A launch party is a sensational way to introduce a new product, service or menu. Parties create an opportunity for clients and suppliers alike to get together and get excited about your new venture. If you have never hosted such an event before it can seem like an overwhelming number of tasks are involved – however once you break it down, it is really quite simple.
This is a basic guide of what is required. First of all, find yourself some Party Helpers. This includes a Front Door Greeter to assist guests as they arrive, locate seats, hand out lucky door tickets, etc. This person should be friendly and familiar. Next allocate a Caterer Liaison to ensure smooth operation of food and beverage provision. The last two party helpers you should seek are a suitable Master of Ceremonies and an event Photographer.
Planning your launch party:
8 WEEKS OUT
- Determine your event goals
- Set a budget
- Choose catering style (buffet, cocktail, sit down, etc.)
- Select a theme
- Decide on date, time & place
- Reserve venue, caterer, photographer & other service providers
- Prepare guest list with addresses & phone numbers
- Order invitations
- Arrange gifts
Choose a trading time of intermediate or low regular business, such as a Wednesday or Thursday night to ensure maximum attendance.
Work out what decorations, table centre pieces, etc. you will need to convey your theme. If you are not sure what you need, hire a professional.
6 WEEKS OUT
- Send invitations
- Plan menus
- Arrange function staff
- Order Flowers &/or room decorations
Personally invite relevant key people in the community, such as suppliers (actual or potential), local business owners, community group leaders, tourism venue operators, mayor, leading sergeant, journalists, etc. Include a small gift with the invites (offering a gift up front is another tactic to maximise attendance), or a larger gift to attendees, like a goody bag. Get suppliers to provide the bulk of these if you can.
Choose a low cost, but impressive menu. If you can afford it, make the dinner free for guests. The purpose is a memorable night that will be discussed for days and weeks to come. Happy guests will tell everyone they know what a nice time they had how great your new product is. Happy suppliers will see you as a serious contender in town. This will lead to better deals and more cooperation for future promotions.
If you cannot afford to make the dinner free, try alternative ways to charge for it. One suggestion is to invite a local winery for ‘tasting’ on arrival. Guests then purchase a ($15) bottle of wine for ($30) and get a ‘free’ 2 course dinner. Otherwise, charge enough to cover your costs, plus an additional amount per head and donate the proceeds to a local charity. For example: a 3 course set menu costs $35 per head to make. Charge $50 per head to attend and donate $15 per head to the charity. People like contributing to charity and they will make allowances for inflated prices when charity donation is involved.
Make the dessert (final course/speaker/activity) fabulous. This makes the last memory of the evening the biggest conversation piece. Ensure your branding, signage and new product is highly visible to guests as they leave, as well as enter. Also promote your address, website and phone number to remind customers how to find you.
2 WEEKS OUT
- Confirm all orders & bookings
- Create an attending guest list
- Personally contact all VIPs with a courtesy reminder & to check they have travel arrangements made
Distribute media packs where appropriate to allow enough time for journalists to arrange their schedules to suit.
- Inspect venue, including accessibility & furniture
- Check decorations, flowers, seating chart
- Ensure gifts have been received by venue for table placement
See if there is any opportunity to place products, posters, brochures, order forms and the like in bathrooms, ante rooms, elevators, hallways, foyer, and other areas that your guests may visit to increase the impact of your message.
AT THE EVENT
- Arrive early to meet and mingle before guests enter
- ‘Work the room’ as best you can
- Obtain feedback by listening to and asking guests
- Thank guests as they leave
AFTER THE EVENT
- Send out thank you emails or notes to all who attended
- Follow up on new contacts made
- Fulfill orders placed at the event with priority
- Evaluate effectiveness against your event goals