The main aspects of successful event planning are quite clear: picking a good location and venue, creating a plan with timelines and task lists, sticking to a budget, communicating effectively with different stakeholders etc. However, there are several important elements that businesses may overlook, such as setting objectives and leveraging the right social media channels to reach your target audience. Below, Toby Heelis of Eventopedia shares five tips to successful, professional business event planning that can make a positive impact and help you raise the quality of your business events.
1. Setting clear objectives
Many businesses plan events without a clear idea of their objectives and how to measure them. Wanting ‘a successful event’ is too vague, you need to know what ‘successful’ means for each individual event.
Ask yourself what the main purpose of the event is. Why are you organising it and what do you want to get out of it? Some objectives could revolve around brand awareness, lead generation, sales, etc. For each established focus, you should have several clear objectives and set tools to measure effectiveness.
SMART goals work well (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). For example, if one area of focus is raising brand awareness, one SMART goal could be increasing social media following by 30% during the first week after the event.
Setting clear objectives will not only help you better allocate your time and resources, but it will also allow you to assess how successful the event was against clear metrics, generating useful feedback for the future.
2. Leverage social media
Social media is one of the best ways to ensure a successful event, as you can leverage it for multiple purposes such as raising awareness, boosting attendance and engagement, building community, gathering feedback, and more. Additionally, a correctly implemented content plan can improve your search engine rankings for the event.
In short, it is the perfect tool, especially for a small company, as it’s a great way to generate big results. Your social media plan should have an allocated budget, and take into account different strategies for before, during, and after the event.
Having a solid social media strategy for your event is therefore crucial. Although most businesses use it to some extent, many don’t know how to make the most out of it. Posting several times about the event isn’t enough.
Start the social media strategy by defining your audience and identifying the most appropriate platforms to reach them. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram are the main ones you will probably use, but depending on your audience, your plan might also include YouTube, Snapchat etc.
Optimize your profiles and learn how to make the most out of each platform. Create a strong content plan based on the different stages of the event, and make sure to adapt the content to each platform.
3. Keep up with technology
This tip is more of a mindset to have than a specific type of tech that you need to adopt. With technology advancing at a rapid pace, many useful tools enter the market, and it’s important to keep your mind open to potential solutions.
There are already many digital tools specifically designed for organising and managing events, from event planning task lists to lead capture mechanisms and webinar software. As your competitors make use of new technology, you need to keep up to maintain a competitive advantage.
In addition, keep an eye out for new technology that isn’t necessarily designed for the events sector, but which could generate great results. Being innovative and embracing digital transformation is a good mindset for planning successful events in the long run.
4. Feedback data
Feedback data is another valuable tool for successful events. A good social media strategy also involves feedback data and you can monitor your event hashtag to identify any areas of concern and address a potential crisis.
Social media is one of the best ways of collecting feedback, but you can also set up other tools, such as sending out surveys (during and after the event), creating live polls during conference sessions, placing emoji satisfaction buttons around the venue, or even observing the body language of attendees.
As technology advances, you can leverage it (see tip no.3 above) to collect data in innovative ways, such as placing beacons in different places to monitor areas that were more popular or overlooked.
Analysing the existing data is key, so it's important to take the time to categorize the feedback and identify patterns. You might find several issues that attendees consistently point out. If possible, you can address these as part of your post-event social media strategy, showing guests that you value their opinion. Also, use the feedback to organize better events in the future.
5. Pay attention to the small details
Last but not least, don't underestimate the importance of small details. If you want your event to be perfect, every detail counts. The event should run on time. The food should arrive fresh, warm, and with adequate options for people with dietary requirements. The sound system should be good enough for speakers to be clearly heard.
There are many more such examples of details that are easy to overlook if you’re busy focusing on bigger issues, but it's the small details that work together to create a sense of professionalism.
The more experienced you become in setting clear goals, making the most out of social media and emerging tech, analysing your feedback data, and paying attention to details, the easier it will become to master professional event planning.
About the Author
Toby Heelis is the CEO of events management company Eventopedia - the intelligent venue finding platform for event planners. Eventopedia has been coined by many in the media as the 'Tripadvisor for events'. Toby is passionate about improving the events industry and was the Partnerships Director at the International Live Events Association.