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partyThis post comes to us from Kelly Gregorio, a former special event manager. 

The launch party is not only a key feature of the startup’s promotional plan but it’s also a celebration of their teams’ hard work. A lot of startups  however, don’t do parties right and waste a lot of effort and anticipation on events that fall flat.  Here are seven things startups forget when planning their launch parties, and seven ways to make parties better.

You invited key people, but forgot how to reach the press

Startups can increase retention by sending invitations directly to the journalists that would normally cover the beats that the startups are in. To coax more journalists to come to your event, include an extra pair of passes with your press invitation. Allowing journalists to bring their friends will give them a greater incentive to attend. That means more press.

And while we’re talking about press, don’t forget about local bloggers.  People who write about trends in your niche and/or community have eager and up-to-date followers, so make sure you include them on your list.

You got them in the door, but forgot to establish a giveaway

Increase the overall retention of your event by greeting guests with a raffle ticket and letting them know what the prize is as well as the time you plan to give it away. (“Welcome, we’re auctioning off an iPad at 7pm so make sure you stick around.”)

Give everyone a reason to listen up and have the giveaway take place directly after the (tiny) promotional portion of your event.

8161518010_520042029eYou hired a DJ, but forgot to tune them in

Keep your entertainment on the same page by providing your DJ with a timeline for the evening, allowing them to match their music accordingly. And while you’re at it, be sure to inform your caterers, bartenders, hostesses, and doormen, too.

You have bartender, but forgot to create special branded cocktails

For your guests, providing a menu of a few specialty cocktails is an easy conversation starter (“Oh, which one did you get?)

Special cocktails also give your company a good branding opportunity: Give cocktails titles that match your brand, products, services, or theme. For example, the “VentureBeat Bourbon” or the “Google Gimlet.”

Also, be sure to not leave anyone out and include one fashionable non-alcoholic drink. Shake up some lemon, honey, and elderflower syrup, pour it over the rocks into a highball glass, top it off with a splash of ginger beer and you’ve got all of the yum with none of the buzz.

You have a great theme, but forgot to tie it into activities

Your best bet is to brand activities alongside your theme and launch product. If your motto is “technology made simple”, consider relaxing activities like free massages.  If you’re known for “paving the pathway to the future”, hire a tarot card reader to perform readings.

Remember to create a Twitter hashtag for your event and promote it so that people can still be active even when using their smartphones.
social-cupcakesYou thank everyone for coming, but forgot about take-a-ways

Can’t score great goods?  Get creative instead.  Set up an exit cupcake stand for people to grab on their way out. By frosting the cupcakes with your colors you’ve scored another brand tie-in and ended your event on a sweet note.

You threw a great event …but forgot to end things while they were still having fun

This is a golden rule among event managers and a commonly overlooked practice for those new to party planning.

It’s human nature to want what you can’t have; so find the happy medium in your time frame and cut things off while everyone is still having a good time.

Keep the networking alive by suggesting a nearby after-party spot so people can continue to socialize on their own time.

Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of small business loans. You can read  her daily blog here.

Photos: Flickr/The ArchesCanadian Film Centre,  Seo2 | Por Puro Amor Al Rap


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