Corporate event planning is like buying your first home or planning a wedding. It’s a hectic but rewarding experience fuelled by creativity, careful preparation and long nights tying up loose ends.
Regardless of the reason for your corporate event, the value of such conventions and shows in Australia is huge. In fact, over 37 million people have attended more than 412,000 business events across the country. In Western Australia alone, small businesses represent more than 96% of all businesses, making the opportunity to get your brand, product or show out there a very valuable one.
But for your event to be a hit and the (positive) talk of the town, planning stages are the most crucial.
Maybe you’re a small business owner after actionable tips to create your own corporate event, or you have a passion for networking and looking for an event and branding experience. Whichever category you fall in, good event planning is all about organisation, time management and flexibility. Here’s a SMART template for event success to implement for your big day:
1. Set Your Event’s Vision with a Competitive Edge
Define the event’s purpose to give yours the competitive edge. Chances are, your target audience has been to many events, so why should they beat this one?
If you can clearly communicate your why, audiences will be more attracted to your event and brand. Set its vision and purpose through SMART goals and a tangible mission statement which will show your potential attendees what’s in it for them if they attend.
Whether the event is to stimulate media coverage, network or to change customer perceptions, it must be engaging. And if something similar has been done before, ask yourself why you’re doing it again and how that ‘why’ can be achieved.
Pro tip: Align your event strategy with your corporate marketing goals. Social media and marketing goals exist to benefit your business and event goals should tie into these. It’s important that your digital world and face-to-face experience reflect the same branding, company mission and values.
2. Mark the Finer Details
The devil is in the details and event planning has a lot of them.
Corporate events are all about the finer workings. Start by thinking of the experience you want your attendees to have and make it the best it possibly could be, down to the smallest detail.
Use an event planning checklist to keep everything in order and be sure to create a clear timeline and realistic budget to make all the ‘details’ possible.
Factor in costs including venue, audio/visual hire, catering, marketing and branding, entertainment and miscellaneous (event staff, décor etc). Don’t forget to create a buffer for emergencies as well.
3. Arrange Event Partners to Engage with
Corporate event partners and sponsors are critical for increasing your reach and stretching the budget.
Choosing the right key players can add stability to your event – especially important for smaller operations with limited funds – to cut costs and increase the chances of success.
Pro Tip: Identify the real decision makers so you don’t have to repeat your pitch. Their business must also compliment your event vision. Look for vendors and partners who work with small businesses and corporate events frequently.
4. Reserve Speakers, Exhibitors and Suppliers
Map out the atmosphere you want to create by choosing the right speakers, exhibitors and suppliers. This process should involve more than merely picking the crème of the crop. Instead, every selection must align with your goals, attract attention and put your products/services in the best light.
Determine your tech and audio-visual equipment needs, as well as additional suppliers and exhibitors that will help propel the success of your event. Make sure your speakers can demonstrate to guests the problem and solution, so everyone goes home motivated with actionable and effective takeaways.
Pro Tip: When choosing your suppliers, invest in quality AV equipment to give the event vibe. The right use of lighting and LED screens can help showcase your products/services and grab attendee’s attention. Always check social media and other online reviews to determine which suppliers, speakers and exhibitors tick the boxes.
5. Tailor Your Social Media, Marketing and Branding Strategies
Create demand with social media content, online marketing, branding and valuable event speakers.
Although the event is the ‘big thing’, promote your speakers and exhibitors as these will be your selling points.
If you have speakers who’ll provide real benefit to your attendees (and you should), they will help bring the right crowd along. Choose your digital platforms based on who the event is targeting and create tailored and optimised content to feed them with.
Reach out to speakers and suppliers to help share the event too. Talk to influences with a lot of clouts who may be interested in your event. Invite them to attend and offer some exclusive content for their blog/feed in return.
As the event draws closer, gradually ramp up event-related content (but be careful not to spam people – anything more than five posts a day is probably overdoing it. Throughout the event, share soundbites. These can be done through regular pictures and quotable statements attached to video snippets.
For post-event success, continue the buzz on social media to nurture event connections.
As stressful and as challenging as event planning is, there’s also room to have fun. A lot of fun. Corporate events deliver big success for small businesses, make sure yours is unique and memorable and gives people a reason to come back.
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who recommends Mega Vision Sound and Lighting as a corporate event supplier. Mega Vision is a leading provider of professional audio, visual and lighting equipment hire in Western Australia. Catch Jayde on Google+.