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10 Event Planning Tips for Small Businesses
The science behind organizing and hosting small business events that are profitable to your company don’t just happen. It takes smart planning and research with a sprinkle of customer appreciation tactics to reach your goals. Whether you're preparing for a conference, seminar or an event production, you should consider the following tips to generate a successful outcome.
1. Decide who your target audience is. The very first, most vital, step will be defining your target audience or consumer demographic. Once you’ve established your goal, the rest of your planning and organizing will fall downstream as far as content, pricing, location, and format. Your structured approach will assist you in staying focused and achieving your goals while avoiding the scope of your goal to become too broad or watered down.
2. Make a checklist. After you’ve decided that an event is needed for your business, the rest of your decisions are significant in terms of purpose vs. outcome. It’s important to remember the small details that surround your event such as program content, transportation, catering, parking, room accommodations, etc. Why? Because everything counts! Your audience will consider everything you provided and how well you represented your brand or not. Make a list of everything you’d like to provide and do a mental rundown from start to finish as if you were a guest at your own event. That will help you structure your event just as you would like it if you were an attendee.
3. Define your purpose for hosting the event. Before you begin planning your event, make sure you are clear about the purpose of organizing the event in the first place. Every decision you make after will support your primary goal. Are you looking to generate leads? Are you looking to create awareness of your brand or product? Are you looking to build customer loyalty? Or is it because you want to generate revenue? Whatever your reason, make sure you have team players supporting your purpose so that you have all the support you need to create a successful event.
4. Pay attention to other industry events surrounding your event. Make sure that you have bookmarks on trade calendars that detail other scheduled events in your industry. The last thing you want to do is spend a substantial amount of time and money organizing a spectacular event only to find out that your competitor beat you to the punch. Make sure you don’t schedule your event around major holidays or standard vacation dates. You want to make sure that your target audience will be able to attend.
5. Make sure your flexible to unexpected changes. As you start the process of planning your event, you may come across unexpected changes. There are times when you have to reconsider the location, size, and date, amongst other details you envisioned. This is normal and should be just fine as long as you stay on track and keep your goal in mind. Flexibility is very necessary for business and event planning.
6. Define your limits. Obviously the point of you planning an event in the first place is to succeed. Knowing that, make sure you are aware that being unrealistic about what you can deliver is a recipe for failure. It’s important to know the difference between reality and what merely wishful thinking is. Make sure to plan a real budget, not a projected budget and that you allow enough time for all of your ducks to line up. Meaning, don’t plan an event within a week’s time and expect a miraculous result to come from it. If it’s a large event, several months of preparation is appropriate to allow you to gather your funding and give you room to accommodate unexpected changes in your plan. The more time you
have, the more creative your ideas will become.
7. Think smart. Your starting point should always be deciding your strategy. Anything you build starts with a plan. As far as you can remember, you have been strategizing before you start any process. Two-year-olds sit back and ponder for a moment before they begin to put together a Lego masterpiece. This is no different. Live events are one of the best ways to connect with your customers, receive feedback on your products or services, and see where you stand against your competitors. Strategize and stick to what you set out to conquer.
8. Create a financial plan. It’s important to know where your funding for your event is coming from. Most event funding comes from sponsors, marketing budgets, or ticket sales. Sometimes it’s a mix of all three. Wherever it comes from, you should know how much you're working with so that you know your financial ability. It is fruitless to plan if you can’t pay. So before you choose a venue or sign contracts with any vendors, it would be wise to start signing your sponsors up first. Perhaps advance ticket sales will help you in reaching your financial goal as well.
9. Marketing is not what it used to be. Creating a marketing plan for your events is a bit more complicated than just placing ideas on a document. You must be tireless in your efforts in order to succeed. Start by defining what it is you’re offering your attendees. If you’re showcasing a new product or service, you should be planning to provide demonstrations or samples at the event accompanied by promotional items. Giveaways are always a smart marketing tool. Utilize social media to capacity, not only by posting updates but by purchasing advertising to cast as wide a net as possible. In addition to advertising on social media, a short promotional video on YouTube can also impact your sales revenue significantly. If you can get bloggers involved in order to gain an even larger audience by having them blog about the event anywhere they can, then do so. Now you’re increasing your chances for a prosperous event! A commonly ignored platform for marketing business events is Meetup.com. Meetup provides registration and RSVP capabilities in addition to giving you access to groups of people in your industry for you to promote to.
10. Online registration is the way to go. Now that your plan is underway, it’s time to set up registration to keep track of your ticket sales and allow attendees to register for the event in an organized manner. Using a service that allows online registration with the ability to pay online increases your numbers substantially. Time is never on the side of a busy attendee so facilitating their registration and payment process will benefit your event greatly.