Advertising Made Fun and Cost-Effective: I Dare You to Throw a Party

Last week I held an event which, by all accounts, was a huge success.  In this post I’ll walk you through it so you can do the same thing for your office.

It all started a few months ago when the owner of my favorite deli asked to barter for dental treatment for him and his family.  I agreed, but I requested to keep track of his tab and barter at a later date rather than keep track of my daily breakfasts and lunches; that accounting would get messy and cumbersome.

After he had accumulated a decently-sized bill, I began to think about how I could use his services.

Then it came to me.  Why not host a breakfast party for patients and local businesses?  I hadn’t heard of dentists doing anything like that, but it seemed like a good idea.

It was a smash hit. We had 40-50 people attend.  Several expressed interest in becoming patients and, more importantly, the awareness of my office in the community increased.  Attendees mingled with one another and generated business for themselves.  Everyone smiled, shook my hand, and thanked me for the food and fun.

Here’s the run down:

When: A Tuesday morning from 8 AM to 9 AM.

Breakfast is perfect.  If you do it at lunch, you risk people coming late and leaving early.  Dinner? Nah, people just want to go home.  Also, earlier than 8 AM and you risk poor attendance.  One hour, from 8 AM to 9 AM is just the right amount of time.  I did have some people hang out later then 9, which was fine with me; patients weren’t scheduled until 10 AM to allow time for clean up.

Where: My office, obviously.

I’m fortunate to have an office with a decent size reception area.  The whole idea is to get people who are not currently patients to see your office.  Show off your goods!  If your reception area is too small, consider allowing people to roam around.  Just be careful to hide any patient information; the HIPPA police are bad party guests.

What: Local delicatessen food.

As I described before, I was able to barter with a local deli.  But even if I had to pay for the food, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  If you don’t have a relationship with a local food store/delicatessen/restaurant, then start one today.

I chose to do a Continental breakfast.  Danishes, bagels, fruit, orange juice and coffee, that’s all.  You don’t know how many people are going to show, so hot food like eggs, etc. may be wasteful; cold food can last for days.  Even with a great turnout, we had lots of food left over.  People were busy networking, not eating!  We also donated much of the extra food to a local homeless shelter.

Who: About 100 people were invited, 50-60 showed up.

We were quite pleased with our turnout.  Much of that success is owed to the old saying: “A good party is all about the guest list.”

With that in mind, we invited a few key local businesses.  If there’s a large corporate or industrial complex nearby, send some invitations to key people, like middle management and human resources personnel.

I practice in a corporate building, so every other tenant got an invitation.  Two local Chambers of Commerce officials and a local networking group were also locked in.  Several patients who are interested in networking for their businesses were a sure thing.

How: A flyer and good old-fashioned promotion.

Here’s the flyer I created myself using Microsoft PowerPoint:

If that looks like too much work you can spend some bucks on design.  These flyers are important because they give an official, professional stamp to the affair.  One thing I would change is removing the R.S.V.P. part.  Only a handful of people actually called to R.S.V.P. and I was concerned some may have not attended at the last minute because they forgot to call.

I went to every tenant in my building and personally delivered the flyer.  Several times I heard, “I didn’t even know we had a dentist in the building!”  Amazing.  The experience of having an excuse to visit my office neighbors was enough reason to do this event.

My partner and I are in a local networking group which you can read about in this post.  But this group was great for filling the room with bodies early and helping to promote the event.

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