If you want to host a great business event, there are so many things to organize that it’s easy to struggle. Today, we share 7 tips to make it easier and less stressful to put on a great business event that supports your business goals.
First, think about what kind of event you want to have and how that event supports your goals. Are you looking for something small and intimate or a large-scale production? What outcomes do you hope will emerge from the event? Increased sales? Improved brand reputation? Sharing the knowledge that helps your target market make purchase decisions? Without a clear-cut goal for the event, it’s impossible to put on a great business event and it makes your task in planning the event much more challenging.
Once you decided on the scope of your event, it’s time to start planning the details. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details and if you get them wrong, your event will flop.
Planning a great business event
Boy, there’s a lot to do but with thoughtful planning, your event should go smoothly and deliver the results you anticipated. I find it very beneficial to start planning as soon as possible and write everything down so you have a blueprint when planning similar events in the future. Next, involve as many people who have an interest in the success of the event to offer suggestions rather than trying to do everything on your own. Not only does involving others offer great suggestions and point out potential problems but involving others in the planning gets them behind the event so you can put on a great business event.
1. List all the requirements for a great event
If you have notes from a prior event, that’s the place to start. If not, think through the entire event so you know which pieces have to come together for a great business event. Here are some things to consider:
- you’ll need a venue and a way to get everything to the venue
- electricity is the responsibility of vendors at many trade shows so you’ll need an electrician and power cords sufficient for everything you need to use on-site, as well as surge suppressors to protect your equipment
- people needed to cover all shifts
- tables, chairs, table covers, banners, etc
- swag and forms to collect leads
- information, demonstrations, prototypes, etc
- food and drinks, if needed
- sponsors, if needed
And, that’s just a partial list of everything you need to organize. I find it very useful to run through the event in my mind and list everything I think I’ll need.
2. Set a budget and stick to it
This is one of the most important aspects of event planning – you don’t want to overspend and end up in the red. Start with your list to get estimates of how much each element will cost. I often develop options for many elements so I can adjust once I finalize a budget. From this data, make sure to set a realistic budget and then work backward from there to figure out what you can and can’t afford from your list. You may have to make a tradeoff between your preferred caterer or menu items to afford the swag you think will really make an impact on your guests.
3. Choose the right venue.
The venue you choose has a big impact on the overall feel and tone of your event, so it’s important to pick somewhere that’s appropriate. If your event is a trade show, this task has already been done for you. If you’re not sure where to start in finding a venue, try asking around for recommendations or looking online for venues that have hosted similar events in the past. Eventbrite is a great place to get ideas of where similar events were hosted.
In choosing a venue, you should consider the following”
- A convenient location close to public transportation or with available parking
- Somewhere near your target market or convenient for them to travel to. This is why Las Vegas hosts so many events–the infrastructure offers everything visitors need to make travel easy and appealing
- A large enough space to house everything you plan and accommodate your guests without making the place appear empty
- The location represents a safe neighborhood, bonus if the location has other attractions that guests can use before or after your event
- An attractive location that invites guests to linger
4. Make a guest list.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to make sure you have a solid guest list before you start planning anything else. This helps you determine things like how many people you need to accommodate and what type of food and drink options you’ll need.
In addition to inviting members of your target market, consider inviting influencers in your industry, local dignitaries and others that might draw guests to attend, such as members of local sports teams or the media.
5. Plan the logistics.
Once you have all of the big pieces in place, it’s time to start planning the nitty-gritty details. Things like transportation, accommodations, and entertainment all require careful planning when you’re putting together your event plan. In addition, don’t forget to account for things like weather conditions and possible emergencies.
To ensure everything comes together on the day of the event, use project management software, such as Zoho Projects and Gantt Pro, to ensure all the pieces come together in time. A valuable feature of these tools is their ability to manage communication between multiple members of the team to reduce wasted time in meetings and the PERT charts they produce, like the one below. These charts help you visualize parts of the plan that aren’t on schedule so you can focus on them to meet your timeline.
6. Promote your event
Once you have everything planned out, it’s time to start getting the word out about your event. Create a marketing plan that includes things like social media, print ads, and email blasts, or consider logo branding to create special branding around your event. Steve Jobs was notorious for his outrageous launch parties that became a sought-after ticket by anyone in the tech space because they combined fun with the introduction of new products.
Make sure you start promoting your event well in advance, so people have time to clear their schedules and make travel arrangements, if necessary. Sending out teasers well ahead of the event builds a sense of excitement that builds motivation to attend. If the event is a trade show, consider sponsorships that associate your brand with the trade show so all the marketing materials developed display your brand prominently.
Promotion should be a major element in your budget rather than an afterthought.
7. Have a backup plan
No matter how well you plan, there’s always a chance that something could go wrong on the day of your event. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan in place, just in case. This could include things like having extra food and drink on hand in case you get more guests than anticipated, having alternative transportation options and routes in case of a transportation strike or road closure, or having a contingency venue lined up in case your chosen venue closes your space due to a leaky pipe or power outage.
We once held a product launch event and just before guests would begin arriving, the skies opened up in a deluge that discouraged folks from attending since most were walking from their offices. We stationed workers at the entrance armed with umbrellas to escort guests from nearby buildings and quickly implemented a conference management system to broadcast our event to those who didn’t want to brave the rain and wind.
Obviously, pivoting on a dime is only possible if you planned for a disaster long before it emerged, regardless of how remote the disaster appeared.
8. Enjoy yourself!
This is perhaps the most important tip of all – make sure you enjoy yourself! After all, you put a lot of work into making this event happen, so take a step back and enjoy it. Spend most of your time mingling with your guests, making them feel comfortable, and replenishing trays rather than scrambling for the microphone that isn’t where it should be or unpacking brochures. This makes you look more professional, which makes guests feel trust and confidence in your brand and makes them feel welcome.
And don’t forget to take lots of pictures to capture all the memories.
9. Conduct a post-mortum
After the event, gather folks together to evaluate the event.
- Did you reach your goals?
- Were guests happy and entertained?
- What went wrong?
- How could you have prepared in a way to reduce the impact of failures at the event?
- What did you learn from hosting the event that you can use to improve next time?
Write a report containing your answers to these questions and pack it up with all the planning documents so you can do better next time you host a business event.
Planning an event can be a daunting task, but if you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to throw a successful one. Just remember to stay organized, set a budget, and promote your event properly, and you’ll be well on your way to success. Good luck!
Need marketing help to support business growth?
We welcome the opportunity to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE with our data-driven, results-oriented marketing strategies. Sign up for our FREE newsletter, get our FREE guide to creating an awesome website, or contact us for more information on hiring us.
Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.