses
Your event attendance will be low if you expect your team to bear the cost of attending your event. Cover the cost of the venue, the food, the entertainment, and admission to the event.
That said, there are some instances where you might charge your employees to attend a corporate event. For example, if you hosted a charter bus trip to a casino, you might charge your team a small fee for the bus ticket. Just understand that the cost will deter some people from attending.
12. Turn Corporate Leaders Into Evangelists
If you don’t have much notoriety on the corporate ladder, enlist the help of someone who’s respected in the company. Have this person promote your event personally, to the people beneath them, and in your marketing materials.
For instance, sending a company-wide email announcement from your own account won’t be as impactful as sending it from a senior vice president. Supply him or her with the email copy and images to send as their own. This will grab more people’s attention.
Corporate event marketing isn’t easy. Convincing your team to spend more time around their colleagues is a big task. If you follow the strategies we outlined above, you’ll create an event your team can’t wait to experience.