Five Simple Steps…..

So, you have a challenge…  You need to plan a corporate event, or any event for that matter, but you have no resources and what's more you may not have an event management background It seems that all too often this responsibility can just land in your lap or be thrust upon you.....

But don’t Panic – help is at hand… DelegateCentral is a new concept in event management – we can help you as little or as much as you want. We understand that most organisations have been forced down a path to assess head count and have trimmed back their resource pool. It’s now the case that many businesses don’t have a dedicated event management team – even though the requirements for events are increasingly back on the marketing and sales agenda…

It’s important to recognise that an event has the ability to make or break marketing campaigns and for that reason they need specialist support and dedicated ownership. Just to get you started, we’ve compiled a set of useful tips to help you from the planning process through to successful execution…

But remember we’re here to help too:

1.      Plan it, Plan it, Plan it…

It’s time to get the right people in the room and ‘chalk & talk’
You need the right people – the ‘sponsor’ the internal senior owner, they need to be onside but they also need them on the inside. It doesn’t matter what type of event you’re planning, you need to map out a clear strategy. What’s the primary objective of your event? Is it a knowledge transfer activity, a formal conference, are you planning a ‘take to market’ – a new product launch, or is it a customer engagement event. Are you supporting your channel suppliers, will you be presenting a demo for customers for analysts or for potential new clients? Whoever and whatever, be clear about your key objectives.

Regardless of whether the end game is to get in front of key influencers, to present to a group of executives, or to bring together your customers and new prospects – you need to fully think through your objectives and have a clear strategy. Determine exactly who and where is your target audience and how you can reach them – what are the messages that will resonate with them?  And when you have succeeded in bringing together the right combination; you need to consider what success will look like. How will you be measured and how will the primary sponsor be measured. Think through the right metrics – if you are to secure the funding you will need, you need to be able to measure the returns. Unless you have the right metrics, how will you know whether your event has been a success or a failure?

And, don’t forget the follow up activity – this is a critical part of the event plan.

2.      Show me the money

You have to determine the Budget, and that will bring out the clarity in internal ownership
Now you have your event routemap and your strategy determined – and you have clearly outlined your business objectives, you need to consider how much it will cost to achieve your targets. The devil will always be in the detail, so prepare a checklist of every single cost you are likely to need to achieve a successful event outcome. This will of course involve the largest costs – travel, venues, accommodation, staging and AV, catering, you may need external facilitation and speakers – these are the big ticket items. But, don’t forget, there’s a lot of logistical management and costs in signage, invitations, websites, delegate bags and giveaways to tick off just a few.

We’ve all been on the receiving end or good and bad event management – think back to events you’ve attended and set your benchmarks. What do you absolutely need and what can you live without? Make up a checklist and start developing your cost model – this will also help you manage expectations and to think through what are the appropriate returns.

3.      The right time and the right place…

There’s a right time and right place for every occasion
Think about the audience, are you bringing together customers or prospects, executives or managers? Is the event interactive or passive, is it a presentational format or a networking session or is it both. Is it educational, motivational or social – can you mix all three? Is this event part of your lead generation strategy, is it about brand positioning or brand awareness? And don’t forget those measurement metrics.

The answer to these questions should determine when the best time is and where the best location and venue for your event is. If you’re targeting executives, we’d suggest a breakfast briefing or a post work early evening session. So too, a networking event is best served in the evening with cocktails – straight from the office. Any kind of formal presentation feels forced and lacks the necessary intimacy in a bar. Better to hold that kind of an event in a hotel or conference room.

Essentially, you need to be aware of the impact of your environment on the behaviours and expectations of your customers. Will they hear what you want them to hear in the wrong environment or will they hear something entirely different?

4.      Getting the right people in the audience…

Tactics to ensure the right people turn up at the right time
The communications around the ‘invite’ is one of the most critical components of the event management lifecycle. Timing is all important – too early and you’ll lose the impact, too late and you miss the boat… And this all depends on the audience. As a rule of thumb - If it’s the executive audience you are seeking to attract, it’s three month, to ensure you get in the diary. Equally, if it’s a fee paying event, the longer the better. But if it’s a promotional event or demo three to four weeks is appropriate.

As for the communication; for dinner or celebration a more elaborate invite is appropriate – and yes, do mail these – old school works well – you still need to go digital too. But, you may want to be more simple and straight to the point if you’re presenting a demo, a promotional or product related event. Do include joining instructions and directions that include access to travel options and public transportation – car, parking, rail and or tube. Make it as easy as possible to be an attendee.

Also, you’ll want to segment your invite list… its also smarter, and it’s easier to follow up. Where possible invite potential attendees where there is a known interest or historical link –I know this sounds elementary but you’d be surprised how many businesses just use the proverbial scatter gun. Remember, an inappropriately received invitation can have a detrimental effect on your brand perception. And, do have a contact strategy, you will almost certainly need more than one communication and you may also need to more dedicated telephone follow up. It’s always good practice, even after acceptance to expect to work hard to ensure your audience turns up – be clear in your final reminder.

5.       Now it’s time to deliver…

The devil is in the detail… planning is at the heart of successful event execution… time to deliver.

The success of any project or event is dependent on the seamless management of all aspects or the event. Central is effective ownership of all aspects of the event and strong project management.  At DelegateCentral minimum project management standards are as follows from a dedicated client project team:

  • Weekly status report and weekly meetings for the event team
  • Next action (by whom, by when) are agreed
  • A current time line and event schedule
  • A monthly finance report tracker – managed against the budget
  • Contact reports confirming all decisions being taken and potential implications
  • Effective communications – who needs to know what?

And the thoroughness runs through to the final event...

Visit the venue the during the planning schedule, two months out is good, and then again the day before your event – don’t rely on your recollection from the initial site visit. You need to visualise the event and how you and your team will manage it. How do you want delegates or attendees to experience the event? Who and what needs to be where. What signs need to be in place to avoid confusion? Where will you need your staff to be? And see it from the perspective of the attendee from the time they walk through the door, how will this experience represent your business or your brand – from registration table to the actual event – ‘Feel Matters’.

Now go out and deliver… From DelegateCentral, we wish you every success…

This is not meant to be a comprehensive walk through of event management but a pause for thought – if you have any hints and tips you’d like to share, may be some hard lessons learned we’d be interested to hear them…

Next month we’ll look at the event manager’s resource kit – master plans and checklists, venue finding, budgeting, and getting the right help…

To learn more about Ian Jones click here  - to talk to Ian call 07880 788 985

Tuesday the 12th. - Copyright Delegate Central Ltd 2016