This is a guest post by Minal From Marketing By Minal on Hosting Business Events Successfully
Hosting business events is a great way to generate leads. Organising an event takes time and planning. The more effort you put in to the planning phase, the greater your success will be. So, if you’re thinking about hosting an event for your business, grab a cuppa and read my take on what you need to do to host a successful one.
What are your objectives?
Whenever you start to plan a marketing activity, the first thing you need to think about is why are you doing it? What do you want to achieve? If you don’t have this from the outset, then you won’t achieve the results you hope for.
So, sit down and think about your objectives. These should include:
- Who are you targeting to attend?
- What does success look like?
- Why should people attend your event?
- What do you want attendees to do after the event?
- How much will you spend and what’s the return on investment?
Hosting Business Events
Before you even get started on event planning, you need to know what your marketing needs to achieve for your business.
At this point, you should also decide whether your event will be free or there will be a charge. If you’re planning on charging, work out what the cost should be. Do you want to cover your costs? Then you need to work out what it will cost to host the event and then work out what you need to charge to cover it.
Devise your agenda
Once you’ve worked out your objectives, you’ll be able to devise an agenda that will help you to achieve them. When you put together your agenda, here are some things you’ll need to consider:
- Starting time
- Finishing time
- How many presentations
- How long is each presentation?
When you plan the agenda, remember to leave time for people to register and for the person hosting to do an introduction & a closing statement. All these things are important to make sure your event runs smoothly. The agenda will also play a big part in whether people decide to attend or not, so give them all the information they need to make that decision.
Book your speakers
If you’re planning to have guest speakers, remember to book them in plenty of time. People’s diaries fill up fast, particularly if they are popular speakers. If you plan to use members of your team, you need to make sure the event is in their schedule too.
Leave yourself lots of time to do this because sometimes your first-choice speaker isn’t available and you need to find a suitable substitute.
Once you have your speakers, make sure you brief them fully on what you’re expecting from them and what they can expect in return. Create a speaker’s pack so it’s written down and they can refer to it whenever they need to. Include important details such as date, timings (you should have them arrive earlier than the start time) and venue address.
Also ask them to tell you what their presenter requirements are, and I don’t mean a rider! What do they need to do their presentation? Is there a particular piece of equipment you need to source?
Book your venue
I can’t tell you how important it is to get the right venue when hosting business events. It’s the difference between happy attendees and disgruntled ones. So, make sure you visit the venue you’ve chosen. In fact, pick a few to choose from and visit them all.
The event manager at the venue will be more than happy to show you around and discuss your requirements. They host any number of events in their venues and will be able to guide you through considerations for your event.
You should also discuss any catering with the venue, as well as any technical requirements you have. Remember, everything will have a cost associated with it.
How will people tell you they’re coming?
It’s a good idea to have a landing page for your event. This will be where you put the agenda, information about the speakers, how people get to the venue, and how people register. Use a tool that will automatically collect registration information for you. This will save you a lot of time by not having to update spread sheets and keep track everyone who has registered.
One thing to do is always over book. Even if you’re charging for your event, some people will be unable to attend. If your event is free, overbook by the double the number of attendees you want to achieve. Free events regularly have a 50% no-show rate, so mitigate this by allowing more people to register.
What’s your promotional plan?
Part of hosting business events is the promotion of that event. Promoting your event is going to help you achieve the attendee numbers you want. Write down a promotional plan. This doesn’t have to be complicated. It should include all the places you can promote your event:
- Your email list
- Your social networks
- Social media advertising
- Any partners you work with
- Your presenters (give them some pre-written posts in their briefing pack)
- Your website
- Your email signatures
There are many more places, so brainstorm your own list. If you want to understand how a good promotional plan can impact your event, read this post.
What do you need on the day?
There will be many things that you need to think about on the day. So, plan ahead and think about what you will need to take with you. These include:
- Branding – roller banners, holding slides for the presentation screen, branded lanyards, brochures. There are any number of things you’ll want to include here. Think about what’s relevant.
- Goodie bags – do you want to give your attendees something to take back? Branded merchandise, copies of the presentations, a discount? Get them ready before the day.
- Name badges – help your attendees network by giving them name badges.
- Feedback forms – you’ll want to know whether attendees enjoyed the event. Ask for feedback on the day and more people will fill in the form.
Plan your follow up
Remember your objectives? Well, you don’t achieve them by the end of your event. The hard work continues afterwards. You need to have your follow up planned and ready to go so you don’t lose any time. Everyone who attends your event will be busy. They’ll leave your event with thoughts of doing the things you tell them about, but it’s likely those good intentions will fall by the wayside. So, having your follow up ready to send out the very next day will help them to take the next action you want them to take.
The gold dust is in the debrief!
When your event is finished and the follow up has been sent out it’s done, right? Wrong! There’s one, important thing you need to do, and that’s to debrief. Whether you plan to host events regularly, or once in a while, figuring out what worked and what didn’t will make it easier next time. So, spend the time to do this. Some things you should review:
- Attendee feedback
- Venue suitability
- Presenter feedback
- Your objectives
The quicker you do this review, the more you’ll get out of it.
Events are a great way to get leads for your business, but only if you plan for success. Follow these steps and you’ll have an event that leads to new customers for your business!