Pulling off a killer event can be tricky. There are a ton of moving parts: the location, the weather, food, drinks, chairs, staff, and then whatever can go wrong has a chance of definitely doing so. But if you plan ahead, there’s a good chance you could avoid disaster and end up with one of the best parties of the year.
When you’re planning an event, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind at all times beyond measure of attendance, cost, or how your boss feels about some of your ideas. You need to create a fantastic attendee experience.
You’ve spent money and planned everything down to the smallest details, but what matter is how the event-goers feel before, during, and after an event—good or bad. It’s important to know if they’re excited to be there, if the boss made them go, or they’re bought in, ready to learn. Are they there for the hotel drinks and time away from their kids? Do they talk about the conference when they get back or was it just one big waste of time? It might seem trivial, but if you want to plan an event that people talk about it, it needs to hit on a few levels.
When planning for an event, keeping the attendees interested and excited is essential: it builds authority with your brand, no matter your industry. If you give them a killer experience, they’ll be excited about your brand and likely convert to buyers of your product or service. Plus, if word gets out that you throw an awesome party, the word will get out. Think about the monster event that happens on our home turf South by Southwest, it’s become the ultimate taste-making week of the year, and it was all started by a little Texas hospitality.
One more reason to plan the best event, ever? Attendees who loved visiting are much more likely to open the messages you send. Put in the work and do everything in your power to create the event that people will be talking about – because think of the inverse: remember the Fyre Festival?
What are some of the things you can do to make sure your event goes off without a hitch?
No matter what industry you’re in, communication is vital. You need to listen as much as you’re talking. If you’re working on pulling off a big event, get the requirements and listen to the support staff you’ll need to pull this thing off. If there are rules and regulations, you’re going to need to be on top of those, because if you’re not, trying to skirt them will take you longer come close to event time. If you’re not sure about something, it’s critical to ask. If you want to talk to someone make the time. Clarify directions, get answers, so there’s no guesswork. Be transparent of expectations with staff, but always be available should someone have questions or concerns.
Spend the money and promote
You can plan the best event, ever. But if people don’t know about it, what’s the point? Make sure your target audience is informed. Between targeted social media ads, promoting in traditional print media, along with podcasts and radio – it’s critical to promote via channels with people who’ll want to come to your event. Make sure you understand the audience and what will motivate them to join you. Thanks to the democratization of the Internet, there’s a niche community for just about everything, you can find the right people to get excited.
No matter what aspect of the event you’re planning for, book everything ahead. From hotel rooms to musicians, DJ’s, lighting, the actual event space – whatever logistically needs to be taken care of – give yourself a wide lane to plan in case something goes wrong. If you’re ordering food, definitely try to plan ahead. It’s important to know if your fantasy of fried chicken for 500 is realistic and within your budget. (That’s a lot of chickens.) Plus, doing the work far in advance is a substantial way to chat up suppliers and maybe form a relationship. You never know someone selling energy drinks might be interested in sponsoring an event, and worst case, can’t hurt to ask.
Another big win of planning ahead? It’s always better to get the details ironed out way before.
Build the right team and triple check everything
This should seem like a no-brainer, but seriously, you need to assemble an A-Team. Don’t try to carry the load without proper support when event planning. You’ll burn out and go crazy. No matter if you need to ask the boss for help, to get an intern, or hire someone part-time, you’re not a superhero, even if the staff is temporary, utilize other people’s experience. When it comes to the actual event, there are a lot of short-term options available to make sure everything goes smoothly. Go over your ideas with colleagues and triple check everything. By letting outside folks check out what you’ve got planned, they might see something you missed.
Respect the budget
One thing that will come under the microscope when planning an event is the budget and even further the Return on Investment (ROI) of the event. Make sure you’re within what you’ve allotted, but also that you’ve found new ways to find sponsors or companies willing to take on part of the load. There are areas you can identify to trim down, or maybe tweak, but always be mindful of the bottom line. Otherwise, it might be your last event at that size and scale.
When it comes to people attending the event, you’re going to have to make smart moves that get potential visitors excited about attending. From a concert to a conference, these are a few things you’ll need to invest some time in because if you don’t the event could fall flat with low turnout and no one wants that.
Strategy + website
Don’t go cheap on this. This is the first people anyone interested in your event is going to look. Think of part collateral, part content and all first impression. Another point of view to keep in mind: if your website is terrible, the people attending the event might not take you as seriously as they probably should. Take the time to highlight stand out guests, travel packages, or just that there’s free parking. Arm the site visitors with all of the information they’ll need.
Once the site is live, think about supporting content you could create. Create some “behind-the-scenes” videos or write blogs about what’s coming up, or maybe highlight an artist who’ll be performing. Get people excited about the event with information, citing this is something they can’t miss.
Once you’ve created the content, you could create an email and social media campaign. Keep your audience engaged, send them emails, reminding them who’s playing or drop hints that there are a few planned surprises. This keeps the people on the fence interested and engaged by gradually nudging them to convert into actually attending the event.
Change up the marketing for the boss
If you’re planning a conference for professionals, there’s no harm in double dipping how you’re marketing the event. Why not create the general site and pitch that shows why someone would want to go: cool people, compelling content, etc. But then why not create a boiled down one-sheet for the boss that explains the ROI and reasons why their employee needs to attend? Zoomtopia even has a “convince your boss” letter for employees to send. Sneaky, yet brilliant.
Thinking about planning your next big event? Let us help. For everything else, check out the Adia blog where you’ll find content galore.