Brilliant Event Planning
“Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.”
– Thomas Edison
Events come in all shapes and sizes and most often are tailor-made for the purpose of addressing a need for your clients and reaching your business goals. Clients can and often do include employees. The purpose events are created are to educate, to network, to celebrate, to involve and to influence the attendees. This sounds simple but is it? It can be with preparation and the right support. Developing and producing a successful event is an art form. It starts with efficient, highly detailed planning and ends with smooth on-site execution.
It’s important to scale the event to your level of experience and leverage the support of a virtual assistant.
So, let’s break it down in in 7 tips to throw an awesome event:
1. Determine the scope
A needs assessment will determine what your vision of the event would look like and feel like. Creating a checklist to help you organize for a successful event. Having this important information upfront will save time and money.
It helps determine if you need to provide refreshments. Are you having a guest speaker, panel discussion, workshops or break-out sessions?
2. Timing is Everything
Consider key dates, holidays, school/summer vacations, major events which compete with your events or chose a theme to leverage that would tie into potential timing challenges. Do your research and know the demographics – summer vacations can ruin any event if it could affects your attendee availability.
3. Choose a team
You need one person within your business to take the lead and keep tasks and responsibilities on target. Others will also be needed for support to keep the moving parts on track. This is a key point when to consider hiring an experienced virtual assistant. I’ve had the opportunity to work on an events and sponsorship team for a Fortune 100 firm in NYC. My experiences there gave me a wonderful exposure to budges, timelines, selecting premium (swag) gifts for attendees and the all important greeter at the registration table.
4. Budget, budget and budget again
It’s extremely important to have a budget set for the event. A budget can make or break your return on investment (ROI). Overspending on the wrong line item(s)can open the flood gate for stressing about how to stretch the last of your available funds and the risk of falling short. Drafting a rough budget is crucial. Updating the budget on a daily or weekly basis will be crucial to keep you on in the black. Also consider having a contingency figure in your budget as a buffer in the event you have last minute expenses.
If costs are adding up, think about finding a sponsor, sell early-bird tickets or a partner with a complementary business to share costs. Remember – each decision you make will have a bearing on the bottom-line so consider categories such as conference marketing and advertising, venue, décor, signage, audiovisual and telecommunications, conference materials, staffing, speakers, food and beverage. Food for thought: Don’t underestimate food and beverage costs. I had an instructor at NYU who was adamant about knowing the budget first and I have found this to be one of the most important aspects of managing an event of any size.
5. Create a marketing plan
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Get the word out and continue to communicate through multiple channels. Utilize email outreaches, social media platforms, direct mail, radio, print, cable advertising and in-store signage if it applies. Oh and don’t forget – create a website exclusively for your event!
6. Stay upbeat and positive
Be prepared on the day of your event. There are always little things that you haven’t prepared for – it’s impossible. Keep a sense of humor, be flexible, creative and smile.
7. Follow-up, capitalize on your success
Use evaluations and follow-up with your attendees. Thank them for their time and offer something to draw them back and keep you top of mind. Offers may include a free trial, branded gifts or a discount on services.
The above tips give you an idea of the details involved with planning a successful event. It’s worth repeating - It’s important to scale the event to your level of experience and leverage the support of a virtual assistant to complete the heavy lifting while keeping you or your team involved and in the know.