At some point in your business life you’re likely to want to organise an event. Startups find a business event to be an excellent tool for promotional and launch purposes: they’re social, fun, entertaining, educational, and help cement your brand in people’s minds.
But how to go about organising a successful business event? There’s more involved than you might first think, so here are three main areas to focus your attention on:
Planning and Detail
With so much to think about and organise, from catering to venue, staging and guest lists, it’s vital you take a firm hold of planning right from the moment the idea first sparks.
- Take Care with Dates — if possible choose a date when not much else is happening in your area. In fact, it’s a good idea to check national business events too as clashing with a big trade show, for instance, could mean a lot of your intended audience is out of town.
- Work from Lists — you’ll have a hundred different threads to pull together at the same time, and details can get lost if they’re not on a list. Draw up a master list of headings, such as venue, then list sub-items beneath the heading. In the ‘venue’ section, for instance, you’ll want to know if you should hire additional seating, or if you need a bespoke stage, fencing and barriers or trade stalls. Equipment such as these needs early planning as professional staging companies get booked up in advance.
- Build in Flexibility — you may have a perfect vision at the beginning of the planning phase, but things can change over time. Maybe the venue you had set your heart on is already booked on the best dates, or maybe your preferred caterer just went out of business. As long as you always work towards your main objective, which is hitting the goal of why you’re holding an event, all other details can change and it will still be successful.
- Understand your Limitations — limitations include physical things you can and can’t do, what you can achieve within your budget, and how much time you have. Don’t be scared to call on friends to help, or to take shortcuts if necessary. As long as event guests are well looked after and entertained, they will never know how much backstage juggling there was.
Budget and Fund Raising
Things always cost more than you expect, so be as generous as possible with the budget and build in some leeway. Once you’ve set the budget, stick with it, and if it’s too small to achieve your objective, consider looking for sponsorship or partnering with other businesses in a joint event.
Another idea if you need some upfront finances is to try crowdsourcing the event. Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding is an excellent way of estimating the likely interest in the event, and if it falls short of expectations you can reschedule or plan something different.
Marketing and Promotion
Marketing and promotion of any business event is vital. Create a buzz and positive impression by including some of these ideas in all the promotional materials you create:
- Why people should attend and what they’ll get out of it. Give products away or offer prizes during fun activities. Book entertaining, educational speakers if it’s a more formal event for the business community. Tailor your entertainment to the kind of audience you want to attract.
- Help speakers out by creating promotional copy they can share with their own social circles. Always consider how you can make it easy and rewarding to share the news about your event. Include what they’ll see or hear, what they’ll learn and what they’ll take away.
- Create unique hashtags so sharing on Twitter is easy. Consider Facebook ads or hangouts and online chats. Where does your audience gather? Who are the influencers? Target those social circles with promotional material.
- Don’t forget the old fashioned personal invite. People still like to feel singled out from the crowd and special.
A business event always takes longer to plan than your original estimate. Allow plenty of time, figuring at least a few months or up to a year if it’s a large event. It’s well worth the effort because when customers or fellow business owners have enjoyed an event you’ve organised, they’ll remember you warmly and be willing to do business with you in the future.