6 Top Tips for Planning a Business Event

Planning and hosting a business event can really reap you benefits if done right, from making connections to gaining publicity. The process that lies before you may seem daunting, especially if it’s your first time, but with a few tips you can end up enjoying yourself while pulling off a successful event that makes an impression.

Give yourself enough time

The single biggest stress inducer when planning an event is the worry that you’re running out of time to get everything organised. Give yourself enough time to get everything done that you want to. Remember that everything will take longer than you think. Six months, even a year, is not too much time to give yourself.

Choose a venue first

People often make the mistake of thinking that the first step is to select a date for their event. But after publicising the date, they might realise that an appropriate venue isn’t available. It’s far easier to first choose what venue you want, and then see what dates are available in the general timeframe you want the event to happen.

Know your purpose

There are many goals you can have for a business event or conference. From offering a platform for top tier energy industry executives to network at oil events, to gaining publicity for your new software product. Settle on what you really want to accomplish, and don’t lose sight of that by trying to make your event cater for everything.

Know why people are attending

On the other hand, it’s not all about you. Bear in mind what your target audience’s reasons for attending might be and try to accommodate that where you can. For instance, you might want to facilitate networking opportunities for them, as that is a popular reason to sign up for conferences and events.

It’s not all work and no play

Yes it’s a business event, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be dull. You still want your attendees to have a good time, because that generates more positive feedback and reflects well on your business. Consider providing some entertainment in the form of music, an MC who knows how to inject some humour into the occasion, or a meet-and-greet dinner.

Be true to your theme

Having a theme can be very useful. A theme will make branding your entire event much easier, giving you ideas for everything from the invitations to food. Having the right theme can also help you draw in attendees and target a niche market.

Use social media

To get word out about your event and boost attendance, it’s vital that you make use of social media channels. Don’t make all your posts or tweets about your brand or event details – the majority of what you put out there should be meaningful and engaging. Also, take note that the different social media platforms – Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook etc. – each have their own culture.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a natural event planner, with these few tips, you can put together an event that will reflect well on you and your business. One final piece of advice, try not to stress too much about it. Enjoy yourself on the big day – you deserve to.

Careers for second language speakers

While English is the most popular business medium spoken the world over or the second language of choice (known as a lingua franca), being proficient in only one language can have a limiting effect on your career.  Being fluent in a second language could serve you and your work well in a number of career paths, such as these:

Second language teacher

Teaching foreign languages abroad is something great to do while you’re young and just starting out your career.   A teaching degree or even a post graduate diploma combined with being fluent in French or Spanish could open many doors as a second language teacher in countries such as Canada and the US respectively.

Au pair

Working as an au pair is another great way to travel the world or live abroad for a few years. While there are certainly many opportunities to take advantage of as an English-speaking au pair, many clients are not willing to even consider an au pair’s application unless the applicant is fluent in their native tongue.

Cruise ships

Cruise ship careers have really taken off in the last few years. This is an amazing opportunity to travel the world and experience different cultures.  There are possibilities to work on the ships for years and even relocating to a new country.  This cultural experience will only be more enriched by learning the languages of the places you may visit or relocate to.

Interpreter / Translator

Interpreting has become a really lucrative career to pursue. Whether or not you do it full time or part time, you stand to make a lot of money for your work.  Mandarin translation might not seem like a great career path; however you may change your view once you realize that clients are willing to fork out up to 80 dollars per hour for this valuable skill.  Many companies also pay translators per word to translate documents.  Translating from English to a foreign language such as Danish or Arabic may get you up to 19 cents per word.

Writer

The challenge with writing has always been getting your work read by as many people as possible. This is not as easy as it sounds as the majority of all content written today uses the English medium. Amazingly English does not have the most speakers, let alone the most readers in the world. There are approximately 1 billion Mandarin speakers and readers in the world.  Learning to write in Mandarin would immediately open your writing to a huge market that you may never have reached had you only written in English.

Aside from the amazing career opportunities that learning an additional language have, learning a second language will also make your traveling experience easier.  Learning the language of a country such as France is seen as a sign of respect. While French people have a reputation of being somewhat abrasive, they are more than accommodating if you are able to converse with them in their native tongue.

The Benefits of an Internship Programme

At times when your business is short on staff, you have two options available – you could incur the costs of advertising and recruiting for employees, or you could team up with a tertiary educational institution and take interns on board. The latter makes sense financially and operationally, and could benefit your business greatly.

You get more for less

An internship holds significant financial benefits.

First is that the set-up costs are nominal. You won’t spend much more than the money it takes to make a few phone calls to set up meetings. After this, there might be some expenditures involved, but it’s also very likely that the college or university will instead be interested in other mutually beneficial arrangements.

Then, second, is the fact that it’s not compulsory to spend money on salaries. It’s understood with students that pay is the exception and not the rule during internships. Do take note that offering remuneration, however small, will mean that your interns will be much happier and thus be more willing to put in extra effort.

Business will run better

Extra hands on deck at a time when you need them most will free up full-time employees, giving them more time to concentrate on important or creative tasks, or to simply take a breather now and again. This will not go unnoticed and you’ll reap the benefits for long after, because your staff will see that you care about them.

Consider as well that interns, fresh out of a business college, come to your business with up-to-date knowledge and skills. They’ll infuse your business with all of their cutting-edge know-how and will most likely have innovative ideas. This will give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.

Pay-offs now and in the future

Taking in interns is a great way of accessing the best talent the industry has to offer. What’s more, you can then shape those individuals and make them perfect fits for your company. Even if you’re not convinced that a candidate is right for your company at that moment in time, you still have a made a connection and you can use that connection in future to network.

Your internship programme will also polish your company’s image in the eyes of the public, because you’ll establish yourself as a business that cares about people and their futures. Even more so if your interns are from the community you operate in.

Keep in mind that your interns also have to benefit from the arrangement, so don’t do them the injustice of only tasking them with menial job functions. They want to learn and they want to make the most of the time they spend with you. So offer them valuable experience and they’re likely to not only return, but to also recommend you to others in the industry.

 

The strangest businesses

We’re so used to businesses because we all tend to have large assumptions about what people want and do. Businesses cater to needs and wants that people have: whether you need a computer fixed, papers researched, or a Mandarin translation of books, there are many businesses and individuals to cater to those needs. Yet, we would be naïve to think we know what every person wants or needs, just basing it on what we know or on things that are popular. Sometimes, strange businesses give us insight into the desires of other people – and therefore broadens our knowledge of other people – in important ways.

Virtual Dating Assistants

In recent years, the online dating world has taken off enormously. Initially, online dating was regarded as the domain of the desperate and the lonely, but increasingly the stigma is being erased. As online and “real” life are now recognised as the same thing, online dating is being used more frequently, by busy people and those who realise that the internet isn’t some magical, distant place. However, sometimes we are too busy or shy to try online dating despite wanting the results. That’s why there are such things as virtual dating assistants: These people are trained to learn about you, what kind of people you’d like to meet and make the connection without you going through frustrations. This service has proven successful to many clients and it’s a smart person who saw the gap in the market for this.

Ultra Cleaning Companies

What happens after a particularly messy event, say a scene after a film shoot that involves lots of liquids and stains; or perhaps a particularly expensive party involving lots of guests and food and wine. There exist professional cleaners who come in not just to tidy, but do a thorough job of removing and disposing everything in a hygienic way that can make any environment liveable again.

Celebrity Photo Broker

Celebrity culture is a strange beast that exists in cultures; famous musicians, performers, and so on, are regarded as god-like beings walking among mortals. Fans cry and lose their minds in their presence. Thus it should be of no surprise that there are magazines that are solely devoted to tracking the movements. However, they can’t be everywhere. Non-reporters also see celebrities and snap photos. Recognising that magazine and sites would want such photos, there exist services that can broker a deal between the non-reporters and the celebrity inquirer.

Cardboard box resellers

Almost everyone has cardboard boxes lying around, but no longer use them; companies are always needing cardboard boxes but don’t want to keep spending enormous sums on them. Thus, seeing the gap, BoxCycle allows for selling and buying of cardboard boxes. By listing the area you’re selling, it makes it easier for suppliers to pick up the boxes – after assessing a range of options for pick up. Everyone benefits and it also is a nice bump to the environment since less boxes are being requested to be made.

All these are slightly unusual but once you acknowledge what they’re catering, you can see why they make sense – and are actually rather smart.

 

The Psychology of Brand Colours

What is the colour of the McDonald’s arch? Can you name the two colours on a Coca-Cola can? How about the colour in which the Facebook logo appears?

If you answered yellow, red and white, and blue, you are correct.

The purpose of the exercise? To illustrate the power of colour in branding. Because if you think McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Facebook chose their brand colours at random, you’d be wrong.

Colours are enormously powerful and each one in the colour wheel evokes a different emotion in us humans. While these emotions are also shaped by personal experiences, there are universal truths. Yellow, for instance, is associated with fun and warmth. And isn’t that exactly McDonald’s image in a nutshell?

Marketing software company, Marketo, quantifies the importance of colour to brands even further. According to them, studies found that colour influences between 60 and 80 per cent of a consumer’s purchase decision. Further to this they state that the first thing consumers notice about your logo is its colour. The wrong colour could thus mean the difference between making and losing a sale.

So, how should a marketing team go about picking the right corporate or logo colours?

Learn, then mind the meanings of colours

As pointed out earlier, Facebook’s corporate colour is blue. This is also true for Twitter, Standard Bank and Skype and Samsung. And all of these brands use blue because in business blue stands for loyalty, confidence and trustworthiness. They’re all strong feelings that make a consumer feel safe.

Green, as used by Nedbank, BP and more than a handful of eco-friendly brands, represent growth, new beginnings and good health. Other popular colours are orange, as used by Steers, and purple, as can be seen on boxes of Cadbury chocolate. Orange symbolizes youthfulness and vivacity, while purple is associated with royalty and sophistication, which makes it popular with brands that want to be seen as exclusive.

For all the other colours of the rainbow and their associations, look at this article on Entrepeneur.com.

Specific considerations to keep in mind

It is important to keep in mind that certain colours suit certain industries, because the association between the two has been strengthened over the years. The health industry, for instance, goes hand-in-hand with blue, while brown instantly brings to mind the agricultural section. This doesn’t mean these colours can’t be used in other industries, just that they have be applied elsewhere with care.

Be mindful of cultural differences as well, especially if you run an international business. For instance, while white is a pure colour associated with innocence and peace in the West, those in the East associated white with death and sadness. Picking the wrong colour could thus potentially prove disastrous.

There are even differences in how women and men perceive colours. A study done in 2003 found that women listed purple as a favourite colour, while not a single man put it on their list of favourites. Women also preferred tints of a colour, while men leaned towards shades.

Putting it all together…

It’s certain that you have a specific image you want your brand and logo to convey to consumers. Once you’ve studied all of the colours plus their meanings and associated emotions, match the correct colours to what you envisage for your brand.

Now you can make the chosen colour work for your brand in its logo, plus all the applications and places it appears. You want to do it on packaging, on the company website and even the physical building itself. It’s very easy to find suppliers of external wall cladding in South Africa that’ll design the outside of the building to your liking. Don’t forget about the inside too, like the reception area. Every business aspect customers come into contact with should tell them what your brand is about. Remember – this has to potential to lose or win the business customers.