Events are a great way to build brand awareness, generate leads and foster loyalty among your existing customers. Still, planning a business event, especially if you haven’t done it before, can be quite daunting. Decisions must be made regarding how to manage your costs (90% of event professionals say they have an insufficient budget), how to get the most ROI and how you’ll organize and staff the event.
Here are five tips and ideas to consider in your planning with cost savings and resource management in mind.
Goals are important because they dictate how much you spend, the resources you allocate, the venue you select, your primary audience and the content you share. Whether you’re hosting a product launch, an educational workshop or a customer-appreciation event, your goals will inform your plan for achieving them.
For example, if you’re looking to boost sales 10%, think about how your event will help you achieve that goal. Who will you invite? Will it be your most loyal clients, the top 20% of your client base or those you think are ripe for upsell opportunities?
Next, what do you want your attendees to take away from the event? To build that memory, you may need to bring in an educational speaker to discuss industry innovations and how they solve customer pain points. If your goal is to increase sales, how will you tie the discussion back to what you have to offer? Is there someone senior on your sales team who can step up to the podium and wrap things up or field questions?
Event expenditures can quickly spiral out of control if you aren’t careful. To prevent this, do your research and establish all your cost factors early. Shop around for quotes from caterers and venues (including space, AV, internet and on-site support). Don’t forget to account for the price of printed materials, signage and any giveaways and to add in a 5-15% safety net to account for any overages or emergencies.
Once you’ve crafted your budget, look for ways to offset the costs. Considering that printed materials are one of the biggest expenses associated with business events, try to find ways to digitize your content wherever you can. For example, mobile event apps, such as EventsXD, let you create online agendas, surveys and digital materials so that attendees have everything they need at their fingertips.
Another way to offset costs is to charge a registration fee, although you should only consider this if you’re offering something of significant value to attendees, such as a well-known speaker or multiple sessions and breakouts.
A great way to split the costs and effort associated with an event is to team up with another company, such as a strategic partner, vendor or complementary business. Another option is to offer sponsorships to other businesses that may be interested in getting their name out via signage, promotional materials or even a speaking slot at your event. To make your sponsorships appealing, find out what would entice your potential partners, then tailor packages based on their needs.
Speaking of sponsorships, if you decide that pulling off your own event is too much of an undertaking, you could also consider joining someone else’s. Even if you’re not the star attraction, whether you sponsor a community event or another organization’s gathering, sponsorships are a great way for small businesses to gain exposure and connect with new customers.
Chances are, you don’t have a lot of people dedicated to event planning — but that shouldn’t stop you. Know your limitations and start with a smaller event. Form a team and give yourself plenty of time to plan. Key roles to fill include event marketing (pre-, during, and post-event), speaker liaison, venue liaison, sponsor or partner liaison, a catering coordinator as well as event-day staffers. Allocate responsibilities based on what your team enjoys doing and check in regularly as a group to make sure everything is going according to plan.
Event marketing is one of the most time-consuming parts of organizing a business gathering. Free up time and costs by relying on marketing tools wherever possible. Your event web page, email marketing software and social media can all amplify your event and drive registrations. There are also several conference management tools that simplify the entire process. EventsXD is one; others include Eventdrive (an end-to-end platform for event marketing, management, attendee engagement and event ROI) and Whova (great for networking events).
If your event is local, take advantage of online ticketing and listing tools such as Eventbrite, Eventful and Heyevent.
Finally, if your business has a marketing automation platform, take time to explore its event management features and how they can help. You may be able to centralize and promote your get-together on one platform, keep track of attendees and track and analyze customer behavior all through a single marketing workflow.
Events are a great opportunity to engage with your customers, prospects and the community. Once you’ve organized one, find ways to build on what worked and correct what didn’t in your next gathering. Taking the first step is the hardest, but with one successful get-together under your belt, it can be easily repeated.
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