Events are powerful communication tools that allow businesses to achieve all sorts of aims, from networking to educating employees, brand building to lead generation and product promotion. Whilst many trade fairs will allow vendors to exhibit for a fee, running your own event does have its benefits. Running a successful event isn’t easy though and it’s all too easy to become bogged down with logistical planning as costs spiral.

Good planning is essential to event management so here is a complete guide to running a corporate event.

Pre-Event Planning

Clearly define your event goal and logistics

Every successful event starts with a clear and even measurable goal in mind. Once you have established this, it will be far easier for you to start making concrete informed decisions around things like the best venue, the proper sponsors (and what’s in it for them) and perhaps most importantly, the budget your willing to set for your event.

As long as it’s specific the goal of your event could be anything you want to accomplish, from lead generation to education or training. You should also try to establish how you will measure success and any metrics you will use to do this (feedback, lead gen, uplift in sales, social media buzz, event hashtag mentions, brand exposure, etc)

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • How many people will attend the event?
  • Will you also offer transportation?
  • Does your budget fit your event goals?
  • Does the location have enough parking spots?
  • Will you have your own catering firm?

Once you know your objectives properly mapped out, you can begin thinking about audience, venue selection and event logistics.

Determine who your audience (and why should they attend)

Clearly defining who is your perfect attendee for the event, will help you select the most effective marketing channels to promote your event and build buzz, craft persuasive on-message marketing and also how to create a memorable experience during the event.

The simplest way to start is to ask yourself three key questions about every attendee that will turn up to your event:

  • Why are they attending your event?
  • How will their life/business be different after your event?
  • What makes your event stand out to similar events?

For example, a trade show or exhibit provides the chance for attendees to discover new products, showcase their own products or make new business connections. The difference between your trade show and another one might be that at your event attendees can network with some of the biggest names in the industry. Alternatively, it might be that you’re showcasing some of the most exciting new technology around.

Event Marketing

Generate pre-event buzz

One of the most powerful marketing strategies is word of mouth. And social media makes it so incredibly easy to build a community and generate pre-event buzz across pre-existing networks or people. One effective way to pre-market an event is to create a unique hashtag and use it in every social media post, as well as any printed materials like brochures or posters.

You could also leverage social media by holding mini-events in the weeks leading up to the big one. Make sure you take a lot of photos, tag people in (of course, always ask for permission) and even ask your booked speaker’s social media to mention your event whenever possible. This will help you leverage other pre-existing networks, spread the word faster and also gain credibility among those networks.

Leverage the power of social media

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there when it comes to event marketing. That’s not only because it’s where so many people’s attention is often found today, but also because it offers you a lot of laser-targeting possibilities and also plenty of options to keep in touch with your potential customers.

For instance, if you’re interested in having at your event only decision makers from a certain industry, you can choose to show a promotional video only to people who have listed VP, Chairman, CTO, Manager etc. on their Facebook profile. And the possibilities don’t end here. Facebook and most social media platforms offer you the possibility to re-engage with people who have already shown interest in your content. If we continue our example from above, you can further connect with people who viewed your previous video.

Use email marketing to promote your event

Email marketing can play an important role in a successful event planning because it is cheap and will reach people who are already aware of your company, so are more likely than most to be interested in your event.

To make the most out of this strategy, make sure you avoid sales jargon, keep it informal, explain to people what’s in it for them and make all your emails mobile friendly. Also, make sure you have the correct systems in place to track email opens and click-throughs. In this way, you can follow up with those people who have shown an interest in your event but didn’t go all the way through to reserve their seat.

Leverage speakers and influencers to spread the word faster and gain credibility

Having your speakers promote your event can explode your ticket sales because they will likely already have established followers and audiences, as well as credibility and kudos in their sector. To encourages speakers to promote your event, you could create useful content that will promotes them and your event and encourage them to share.

For example, you could interview your speakers on a certain topic that would be interesting for their audience and put it up as a podcast on your website and across your social media channels. Alternatively, you could also get your speakers to guest post on your blog and link to their content or share the article on their social media account.

Also, if you want to encourage your speakers to promote your event directly, make it as easy as possible for them to do so by providing regular updates and information on your event. Put at their disposal images and documentation that they could use to spread the word out about your event on their own channels. You could go even further and create a special page for each of them, with a full author bio and links to their content.

Crafting a Great Event Experience

Use modern registration software to make the check-in experience seamless

A study on hotel front office practices and their impact on guest satisfaction shows the extent to which an outstanding check-in experience can increase the overall customer satisfaction. And since queues are inevitable because usually lots of people turn up at once to check in or register for the event, you have to be prepared to make the experience as smooth as possible.

Event registration is a hugely important element of event planning. Fortunately, modern event registration software allows you to easily take payment, register attendees and track attendance, as well as generate useful lead generation data post event. Some event agencies will offer print on demand badging solutions and even run your front desk, allowing you to print delegate badges in seconds instead of having to search through boxes of pre-printed badges that clutter up your check-in desk. It might not seem like much, but eliminating queues to get into your event can create that all important good first impression.

You could even create a check-in experience that allows your attendees to register themselves with a print-on-demand service that gives them their own printed badge in a matter of seconds. Having a separate area for inquiries and VIPs also helps you make sure the queue doesn’t slow down.

Identify your VIPs

A successful event is one where every attendee felt that it was worth the invested time and money. In order to do this, you have to adapt your activities and the experience to both their personalities and their status.

For examples, VIPs will probably invest significantly more to participate at your event and they will probably expect special treatment and extra benefits. On the other hand, whilst it’s important to ensure VIPs get a VIP treatment, it’s important not to compromise anyone else’s experience. You can prepare introducing icebreaker activities for people who aren’t so outgoing and try to avoid small talk and networking. Or you can encourage open discussion and debate by facilitating small groups or set up round tables within a larger group. In this way you ensure that no one is left out and everybody is engaged.

Incorporate feedback both during the event and after it

Feedback is crucial to improve your ongoing event planning and establish your event as ‘the one everyone wants to attend’ in your field or industry. Feedback is crucial for making sure each event you run is better than the previous one, even if it’s a different type of event.

Small improvements can have a huge impact and can often be implemented with little or no cost. By simply asking your attendees how are they feeling and if they need anything you can make sure they are having a memorable experience they will share with their friends. You can do this on the day, but it might make sense to do it after the event, by following up with emails or even a phone call. Don’t hound people and maybe make it interesting by running a prize draw for everyone who leaves feedback. This will also help you create post-event buzz on social media.