Events are part of the marketing mix and there’s a lot you need to consider to ensure they go off without a hitch!
With Christmas now behind us, we look back at that wonderful time of year where you get all dressed up, listen to Christmas carols and visit with friends, colleagues and family at the annual Christmas party! I personally love events; I like to mingle, love the food and, probably unlike the average party goer, love to check out how an event was planned.
As a marketer and event planner, I have seen first-hand how events can be effectively used as part of the marketing mix. That said, events are no cheap endeavour. They take time, money, and, potentially the most costly — they have the opportunity to fall flat if done poorly, leaving your network questioning.
So if in 2019 you are thinking of hosting an event or even attending, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
How to host a great event no matter the size or season
Set some goals
Events are just another tactic in the marketing toolbox and like any successful marketing initiative, you have to set some goals. Ask yourself why you are hosting the event and who the event is for. Decisions will be much easier when you have objectives to compare against. Goals can be a number of attendees, dollars raised or, my personal favourite, overall satisfaction. It’s one thing to hear from everyone they had fun but events are usually costly. The best way to figure out what worked and what didn’t is to ask your attendees. Satisfaction surveys are quick and easy to send out. Quick Tap Survey is also a super easy-to-use tool that can be accessed by everyone via smartphone and responded to on the fly while collecting real-time data!
Pick your spotlight
Once you figure out your goals, set the spotlight as this is something I feel usually gets missed or looked over. Events have lots of moving parts but you need to focus on your spotlight and making sure it shines. This can be a specific attendee, your overall message or even your design. Figuring out your spotlight will also give you clear direction when booking your entertainment, food, decor, etc.
Let’s scale it down for this example but take my husband’s birthday for instance. My husband likes local beer, meat and his friends so tada – I give you an at-home beer tasting. He and the local beer are the spotlights – the decor referenced the beer tasting, the food supported the beer and his palette, the invites were based on his friends, location on his preference, etc.
Have a plan
Because events have many moving parts, it is easy to forget the details. Take the time to develop a plan beforehand. This can be as detailed as a full agenda, a contact list, and even a risk mitigation plan to ensure you have a plan B & C in case plan A falls through. If the event is on the smaller scale, maybe your plan doesn’t need to be that intense and it can be as simple as a checklist of everything that needs to happen, who is responsible and when it needs to happen by.
Tradeshows are often an event that easily gets overlooked. Trade show space can be costly and it is important to maximize your investment. Early on in the event planning process, outline your goals, ideas on how to achieve them and assign responsibility. Every two weeks leading up to your event, block out time to work through this list. The closer you get to the event, the more often you should review it. I find it helpful to breakdown event to-dos into categories. High-level categories can be pre-event, day-of-event, during-event and post-event. This categorization of tasks helps to make sure items such as who is setting up and bringing the promo giveaways are thought of beforehand. Event planning tools that can help make your life easier include Trello, Eventbrite, Social Tables and Google Docs!
With events big or small, remember to focus on the details. Events by nature are intimate; they are usually held after work hours so they become a personal investment as people tend to include extra attention to self-image and conversation. Unintentionally, attendees want to be spoiled and they should. Try to include personal touches where you can and tie in details about your spotlight if it makes sense. If personal touches don’t make sense for your event, try and weave in a special element to leave attendees feeling like they gained a unique experience.
Kill the clutter
Clutter kills events not just from a decor perspective but from a message and planning side. Streamline your communication as with so many moving parts you need to stay organized. Try to remove yourself from the planning seat and think about the event as an attendee. Is it clear why you should go and where it is? Timelines? How to dress? Should I eat before I come? Is there an ATM, transportation, parking? Can I bring a guest? Do I need to bring a gift? Is there a fee? Think of all these questions and make sure your event is providing clear communication.
Events are great for team building, brand exposure, selling opportunities and more but make sure you, as the planner, have fun! An event can be planned to a T but you need to make sure your hosting team is having a good time. Don’t spend months organizing, planning and stressing only to get to the event too tired to enjoy. Start early, break down tasks, and use event tools to simplify and prioritize.
Cheers to a year of successful events for all!