So you’ve decided to hold an event……but what needs to be done? Here are some key tips.
Who is your target audience? Existing clients only? Consider certain sectors, management levels (CFOs?), size of business or location. Spending time getting your invitation list right is crucial. Remember, it’s quality not quantity.
What is the purpose of holding this event? Is the intention to inform on a particular topic, announce a new service line or the opening of a new office? Perhaps it’s simply a social occasion as a thank you to loyal clients. What are your key messages? When your guests leave, what will they take away as the key message on the night? Consider a guest speaker/MC who is aligned with your messaging, someone who by their presence reinforces your message.
What is the best method of communicating to the target audience? Email invite (bearing in mind spam)? Direct calls to clients? Consider also promoting the event across your social media channels.
If targeting non-clients you might consider advertising – think of the most appropriate medium e.g. print (newspaper, industry publications), radio, digital. Whatever you choose, get everyone involved in promoting the event – ensure key partners, directors and managers are picking up the phone to their clients and contacts, retweeting, liking and sharing details circulated on social media.
For the event itself, consider how to communicate with the audience – does the event lend itself to a panel discussion, a presentation, guest speakers or maybe it's simply a networking opportunity?
You need to have some idea on the numbers you are aiming for and ensure a sizeable venue is booked. Consider room setup, catering, audio visual capabilities, access, car parking. You may want to choose a venue which reflects the topics/messaging e.g. when the purpose is demonstrate growth and exciting plans why not choose an alternative venue such as an innovation centre.
Timing is critical. Does morning time suit better than the evening? For a social type event evening is best, but a typical professional services informative or technical event needs fresh minds therefore consider breakfast or lunchtime. Be mindful of avoiding bank holiday weekends, school holidays including mid-terms or indeed clashes with major sporting events – think of a mid-week Champions League match. In general, Monday or Friday evenings should be avoided.
From the outset have a realistic budget in place and monitor its progress throughout the planning, delivery and follow-up of the event. Costs can easily spiral but equally you need to be prepared to pay for the type of event you wish for.
You may know “your stuff” but standing up in front of a crowd of piercing eyes can be a daunting and mind-numbing experience. Practise, practise, practise is the only medicine. Be clear with your messaging. Keep slides to a minimum: low on text and high on imagery.
So often professional services firms host events, turnout is good and the proverbial slap on the back takes place the following day….but your event doesn’t end there. Follow-up is THE most important element. You and your colleagues should meet to discuss who attended and who is following up. This can be aided by use of feedback forms at the event which often provide insights on areas of interest and offer opportunities to contact guests who had queries.
The tips above only touch the surface in terms of what makes a successful event. However, the key word is PLANNING. Successful events take planning. Realistically a minimum of 6 weeks planning is required to turnaround an event of maybe 80-100 people but larger events will take months of meticulous planning. Elements of the planning strategy can include not only event management but communications (internal & external), business development, production of supporting collateral (this could be thought leadership, research, service line brochure), digital marketing etc. Project managing each area will ensure the deliver of an event which shows your brand in a positive light but which also adds to your client base.
Contact Grant Marketing & Communications to find out how we can help you to plan and deliver a successful event which impacts positively on your business.