Coming on the heels of a fantastic event this week, we thought we’d detail some elements of a successful event. Our company loves events. Really, really loves them. Events are one of our primary delivery systems for our value message and for value delivered to clients. But what builds a successful event?
When hosting an event you need a team. We’re fortunate to have our CMO, Barbara Larrabee and her internal and external team. You absolutely must have a team because there is simply too much to execute for one person – who should be focused on higher value activities than micromanaging the event. You don’t need all of the following, but here are our key team members: Website Developer, Graphic Designer, Social Media Marketer, Telemarketing, Videographer and Photographer, Catering (if food will be served), and your Business Development team to drive attendance.
The Event Topic or Reason
If you’re going to host an event you need a topic or reason for people to attend. Generally, we see all sorts of events in the marketplace for a variety of reasons. A couple of good rules to remember are: 1) The topic or reason should be about the expected attendees (not you), and 2) The more specific your topic or reason (specific value message to prospective attendees) the better your attendance. So beware of vague or ‘you focused’ messaging. Networking, connector event, lunch and learn, and continuing education are all a bit vague and will lead to poor results.
The Date and Venue
You must choose a date and location for your event. We generally schedule large events at least 90 days in advance to give our team time to coordinate their efforts. The choice of venue, for us, is based upon capacity, convenience, and a setting that will be enjoyed by the people we want to attend. Get your plan together for the date and venue and then start to execute immediately.
The first guests we invite are clients who will benefit from the event. How do we measure client benefit? We judge whether our clients can benefit by bringing their clients and partners (based on the event topic). And, we evaluate the expected guests to determine if some of our clients would benefit from meeting attendees. We don’t invite any clients that do not match BOTH criteria from a standpoint of their personal and professional definition of value. When a client may benefit by just one measure, we invite them personally. When a client will benefit based on both measures we “partner” with them. We encourage them to invite their own clients, prospects, and referral partners. Basically we build the event for these clients and allow them to leverage what we’re planning for their benefit. Of all of the executables for your event this is the single most important. So consider building events that will benefit your clients and prospects rather than your own company.
Marketing the Event
Do it. All: Email, telemarketing, social media, direct mail, association marketing, follow-up, website marketing, video, your blog, and most importantly your team inviting / reminding the clients, prospects, and partners they interact with on a daily basis. Once you’ve accomplished all of these activities once, do them again. And again, and again, and again. Repeat often. Your best marketing will be the personal touches from you and your team. The on-line, email, and social stuff will create awareness but YOU and YOUR TEAM will create buy-in and attendance.
- Once the attendees are set, and the day (or evening) has come, you MUST deliver. If you’ve built your event based on the guidelines above your delivery is a snap. Here are some in event tips that can help:
- Get set up early and make sure everything works as planned
- Welcome guests personally
- Be a Super Connector
- Get your team involved: have them welcome, mingle with, and connect your guest with one another
- Don’t bore them – if you have content planned keep it short and value driven
- Follow Up – Have several processes in place to gather information for follow-up with attendees
- Thank Them – Be thankful out loud. Make certain your team, and you, are appreciative of the time and effort your attendees made to join you.