Event planning can be daunting, whether you organize a small meeting or a large conference. No matter how small or large the event is, it requires careful planning and organization. To make the event as stress-free and efficient as possible, you need to plan everything from establishing a budget to marketing your event.
Although no event is the same, each event has its own goals, budgets and audiences. There are steps you can take that will help you jump-start your planning, stay on track and maximize the success of your event.
- Define your goals and objectives
- Before jumping into logistics such as speakers or venues, it is important to identify the purpose and motivation for organizing this event. This question should be answered:
What is the ultimate goal of this event?
- This is the reason that motivated you to organize an event. You are looking for:
- Increase sales Sponsor a product launch. You can increase brand awareness. Maybe you have multiple goals. Find out what you want to achieve and how the event can help you get there.
Next, what are your objectives?
When planning an event, it is important to identify the objectives to help you achieve your ultimate goal. Here are some examples of event objectives.
- Register 10% more than the previous event
- Revenues will increase by 25% compared to the previous event.
- Preorder 100 products for the upcoming year
- Increase social media mentions/follows/reposts during the event
Once you have established your goals and objectives, you can begin creating the event’s preliminary scope. The scope should contain key information and show how you will reach your goals. Although not a set of rules, it is important to outline the details for any preliminary events.
- Dates. Time frame, e.g., In 9 months.
- Attendees. This could be a 100-person event or a 1000-person event. Or a 10,000-person event. It is important to consider the size of your event. Is this a local event, or are they from all over the country? As you plan, it is important to consider the demographics of your attendees.
- Location. Are you planning to hold your event in your area? Will it be held in a foreign city? You can start to narrow down the cities and venues that are most suitable for your event.
- What type of event? How are you increasing awareness about a new product or service? One-day events with a keynote speaker may be a good idea. Are you looking to bring together thousands of customers? You might be a good candidate for a two-day user conference. Are you hosting an association or internal meeting? You might consider a day of small sessions.
- Your goals and the preliminary scope of your project will help you frame your event and gain support from your leadership. Your goals and scope will help you move on to the next planning stage if your organization is already committed.
- Set up a budget for your event
- Creating a budget is an essential early step in event planning that helps to clarify other aspects of your plan. Additionally, establishing a budget helps avoid unwanted surprises (like running out of money for decor, etc.). You will be more successful if you map out your entire budget in advance, continue to update as you finalize variables, and stay very close to the process.
- Your high-level budget and your initial scope of requirements should be considered. To better understand your budget’s distribution across your needs, you should start to map out the costs for each line item.
- Eventbrite says that “Budget is broken up by marketing and promotion (43%)), speakers and talents (32%), printed material (29%), and venues (18 %).”).
- You’ll need to review your budget as you plan. While line items are bound to change, you must keep a budget that accurately reflects any updates or changes. Planners are often able to adjust your budget to avoid exceeding your budget.
- Your events team should be built.
- For small events, you may personally be handling many or all of the tasks discussed in this section. However, it takes an organized team to execute the production for large events.
- It is important to assign roles when you start building a team to ensure accountability. Each team member should report to a project manager, who will have visibility into all the details.
The ultimate event team
- Eventbrite reports that only 12% have events with 10 or more people teams. The most common number of employees is 2 to 5 (45%). This means that individuals often wear multiple hats. Here’s how roles are usually distributed if you are among 5+ team members.
- This person oversees all the moving parts and is ultimately responsible for executing the event. Responsible for managing the budget. Drives strategy. Responsible for making high-level purchasing decisions.
- This person is the main contact for vendors, sponsors, volunteers, staff, food/beverage, security, photography, and security. They know the names of everyone and where they can be found.
- This person coordinates agenda development and works with speakers. He also ensures that the schedule is accurate and communicated to all parties. He coordinates the meetings and lives to help attendees become successful networkers.
- All visual design elements for printed and online materials, including registration forms, signage and collateral, are created by creative designers. They make you look great. A professional event designer might be a good choice.
Marketing and Communications
- This person or group makes sure that the right people are aware of the event. They also create offers and timing strategies to increase registration. They are also great at measuring performance.
- This team ensures that guests have all the information to make the most of the event. They develop and update the mobile event application.
Register and check-in
- They manage registration, collaborate with a software provider to produce and manage badges and generate reports.
- This team member maps out booth spaces, sell sponsorship opportunities, maintains relationships with sponsors, and explores community organization relationships. They are a great team member with amazing timing and excellent people skills.
Keep your team organized.
- Once you have a team, you can start to plan your event. Project plans are more than a list of tasks. A project plan is a detailed description of each action item, including owners, dependencies and due dates. It also identifies completion status. Each action item should be justified by mapping it to your top event goals.
Event management tools
- Project management tools simplify event management and organization. These tools can help you keep track of all the moving parts. These tools allow project managers to monitor and assign projects and keep track of their progress.
- Choose your date and venue.
- Choosing your venue and date for your event are two major considerations that will shape the rest of your project plan. Start researching venues as early as possible. The event marketplace is crowded, so finding the time for venue availability is important. When deciding on a venue, you’ll also have to consider dates for your location based on seasonal factors like travel and costs.
- Romy, an events industry veteran and PRIME, a Vancouver-based full-service event agency, says it is difficult to find large spaces in January. “January and February are very busy with sales conferences. It happens again in September or October.” Romy says it is difficult to find traditional venues with sufficient show floor space during these times.
- Ask as many questions as you can about the venues and their representatives as you go. Consider the following: budget, theme fit, location (is this centrally located, easily accessible by public transportation? ), facilities, on-site staff. Is there a bathroom located in the venue? Is there emergency response and fire control?
- TipDon’t be afraid of negotiating your rates once you have found the right venue. EventManager reports that half of the event planners negotiate discounts off published rates. Organizers often negotiate free WiFi, AV, or parking for those who do.
- Develop event branding
- From the event name and theme to the event website design and on-site look and feel – your event’s branding sets the tone for your event. You want a strong personality to shine when people think of your event. Additionally, a strong event brand provides a vision and helps steer your event’s direction.
- 60% of US millennials want consistent experiences with brands whether they are dealing online, in person or by telephone. (*)
- Consider that your event branding should reflect not only your organization’s brand but also have its brand. Also, consider how your brand will appear online and in real life. Finally, think about how your brand will be integrated into each element of your event.
- Event branding typically involves:
- Event name. This is the most important step. Your event name is what attendees see first. It should reflect your vision of the event.
- Theme. One name can’t tell the entire story. Many events create a theme that ties the event together.
- Logo, colors, typography. All marketing touchpoints should be consistent.
- Email, signage, and decor on-site. Every touchpoint does not need to be branded. Each element should be able to tell the same story.
- These branding elements should be used across all platforms, including your event website, email, social media and registration and your event app.
- Looking for more branding information? Take a look at our Guide To Event Branding.
- This guide will help you understand the key brand elements that every event needs and how to create them!
- Plan your program
- Set your schedule as early as possible! Is there a keynote speaker? Will there be an extra day or evening planned just for your sponsors? Will there be a single “track” of workshops and talks, or will attendees have the choice to choose between multiple sessions at a given time? As you answer these preliminary questions, you can begin to build a high-level view of your event program.
- You don’t have to finalize the schedule before promoting the event. After you’ve started to promote your event, registrations start to grow, and you can make any changes to the schedule. It is easy to update the schedule quickly on your website or mobile app using technology.
- It is important to have a basic outline in place so that attendees know what to expect. Sponsors will also find the schedule to be a valuable selling point.
- There are many other aspects of the program that you should consider, in addition to the core program. Planning is important for events that last more than one day.
- Food and beverages Are you going to provide lunch or snacks?
- Ancillary events, such as happy hours, networking opportunities or wellness activities, can be arranged.
- Entertainment. Entertainment.
- Confirm speakers, exhibitors, sponsors
- If you’re hosting a large-scale event, you’ll most likely want to get others involved to offset costs and showcase multiple voices from the industry. Speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors are common ways to add value for your attendees and offset costs.
- If you plan to have sessions at your event, you must identify speakers for each segment. There are two options for adding speakers:
CALL FOR SESSION SUBMISSIONS
- Hosting an open call to submit session proposals is a great way for customers and partners to get involved. An open call requires that individuals submit a session abstract that describes the topic and its value proposition. Your team will then review the abstracts and select speakers. Then, they will communicate with those selected and those who weren’t.
INVITE PERSONAL SPEAKERS
- In the reverse direction, if you want to invite individuals, they can speak at your event. When reaching out to potential speakers, give a compelling overview of the event and the audience and express your excitement about their participation in the event. Remember that invited speakers are often entitled to compensation in addition to travel and lodging.
- After your speakers have been identified, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. Make sure you have all the information needed to create a speaker agreement. This includes information such as presentation expectations, deadlines, available technology, compensation, and how much. Make sure you are clear about what you expect so that there are no surprises on the day of the event.
- Keep in touch beyond the initial confirmation email and speaker agreement. You want your speakers’ presentations to align with the event theme. As you create your presentations, make sure to include all materials. Send reminders to speakers to make sure they submit their final presentations on time.
- 74% of attendees to an event say they feel more positive about the company, brand or product after attending.
- – EMI & Mosaic
- Make a list to identify sponsors interested in participating in your event. Please do your research before you reach out to them. Please find out how they could benefit from being a part of your event. Are they customers of each other? Do they offer complementary services? Make sure every sponsor you consider is valuable to your attendees. It would help if you took the time to develop tailored proposals that highlight these unique benefits. When reaching out, be sure to stress them.
- Also, create sponsorship packages before you reach out to potential sponsors. It would be best if you had a variety of benefits and costs in your packages. You can offer sponsorships that are not standard, such as:
- A sponsored lounge
- A wireless charging station for your phone and tablet
- Event App sponsorship
- Sponsorship of wellness activities
- Consider the tools and activities your attendees would like to have at the event.
- An exhibitor package is another way to attract sponsors. This will allow you to have an area at your event exclusively for your exhibitors. Every exhibitor sponsorship agreement includes a certain amount of space that your exhibitors can occupy, brand, or engage with your attendees.
- Tip – When you work with exhibitors, make sure you drive attendees to interact with them. To encourage attendees to engage and walk around, schedule dedicated exhibitor time.
- Select your tech tools and identify them
- Technology is improving the event space for both organizers and event-goers. When mapping out your next event, you’ll want to identify your technology needs and implementation timelines. Certain technologies will need to be implemented far before the event, while others can hold off until closer to the big day(s).
Register and book tickets
- It’s easier than ever to manage attendee registrations. Eventbrite and other online platforms allow you to sell tickets quickly. It is important to choose your platform early to promote registration and direct your audience to the registration site.
Technology for Productivity
- This was already covered, but we want to emphasize how important it is for event organizers to use project management tools to keep organized. Event planning is complex. Project management software can help to ease some of the stress. Trello has many event planning templates that can help you get started.
- 83% of event organizers use an app for their events.
- Eventbrite, 2019
- An event app can streamline your communications and improve the experience for attendees. An event app is a mobile application that you can make with Guidebook. It allows attendees to view schedules, create custom agendas, interact with others, and much more. A mobile app can be a powerful tool for creating an engaged, informed environment, in-person or virtual.
- Your event strategy should include your app as an integral part of the event strategy to reap the benefits of an event app. To ensure a memorable event experience, ensure every attendee is equipped with everything they need.
- Did you know that Guidebook can help you create custom apps?
- Builder is easy to use. Get started today!
Recordings of Live Streaming
- Are you looking to build a community that spans across countries or regions? You can connect with your attendees and expand the reach of your event by live streaming. Recording sessions can be another way to increase the reach of your event and encourage conversation beyond the event.
- People expect to engage with events that are changing thanks to technology rapidly. You can take your engagement to the next level by incorporating technologies such as a social media wall, digital swag bags, and event gamification tools that encourage attendees to participate in the event.
- Make a marketing plan and promotional plan.
- How are you going to attract audiences to attend your well-planned event?
- A marketing plan is essential for every successful event. It helps spread the word and generate excitement. Where do you begin? Many ways to market your event, from social media and blogging to online marketing and billboards. But which one should you choose? Each tactic should be a strategic part of your marketing plan.
- The components of an event marketing strategy:
Goals and Objectives
- Establishing marketing-specific goals and targets is important when creating a marketing strategy. Setting specific goals and objectives for your marketing efforts is similar to the overarching goals of your event. This will ensure that every effort leads to measurable results.
- Common marketing goals include:
- Online registrations are up 15% compared to last year.
- Traffic to the event website: Drive x amount
- Download x number of event apps
- Social media engagement has increased by 20% in comparison to last year.
- You will only achieve your goals if you have the right tactics. This includes all the marketing tools you use for your efforts, such as video marketing, online advertising, social media marketing, email marketing and public relations.
- Are you targeting young professionals with your event? You must understand your target audience before deciding which tactics to use. You might consider Instagram ads. If you focus your event on a specific audience, geo-targeted advertising may be a good option.
Timeline and Cadence
- Once you have identified the tactics you want to use, you can create a marketing timeline. This will give you a clear view of all your marketing activities.
- If you use email marketing, plan out every email you will send.
TIMELINE FOR EMAIL MARKETING
- Date Email topic
- 4.13 Save the date
- 5.27 Early bird pricing available
- 6.15 Keynote speaker announcement
- 6.26 Announcement of exciting session topics
- 7.1 Last chance to get early bird pricing
- 8.1 Closing of registration
- Our Guide To Event Marketing provides a detailed guide on creating a strong marketing strategy for your next event.
- How will you measure the success of your event? You should begin to think of how you’ll evaluate your event far before it takes place. A good place to start is with the goals and objectives you identified in step one.
Analytics and data
- What was the number of tickets you sold and from whom? How much did it cost per person? How many qualified leads did they gain? How many preorders were you able to sell? These are just a few metrics you can measure after the event has ended.
- You should quantify the success of the event and look at how the event was perceived by the attendees. You can use this link to see the satisfaction and sentiment of attendees.
- Feedback from attendees is a way to gauge success beyond the numbers. Surveys can give you insight into the perceptions of your attendees about the event. This can help you to identify strengths and weaknesses. Let’s face the facts, even if you sell out, is it a success if people don’t find it valuable?
Social media and online buzz
- Are your followers being more active on your company channel than usual? Are attendees posting information about the event on their channels? You can also read the comments to find out what attendees say. Are there any praiseworthy posts? Did there seem to be more than one complaint? To pick up trends and insight, you should monitor your event before, during and after it.
A comprehensive event plan
- Each of these elements comes together for your event master plan. Work through each of these to create a strong, actionable plan for your event. When planning an event, you should begin your planning as early as possible. With many moving pieces, getting a head start means a smooth finish.
- Once you have a solid plan in place, the next step is to put your marketing plan into action. For practical tips on creating a 360-degree event marketing plan that drives registrations and engagement, continue reading the Guide to Planning an Events: Marketing and Promotion.