Why You Should Be Hosting Intimate Dinners in 2024…And How To Get Started. With Eli Taylor-Lemire, Co-Founder at POSH

Jared Mintzlaff

February 14, 2024

It started as a routine client dinner on a Tuesday night. We booked a cool, underground pizza spot and invited a handful of our favorite customers and partners to join in an effort to impress the client.

As people trickled in, jaws dropped when they saw the space decked out in our brand's colors. Our logo covered the walls, music was pumping, vibrant photo stations were set up, and wine flowed freely.

We had created an energizing, exclusive world tailored to our guests. The night was young and the conversations came easy. We all felt that this wasn’t your average schmoozy client event - real relationships were forming.

Soon we realized two hours had flown by in what felt like minutes. When the last Uber pulled away, we stood there in awe, barely remembering that we had come to promote our software.

Instead, we had formed bonds with people who were genuinely fired up about our brand. They couldn’t wait to post photos, reminisce on social media, follow our podcast, and rave about us to everyone they knew.

That’s when I realized that intimate dinners are the move. It checked all the boxes:

  • It’s enjoyable and accessible
  • Allows genuine relationship building
  • Easy to produce
  • Captures content for social media
  • Enables customers to identify with your brand

This week, I sat down with Eli Taylor-Lemire, the Co-Founder and CTO of POSH - the platform built to democratize live events. I was thrilled to hear his take on intimate dinners as well. But first, check out the full episode here where we discussed that and so much more:

As Eli put it, “Intimate dinners give you a way to have fun and create a vibe, but you’re actually making genuine connections with people.”

In this article, we’ll cover why new brands should be investing time and resources into hosting intimate dinners, as well as actionable steps for planning and maximizing these events for your brand.

The Growing Power of Experiential Branding

In the digital age, traditional advertising and outbound marketing tactics are losing their edge. Consumers have grown numb to disruptive ads and impersonal content. In order for brands – especially young brands – to grab attention and build an audience, you need to create compelling experiences that customers genuinely enjoy and want to engage with.

As Eli put it, “The magic part of experiential marketing is letting the customer identify with your brand, while you don’t talk about the product at all.”

Rather than overt sales and product pitches, intimate dinners allow customers to experience your brand personality on a human level and make authentic connections. This builds brand affinity and loyalty in a way that digital campaigns alone rarely can.

“Anything to do with your product and advertising should not be at the in-person activation,” said Eli. “I think the customer should walk away being like, ‘Oh my God, I love this brand, I love their team, and I want to somehow be a part of this.”

The Key Benefits of Hosting Intimate Dinners

There are a ton of strategic advantages to hosting small, exclusive dinners rather than generic networking events or conferences:

Enjoyable & Memorable for Attendees

Dinners hosted at trendy restaurants or cool venues feel exciting and exclusive for attendees. The intimacy makes conversations more memorable and impactful.

Build Strong Affinity with Your Brand

Putting your team and brand personality on display for customers in a relaxed, social setting allows authentic relationships to develop – driving real affinity and loyalty.

Produce Brand Content for Social Media

The dinner conversations, branded decor elements, food, drinks and shareable moments make for great short-form social content that fuels your brand presence online. As Eli shared, "We've been collaborating with customers and making content with them at the dinner table, and that gives them that feeling of being a part of the product and brand even more so."

Easy To Execute Production

Compared to large-scale events and activations, dinners only require planning a venue, menu, drinks, guest list and some minor decor. The production level is achievable for brands of all sizes.

Cost Effective Reach & Impact

For the relatively low cost of hosting a dinner, the brand impressions, social content and relationship building generated deliver an extremely high ROI compared to other strategies.

The ultimate goal is to wow your guests and have them leave as devoted brand advocates who market your product for you via word-of-mouth and social media sharing.

Planning Your Dinners

If you’re sold on the value of hosting dinners for your brand, here is a step-by-step guide to planning and executing them effectively:

1. Define Your Guest List

Curate a list of 30 or less ideal customers, partners and micro-influencers. Qualify them based on brand fit and engaged social followings. Definitely use POSH for invites and tickets.

2. Scout Unique Venues

Browse restaurant private rooms, hip exposed brick venues, rooftop bars, etc. Resy and OpenTable are great for making group reservations and curating a menu, and Peerspace is great if you want to host it at a loft or mansion and bring in a private chef.

3. Brand the Environment

Add neon signs, product demos, menu cards, swag gifts, photo booths and backdrops.

4. Hire a Photographer

Hire pros to mingle and candidly capture memorable moments all night.

5. Build the Evening Flow

Map a structured agenda to alternate seated dinner, standing receptions, remarks, etc.

6. Guide Organic Conversations

Brief your team on key talking points and differentiators to organically convey throughout the night.

7. Treat Top Guests Like VIPs

Give extra attention and perks to your hottest prospects and influencers. This could be a merch box, a branded bottle of champagne, or a “special” seat at the table. Maybe even consider asking one of them to be the guest speaker of the night where they can feel even extra special and VIP.

8. Capture UGC Content

Encourage photo moments to fuel authentic user-generated social content. You’ll want to load up on staged group photos, photos of the venue, and candid photos to use to promote the next dinner.

9. Follow Up After

Follow up with personal notes to continue building those relationships post-event. Offer exclusive invites to attend future events!

The Future of Branding is Experiential

As markets continue to saturate and disrupt, brands will need to push innovation and creativity to stand out. As Eli predicted, “Branding, for the most part, will be the only product defensibility moat in the future...Building a large brand is going to be the only way to differentiate anything.”

Are you ready to step up your branding game with the power of intimate dinners? Follow the strategies in this article and let the genuine connections and brand experiences you create fuel sustainable growth through word-of-mouth and social media.

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