From slouching wallflowers and uncomfortable silences to that mysterious red wine stain on the couch everyone avoids but no one will claim responsibility for, dinner parties can be super awkward. So can marketing events.
How do you avoid the awkwardness? Having a game plan is the best way to get people mixing and mingling (and not vandalizing the furniture). Lucky for you, we have one you can use.
Below is the official Czarnowski EXHIBITORLIVE Dinner Party Plan for entertaining and engaging guests. Failure to use this plan at your next marketing event can result in boredom and an excruciatingly lame time.
You’ve been warned.
Step 1: Create a scene
Setting the stage is really about setting the mood. How do you want your guests to feel while they are in your space?
To set the stage for fun, you need to create an environment that is warm and inviting—a comfortable space where you can make an authentic connection with your guests. And what is more welcoming than a house party?
We designed our EXHIBITORLIVE booth to resemble a mid-century modern home from the inside out. Strategic “windows” gave visitors a glimpse into our cozy setting, sparking their curiosity and enticing them to come in for a closer look.
Step 2: Be engaging
Once you have their interest, it’s time to hold it. Guests need something to look at, interact with, learn about. And it’s your job to give it to them.
A party isn’t a party if it’s one-sided. Guests should be more than passive spectators; you want them to be active participants. That’s how you create a memorable experience.
Upon entering our EXHIBITORLIVE house, guests were taken to the bar area for a sparkling drink and an ice-breaking knock-knock joke video courtesy of an RFID-triggered painting. The next point of interest was a dymaxion LED globe denoting our locations, global partnerships and notable show locations.
Moving from worldly topics to more intimate interests, guests were drawn to our custom-built technology ladders featuring Samsung virtual reality goggles, Google Cardboard, Alexa Echo and iPads—each with content that allowed guests to interact virtually with exhibits we designed and educational resources we created.
Step 3: Set the table
Whether it is a real or metaphorical table, you need to set up designated areas to chat with guests, discover their interests and answer their questions.
For EXHIBITORLIVE, one of our designated conversation areas was an actual table. But this was no ordinary table. Each of its four placemats were monitors in disguise, set up to play industry-specific content when its plate was removed. This allowed us to not only find out more about our guests, but also show them work we have done within their industry.
While the table was a conversation starter, the chandelier suspended overhead was a scene stealer. The chandelier was comprised of 70 champagne flutes, a subtle nod to our 70th anniversary celebration.
Step 4: Make a toast
Events that are all about the organizer are bound to fail. No one wants to hear about their host all night. Eventually the question will arise from your guests, “Why am I here?”
So we concluded our EXHIBITORLIVE experience with a toast. We asked our guests about their marketing goals, helped them create a plan for achieving them and then drank to their future success.
Partnerships rely on collaboration. Asking customers and prospects about their marketing goals gave us an opportunity to listen, learn about what really matters to them and identify ways to move their businesses forward—with or without our help.
Step 5: Pass out party favors
You never want to send guests home empty handed. Everyone appreciates a parting gift to remember the event by.
With that in mind, our Party Planner App allowed guests to select and sign up to receive information about our company history, culture, philosophy, capabilities and more.
These party favors, combined with champagne, popcorn and productive conversations, ensured our guests left happy, informed and inspired.
And that is the truest indicator of a successful event.