This is our latest guest post from Melanie Woodward, the founder and director of www.eventplanningblueprint.com, a business dedicated to helping aspiring entrepreneurs start their own event planning business. You can follow her @eventblueprint.
You’ve decided to plan an event to promote your business, but do you know how to make it run smoothly? Let’s take a look at the five keys to running a successful event (and for more tips from event pros, head on over to the EventTribe forum).
Key #1: Pinpoint Your Event Purpose
Why do you want to host a special event? To generate new sales? To launch a new product? Maybe you’re hoping to attract new employees or volunteers.
Whatever the reason for planning an event for your business, it should be clearly communicated to anyone who’ll attend on behalf of your business.
If the goal of your non-profit’s open house is to showcase your green office initiative, as well as attracting new donors, be sure the people talking to attendees know that, too. If you’re hoping to launch specific products at your store’s grand opening, telling your staff your goal helps focus their efforts.
Let the people who help put on your event know why it’s happening so they’re prepared to help you reach that goal.
Key #2: Have an Event Plan
Once you’ve honed in on the ‘why’ of your event, it’s time to plan the ‘how’.
Planning a successful business event involves many details – venue, food, entertainment, guest list – and those are just the big four! Take the time to put together a plan you can follow step-by-step before, during and after your event.
There are two advantages to having a written plan: it makes delegating event responsibilities easier, and it helps you keep a rein on event expenses. Decide what you want to happen at your event and then write down the steps it takes to get there.
Key #3: Delegate the Details
This one goes hand-in-hand with your written event plan. As you’re deciding the details of your small business event, also decide who will be responsible for each.
It’s easy, as small business owners, to take on too much responsibility. But you’re going to be busy running your business, so don’t overload yourself with event details!
Sometimes delegating is as simple as hiring someone to help – an event planner, a caterer, someone who has experience running special events. If that’s not in the budget, you can still assign details from your plan to employees or volunteers.
Hosting an event to boost business doesn’t have to bring your business to a halt – divide the details, delegate them and keep everyone in the loop with regular communication.
Key #4: Communicate Often
And that brings us to Key #4. What could be more frustrating than learning the day of your event that someone has failed to communicate an important change in plans?
That could be a guest speaker who told your assistant, who forgot to tell anyone, that he could no longer attend. Or the missing presentation handouts that your staff assumed you sent to the printer. It could even be the venue that double-booked your date and shifted you to a smaller space (it happens)!
Ensure the success of your event by communicating regularly with everyone involved – vendors, venues, employees responsible for event details, special guests. Simple email updates spelling out what’s done and what still needs to be done will suffice.
Key #5: Have a Follow-Up Plan
If one of the goals of hosting your event is to attract new customers, you’re going to have to plan for that. The event plan you’re going to write should include how you’ll follow up with attendees.
An example: your auto dealership hosts a carnival for charity. Five hundred people attend, but no one thinks to gather contact information with a free draw.
Or worse, that information is gathered, but no one follows up to learn who might be ready to purchase! You may have raised money for charity, but if you were hoping to also boost sales, those event dollars were wasted.
Have a plan for how people who don’t buy on the spot can communicate interest in a future purchase. Delegate the job of following up with those potential customers and set a deadline. If you do, you’ll maximise the potential new business from your event.
Deciding to host a special event can be the first step to new customers, more business or a higher profile in the community. Take time to follow the five keys above to ensure you run an event that meets and exceeds your business goals.
Now it’s time to weigh in – have you hosted special events in the past? How would following these five keys have helped make it more successful? If you’re in the planning stage, which of these keys are the most helpful?
Previous posts from Melanie: