So you’ve decided to host an event. Maybe it’s for educational purposes, brand awareness, networking, or entertainment. Whatever the reason, you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it, but you want to appear professional and minimize the time spent managing the event details.
Planning an event is a process that can be both challenging and time consuming, yet is a very effective way for businesses to promote their goods and services. Some challenges include choosing a venue, managing invitations, organizing responses, and tracking payments.
Take a look at the following tips to help you overcome these challenges and transform your event vision into an exceptional reality:
Plan for Success
Consider your audience when scheduling an event. The “when” and “where” are important considerations to maximize attendance. For every event, you should set two goals: what you hope to accomplish, and what you hope your attendees will accomplish. These planning tips will help to focus your efforts, communicate effectively, and provide a meaningful experience for all involved.
Invitations – Make it Personal
There’s a very good chance that your customer’s first impression about your event will result from your email invitation, so your invite must be engaging. Your invitation should look professional and communicate the basic information about your event. Here are some tips to sending great online invitations:
- It’s important to segment your list. You want to invite the people who are most interested.
- Personalize it (include invitee names).
- Brand the invitation with your company’s logo and colors. Your customers should know it’s coming from you without seeing a single word.
- Include the purpose for, and the benefits of, attending your event.
- Provide clear details on the where, when, and costs associated with the event, as well as contact information.
- Include a map, if possible, and driving directions.
Invitations may not be enough to guarantee a packed house. There are a few extra steps that can help raise awareness, encourage attendance, and fill seats at your event. Suggestions include:
- An event specific website. This is a great place to list all the details of the event: the general description, purpose, fees, activities, links to other websites, special guests, and additional resources.
- Like the original invitation, ensure all promotions include your brand, company logo and colors.
- If the event is open to the public, consider promoting your event on social networking sites. My experience is that social networking is complementary to promotional tools like email invitations. I find that I can increase attendance by at least 10% or more by incorporating social networking into the mix.
- Remember to send a reminder in the days leading up to the event.
- Include an events calendar to promote future events.
- Capture more than standard information for use in future marketing efforts.
- If there are fees for your event, collect these during registration. Collecting fees electronically avoids the security risks of managing and storing credit card numbers on your own computer. And, if you can get registrants to pay at the time of registration, you’re getting a firm commitment from those individuals that they will attend the event.
- If you collect fees, always include a refund policy.
Leverage the Right Tools
Small businesses should value their brand and strive for professionalism when communicating with their customers and prospects. A tool designed for professional use offers the best solution to meet these demands. As with email marketing and online survey, there are online tools available to help you plan, track, and manage your event.
Make It Count
There is always opportunity to improve on your event after the fact. Post-event activities can reveal useful information about what worked and how you can improve your next event.
- Track those who attended vs. those who did not.
- Send a timely follow-up communication to include highlights of the event, pictures and overall summary.
- Conduct a post-event survey of attendees to capture their experience at the event.
- Ask about areas for improvement in your next event.
From pre-event planning to post-event analysis, a successful event will greatly benefit from using the right online solution. By following these suggestions, you can be more productive in less time, look professional, and provide a satisfying event experience for your attendees.
More in: Event Marketing
Great information! Very helpful resources on organizing events, I will rely on this source for organizing all future events.
Promoting the event seems like the hardest part of the equation. What social networking sites do you feel work best for promoting an event?
Robert: To figure that out, start by understanding the online behavior of your target audience. Where do they go online? What tools are they using? Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn can all be valuable ways to reach event participants, but they can also require a significant amount of time to do well. Accordingly, the more you know about where your customers and prospective customers hang out the easier it will be to get a good return on your time investment. One way to ascertain this is simply to ask your customers as you interact with them. Another way is to create a short survey or poll that you can invite your email newsletter readers and website visitors to. When inviting people to give you feedback, I think you get a better response rate if you position your request along the line of “I would appreciate if you could take a few seconds and provide me with some feedback” rather than asking them to take a “survey.” In any case, once you know where your audience hangs out use that as the place to get started in promoting your events via social media. Hope that helps. Eric
Eric Groves: Great list. I will forward it to a person who is arranging an conference for the members of an enterprise resource planning software user association. I will speak about social media at the conference. Have you attended conferences, using the new digital business card called Poken?
Great ideas and I think this comprehensive list will help many in the buisness world of holding events that are worth attending!
Conducting a post mortem of an event by getting both your team’s and your attendees’ feedback is of critical importance in order to learn and evolve from your collective experience. The more perspective you have, the more informed you are of how your offering was perceived, and how you can improve on it next time round.
I find your posting is very useful. I’m sure many people would find it that way too. I have a unique situation that I would like to tell you and need you to give your comments from your expertise.
One day, I have been requested to be a moderator of an event. On the day of the event, I was restricted to enter the compound area of the event, because the organizer did not provide me with the security access that supposed to be prepared by them. I had to wait for 3 hours until they came to pick me up and provided me the access. It resulted I missed the event in the first session.
I was so upset having that experience, considering the access was only provided to the people who had the event, not the invitee. And I thought, if they invited me, they supposed to provide my access to enter the area and do my job. Later, I got complaint because I was late and the Organizer stupidly wash their hands off.
What do you think about that?
great site and very useful tips. I suck at planning events so i started using those event planning websites which have been very helpful (made my life a lot easier!). there are a few sites out there but the one that i recently used is called EventHoller. definitely check it out, very easy to use
Hi ! Eric, I really appreciate this post, and mostly i am hosting small events for businesses. What kinds of strategies i should used to enlarge my network. Should i invite all types of business masses or just for relevant to my network.
Very resourceful thank you very much.
Thank you for telling me that the invitation is probably the first thing that our supposed guests will be noticing, so it’s better to make it professional and concise. My friend is asking me for help since he is tasked to organize a corporate event in a month, and there are still a lot of things that he needs to settle. It might also be a good idea if he can consider hiring entertainment services to ensure that their guests won’t be bored throughout the event.