I might have mentioned once or twice that I cut my teeth on event planning and once you know the drill, the whole thing becomes much more manageable and you’ll feel more in control. Obviously it takes time and effort, there’s no short cuts to a successful event. But in my book, if its worth doing, its worth doing well. Someone once told me that an event should be all swan-like on the surface, with a multitude of effort beneath.
If you’re planning an event this summer, I hope you’ll find our ‘top ten planning’ tips useful. Why not print out a copy so that you’ve got it handy for the future?
Top Tips to help your Event Planning
- What is the objective of your event? What do you want to achieve? For example, it could be to educate a wider audience, to launch a new product or service or to thank existing clients.
- Who is your target audience? Consider your objectives from point 1. Rather than thinking you want ‘everyone’ to attend, consider who would be your ideal visitor, perhaps families or individuals, maybe young or old people.
- When would be the best date for maximum attendance? Consider which day of the week would be best, for instance many kids/parents have sporting commitments on Saturday mornings. Consider the time of day, including allowing people to travel potentially in rush hour. Consider school term times, bank holidays, the Easter break, national sporting events such as Wimbledon finals etc. Equally consider the end time, people may have to pick up kids from school.
- What do you call the event? Consider both the objective of the event and the target audience, what will make it appealing to them. Try and agree on something short, snappy and relevant – it will be easier for you to promote it, as it will require less explanation.
- Should you charge an entrance fee? Is it feasible to charge for the event, if so, how much; look at other similar events locally or online and compare what you will be offering, is it more or less than them and adjust your entrance fee accordingly. Consider a lower cost for children under a certain age, disabled groups, the elderly, maybe a fee for groups, clubs or families. If it’s a business event, without a charitable angle, you’re unlikely to charge.
- How do you promote it? Think back to what you’re calling the event and your target audience (see point 2), what you’ll be offering/doing during the day, and what will appeal to them. Do you have a specific ‘hook’ that you can use? Consider the best angle to promote your event. If you’re not using the skills of a professional designer, also consider your branding and colours to best represent your type of event and that will appeal to your target audience, ie, yellow is very friendly, dark blue is very corporate. Consider objectively whether the event would appeal to you, your friends, co-workers or family, what would really make them want to attend and in turn share it with their friends etc. What about competitions or raffle prizes, a silent auction or tombola.
- How many people do you want to attend? Do consider what you want to achieve from the event (point 1). How many people can you cater for at your offices or at an external venue. What numbers of staff will you require to look after the number of people you’re considering – is that feasible, will you need additional help.
- When should you start promoting it? Ideally you want a minimum of six weeks from the point of invitation or advertisement. This will give you plenty of time to get invitations out, collect responses, follow-up outstanding replies, send another wave and you may need to employ the services of a telemarketing agency subject to numbers and budgets. Within this period, you’ll also want to finalise suppliers, manage any food commitments and also, if required, to confirm the event or send out joining instructions. Sending joining instructions just before the event, or at least some form of confirmation, is a great way of reminding people, in case they’ve forgotten. Do also plan for drop-out on the day!
- What will you do to promote the event? Dependent on the nature of your event, will you be mailing a formal invitation or sending out an email. Will you use your existing database or do you need to buy in data? If you’re inviting existing clients include the details in a monthly newsletter. You could also consider posting details of the event online, via your website, Facebook page, other social media channels, share it with any groups/forums that you’re part of such as on LinkedIn and maybe encourage your friends and family to share the details too. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to display posters or a banner, distribute fliers, advertise in the local press/magazines.
- What else should you consider? Well apart from the obvious ones such as food and drink, what about umbrellas for inclement weather or, dependent on the event, you might need indoor space or at the very least a pergola, walkie-talkies for staff communications, questionnaires and feedback forms, clipboards and pens, name badges, giveaways, toilets, information literature, signage. This is a great one to brainstorm with your team and you’re bound to come up with plenty more!
If this all sounds beyond you and you need help planning your next event, please do get in touch!