How to Successfully Plan Your Next Event
Planning an event is no simple task. It requires a lot of foresight, goal setting and addressing minute details that could be the difference between your event’s success or failure. An event could introduce a new product or service to the market, highlight a new division or department within the company, an expansion, etc.
So what elements should you consider when planning your next event?
Determine your purpose and goals—The first item you need to consider is the overall purpose of the event—to celebrate an anniversary, show customer appreciation, introduce a new product or service? Consider the purpose first and then set goals to assess the overall success of the event. What should attendees walk away with knowing or understanding about your business and the event? Thinking about the purpose and goal first and foremost will give you a framework to work within.
Understand your attendees—After you’ve identified your event purpose and goals, you need to know your audience—those people whom you want to attend. If the event is meant to target potential customers, your event layout and messaging will be different than if you are targeting existing customers. Think about the attendee experience—what should they see, touch, hear, smell and taste at the event that will make your business memorable?
Understanding your target audience’s needs and wants will influence everything else at the event from the type of food served to the music selection and dress code.
Figure out logistics—Build a budget, select a date(s), identify a venue, select food and beverage items and consider entertainment options and any rental items you might need. Think about who will staff the event, the flow of attendees at the event space, etc. It is also important to identify any contingencies or roadblocks that might occur to be as prepared as possible for hiccups. For example, if your event is outside and it rains the day of, you will want to have a back up plan so attendees can still enjoy the event whether you keep it outdoors or move it indoors.
Make a promotion plan—A successful event means people attend! To ensure people attend, you need to increase awareness by building a promotion plan. Depending on your event budget, this could manifest in a number of different ways.
Word of mouth is always powerful and it can have a huge impact. Let your employees know all the details about the event at least one to two months in advance so they can notify all existing and/or potential customers and their personal networks, if appropriate. You could send digital or print invitations to your customer database. Follow up with email reminders and phone calls to secure RSVPs. Finally, if budget allows, media outreach and/or advertising is a great way to target your business’s specific audience and generate widespread awareness of an event—especially if the local community is invited, too.
Measure success—Was your event successful? Tracking metrics like event participation, coming in under budget, counting the number of collateral pieces (e.g. brochures) distributed, social media traffic and interactions, media coverage and impressions or a post-event survey are a few ways to measure success. You might also record attendee feedback so you know where to make improvements next time.