Well, here it is: the day when you’re finally in charge to plan your first ever event, or perhaps the next one after a previous one didn’t quite meet its expectations. You may find yourself breaking in cold sweat simply at the thought of it, and you’ve already come up with a list of a dozen great excuses to postpone actually getting started on planning your next event.
The fact, though, that you’ve already gotten far enough to begin your research and landed on our site as one of your open tabs tells us these great news: you’re absolutely ready to plan your next event and make it a success! We acknowledge that it can be a stressful, demanding and a terrifying process, even for event planning veterans, but it can also be inspirational and rewarding, and thankfully putting together a successful event hasn’t turned into rocket science yet. We’ve put together this quick guide to event planning in hopes of making the event planning and executing process even clearer and simpler to you than it was before today. So keep reading if you’d like to get some pointers and inspiration for how to plan your next event in a way that’ll ensure it’s going to be a success!
Follow These Steps to Plan Your Next Event
Write down your goals and the timeline for your event
Before you’ll do anything else for your event, you need to know what you want to accomplish out of it! These goals must be clear to you and anyone in your team, as well as SMART. Are you intending on growing your existing customer base? Do you wish to increase sales revenue? Is there a new product, trend or equivalent you want to raise your customers’ knowledge in? Perhaps you’re even hoping to create new partnerships or attract some new employees? Whatever your goals are, make sure you can make quantifiable metrics out of them when it’s time to inspect the success rate for your event. This needs to be considered ahead of time, or else you might find yourself unsure of how you can measure your event once it’s already all wrapped up.
One big question you’ll also want to ask yourself during this process is how you’ll want your event guests to feel at the event and once they’re leaving the event. You might be surprised by how easy this is to overlook, but it is absolutely crucial to take into account.
In general, you will want to have a clear and proper view of who your customers are. And that alone won’t be enough, you’ll also want to be able to look at the event from your customer’s point of view – that’s how you will truly figure out how it needs to be done. Simultaneously, you may want to center your event around your brand as a whole as opposed to any particular product; although during a product launch event you will have to focus on marketing that specific product a fair bit.
This is also the point where you will pick the date for your event, as that will influence a lot of what happens next. By having the date set right away, you’ll have made it easy for yourself to map out and allocate time for each task that needs to be done prior to D-day. There are two things you’ll want from the date of your event:
- To not have it set too close to present time, ensuring you will have ample amount of time to get everything arranged for it. You’ll want to give yourself a couple of months, perhaps even half a year, to prepare.
- To not have it set right around the same date as another similar, or even bigger, event, because you’ll want to try to retain the highest turnout possible plus you’ll obviously want to stand out.
Put together the right organizing team
Hosting an event is often a task that requires a whole lot of effort and time – so not something you’ll typically be able to handle all by your lonesome. There are so many different tasks on the itinerary, such as venue coordination, handling the technical equipment, promoting the event, finding sponsors, and so on, there’s plenty of tasks to share and delegate around you. That is why you need to put together a team of people that will be handling the operation with you; provided that your boss won’t be the one doing this bit, of course. You won’t want just anyone on the team, either. You will want to be sure this is a group of people that know what they are doing and are capable of doing it within the correct time frame.
Decide on the budget
Now that you’ve set the goals, established a time line, and built a team around you, it’s time to get to the driving force for your event: its finances. Good news is that if you’ve got clear goals and a precise plan at hand already, figuring out how much all of it is going to cost you will be easy. Bad news is, you’re still potentially left with wondering how on Earth you’ll actually pay for all of it. A short checklist of everything you need to budget for looks something like this:
- Venue: How much will the rental cost? What other fees are involved with the venue?
- Catering: What type of food and drink will you be offering and in what quantity?
- Entertainment: Are you having guest speakers, live music, DJs, magicians, stand-up comics or whatever else under the moon booked for your event? What is their fee and what else does hiring them for entertainment entail?
- Décor: What does the theme of your event require in terms of décor and other accessories?
- Staff: How many hours is the staff for the event expected to be working, and at what hourly rate? Do you also have to provide them accommodation etc.?
- Marketing: Which channels will you be using to promote your event and how costly are they?
- Software: Do you already own an event management software? What about other needed digital tools for the event?
- Technology: From sound systems to speakers to data projectors, which of these do you already have, which of these can you rent from the venue, and which of these will you have to purchase?
- Other logistics: For example, will you have to offer your event visitors a shuttle bus to the event site?
- Gifts: Are you going to offer your event visitors anything extra like samples or gift bags at the event?
- Other costs: Trust us, you will want to have some extra space in your budget for other costs that you may not be able to predict yet.
Create a detailed master plan
During the previous steps, you should have already formed a rough draft of what exactly your event will look like. And now is the time to make the actual executable plan out of it! You know by now most of what needs to be in your plan and in your event, as they were brought up in previous steps as well, but let’s quickly review all that should be detailed in your master plan:
- Venue and logistics. Don’t forget to include contracts, insurances, permits and what not.
- Catering services. Same applies here.
- Entertainment. Again, everything from contracts to logistics needs to be included.
- Promotion schedule. Where will you be promoting your event at and when.
- Event registration. When things like sign up will open and close, how to handle possible payment for the event registration, and so on.
- Managing partners and sponsors.
- Volunteer acquisition and management.
You absolutely should write down everything you need to do before the event, most preferably in a calendar and in a detailed way. If you do it like this, you not only won’t forget to do anything, even if any changes pop up, but you’ll also have your action plan right in front of you, ready to be followed. Here’s where you will also want to set up a back-up plan just in case.
Choose and book the venue
Start by deciding if your event is going to be hosted locally or not. Once you’ve got that set, it’s time to find the right venue. Don’t immediately jump into any venue that looks good, but form a shortlist with multiple choices, vet them, and then go tour through each one, if possible. When you tour them, have yourself a checklist of questions at hand to present the vendors with, as well as for your own comfort. There will likely be one venue that’ll tick off more boxes than any other, and that’s your venue! Here are some things you’ll want to take into account when choosing the venue:
- Its accessibility. The location of your event is one of the main key components to success!
- Its size.
- Its parking options.
- Its insurance policies.
- Its technologic set up.
- Its costs.
Get the needed software
This may not have even popped into your mind yet, but in order to smooth sail through the steps to your event, you’ll likely need a few different software or websites utilized! Are you selling tickets online? Are you going to be promoting using social media? Is there going to be payments to be handled on the day of the event? Do you need digital signage for the event? Will you live stream it? Are you going to send out e-mails in regards to the event? What about a mobile app or some other mobile component for the event? Do you think you’ll in general need an event management software to help you keep track of all of this? All these things, for starters, require some sort of a software or website to be used! Also, you can’t just choose any software for each section – you’ll want to make sure as many of them as possibly can be integrated, making your user experience less complex overall. Each piece of software that will be used by your event’s visitors should be as easy to use as possible, as well.
Find your vendors and partners
Some venues will have everything from tech to catering set up for you, but for others you’ll be doing this by yourself. This, too, will require extensive research and accepting referrals before you’ll find the catering and tech that’ll be just right for your event. Besides catering and tech, you’ll want to figure out transportation to and from your event, possible offerings at the event, staff for your event, security for your event, and entertainment for your event in this step, all the way to booking them.
Figure out your event’s main attraction and brand
Each event, and their attendees, are unique in a way, and so a great deal of consideration needs to go into figuring out what is at the center of your event, because that’s what you’ll be attracting your visitors to the event with. It can be a person or a group of people, or a specific subject matter, or something else. Whatever it is, you’ll want to tie your product and brand into it, as it is the very heart of the event. By making it somehow purposeful, you’ll likely attract a bigger crowd.
By having an attractive theme that somehow corresponds with today’s world, you’ll have better chances at getting your event to stand out and seem compelling to attend. And just a kickass theme alone won’t do it; you’ll need great event names, taglines and logos as well!
Build your publicity and marketing campaign
As amazing as your event may be, if nobody knows about it, nobody will show up. You’ve already established a theme for your event, it hopefully being one that’s aligned with your goals laid out all the way in the first step, and now you can start promoting and marketing your event based on that theme. Besides announcing it on your website, use email, blogs, social media, ads and whatever else you can think of, and then create actually engaging and attractive content to push through them for your prospective audience to see and stay updated through. If you feel like it’s needed, you may even want to consider offering some additional incentives such as referral rates for attendees who can bring in more new people for your event. Note also that word of mouth is now bigger than ever, so try to find a few people that can get that started for you.
Be ready for and on the D-Day
Ask yourself these questions periodically through the planning process, as the D-day nears:
- What is your call to action to get your attendees to commit to your company’s products and services after the event?
- Have you understood and prioritized your stakeholders for this event?
- Is your event shareable and interactive?
- Is your event engaging and not overly complex?
- Is your staff dressed for the event?
- Do you have your agenda for the day of set up?
- Does everyone know what to do and when on the day of?
- Have you already set up a plan to build on your relationships with the event attendees beyond the event?
The last thing you’ll want is to realize during the event that you forgot something crucial. So, stay vigilant throughout the planning and even go back and re-evaluate previous steps as and when needed.
Reach out and gain valuable feedback
Once your event has wrapped up, it’s good to reach out to your attendees, perhaps in the form of a survey, to gain valuable feedback of what worked and what didn’t, so that you can put together an even better event next time! By reaching out you’re also reminding them of your company again, ensuring a firmer possibility they’ll become your customer if they haven’t already.
Do you feel confident to host your event now? If you’re still running in circles over figuring out just how to model your event, you can always draw inspiration from previous events you yourself have attended. While doing so, give some thought to what you think their goals for the event may have been and whether you think they achieved those goals. Better yet, if there is an upcoming event you can attend, do so and take in all the inspiration and unspoken tips you can from it! Once you’ve done this, you can go back to thinking about your own goals and perhaps have a clearer head also on how to achieve them. You’ve got this. We know you do.
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