I once had a client tell me they spent $20,000 to throw a brand launch event at a hotel for media coverage because her marketing agency told her to. But the luncheon only resulted in one or two press placements.
That chunk of money could have been spent on a slew of other things — product development, reordering inventory, or email marketing strategy, to name just a few options.
In their heyday, these types of extravagant events may have been effective in enticing editors to feature a product or encourage attendees to spread the word. But today, there are countless ways to raise awareness of your brand.
In total, we spent $1000 and had over 300 people in attendance for our New York City event, including nearly 70 media professionals from TV, to print, to digital.
You don’t need to blow thousands of your hard-earned dollars to throw a successful launch event. Instead, leverage your connections, skills, and offerings by following the best practices below.
8 Simple Steps to a Successful Launch Event
1. Get creative with how you find your venue.
Maybe you know someone in event planning who can rent a space for little to nothing, or maybe you can bring something to the table in exchange.
When we were starting out, we reached out to Inglot Cosmetics’ director of marketing through a friend of a friend. They’d just opened a beautiful loft space in Chelsea Market on the third floor, with sweeping views of the city.
Until then, they had been renting it solely as a space for corporate meetings and to train their makeup artists — which meant that, unlike retail spaces, it would not be constantly crowded by customers if we held our event there.
Having just left the media world, I pitched media attendance in exchange for use of the space. I also proposed a certain number of guests and offered them the chance to sell their own products and do demos for my guests. This was a win-win:
They got more exposure to media and more opportunities for sales, and I now had a gorgeous space for my launch party and a fun demo for my guests. It was a bonus to have Inglot’s world-reaching brand identity in the mix.
Action step: Figure out what skills you can offer in exchange for space and services. If you’re a graphic designer by trade, you might offer to create free marketing collateral for a space. Or, if you’re an accountant, you could offer a couple of months of bookkeeping or a financial advisory session. Brands are always looking for assistance with their finances and budget.
2. Partner with young and hungry emerging brands.
At our launch event, my friend Justin Harter, founder of CITYSTICKS, acted as a sponsor to our event by creating custom popsicles using the ingredients found in our fragrances — one of which included liquor. He even brought his hip ice cream cart into the event which guests absolutely loved!
Action step: Make a list of all your entrepreneur friends, friends of friends, and family who recently started a business and have a product or service that compliments yours. Ask them if they’d like to set up a table, demo a product, provide samples, or create custom goodies for your launch event. They’ll get access to your entire audience, and you’ll have goodies or activities to share with your attendees. Be sure to promote your sponsor on your invitation and at the event.
3. Enlist family and friends to help throw your brand launch event.
Next, think of friends and family who may be willing to help out at your event; your support network is likely wider and stronger than you think, so don’t feel too shy about asking around. At our event, my cousin checked coats and also gave out the popsicles. If you have interns, you may want to call on them to introduce guests to your product, act as a greeter, serve drinks, and so on.
Action step: Make a list of the people you know who may be willing to help or would enjoy the atmosphere or products at your event. Be honest about what the work would entail and how long they should expect to be there. If people do help out, make sure they know how much you appreciate it! The last thing you want is someone feeling taken advantage of.
4. Play music that will keep people engaged and energized.
Keep the good vibes going by putting together a killer branded playlist or enlisting a live DJ or band. Again, it comes back to leveraging your connections — do you have any musician friends who want to get their name out there with a new audience?
We didn’t know any DJs or musicians at the time, so we ended up hiring a DJ on Craigslist for $300. The guy was awesome, and we took his card at the end of the night for future gigs.
Action step: Now’s the time to call in that favor from your DJ cousin. Think about any musicians or DJs you know, and consider if they could represent your brand authentically. Reach out to people who may be willing to help. Otherwise, start curating a playlist that perfectly exemplifies your brand. Be sure to curate your list based on your brand’s ethos, voice, and identity, as well as your target customer profile — not your personal preferences.
To read about the remaining 4 steps to launching your brand or product on a budget with a big ROI, hop on over to our ABC blog here.