Pulling off a successful event takes work, but if you start out with a master plan in mind, then you are setting yourself up for success. Even first-time planners can make a great event if they make all of the right moves. To help set you up to succeed, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 tips for planning your first event.
1. Identify Your Objectives
First and foremost, ask yourself why you are having this event and outline what your goals are for this undertaking. By identifying your objectives early on, you can help plan the event in a way that is strategic for your business. So before you set out to plan an event, have a clear purpose and objective laid out. Establish the KPIs for measuring its success and you will be sure to optimize the event from the get-go.
2. Coordinate Your Team
Every good event requires input from different people, so establish who is involved and what their roles are from the beginning. This will help ensure an efficient workflow and will have you ready to answer questions once you start reaching out to others to participate. Have the event manager, reach out to event committee members and delegate responsibilities to these team members. This will ensure that you keep things moving forward in an effective way as the event gets closer.
3. Find a Venue
The venue will set the tone for your event, so be sure to pick the perfect place for your big day. If you are running a business conference, reach out to the upscale hotels with conference rooms to see what they can offer you. If you are running an indie craft fair, consider an open industrial space that is easy to access through public transportation. Lock in the date and price early so that you know what you have to charge for tickets.
4. Set the Date
Don’t just pick a date arbitrarily. Look at the demographic for your event and make sure that these people can attend. If you are hosting a business conference, look at the competition and be sure that your potential sponsors and attendees won’t be at a competing event. Also consider avoiding major holidays when people are likely to be on personal holidays, unless of course, you are planning a music festival and you are marketing it as a great way to spend a staycation.
5. Book the Talent
The talent will help draw a crowd so shoot for the stars, within your budget of course. Consider the kinds of speakers and performers that will most appeal to your audience. If you are running a business conference, who are the most compelling people available to speak to your target audience? If you run an event for parents, think about their daily challenges and find an expert that speaks to these concerns.
6. Create the Program
Once you’d booked the keynote speaker or the headlining band, decide how the line-up should look. Obviously the key time slots should be given to your top talent, but you may have panels and side events happening. To help manage the big picture, create a schedule that will be most likely to keep people engaged. Remember to include breaks and time for networking as people need a chance to connect to the others in the room.
7. Get the Sponsors
Decide how you’d like to work with sponsors. Will they sponsor a session or a cocktail hour at your conference? Or will you have a showroom floor where sponsors can pay to exhibit their products and services? Imagine how this will look for your event and begin your outreach to potential sponsors that can help finance your whole endeavor.
8. Create a Marketing Plan
Marketing is the key to getting people to attend your event. You should create a multichannel marketing effort to increase the audience. Create an email and reach out to people in your network that might be interested in the event. Encourage them to share with friends to help extend the message, even if your list is small. Create an ongoing social media outreach campaign through the networks that make sense for your event. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are great places to reach audiences. Use a hashtag to track the conversations and be sure that your headliners are promoting your event through their social media accounts using the hashtag.
9. Reach Out to the Press
Target journalists, bloggers and radio personalities that you think would be interested in your event. Send them guest passes to encourage live coverage from your event. You could also make speakers available for interviews in advance so that early coverage could help spread the word.
10. Sell Tickets
You’ve gone to so much trouble to create your event, but is it clear and easy to register and buy tickets? Make tickets easy to add to a cart in a clear location throughout your website, so that you can increase ticket sales. This process must be smooth and simple online. If you are selling tickets at the door, be sure to include this in your last minute promotions to encourage last minute stragglers to show up.