You're Not Ready to Have an Event
Sure, we talk about the how and why of events all the time here at Kennedy Events HQ. We love them!
But guess what? Not everybody is ready right.this.minute to host a live event. It takes being at a certain place in the life cycle of your business, and we’ve seen a lot over the years that gives us insight on what you need to have/be/do to be ready.
Events are so much fun, and it’s easy to get carried away on the freight train of fun thinking about colors, music, how great your brand will look, and of course, the food. But events are a big investment, and you need to be super sure that you’re ready to have one before you plunge in.
Feeling worried about what’s on this list?
Don’t fret. We’re spelling it all out for you (plus, giving you signs that you are ready to have an event).
Signs you’re NOT ready to host a major event:
1. You’re a small team just getting off the ground
If your company isn’t big enough to have a head of customer success, you’re probably not ready. Having this role on your team is a big sign that you’re growing consistently and have enough of a steady customer base to warrant the position. Customers = event attendees.
Likewise, if your sales team or engineers are answering customer service tickets, focus on growing internally before making a public show in the form of an event.
2. Sales or customer success teams aren’t willing to get people there
Guess what?? Your entire team has to work to get people to attend. A successful live event is the product of hard work from lots of people, and getting people in the room is perhaps one of the biggest hurdles. You can outsource production (oh, hello!), but you can’t outsource customer outreach. If you’re not confident that key members of your team are able and willing to make the appropriate calls, then wait until you are.
3. You think that if you build it they will come
You’re not Beyoncé — you can’t quietly launch overnight without any PR, marketing, or advance notice and expect to go platinum (however, if you actually are Beyoncé, then we want to work with you).
A successful event takes a lot of marketing. You’ve heard the stat that says people need to hear about something at least seven times before purchasing, right? The same goes for events, but in addition to asking for someone’s money, you’re asking for their time. And while we haven’t seen the numbers on the exposure to time spend ratio, we’re willing to bet it’s pretty high. We do know that free events — like invite-only customer events or first-time conferences where you’ve comped a lot of people to get them there — mean a high number of no-shows so you have to oversell. So keep it up, marketing team! And if you need to strategize, you know where to find us.
1. You’ve never worked with consultants before
We’ve said it before, but an event is a complicated project with lots of moving parts. If your team has never worked with outside consultants before, it might be a bit of a culture shock. We’re not saying it certainly couldn’t work, but we do suggest that your team gets some practice with smaller projects before tackling a major event.
2. Your board members aren’t willing to talk with their networks
Your board is going to be your biggest resource for getting major donors through the door. If they’re not fully invested in the mission of your organization, then your focus should be on board development, then later you can come back to events.
Likewise, if key stakeholders on your team aren’t willing to commit to the work required, take some time to build your structure internally.
3. You don’t have the budget for upfront costs
With proper planning, you’ll make everything back during or at a fundraising event, but you will have significant upfront costs. For a 6-month planning window here are just some of the costs you can expect to have:
- 6 months out:
- Venue deposit due with contract
- Event planner deposit due with contract
- Deposits for all vendors (caterers, photographer, florist, bartender, DJ, and so on)
- 1 month out — full balances for all vendors
If this is giving you heart palpitations, it’s probably a good idea to take some time working on smaller donations, then build to a bigger event once you have the funds to do one well.
Anybody & Everybody Edition
1. If your team doesn’t function well, uh, as a team
This doesn’t just mean if your team has problems, but if your team hasn’t worked together on a big project, a major event isn’t the place to start. For example, if you have internal communications challenges, or if your colleagues can't run with requests made by peers and need top-down direction only. Or if your executive team wants to be hands-off with event prep and thinks it's strictly a job for the marketing department, then your goals should be to work on that first.
Your event attendees will quickly see the warts on your company culture, making your job 100x harder. Another sign? One star on GlassDoor. If this is you, then you have bigger things to worry about.
2. If you think you’re going to have it next month/next quarter
Events, especially first-time events, take lots of time and patience. You need to have these aplenty before diving into the planning process.
3. If you’re not ready or able to collaborate.
An event is only as good as the team that works on it, and an event planner can only do their job well with the information they need from the client. We know that event planning isn’t your full-time job (that’s why people hire us!), but it does require some time from you.
If you’re just barely holding your head above water and just want to show up at an event without being part of the process, then you’re not ready. At Kennedy Events, we work collaboratively with your team to make great things happen. It’s a necessary part of the process, and we’d be wary of any planner who said they didn’t need you to be involved at all — it’s just not possible!
In short, you should be prepared to provide a planner with the information they need to get the job done well, plus do the parts that only you can do.
Signs you ARE ready to hold an event:
Now, before you start reading this like a medical manual and think you have every one of the above symptoms, we have some good news. There are a lot of signs that you are ready to have an event.
Do any of these fit you? If so, then start dreaming about your sure-to-be-great event!
- Your team members are all singing off the same sheet of music (aka, you have common goals)
- You understand the time commitment this will require and are confident that you’ll be able to incorporate it into your week.
- Your key stakeholders value in-person events as an essential part of the marketing/ or overall budget.
There you have it, friends! So, which one are you? Ready to party, or not quite sure? Either way, drop us a note and let us know. We’d be happy to guide you as to whether it’s a good time for you.
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.
About Kennedy Events
Kennedy Events began with one goal in mind — to produce high-level corporate events with just as much strategy as style. Maggie founded the company in 2000, found her match in Paige, and in 2011 the two became official partners. Since then, these two resourceful and brilliant creatives have pooled their strengths to build one one of the most the most sought after corporate event companies in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.
Make sure that your event is as valuable to your company as it is meaningful to your attendee.
We’ve (nearly) done it all when it comes to large scale events.