Using events to promote your business is one of the most traditional ways to get your name out there and connect with your local market. However, novice event planners can quickly lose their footing while putting their events together so using a step-by-step method is a huge help. Follow this basic planning outline for a surefire way to plan your next killer event!
This seems like a gimme, but often times people underestimate the runway needed to properly plan an event. Before you do anything, you should be able to answer these questions:
What is the purpose of my event?
Do you want to generate leads or start building your customer emailing list? Are you looking to create brand awareness or strengthen your connection with your community? The answer to this question will determine a lot about the different components you choose to implement at your event so being clear from the start will prevent unsatisfactory results down the road.
What is my ultimate goal?
If you decided that the purpose of your event was to create stronger community ties then the goal of your event may be to use those connections to broaden your professional network. Your goal should be something measurable tied to your purpose.
Once you’ve clearly defined your desired outcome it’s time to start putting the puzzle pieces together. This is when you’ll start to look at all of the basic elements that make up an event such as:
- Budget – Determine your budget first, as it will be a deciding factor for the other components.
- Vendors (Catering, A/V, photography, entertainment, equipment rentals, etc)
- Venue – Think about parking, permits, size, location.
- Date – Check local event calendars so you don’t end up picking a date that conflicts with a competing event.
- Staffing needs – Will you require employees to help out or look for volunteers?
- Agenda – What is the minute by minute schedule for the event? (Ex: 6pm doors open, 6-7 cocktails, 7:05 welcome note, etc). A detailed schedule ensures everything you want to happen actually does!
Don’t forget to keep the weather in mind. If you’re having an outdoor event you should have a backup plan should the weather decide to take a turn for the worse.
Promote Your Event
Once you’ve got the nuts and bolts situated, it’s time to start spreading the word. The basic first step is to create invitations. Whether you use traditional mailers, social media posts, an email marketing platform, or a combination of these just be sure you’re giving your invitees enough lead time to make room for you on their calendars. Do your best to create a buzz!
Don’t forget that event promotion doesn’t only occur leading up to the big day. During the event, assign someone on your team to post to social media in real-time so people nearby have the opportunity to stop in.
Look for Local Publicity
Don’t forget that most of your local newspapers and media outlets will cover your event for free. Contact local news stations and ask how you can get a mention on their morning or lifestyle segments. This is especially well received if you’re tying your event to a charitable cause or planning it for a time of the year that receives media attention anyway, like a Shop Local day.
Local bloggers and micro-influencers can be publicity powerhouses, too. Offer them free entry into your event or promise to mention them and link their blogs in your follow-up efforts or on your own website or blog.
Follow-up efforts are perhaps one of the most vital components in the event life cycle that also happen to be the most passed over. If you don’t follow up with attendees after the event you’re missing a huge opportunity to move them further down the pipeline to becoming a loyal customer. Post photos from the event online and in store and send people a personal thank you with an event recap. These small touches go a long way in making your customers feel appreciated for the support they’ve given you and your business.
Also, hold an internal recap meeting. Go over aspects of the event that you loved and thought went well and take a closer look at areas that you can improve upon for next time. Don’t underestimate the value of this follow-up analysis. Critiquing your event from the planning stage all the way to your attendee follow-up methods is tremendously valuable and will help you be more effective the next time around.
Now, all the planning in the world can’t account for last minute changes and snafus. Be flexible while sticking to your plan as best you can and try not to sweat the small stuff. Even the most experienced event planners will have things go haywire the day of party – just roll with it, have a good time and give yourself a big pat on the back for pulling off a successful event!
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