As part of the marketing mix, hosting events is a powerful marketing tool. When planned and executed properly, the result will enhance your brand awareness and perception and in turn generate new customers and encourage loyalty of your existing customer base.
Here are our top tips for creating an event that will leave guests wanting to be part of your brand:
1. Set goals.
Why are you hosting this event? Is it to win new business from existing clients? Or to find new clients? What results do you need to class the event as a success? Determine why you are hosting this event, set realistic goals for it, and then measure to see if you achieve those goals.
Set a realistic budget for the type of event you wish to host. If costs are mounting, consider sponsorship. Take time to identify suitable sponsors and draw up a menu of attractive benefits they would receive in return for their cash.
3. Give yourself enough time.
In order to generate interest and therefore bookings/ attendees at your event, promotional activities should start around 3 months before the event.
4. Be consistent.
Look at your marketing activities around the event date and check that these support the event and do not send contradictory messages to your customers.
For example, if you are currently promoting your business as a cost effective solution, don’t invite customers to attend a champagne reception in opulent surroundings.
5. Create an event timeline.
This should sit alongside your planned marketing activity. Remember, if you are booking guest speakers, specific dates may be dictated by their availability.
6. Choose a suitable venue.
Draw up a shortlist of venues that work with your budget, reason for the event and your brand personality. Visit the venues and meet with the person who would be managing your event. They should share your vision for your event and suggest ways to make your event memorable. You can use their event plan as the basis of your master event plan that should contain all elements of your event from set up to de-rig.
7. Remind guests of the event.
Make them feel special by sending an e-ticket 48 hours before the event. This will save time in the long run with lots of last minute phone call and e-mails checking the address/ timings/ dress code etc. Again, this is an opportunity to reinforce your brand and to ensure you have the valuable contact details of all your guests.
8. Plan for not going to plan.
A common mistake when event planning is to presume that everything will go according to plan. It won’t. Extra guests will arrive, guest speakers’ planes will be delayed and entire presentations will be destroyed because the Event Chairman will spill a bottle of beer over the laptop where the slides are saved and the whole thing will disappear as guests are filing into the room… (true story!).
Remember the guests don’t know what is supposed to happen. Take a deep breath, pull your team together, put your contingency into action and deliver an event your guests will remember for all the right reasons.
9. Capitalize on the buzz after the event.
Send e-mails to guests thanking them for coming and consider feedback forms. Thank speakers for their time and input. Follow up immediately on any business conversations you have had at the event. If you have sponsors, engage with them to support you at the next event, send photographs to media contacts and use the images in your social media campaigns. Ensure the event appears on your website and upload any content that could be of use to your wider customer base.
10. How can you do it better next time?
Finally, put into practice continuous improvement and as part of the de-brief ask yourself and other people involved, “What went well? What didn’t go so well? How can we make the next event even better?”.
Are events part of your marketing plan? I can recommend great events professionals who can help you make your event something special and ensure it gets the results you need.
And if you don’t have a marketing plan – then get in touch. I specialise in helping businesses develop effective, practical marketing plans.
Blog co-authored by Kara Stanford, Strategic Marketing Consultant, KMS Marketing and Caroline Hill, freelance Events Planning Consultant.