There’s nothing more satisfying than delivering a successful event — whether it’s a board meeting, product launch or a three day conference. It’s the satisfaction of seeing all the components come together and run like clockwork, knowing you have played a major part in making it happen.
There are three main components to planning an event:
The promotion and logistics only exist to get the audience in front of the content. If the event is to achieve its purpose, the content has to be right. This can appear daunting in some cases — and obvious in others — but content is everything.
The big question is: what is the right content?
To get to that answer you need to complete a business case for your event — and that’s where the event planning process starts.
Many events go ahead without a business case — some very successfully! But miss this step and you risk wasting a lot of time down the track and missing opportunities to maximise your return on investment. A good business case will give the planning process direction and clarity as well as help you make decisions on content, promotion and logistics.
Keep your answer high level: increase sales, improve morale etc. — you can go into more detail when you define your event objectives.
Consider the economic environment: is your target audience doing well or is business tough? What is the political environment like — is it stable or uncertain? Consider what your competitors are doing.
Answering this will give you a sense of whether it is the right time to hold the events.
What worked? What failed? What was the return on investment?
Again — valuable information in deciding not only whether to hold your event but also what content you should have and how to promote it.
Who are they? Consider rating from 1-10: how hard will it be to get them to attend the event? What will be their motivation to attend?
Or to put it another way: what do we want the audience to do as a result of attending the event?
Defining objectives can be hard and a bit confusing. Answer the question “what do I want the audience to do” and the process becomes much clearer. This is where you get granular — things like agree to a meeting, take part in focus groups or post positive comments online. It’s worth brainstorming and thinking outside the box because this will have a massive influence on content.
If the business objective is to sell then the ROI is the amount you will sell. If the objective is to build a strong company culture, then the ROI could be measure in staff retention. This question is a whole lot easier to answer if you’ve established detailed event objectives. Try to apply a value to what the audience will do and you can work out your return.
This question is relative to your ROI. At this stage it’s not a case of working out how much the event will cost — it’s more a case of stating how much you can afford to spend to get the ROI. If you think you’ll make $50,000.00 in sales and you want a 100% ROI then your budget will be $25,000.00 to deliver the event.
Your stakeholders may be the executive team — if it’s a marketing event, the stakeholders could be the sales team. Ask yourself: do you have their full support and commitment?
This may be a given with some events, but is also worth considering on small events — it can be a way to get a bigger budget for the event (as long as it doesn’t conflict with your objectives).
Assess your ROI vs. business environment and likelihood of getting the audience — then you can decide if it will be worth holding the event or not.
Who should be in your lead team? You need someone to be clearly responsible for each of the main components: Content, Promotion and Logistics. You will also need an overall Event Lead.
Being the content lead is more than just putting the program together — it’s leading the process in deciding on the flow of the event, the vibe, the branding, the messaging, even the catering and the take-aways . It is the how of “how will I get the audience to do what I want them to do?”.
This is the person responsible for getting the audience to the event. They need to work hand in glove with the content lead to make sure the messaging and program meet the audience motivation to attend. They also have to do the detailed work of getting the invitation lists together and deciding on the registration and check in process.
Your promotion lead may also take on responsibility for securing sponsors and exhibitors — though this job may be big enough to warrant it’s own lead.
The person responsible for making it all happen. This is the person that keeps everyone on deadline, that manages the budget, that contracts all the suppliers, that makes sure everyone knows what they need to do on the day.
Sure — on some events one person does all of these roles and by default they are the event lead. When you have more than two in the team you need to make someone the overall Event Lead. Their role is to make sure everyone works effectively together and be the final decision maker when there is more than one path forward.
Often the difference between good and great events are how well the leads and teams work together: The closer you work together, bounce ideas off each other and help each other to succeed the better the outcome will be.
Managing the budget is one of the key skills of a great logistics lead. You should know at all times what your revenue and costs are — to the dollar. This means working alongside the content and promotion teams to know exactly what they are trying to achieve and coming up with solutions that are in budget by working closely — and often creatively — with your suppliers.
Your budget may change — you may even cancel the event — during the planning process if things don’t go to plan, so you need to set review dates.
If you are relying on revenue from ticket sales, sponsors or exhibitors you should set budget review dates to see if revenue expectations are being met.
If your event is free to attend you may have targets for the number of RSVPs. Again you need to set review dates to make sure expectations are being met.
Yes it sounds dramatic — but the “critical path” is simply the process of identifying key dates in the planning process, eg. the date you need to have the branding ready, finalise the program, start marketing the event etc. The first thing to do when planning is to agree on these key dates (AKA the critical path) with the team. All the other hundreds of tasks that are associated with delivering an event will be scheduled according to these dates. The responsibility for the critical path normally falls to the event lead but it is a team effort to pull it together.
In your critical path it may be logical to finalise much of your content before you start the venue search. But this can often be too late — venues play a critical role in setting the tone of an event. The location and the day of the week will have a big impact on attendance. You therefore do not want to compromise on your ideal venue. If you want to secure the day, location and venue you want you will need to book as early as possible. Once you know your desired date, place a hold on the venues you like. It will not cost anything (in most cases) but will guarantee you getting the venue you want.
Based off the critical path, your team can now work out their own specific tasks for their components and then check with each other it is all happening in the right order. Get the order wrong and you can waste a lot of time and money. There are literally hundreds of tasks involved in delivering an event but the list below shows a few more “headline” items and how they need to be done in the right sequence.
You have all agreed what needs to be done, now you need to make sure it is done on time and on budget.
It is easy to get so involved in the logistics that you forget to really monitor the content.
Planning events is very rewarding but can be very time consuming — it’s always more time consuming than you think it will be. There are tools that can help, some generic productivity tools are useful but don’t fully serve the unique requirements of events. That's why we made Joi.
Joi is a productivity tool specifically designed for events. By automating workflows and mundane tasks, Joi can make you up to five times more productive. If you are interested in learning more about Joi go to www.joi.events or book a demo.