You’re Invited: The ROI of Personalized Invitations

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Flip the Script, Invitations, Dianne Devitt, Dawn Penfold, marketing, ROI, branding

When my mother was 85, I reached out to my contacts and asked everyone to send her a card—an act that was inspired by a colleague and friend, Dawn Penfold, who did the same for her mother.

The result was that my mother received nearly 100 cards for her birthday, but that was not all. The cards were from friends near and far, both professional and personal, who all shared a special comment or story on how they met me, which gave my mother enjoyment in reading them. She felt them, touched them, smelled them and even framed some of them. The cards were beautiful, thoughtful, humorous and decorative and came in all different shapes, sizes, textures and colors—as diverse and distinct as the people who sent them.

What is the power of custom-printed, specially designed invitations, and how does it impact the success of an event? Invitations are a part of an integrated marketing plan. They are an integral touch point and opportunity to create expectations for all the senses. An invitation design is the first opportunity to brand an event and incorporate a graphic, relay a theme, deliver the objectives and extend sharing the experience with the attendee.

Invitations and Save the Dates are part of marketing collateral and particularly important if you’re trying to generate interest, attract attention, increase attendance and affirm belief and investment for a complex event. Well-designed collateral, including the choice of type of paper or materials, gives a sense of the environment being created. Its mission is to evoke interest to invite people, like Alice in Wonderland entering the big or little hole, to enter and connect in the event world. Its responsibility is to inspire people to want to connect, to participate, to celebrate or share one of the hundreds of reasons for any gathering. It must engage the emotions of everyone who encounters it and concisely support a theme, branding, messaging and all communication.

“What is the power of custom-printed, specially designed invitations, and how does it impact the success of an event?”

Your collateral must be designed as something intriguing that creates interest and evokes action to respond, to attend, to experience by clicking, mailing or researching a website for further details. It has the opportunity to make a sensory impression, and 85 percent of recall comes from the senses—what we see, touch, smell. When we touch something, more tan 10,000 receptors go to work to identify if it is pleasing, or not.

With all the discussion on experience, how can this vital first impression be overlooked? And considering that the average person sees more than 200 advertisements a day, vying for someone’s attention is critical in event marketing for specific functions. Obviously, technology and electronic invitations have a vital place and provide additional services in collecting data insight, but for truly special events, nothing makes an attendee feel more special than a customized invitation.

A few years ago, I met with a well-known hotel company. They had just completed a major renovation to a luxury tower addition and wanted to invite their top 100 customers to experience the new look and feel. We created an Oscar theme and designed an Oscar-inspired invitation, as the target date was Oscar weekend. The objective was to attract the 100 customers and a guest on a Sunday to enjoy dinner while watching the Oscars and stay overnight. The invitation design, customization, postage and delivery accounted for 37 percent of the budget—yes, 37 percent!

This invitation said YOU are special; we appreciate YOUR business; we would like to celebrate with YOU. And it evoked numerous touch points: an express-mail delivery envelope, calligraphy name on the outside of the 5-by-10-inch envelope, wax seal and three-part insert for each event component (the spa-day choice, dinner and post-event site visit). The response rate was 99 percent positive, and the one who could not attend because of travel asked for their CEO to attend instead.

As events come in all shapes and sizes and have their own unique objectives and audiences, I invite you to consider your choices in your event marketing campaign. What could be more important than a guest receiving a message from you—the message being, “You have been invited because you matter to us.”

And in a world where memories are relegated to devices, the visual memory of an event held in an invitation leaves a lasting impact—one that says, “I’ll be there!”

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