Running a business event can be a stressful experience. The amount of planning and preparation required and the added pressure of making sure you don’t make any mistakes, which could not only be embarrassing but more importantly damage your brand, often puts people off hosting such events. However, when done correctly, running an event can be immensely rewarding from both a personal and professional perspective, and act as the catalyst to drive your business to the next level.
To make sure you can show your face in public while also maintaining your brand’s fine reputation, we have set out some key pointers as a guide.
Define your objectives
Firstly, you need to decide what the purpose of your event is. Why are you hosting it and what do you want to achieve by doing so? There are numerous reasons why businesses host events. Maybe you are launching a new product, announcing a partnership or simply want to attract new customers.
Once you have decided what the aim of the event is you need to ensure that everybody in your business understands this, especially those attending the event and any team members that act as a point of contact for enquiries leading up to the big day. You don’t want somebody contacting your office trying to find out more about the event only to be greeted by a member of staff who gives out wrong information or sounds unsure. Don’t forget to inform any external parties you may be using in the planning process.
Staying with planning, this goes a long way to determine whether your event is going to be a roaring success or forgettable failure. The earlier you can start the planning process the better, some event management experts suggest starting as far as 12 months ahead and no less than six months.
Obviously, deciding the date and booking the venue are the first actions to take but you also need to take into account, who to invite and how many?; catering; guest speakers; sponsors; entertainment; transport; parking; and even overnight accommodation in certain circumstances. The more detailed your plan, the less margin for error.
Organising an event is demanding and time consuming, especially when your focus is on running the business. Depending on resources you should take advantage of the team around you and play to their strengths by delegating accordingly.
Spreading the word about your fantastic, not to be missed event is crucial and there are several methods of promotion to make sure you reach your target audience. Use your event hash tag at every opportunity; in social media posts and on printed marketing materials and encourage any guest speakers you’ve booked to include it on their comms.
Which social media platforms you target depends on your audience, you should already know the ones that work best for you. Spend time understanding SEO, invest in email marketing and target local media outlets. Ensure your tickets are easy to buy on your website and across all social media channels. Also, remember to host an event page on your website. Another popular way to create interest in your event is by running competitions and giveaways.
Timing is important in deciding when to send out your invitations, send them too early and the recipients may forget about your event and too late may mean they won’t be able to attend. Between six and eight weeks is seen as the ideal window for inviting guests. Include all relevant details, time, date, location and dress code as well as RSVP details on the invitations. Depending on the numbers, you may wish to invite your guests first by phone and then follow up with a written invitation a couple of weeks later.
The big day
All the hard work is about to pay dividends. Arrive early to make sure everything is as it should be and have a quick motivational pep talk with your team and go through the day’s running order. Welcome any VIP guests and speakers, putting theme at ease and confirm timings. Stick to the schedule but allow five to ten minutes for late arrivals before starting your opening speech and welcoming everyone. Then enjoy, because it will be over in a blink of an eye!
After the event
As soon as the event has finished you should give yourself a pat on the back. Well done, you’ve pulled it off and proved the doubters wrong. You will probably feel a great sense of achievement and relief, and all you want to do is relax for a while. But now is not the time to rest. Start engaging with attendees within a day or two of your event. Following up is key for feedback and the majority of sales happen within a fortnight of the event, so there is no time like the present!
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