Planning on organizing or being part of a business event such as a trade show? Why not invite prospective and existing clients?

When to Send Invitations

Different people will give you different opinions on this. Typically, 6-8 weeks is pretty fair notice. That being said, I have meet people who prefer to receive invitations at least 3 months ahead of time. It depends on how organized they are and what kind of time commitment is expected of them.

Don't forget to take holidays into consideration which might prevent people from receiving the invitation.

For sending email invitations to people in an office, I would normally send them out on a Tuesday or Wednesday around 11 AM for a few reasons:

  1. They are likely through any morning emergencies
  2. It is early enough in the week for them to keep you in mind.
  3. They have the rest of the day to think about you.
  4. Friday is followed by 2 days of not thinking about work… and you.

That being said, it is always good to know your clients and their business and take this information into consideration. What are their daily and weekly schedules like? How far ahead do they typically plan?

Some types of clients are typically out working during the day and not likely to be in the office checking their email on a regular basis. If they tend to check their email after 3:30 PM, send it out around 3:00 so that your email will appear at the top of their list of emails.

You always want to send out as close to the time they check their email without being too late. That way your email will appear closer to the top of their email list.

So, if they tend to do their office work and check their email on weekends, send it out Friday afternoon.

I would also schedule a few reminder email:

  • One month before the event
  • 3-5 days before the event
  • At least 24 hours before the start of the event

If it is a teleseminar or webinar, sending out a reminder 1 hour before the event and then again just as it is about to start can really make a big difference.

Special Situations

If they will need to R.S.V.P. for any reason or pre-register, you will have to modify your shedule accordingly.

If the invitations will be going out by postal mail, send out the intial invitations a week earlier.

What to Include in the Invitations

  • The purpose of the invitation
  • Your company name, your name and contact information
  • Any cost or special instructions. Example: black tie (only if required), anything they should bring such as tickets
  • When the event is being held. Include the full day month date and year. Be sure to include a way for them to clearly understand if 8:00 is AM or PM.
  • Where the event is being held. Including the name of the place, address, city, province but not the postal code. If the invitaitons are going by email, consider also including a link to a map on a side like Google or MapQuest. Be sure to check the map out for accuracy or your guests may end up looking around for a while.
  • If a specific call to action is required, make sure it is very clearly stated and detailed. For example, include clear instructions on how to R.S.V.P.
  • Important information about the event. For example, when you will presenting, how they can find you, booth number, keynote speakers and topics, etc.
  • Announce special "Event Only" offers, door prizes, special opportunities, special package for first xxx people to arrive, etc.
  • Indicate any restrictions (male only, female only, executives only, etc) if necessary.

Be sure to proof read for mistakes and/or forgottten information. Read it outloud and ask a friend to look it over too.

Always write words out completely such as Friday, Saturday, September, Road, Street, Avenue, Boulevard, Ontario or New York City. Never use abbreviations.

If it is your business that is sending out the invitation, speak on behalf of the business. For example, don't use: "You are invited to our annual…". Use something like: "Smith & Associates invites you to their annual…" instead.

Other Ways to Advertise your Business Event

  • Your website and/or blog including the home page and upcoming events page.
  • Your email signature block for all outgoing emails.
  • Facebook -- Be sure to take their acceptable use policy into consideration
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Your newsletter
  • Messages websites in places where your target market hang out (check acceptable use policy first)
  • Special personal invitation for your connectors
  • Joint venture partners

For retail shops, put up signs in your store and notices in your flyers. You might be able to add a note to the cash register receipts too.

  • Local newspapers
  • Churches
  • Community centres
  • Networking groups
  • All former and current clients