November 27, 2018
General information events have become passé and holiday parties are predictable. Patients have been there, done that.
Set your practice apart by hosting events that are uniquely themed and offered to a small and thoughtfully chosen group of the practice’s best influencers, referrers, and friends. We refer to these as VIP events, and they are an alternative to the open house or annual thank-you event.
VIP events are exclusive, invitation-only affairs intended to entertain fewer, but the right mix of, guests. People who have an interest in beauty and appearance and who will bring a friend who has similar interests and income.
Here are 10 best practices for planning a VIP event.
1. Don’t confuse ‘party’ with ‘purpose.’
The purpose of a VIP event is to create more and stronger relationships and be less transactional. An event that’s promoted vaguely to: “Come learn about our services!” is unfocused.
VIP events are not just parties. They always have a purpose and specific business goals. For example, schedule a certain number of facial rejuvenation procedures in the third quarter. Or, drive revenue to pay for a new laser within a certain number of months.
2. Schedule sufficient time to plan.
Deciding to do a Valentine’s Day event on January 20th is a surefire way to fail. Ideally, you need three months from date of decision to date of the event. A hastily (and usually poorly) conceived invitation design, and an inadequate guest list are two examples of mistakes you’ll avoid when you allocate enough time to plan.
Customize this Planning Checklist to keep things moving and help the team stay on task.
3. Choose the right facility.
Don’t insist on holding the event in your office if space is limited or not well designed for a group presentation and refreshments. Even if the space is not an issue, holding an event in a boutique hotel or private club may be a more elegant and exclusive approach.
4. Target the invitation to a specific group; not “everyone.”
Announcing a VIP event on Facebook and email is akin to a cattle call. If the guest list is “everyone,” no one feels special. And, your invitation will compete with everyone else’s in people’s already-overcrowded in-boxes and Facebook feeds.
5. Invest in high quality materials and graphic design.
Amateurish invitations and graphics indicate a lack of sophistication and don’t convey confidence about your attention to aesthetic detail. Hire a professional designer. Create invitations on high quality paper and mail them (yes, with a stamp). Discerning patients will notice and appreciate the difference.
6. Do most of the planning in-house.
Many practice staff feel they are leveraging their time by delegating critical steps to vendor reps. Although that may be true and reps can be helpful, remember that their interest is in their company’s product. Yours is in the relationship with patients. Conducting the planning primarily in-house creates a stronger connection with your guests.
7. Assign the right project manager.
If your manager doesn’t delegate well and is already overextended, he or she is not the best choice to manage the event details. The event manager must have the right skills and the time to execute effectively. He or she will ensure staff are provided the right information ahead of time so they know what to tell callers. And can set expectations for what staff is to do or say at the event, so the team delivers a lovely guest experience.
8. Capture critical information at the event.
Collect complete demographic information and email addresses from every guest and make sure it’s someone’s job to enter them into your practice management and email systems the day after the event.
9. Have a plan for follow up.
This plan should include sending handwritten and/or email thank you notes to each guest. Reiterative any special offers that were part of the event, and calling patients who expressed interest in scheduling a consultation for surgery or medspa services.
10. Always track ROI.
The point of having the event is to build relationships that are meant to last. If you don’t calculate ROI, you have no idea if you have succeeded. Create a spreadsheet that can be used for each event, and analyze the revenue that results from the event against the expenses associated with putting it on.