Planning on how to organize an event can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Read this guide, and you will learn all the tips and tricks you need to become a skilled event planner in no time!
Align on the event purpose with stakeholders
The first step to organizing an event is coming up with a clear, concise, and compelling “purpose.” A purpose statement should define why your organization is hosting the event in the first place. This will help you get buy-in from all of your key stakeholders within your organization (and outside of it).
The best way to do this is by getting everyone together for one dedicated meeting, where you can discuss ideas and brainstorm before deciding on what you want to achieve.
When forming your event purpose, think about these critical points:
- Why are we holding this particular type of event?
- What specific outcomes do we hope to achieve?
- What’s our overall goal concerning attendees or participants?
- Do they want to hear from you or about you, or are they there for some interactive session?
- Are we raising awareness about an issue in the industry?
Doing the above will help you put together a compelling purpose statement.
Lock in your event budget
Every event manager must know how much money their organization is willing to spend on this endeavor before jumping into the planning process. Week-long conferences are notorious for being very costly.
But if you’re trying to host an offsite meeting with 20 people, your budget needs may be quite different than when hosting a mega-event with hundreds or thousands of attendees.
Next, decide whether or not you can meet the financial requirements based on your budgetary approval. A good rule of thumb is to plan and book your event as early as possible with suppliers to lock in the best pricing.
If you’re looking at a mid-size or larger conference, it’s also worth considering negotiating rates for food & beverages. The more catering companies know about the number of attendees expected to be there, the more they can adjust their prices accordingly, even if it’s last minute.
Figure out who your potential attendees are
The critical part of this step is identifying who you want to attend your event, so always aim big! It sounds simple enough, but events have become an afterthought or last resort way to generate leads or increase sales when they should be at the forefront of every organization’s marketing strategy.
Plus, it’s much easier to sell an event if you can give your potential attendees a list of people that would be good targets.
Writing out a guest list before starting the planning process is one of the best ways to focus your efforts and organize your ideas. This should include everyone from employees, partners, boards, or other vital constituents relevant to this event.
Besides being able to draw inspiration from this list when determining what type of programming topics you want to cover, it’ll also help with marketing later on since you’ll know exactly who will be at the “event.”
Find a venue that fits your purpose
The proper venue will make a difference in how smoothly the day runs and how much people enjoy themselves. Since we’re always advocating for you to think big, it’s best to book a venue that will accommodate the maximum number of people you want at your event.
This way, if there is room left over, it can be used as an overflow area to host other parts of the event (or future events).
Finding a suitable venue is all about timing. It pays to do your homework and look around at different locations before narrowing down exactly what you want and who has it for rent/buy.
Doing this well in advance (at least 3-4 months out from the event) should help ensure that you have enough time to hold meetings with representatives from the location(s) that are available and qualified based on your needs. The more you know about your event location, the easier it’ll be to build an agenda or plan out your day.
Establish the event team
If you haven’t already done so, now’s a good time to decide who will make up your core planning group(s) for the big day. The most common principle for this is to keep it small, 2-4 people, depending on how large of an event you’re holding and how much help you need from various departments/function areas of your organization.
You can continually expand the number of planners involved if more hands are needed, particularly managing sponsorships, vendors & exhibitors, etc.
Promote your event with a strong marketing plan
At the heart of every event is the purpose, so always take your time to think through what it is that you want attendees to walk away with. Naturally, this will be different for every event, so do some research on these types of templates and use them as inspiration.
For large events, investing in marketing should be a top priority because it’s an effective way to reach multiple targets at once (and avoid calling each one individually). If others aren’t aware of your upcoming event, then start promoting early and often!
The earlier into the planning process you can get started with this step, the better. Make sure there’s ample time to do so.
Building a Marketing Plan for your Event:
- Create an outreach list that will be used to help spread the word about your event.
- Plan out all of your marketing channels and how you’ll use them.
- Determine what type of content should be included in your campaign and develop a launch schedule.
- Identify appropriate stakeholders who can assist with promoting or spreading the message about your event.
- Map out specific social media campaigns as well as relationships you’d like to form/maintain.
- Compile a list of target markets, audiences, and other relevant targets.
- Make sure to set aside time for the entire plan to unfold. Don’t forget that it takes time to build relationships!
- Take advantage of social media by leveraging influencers and their audiences to promote your event.
Seek out sponsors to finance the event
Sponsors can be a great way to help reduce overall costs for an event and at the same time help spread brand awareness and goodwill. Doing this effectively requires some research so start digging into your lists and even expand them if needed.
For example, if you want to target a particular industry or area, then do your best to find potential sponsors within those areas/circles who will benefit from sponsoring your event (this also helps with promoting).
Work with suppliers based on your needs
This step is all about coordinating any vendors involved and determining additional logistics like staging or lighting needs (if they haven’t already been figured out in your planning).
Another important aspect of this is to know when you’ll need these vendors to start working on the event so that everything is prepared in advance and that there aren’t any conflicts with other events or services.
Utilize event technology to streamline planning
There are some great apps and software products out there that can help you plan an event quickly and easily. Different companies have developed a few mobile apps which cater explicitly to event managers and planners.
Create a compelling and interactive agenda
Finally, the main event itself! Once you’ve thought through your purpose and know exactly what you want to convey or demonstrate, creating an agenda becomes much easier because you’ll already have a clear idea of the flow and who will be speaking, etc. Plus, this will help you streamline all of your other marketing efforts around this central theme.