Whether you’re looking to host your first event, or project manage an existing one, this guide has been created to help ensure you achieve what you want from an event and create something that is memorable for everyone attending.
Using this actionable event checklist, follow each step to achieve an event that is a success.
In this guide we will cover;
- Establishing the goal of your event
- Choosing a date
- Selecting a venue
- Finding sponsors
- Marketing your event
Establishing the goal
Before you begin planning any type of event, it’s essential to know what your goal for this event is going to be. Decide from the below what your core goal for the event will be.
Raise brand awareness
Do you wish to raise the profile of your business in a specific area or location?
Raising brand awareness can help more people know about your business and enable your business to present it’s services or product.
Are you looking to increase qualified leads into your business?
Events are a great way of problem-solving for potential customers, which in turn can transform into leads for your business.
Make a profit
Are you looking to share knowledge or provide a service which can help you to make a profit?
By creating workshop-based events, or knowledge sharing events, you can make a profit from those wishing to learn.
Support a cause
Do you wish to highlight a charity or social cause that you feel passionate about?
An event can be an ideal way to raise money and awareness for charitable causes.
The ‘why’ for your event will lead everything else that you do in your event planning. So it’s essential that you are clear on your goal from the start.
For example, if you are looking to make a profit from your event then you will have to pin down the costs in your budgeting to ensure that you can make a profit.
No matter the goal for your event you will need to establish a budget.
The budget will not only help to guide you on the sponsorship packages, but will also determine the ticket price, and the cost-per-lead you will gain.
For example, if gaining leads was your goal an expensive event will increase your lead cost. Say an event cost you £5,000 to run, but you only gain 4 leads, that’s £1,000 per lead!
Instead be realistic.
How much are you looking to profit – if profit is your goal.
Or how much are you willing to spend in order to gain good brand awareness.
Areas you need to consider that will cost include;
Your ticket price will say a lot to those attending.
If it’s a high-price, they’re going to expect high-quality and for it to be worth their time and money.
You will also need to be aware, that depending on where you post your event online, websites such as Eventbrite and Meetup will take a small percentage of the ticket price.
Do your research on how much others have charged for similar events in your industry, this will give the best guide.
According to Eventbrite, the average cost venue hire is £500. However, this is dependant on area and the size of the space you’re looking to use.
When it comes to researching venue hire costs ensure to dig deep into what that price includes.
Does that include refreshments or catering?
Does that include the venue pushing the event out to their database?
It’s also important that you visit the venue to observe what the space looks like, the atmosphere and if it has parking, and free wifi; small things that make a big difference to attendees.
If your venue does not provide adequate catering this can be another cost that you will need to consider when budgeting for the event.
Again, ensure to do your research as the quality of the food will also be dependent on cost. Basic catering can be cheap, but if you want to appeal to those with dietary requirements, or even wish to have a theme there will be an added cost.
Besides if you’re looking to really impress your attendees, and if you’re charging for the event, then you will need to remember that people will want good quality food.
While you may be speaking yourself, or requesting other businesses to talk at your event, there may sometimes be costs incurred with individuals who have influence in your industry.
Speaker costs can be quite significant, but can also help to draw in the crowds, so again, it goes back to your goal. Will having a costly speaker help you to achieve your core goal?
During or after your event you may wish to provide branded products which will remind people of the experience. This could include notepads and pens, goody bags filled with sweets or even a water bottle.
While tokens can help people to keep you in their mind, it’s important to consider how much this will add to your costs.
Going back to your core goal, ask yourself if a giveaway will support you in achieving this?
In many of the goals we have listed it will, therefore research the costs of promotional products and also think about how useful it will be for the end-user. The more they like it or use it, the more they will be reminded of the event.
In order to get people to attend your event, you will have to let them know about it, which is why there must be a budget assigned to the marketing of the event.
While much of this can be done for free through your business with the use of social media and email newsletters, you may also wish to put a small cost on advertising your event to your target audience.
Choosing a date
The very basic task of setting a date may seem trivial but this can make all the difference in your attendance rates.
For example, hosting an event during the summer holidays will see your attendance low, as many people are either working unusual hours due to children or away on holiday.
You will also need to take into account any major events happening in the country, such as a World Cup or a national holiday.
It is also wise to think about the time of your event.
If it’s a networking event, the evening is often easier for most people. However, if it’s a workshop, or educational event, during the day is something many people would expect.
Selecting a venue
Finding the right venue for your event will be critical to how people feel about the experience afterwards.
After all, we not only take things by appearance but how we also want to feel as though it was convenient.
Any stresses and hassles caused by the venue, will, unfortunately, dictate how people feel about the event. Therefore it’s essential to get the venue right.
When visiting venues ask yourself the following questions;
Does the location suit the event?
This matters because you need to make an impression. Therefore the venue needs to connect people with the reason they are at the event.
Does the venue have free parking and accessibility?
Convenience and ease of travel are of many people’s biggest concerns. Making it in a place that won’t charge more for parking or extra travel expenses is ideal.
Does the venue have the equipment you require?
If you’re doing a presentation or any kind of workshop, it’s important that the venue can support you in creating this. Otherwise, it’s another cost you have to add to your budget.
Does the venue have free wifi?
Internet connectivity is now critical, and you will want this not only to be able to perhaps present, but it’s also great to encourage attendees to tweet and post about the event as it goes on.
Does the venue provide catering and refreshments?
If the venue can provide good catering and refreshments this is great, but ensure to check the quality of the food provided. Poor quality and limited options will only frustrate your attendees.
Are the venue staff helpful and friendly?
While they may not be fully supporting your event on the day, they will be actively helping any queries your attendees may have. Therefore, it’s essential that they give a good impression and are willing to help people.
No matter your goal, finding sponsors can enable you to support the costs of your event, and help another business to raise their brand awareness.
You may often see this at big events or exhibitions where they are supported by a partner. For example, London Fashion Week has a number of sponsors for their 2018 shows including Evian and Etihad Airways.
The first thing to consider is which types of brands and businesses you would want to sponsor your event. After all, they need to have some significance and relevance to the event.
List out any local businesses or brands who you feel fit well with the event or even the topic you will be covering.
The second part is to create sponsor packages. These can all differ depending on your core goal but could include;
Basic – provide a product or service for free for the event.
Intermediate – x amount for their brand logo to be used on all promotional material.
Advanced – x amount for their brand logo to be on all promotional material, plus a speaker slot at the event.
These are just some examples, but hopefully, it gives you some idea of the packages you can create and how sponsors can support you in creating an incredible event.
Marketing your event
Gaining ticket sales and attendees will be driven through a strong marketing strategy.
No matter the goal of your event, you will need to do some form of marketing to ensure it is successful.
There are many ways in which you can market your event depending on the budget you have assigned. Therefore, we have listed some of the most common and cost-effective ways in which to make people aware of your event.
If you have a database of contacts or a list of people who you have connected with, an email announcing your event is a great way to make people sign-up.
Not only does email continue to be a strong form of marketing, but depending on the size of your database, is often free.
Posting the event regularly on social media will help to build awareness for the event, as well as get attendees excited.
Revealing what they can expect and even snippets of talks from speakers can help to engage with people and turn them into attendees.
If your event is based around a particular topic or industry-specific, there are a number of online publications that list niche events. Therefore, outreach to these places to see if they could list your event. They may also be able to promote the event to their database but this will come at a fee.
Letting any local press or radio stations know about your event can help more people find out about the event and what can be expected. This is particularly true for community events such as festivals.
Is there an individual or group of people that have a strong influence in your industry or that are passionate about the cause you represent?
By contacting them and asking if they’d share the event, you could dramatically increase your footfall and gain some free exposure.