Posted by Jessica Gulley-Ward | May 24, 2017
Planning an event that isn’t just pretty and fun, but drives results to your company’s bottom line takes a lot of hard work from a dedicated group of people. Ensuring results requires setting a strong plan before the event date or venue are set, and extends far after event day.
As strategic event planners, we work as an extension of your team to help you identify and measure your business goals for your event.
You and your team are hugely invested in the success of your event, and are probably already having fun thinking theme, decor, and other details. But before you even start getting to the production details, you have two major tasks:
- Get key stakeholders involved. This typically means the board and C-levels of your company, as well as any other relevant departments, like sales.
- Create meaningful goals that you can measure over time.
These two items are no small task, and they are imperative for getting good ROI and creating an event that will grow year over year.
Today’s post is #1 in a 3-part series all about the key steps to take before, during, and after an event to make sure you have clear and measurable goals in place.
Pre Event Planning: Tips for Success
STEP ONE: Key Questions to Define your Goal
One of the first things to do is explicitly define your event goal. You’ve heard this before in every goal-setting meeting ever (so forgive me), but your goal needs to be SMART. Our initial meeting with any client begins with an exercise of specific questions to lay the right foundations for a successful event:
- What is your goal? Why do you want to do an event at all? An event isn’t a vanity exercise, so what do you hope will happen? Examples of smart goals might be:
- Increase internal retention by XX%
- Attract 400 paying registrants and 350 total attendees to the event.
- XX% of clients up-level their loyalty to your company
- Increase customer acquisition by XX%
- How will you measure this goal? (Hint — your goals should have numbers in them).
You’ll want to assign metrics to the ways we are going to measure these goals, whether they’re internal retention goals, or goals that support the bottom line.
The goals you set will in turn drive how we design and structure your event, so one of the first things we’ll do together is clearly identify these goals. We will discuss how to create opportunities to take measurements during the event itself.
Ways to measure your goals live at the event:
- Soft (qualitative) measurements:
- Solicit feedback
- Complete satisfaction forms
- Implement instant polling
- Hard (quantitative) measurements:
- Check with sales every 6 months post event
- Generate reports from your CRM
- Build a feedback mechanism so your customer success team can report how many clients have referred new clients or indicated they are highly likely to refer your service to a colleague, for instance
- Do all the key players agree on the goal? Understanding who your key stakeholders are and how we can achieve their goals within your event will ensure that you’re being the most productive with your time and your money, and may help win you some internal collaborators who also have something to gain from making the event a success. Make sure everyone is agreement on what you want to achieve, how you’ll achieve it, and how you’ll KNOW you’ve achieved it.
- Are your goals realistic? If you want a 100% conversion rate into premium clients, you may not be being realistic. But if you want 50% conversion rate into the next level contract with you, that’s much more achievable. Some good follow up questions to this might be: Can you actually make your goal happen through one event? Will you need to plan for multiple events over time?
- Do you have enough time and resources to pull this off? Now that you’ve got buy-in on goals, do you have buy-in about who’s going to do all the work? Odds are, you’ll need extensive internal resources. For instance, the sales team will have to make personal invitations to their clients and prospects. The customer success team will need to commit to a specific project timeline for getting enthusiastic attendees into the sales pipeline. Or is everyone expecting YOU to do it all? If so, back up to step three and make sure everyone agrees that sales goals can’t be achieved single-handed!
And how about those external resources? The venue, the audio visual equipment, the caterer. Having adequate time to plan is critical, and with the help of strategic event experts on your side, we can help make meaningful events happen even in what feels like a terrifyingly short time frame. If you’re feeling the time crunch and need a partner to talk strategy, then let’s set up a time to chat.
STEP TWO: Get Key Stakeholders Involved
Making a large corporate event successful is a massive investment of hours and money, and you want to make sure that the people who approve the annual budgets understand the goals and means of achieving them, so that you have the full support of this team.
Creating a successful is not a one man or one-department show. Other teams to consider involving in your planning:
- Sales: They need to hustle and use their relationships to get their customers at the event
- C-Levels: Get their peers to attend as speakers
- Board Members: Get them to show up during the event. Keep their attention during the planning process.
Here’s how to get these teams effectively involved in your planning:
- Once you’ve defined your goals, get their approvals, input, and buy-in.
- Share how this event will bring a great ROI (be sure to include time involved in planning, not just direct event costs).
- Share how it will help them achieve their goals.
- Document and share what everyone has agreed upon (otherwise known as CYA).
With these two major steps taken care of, you’ve handled some major event planning hurdles, and are on your way to an event that will be successful for your company, and for you.
Do you need strategic help planning these goals, or in having these crucial conversations? We can help. Let’s chat about your challenges and goals, and create a plan for success.
Paige Buck is the co-owner of Kennedy Events is a large-scale event management company based in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. Our team creates stress-free conferences and events with a positive impact, which allow our clients to resonate with their audience. Kennedy Events specializes in producing flawless product launches, award ceremonies, fundraisers and multi-day conferences while keeping our eye on retention and engagement goals.