It’s panic time. Your boss has tapped you to plan an event. Your company doesn’t have an event team, so it’s all on you.
Don’t worry. You can totally do this. And we’re here to help. This eight-step guide on how to plan an event has everything you need to get started.
Follow it—and invest heavily in event management software—and you should come out of this with an event that leaves your attendees already RSVP’ing for your next one.
1. Figure out your goals and timeline for the event
Planning an event is a massive undertaking. Before you get too far into it, think about why you want to host it. Are you looking to grow your customer base? Drive sales revenue? Educate customers? Recruit new employees?
2. Establish your budget
It’s the least glamorous part of the whole shebang, but you’ve got to figure out how you’re paying for all the fun stuff (food, speakers, swag, confetti canons). Events can, after all, get pretty pricey.
3. Find your venue
If you’re throwing a larger event, you’ll have to select the city you’re planning on hosting in. If you’re throwing a smaller, local event, that’s less of a concern. Regardless, plan an event that’s easily accessible to the majority of your consumers, leads, and target audience.
Once the general location is set, it’s time to pick the specific venue.
4. Select your tech
There’s a lot of software out there. Some of it will be helpful for your event, and some of it might help with future events.
5. Find your partners and vendors
Depending on the venue you choose, they might offer specials or have their own in-house caterers and A/V offerings. If you can’t bring in outside vendors, you should check to see if they offer any particular deals you can take advantage of (for example, they might offer deals for nonprofits or discounts if you meet a certain attendee threshold).
6. Figure out your main attraction
What is it that’s going to get people to attend your event?
Maybe it’s the subject matter, maybe it’s the speakers. It depends on the event, and more than that, it depends on your attendees.
Think about your audience. What’s going to get them excited? What’s going to motivate them?
7. Build out your marketing campaign
You want to get folks in those seats? This is the step that does that.
You need to develop a singular vision for your event theme and build your marketing campaign around that. Your theme should be tied to the goals you set out at the beginning, and the audience you’re after.
From there, you’ll need to engage as many channels as your marketing team has at their disposal. Beyond email marketing, content marketing, ad buys, and social media marketing, you should reach out to those who have RSVP’d early to see if they will promote the event on social media.
8. Develop a plan to build on your new relationships with attendees
The event hasn’t even happened yet, but you should already think beyond it as part of the planning process.
You need to have a plan in place to grow the relationships the event generates.
At the event, lay the groundwork for a future relationship by offering lots of free swag with your company’s information on it (e.g., pens, magnets, binders, totes, etc.).
This way, after the event, people will still have your company at the forefront of their minds every time they go to open the fridge or bag their groceries.