Events are a great way for marketers to build awareness of their brand, interact with current and potential customers and build a solid pipeline of business. However, a great marketing event takes a lot of planning and preparation to pull off. Here, we look at five steps you can take now to start planning your next successful marketing event.
1) First and Foremost: Create an Event Plan
As with any campaign, your event needs a solid plan. Begin by nailing down your event objectives, goals, target audience, timeline and theme. Think of this as the “what” and “why” of your event. For example, maybe your event is a client appreciation event, a product launch or a thought leadership gathering. It might be part of a company-wide rebrand or refresh, such as introducing a new name, logo or identity. Or, is your event all about building up a larger customer base or engaging people to be brand ambassadors? Do you just want to have some fun and celebrate your customers?
Ask yourself, what do I want to accomplish? Who do I want to attend the event? What will attendees learn or take away from the event? Begin to identify SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Also, be sure to decide early on what your budget will be – and stick to it!
TIP: When beginning to plan for your event, consult any past learnings from previous events – what went well or not well? Did you meet your objectives? How can you optimise or improve upon past events for greater success?
2) Choose your Venue, Early
The venue of your event is a crucial decision. It also requires very early planning – most large or popular event venues require several months of advance booking. If you’re at a loss for how to select a proper venue, start with a few basics:
- Size. How many people do I expect to have?
- Location. Is my venue easy to get to? Can people take multiple modes of transportation? Is parking available?
- Cost. Refer back to your budget and make sure the cost of the venue is in line. Most venues will give you an itemized estimate based on your specific event and needs.
- Usage. What do you need out of the space? Do you have a large stage, booths or require space for buffet tables or a bar? Do you need certain A/V technologies like a sound system or special lighting?
TIP: Err on the side of too much space, if possible. If you aim to have 100 people at your event, find a space that accommodate 120 or even 150 people. After all, you might surprise yourself and have more RSVPs than intended. This will prevent you from having to turn people away. At the same time, promote a sense of exclusivity and timeliness to encourage people to attend and to RSVP in advance.
3) Assemble an All-Star Event Team
A successful event requires a top-notch team. As you start to plan your event, assemble a team of people to help you promote, plan and execute it. To begin, identify an event lead or team captain that is responsible for big picture planning and decision making. You can also create an event committee to share some of the other responsibilities, such as venue selection, event activities, and coordinating aspects of it, like music or catering. Larger events may require additional roles or services, such as a public relations person, a designer, an event planner or outside agency, event management staff or a photographer or videographer.
TIP: Have several people ready to “work the event” on the day of. This can include volunteers or interns seeking event management experience. They’ll check people in, move about the venue to encourage networking and just have some fun to encourage other people to get in on the action.
4) Promote, Promote, Promote
How will you let people know about and RSVP for your event? Create a clear promotional plan and consider how and what you want to communicate, when and through what channels. To reach the greatest number of people, leverage all channels available, including email, social, in-person or direct outreach as well as at other events that happen throughout the year. Your promo strategy should also include a detailed content calendar leading up to the event.
Part of your promotion should include strategic event registration – perhaps by selling early-bird tickets, offering limited sales on discounted tickets or hosting contests in which people can win tickets to your event. There are numerous free or affordable platforms to help you manage the ticketing process, such as Eventbrite and many others.
TIP: Get creative with your promotion and ticketing. For example, why not run a contest among your staff to see how many people they can each invite; be sure to give the winner a prize, like a gift card or a special keyring . Reaching out to your team’s personal and professional connections is a great way to expand your umbrella of potential customers, as it offers a great word-of-mouth strategy from trusted messengers.
5) Make it Memorable!
Last, be sure that you give attendees something to remember your event by! Opt for well-designed, functional or unique event souvenirs that will actually get used and help boost the visibility of your brand long after the event ends. One suggestion is a branded tote that can be filled with smaller items, such as keyrings and pin badges. For inspiration, check out what other companies are putting together for memorable, delightful gift bags. Including a handwritten thank you note along with your merchandise is a nice touch, too!
TIP: Don’t forget about merchandise for your event staff! Think about what types of products you’ll need for people working your event, such as t-shirts, lanyards, name tags and promotional buttons. Every item will help cultivate a professional, consistent and well-branded look at your event.
We hope this post helps you plan for a successful marketing event. It’s important to get it right , especially if your goal is to raise money or elicit new business – events generate an average of $1,294 in spending per person, and trade shows are one of the top three sources of information for buyers considering a new product or service.
What other ideas do you have for your event? We’d love to hear more about it and brainstorm a few ways that we can help you pull it all together for a memorable, milestone event.