Events can be a key part of your business’ marketing strategy, helping to engage with customers, clients, etc. as well as your internal employees and stakeholders. Pulling off a successful event takes a lot of planning and hard work, which is why they can also cause stress and anxiety for the organizer.
The process of event planning is a learning curve, and something you will get better at along the way. Take a look at some of the following events to help you plan events with confidence.
Spend time pre-planning and brainstorming ideas
A key factor in ensuring a successful event is the planning. By planning as much as possible in advance, you can make sure you’ve got all of the elements covered. From the venue to the catering, you can cover many decisions early on, as well as put different options together if it’s not you who makes the final call. Consider the different types of events that are available from drinks receptions to sit-down dinners that could be suitable for your business event.
If this is your first event, or event your business’ first event, you might want to consider bringing in experts to help you. There are different reasons to seek professional advice, and getting some outside help with event planning could be essential if you’re not sure of what to do. You can even hire events planners to take care of different elements such as finding venues and taking care of health and safety to free up your time to focus on the event itself.
Agree your budget in advance
You’ll often find that you’ve got a limited budget for your event, especially when it comes to small businesses. Making the most of what you got will help you stretch your budget and learn where to prioritize different elements of your event. Catering and entertainment will be two of your most expensive costs, so make sure you’ve got those covered. An event budgeting guide could be useful for helping you plan your budget while you’re getting used to the process.
Make enquiries early
As soon as you’ve got a date for your event, start making enquiries. Even if they’re just for quotations at this stage. For many things, like the entertainment, you’ll want to confirm as far in advance as possible – popular suppliers can book up early. You should also think about any work that will be needed to set up your event. Mobile crane hire could be useful for building a set or putting an outdoor event together, while graphic design and signage are also worth confirming in advance. Keep a record of all of your correspondence and make a note of any dates for deposit due dates to help you keep tabs on everything.
Work backwards from the event date
Planning an event is like managing a project. With the help of the right project management tools, you can organize the different elements of your event, create tasks and deadlines to help you stay on task. By working backwards from the date of the event, you can plot in key dates that things need to be done or paid by, allowing you to stay organized from the beginning. Write yourself a checklist for different parts of your timeline – the day before, the week before, two days before, etc. to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
Planning events is easier when you’ve got a team behind you. If there are people you can delegate tasks to, make sure you do it. Some of the leg work on the phones can be given to someone else, while chasing RSVPs can also fall to someone else while you focus on the more high-level elements. Event planning can be a great skill to put on your experience, so involving members of your team in the planning can be great for their professional development, as well as giving you a helping hand.
Have regular progress meetings
Problems are more easily resolved when you’ve you handle quickly. Leaving problems until the last minute can cause stress for everyone involved, and could mean that it’s too late to get them resolved. So what’s the answer? Regular progress meetings. Put meetings in the diary on a recurring basis so that everyone involved in planning the event can provide an update. Write an efficient agenda so that you can move through items quickly and ensure that you cover everything that needs to be covered. Writing action points following the meeting will help keep things running smoothly.
Get everything confirmed in writing
There can be a lot of confusion when planning events, especially when working with external parties. There can be a lot of ‘he said, she said’ which can be difficult to prove without evidence. Whenever you have a conversation with someone over the phone, follow it up over email. Keep all of your emails organized so that you can refer to them easily if there are any disputes.
Create the perfect guest list
If your event is an invited event, you’ll need to create a great guest list to ensure that you end up with the right people in the room. This could be new or potential clients, stakeholders, shareholders, local businessmen – whoever matters to your business. Consult with managers and anyone else who might want to have an input in your business. It makes good sense to have an A-list and B-list of guests so that you can send out further invites if you receive declines.
Promote your event with plenty of time
If your event is public-facing, then you should allow plenty of time to acquire those RSVPs. There are several ways you can promote an event. Facebook is a popular platform as it allows you to pay for targeted local ads to attract people nearby. Eventbrite is also a great platform for promoting your event, as well as acquiring sign-ups as it has a fantastic local search function and is becoming more and more popular with event-goers.
Putting a marketing plan in place and putting some budget behind your efforts will help you to get some fantastic results and get people to attend your event.
Don’t neglect the little details
There are a lot of elements that go into event planning. It’s easy to think of the obvious things such as hiring a venue and inviting your guests, but what about the little details? There are many little details that get overlooked in event planning, from catering to different dietary requirements through to creating a hashtag for your event. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference to people’s enjoyment of an event, so try to imagine all possibilities.
It helps to have someone else look over your event plans to make sure there’s nothing obvious that’s been forgotten.
Have an action plan for the event itself
When it comes to the day of your event, you need to make sure that everyone knows where they need to be and when. Give staff clear roles and responsibilities for the evening. Some people can check in guests and provide name tags, etc. As the event organizer, you should have your hands free ready to deal with any problems that might arise.
If you’re working with guest speakers or performers, a run through in advance of the event could be useful to help you check that everything is in order and to help settle any nerves. Run throughs are also useful to check whether any additional equipment is needed and to help test and media in advance.
Remember to stay calm and to pay attention to what’s going on around you. There are different ways of relieving event planning stress that could help you feel more confident on the night.
Remember to evaluate
After all of your hard work, it can feel like a relief to have it be over. While you should take some time to congratulate yourself on a job well done, you should also remember to evaluate the event afterwards to help ensure success at future events. Some of the things you can do to evaluate your event include:
- Hold a debriefing meeting with various people who were involved in the event. Ask everyone for feedback on what went well and what could be improved upon.
- Send out a feedback survey to attendees to get their thoughts and impressions of the event.
- Monitor social media activity around the event using your selected hashtag as well as monitoring website visits, etc.
- Follow up with any suppliers to thank them for their service, or to highlight any areas that were under-delivered.
While events can vary in size and specification, many of the basics involved in event planning are the same. By being prepared and using the tools that are available to you, you can make sure you’ve covered everything and feel confident you’ve done your job well. It’s rewarding to see your hard work pay off, so remember to take some time to enjoy the event too.