In the UK alone, there are over 1.3 million business events held annually and this reflects the continuing power of events as a marketing and communication tool in a digital world.
Corporate events have the power to achieve a number of key objectives for your organisation or business. Whether it’s generating new leads, launching a new product line, introducing new strategies to the team or networking with industry players.
To make your event management and planning go more smoothly, I’ve put together these five top tips.
1. Define your goals
When planning events, always start with the end in mind. What is it that you want to happen to your business after the event? Do you want to increase brand awareness or generate more leads? How about improving customer engagement?
Setting out your goals from the outset is allows you to do two things:
1) track the tangible results of the event.
2) determine the scale and nature of the event, as well as the people you would like to attend.
2. Develop a budget
One of the common mistakes of event managers is inaccurate budget estimations. That said, you need to have a solid financial plan right at the onset.
Firstly, the cost of the event is one of the metrics that you need to track to establish how effective your event is. And secondly, once you have a budget in place, you would know where you can be more cost-effective and where you can splurge.
Your budget plan should include the following:
- Funding – Do you have an internal budget for it or do you need to look for sponsors or donors?
- Revenue opportunities – Are you going to sell merchandise on site? How about projected ticket sales?
- Expenses – Include everything you need to spend money on, such as printing, permits, speakers, venue, vendors, food, supplies and security. If you need to hire extra help (e.g. photographers), include their salaries too.
- Extra expenses – These are the unexpected and/or emergency expenses that you need to be prepared for (e.g. vendor backs out last minute).
You should also try to negotiate lower than what the initial price is. Once a vendor gives you their rates, offer to pay 5 to 10% lower than their initial pricing. That way, you’ll have extra budget for any unforeseen circumstances.
And remember – always record any income and expense, big or small.
3. Market your event properly
Making sure you properly market your event is crucial if you are to make sure it turns out a success. Here are a few things you can do to help build buzz and attract the right people, both online and offline:
- Social media – Invest in targeted advertising to get your event in front of relevant people. You can also use custom hashtags, which your current followers can then share on their own accounts. Also, promote your speakers/VIP guests to generate more buzz.
- Email marketing – Leverage your mailing list and invite them to your event. Keep your emails engaging by using a friendly tone in your copy coupled with eye-catching images.
- Traditional media – Although the world is getting increasingly digital, print publications still reach a lot of people. You can invest in half or full page ads. You can also come up with a PR piece, research relevant reporters, and pitch your event. That way, you’ll get coverage on the day itself.
4. Choose the right venue
Choosing the right event venue is absolutely central to pulling off a great corporate event. The venue is likely to be the biggest chunk of your budget and as such, you need to make sure that it’s not just the right size, but that it helps set the right tone and look for your event.
Logistics and facilities are also really important here. You must ask about those all important details. Do they also provide food? Do they have proper security? Does the place have good WiFi? How many people can they accommodate? What is the car parking like? Are there enough plug socket locations, especially near the stage?
Poor choice of site can have an immediate negative effect on your guests’ moods, so do your homework and make sure you are only dealing with reliable and reputable venues.
5. Keep your attendees happy
For you to know how to keep your attendees happy, you need to understand who they are, their personalities and their expectations. A few things to note:
- Know that you’ll get a mixed bag of introverts and extroverts in every event, so whatever activities you have lined up, make them engaging.
- Deliver the customer service that you promised, be that with the food and drinks or with VIP treatment.
- Plan your transport (in case of events outside the city) to make sure all guests arrive safely and on time. Don’t forget to have adequate parking space in the area.
Keep Calm and Manage Your Event
Over the course of planning your event, you will encounter things that are out of your control—cancellations, changes in prices, complaints, etc. The key is giving yourself the flexibility to adapt and quickly finding solutions to any problems.
Once the dust settles, learn from this event—both the good and the bad—and apply those to improve future events.
About the Author: Denise Sharpe is Managing Director and founding partner of London based event management company Outsourced Events. With over twenty years in the event industry, she has helped run events for global corporates such as Dell, Citrix and renowned UK organisations like the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more of Denise’s insights on their event blog.