Small format events

Why small format events?

Hosting a small format event provides you with a great opportunity to interact with prospective buyers. In particular, hosting an event at your location can be a great way to increase your exposure to potential customers and show what your business offers. Not only can you position yourself in the category and trouble the buyer around a problem, but also identify at what stage of the journey a buyer is and achieve progression to the next stage.

Events are more effective at the top of the funnel, and can function as a troubling (is this a problem in your business?) and positioning (my company offers a solution to your problem) tactic.

Your event needs to focus on one specific problem that buyers might experience, and trouble them by explaining the consequences of having that problem.

Call to Action

The starting point of organising your event is determining the Call to Action. What action do you want people to take after attending your event? This decision will determine the content you need to develop for your event. Next, develop a procedure that includes the end-to-end process of organising your event (pre, during and post event). Work backwards and include a timeline that starts with what needs to be done one month in advance all the way down to the day of the event.


Having a good mailing list will largely determine the success of your event. Besides the Call to Action, determine your target market since this will mainly inform the type and the length of your list. For more information on acquiring a mailing list visit our wiki on List acquisition and management.

In the next step you need to invite the attendees to your event. Depending on whether your mailing list is ‘warm’ or ‘cold’, you can decide to either send an email or a personalised letter. In the case of a small format event, we recommend sending the email from a personal email account rather than from an automated system. In our Direct mail wiki you’ll find more do’s and don’ts for invitations.

A follow-up call, after you’ve sent the invitation, can also increase the response rate. Ensure to capture all the responses, since this will be valuable information to evaluate the success of your invitation and event process.


As mentioned previously, the goal of your event is to trouble the buyer around the problem that you solve, and the content that you present should therefore do the same. When developing the content, start by determining what you are trying to achieve, and what you want attendees to think after they’ve attended your event. Once you’ve decided this, develop the rest of the content to get them to that end point.

In general, we recommend that the event should facilitate discussion and interaction rather than being a one-sided presentation. Having a script instead of a presentation, is a good way to realise this. Including workshops in your event is a good means to stimulate interaction. The workshop also enables you to directly ask to what extent the problem you solve plays out in their business, and by doing so determine at what stage of the buyer’s journey they are at. Conclude the content with a clear Call to Action.

Separately, ensure to have someone that arranges all the logistics around the event, including catering, collateral and set-up.


Benefit from the created momentum, by sending all attendees a follow up email on the same day of the event. It’s important to include a clear Call to Action, and this is a great opportunity to propose a meeting. The event and the workshops have provided you with background information on their business and the problem that their facing, and therefore validates a meeting.

The people that registered for the event, but did not turn up, are evenly important. It’s easy to neglect this group, but by signing up for your event they clearly indicated that they are interested in the problem that you solve. A so called recycling tactic is valid. Similar to attendees, send an email with a summary of the event and conclude by proposing a meeting.

Also the people that showed interest in the initial invitation round, but were unable to attend, warrant a recycling tactic. If you are running an email campaign or newsletter, this is a good opportunity to opt these contacts into your campaign. The key is that you position yourself in the right category, and are top of mind whenever prospects are ready to buy.

As a final step evaluate your event and process, and record any improvements in your procedure where needed. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see immediate ROI. It could take months or even years before a prospect decides to pull the trigger and purchase.