Hosting an event?  No problem

Ensuring attendance at events isn’t easy, but following some common event planning guidelines can help you be successful in reaching your objectives.  First step: select the venue or key attraction that is hardest to confirm or reserve – and reserve it.  Next…

Develop a checklist

Develop a checklist or schedule of activities that MUST be accomplished for your event to be successful.  Your list should be detailed – from developing promotion pieces (collateral, ordering and obtaining giveaways, advertising, visual aids, etc.) to arranging travel accommodations and assigning seats at the event if needed.  If the schedule of activities looks attainable, book the venue and follow-up on your plan.

Determine the time frame for outreach activities leading up to the event.  Use the most cost effective and efficient ways to reach your target audience given your event date – whether email, direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, social media or other method; this is imperative for ensuring attendance at your event.  Next, follow these steps:

Create a promotion plan. Start by creating an event webpage for prospects to learn more about the event – why it’s offered, location and time, speakers and their background (if applicable), and any other logistics that are relevant to your event to help promote it to your target customer profile. Be sure to follow basic principles of web design. Regardless of the methods or vehicles you choose to reach prospects, you can link back or direct people to your event webpage for more information or to sign up them up for the event. Each promotion deliverable or vehicle will have its own time frame for creation, internal approvals (if you are working within a larger organization), delivery, and follow-up, so be sure to capture all the details.

Develop a list of vendors and other support required to help.  Keep in mind any vendor qualification requirements that may need to be satisfied in order to perform the work.

Give the recipient at least 1 week notice before the event to accommodate your event in their schedule.  Provide your prospect with reminders if they confirmed their attendance 5 days ahead or more. In general, you want to make sure your recipient sees a reminder or an event announcement 2 – 3 days before the event and another one within a day or a few hours of the event to help ensure the person remembers to attends the event.  For some events, a phone call and email reminder of the event is warranted.

Understand dependencies and make contingency plans for issues that could impact your objectives.  For instance, if one of your vendors has been unreliable in the past, have a backup ready to support your plans.  If you’re planning a webinar, make sure you have IT support ready to help people who have trouble accessing the event.  The point is to prepare for what could go wrong and minimize the impact or potential damage.

Prepare for what happens during the event

Develop a plan covering activities that should take place while the event is happening. For instance, you may want to schedule tweets or other social media broadcasts, give a presentation, take pictures or video at the event for later outreach efforts, collect lead forms, arrange private meeting, provide giveaways to thank prospects for coming, etc.

Include a schedule of supporting event activity needs – entertainment, networking, food/beverages, security, technical support, giveaways, onsite promotion (posters, customized napkins, banners, etc.) – and any lead times associated with ordering and receiving materials or assistance.

Important!

Ensure you have budget and resources assigned for all aspects of the event.

Get ready to follow-up

Be ready for any follow-up required like ‘thank you’ cards or emails, sending out gifts, social media outreach, or other incentives promised (or not) to attendees.  Each of these deliverables will likely have lead times for creative, messaging and/or printing, which will need to be prepared prior to the event to ensure a timely post event follow-up.

Create a questionnaire

In order to follow-up, you’ll need to know the prospect’s contact information (if you don’t already have it) and interest level.  Develop a short questionnaire for lead generation purposes.  Your prospect can complete the questionnaire before or after the event depending upon the format and event logistics.  Aside from their contact information, ask prospects questions that will tell you about their interest level and where they are in the buying cycle.  The questions should help you understand whether they have a need or interest in acquiring your solution, and whether they have the means or budget to purchase your offering.  Try to limit the number of questions you ask, and make the survey easy and convenient to complete.  Use check marks to indicate what applies and use yes/no responses when possible to help them quickly complete it.  You may also want to consider offering prospects a spiff or incentive to complete your form to thank them for their time and sharing of their information.  Depending upon your event, the questionnaire could be online or in printed format.  If the latter, make sure your prospect has a pen or pencil handy for completion. If your customer survey is online, consider using a personalized URL (PURL) if you have an email address.

Put together an event summary

Prepare an event summary for those representing the company at the event.  The summary should capture logistics – supplies, food/beverages, gifts, equipment, etc. – vendors and their contact information, uniform/dress code (if applicable), key messaging, promotion leading up to the event, attendee expectations, travel and accommodations instructions or guidelines for lead capturing, daily schedule for participants if more than one/two is expected, special meetings/entertainment, and follow-up contact plans.  The summary serves as your backup plan for others in case the event planner is unable to attend the event.  In this situation, you want to make sure it includes all the necessary details one would need to implement programs/issues in their place.

Post event lead nurturing and postmortem

Post your presentation to relevant social media sites.  Be sure to send the presentation/deliverables referenced, any gifts promised, and a ‘thank you’ to attendees.

Segment the leads obtained by interest level and qualifications to purchase.  If appropriate given responses to your lead gen questionnaire, have your sales representative call the prospects or include them in a nurture campaign.

Conduct a postmortem summarizing the event.  The report should list the number of leads or attendees, how many were qualified along with follow-up action taken, and issues requiring special attention.  Event messaging and logistics – vendors, location, costs, deliverables, give-aways, format, speakers, etc. – should be summarized and assessed for improvements.   Essentially, you want to walk away with a core list of lessons learned that can be applied to your next event – whether similar or not – so that your next event is more successful.

Discover more…

  1. Beers, Geoff. “Learn How to Plan Your First Big Event.” The Balance. Last modified October 12, 2017. https://www.thebalancesmb.com/event-planning-101-drafting-essential-details-1223668.
  2. Carter, Timothy. “14 Tips To Incorporate Social Media Into Event Marketing.” Third Door Media, Inc. Last modified March 5, 2015. http://marketingland.com/14-tips-incorporate-social-media-event-marketing-118227.
  3. Crestodina, Andy. “How to Market an Event: 50 Event Marketing Tips.” Orbit Media Studios (blog). Accessed July 30, 2019. http://www.orbitmedia.com/blog/how-to-market-an-event/.
  4. “11 Ideas For Cool Giveaways.”  Mansueto Ventures LLC. Last modified June 29, 2012. http://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/11-tips-for-cool-giveaways.html?nav=featured.
  5. Kear, Jeff. T10 Underrated Event Marketing Tips and Ideas.” Planning Pod (blog). Last modified March 25, 2014. http://blog.planningpod.com/2014/03/25/10-underrated-event-marketing-tips-ideas/.
  6. Senter, Sharon. “10 Beer Budget Event Marketing Tips.” Attard Communications, Inc. Accessed July 30, 2019. http://www.businessknowhow.com/marketing/beerbudget.htm.
  7. Sorrells, Mitra. “How to Use Content Marketing to Drive Success for Your Next Event.”  BizBashLast modified July 21, 2014. https://www.bizbash.com/production-strategy/experiential-activations-sponsorships/article/13231868/how-to-use-content-marketing-to-drive-success-for-your-next-event.
  8. Steinberg, Scott.  “New Rules For Event Marketing.” CommPro Global Inc. Accessed January 1, 2021. https://www.commpro.biz/new-rules-for-event-marketing/.
  9. “Top Event Management Software Products.” Capterra. Accessed July 30, 2019. http://www.capterra.com/event-management-software/.

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