If you think that planning an event seems like a lot of work, you’re right. For centuries, event planners have lost sleep, seen many gray hairs, and even claimed that their experience in event planning has taken years off their life. This does not have to be the case with you.
Planning a successful event can result in financial gain for your organization, as well as a strong sense of community among your attendees. But in order to maintain your sanity and (hopefully) keep those gray hairs from peeking through, you need to carefully strategize and plan out your steps.
We can’t promise to help with the hair, but read on and we’ll give you six tips to help you stay organized and plan a successful event.
Determine the type of event you’ll host.
Step one is determining what type of event will be most beneficial for your organization. During this decision process, consider your organization’s goal. Then, use that information to choose the event that will best help you accomplish those goals.
For example, associations might host a conference to introduce their members to various networking opportunities and connections. Nonprofits might host an auction to bring their major donors together and raise large sums of money. Corporations might host an event that creatively provides marketing opportunities for their services.
Set your primary and secondary event goals so that you can plan what type of even you’ll have, as well as activities for that event that will help you reach those goals.
Set your tasks and deadlines.
When planning the execution of your event and its activities, take a look at your team. Is there someone who can dedicate a large amount of their time to plan the event, or will you need to bring in more people, in the form of outside vendors or contractors?
Take some time to break down the tasks that will be necessary to make your event possible. Here are some sample tasks you might consider:
- Publish your registration page
- Develop marketing materials
- Book your event venue
- Choose and purchase event software
- Recruit and manage volunteers to facilitate the event
Once you’ve listed out these tasks, assign them to the various members of your event planning team. Create a timeline and add important deadlines to your calendar so that you stay on track.
Create a budget for your event.
Allocate a budget that you’ll use to make sure you have a positive return on investment for your event. Here are some key areas that will need funding:
- Marketing materials
- Travel expenses
- Goody bags
- Food and beverage
- Auction items (if applicable)
Try not to look at your budget through rose-colored glasses. Approach this step with an element of realism, and be honest with your estimates. It’s better to budget conservatively than to be blind-sided by surprise expenses.
Choose the software you’ll need for your event.
Depending on the type of event you plan to host, you might need to invest in new software to make it possible. Consider the needs of your event and the type of software that will help facilitate your various activities. Event software can help with things like ticket sales, auction bidding, event registration and communications, livestreaming, and more.
Tthink about how your current software and technology can help your event. For example, you may already have software that stores information about your attendees (your CRM), but you might not have access to a virtual event platform or auction software.
Start promoting your event.
Promoting your event is key to gaining attendance and participation in event activities. To make the most of your marketing, segment your audience to make sure your messages reach the right people.
Segmentation allows you to personalize outreach with the information that your audience members will find most engaging. Consider the following examples:
- A nonprofit hosting an auction might promote different prizes to certain audiences. They may tease the all-inclusive trip to Mexico for top bidders while promoting concert tickets to lower-level donors.
- An association might promote its keynote speaker to industry professionals who are looking to learn from their upcoming conference. Meanwhile, they may promote the number of people looking to network to organizations who want to attend to hire new employees.
Teasing your event activities is a great promotion technique, providing your audience with a “sneak peek” into what they’ll gain from the event itself.
Plan for something to go wrong.
It’s rare for any event to go off completely without a hitch. Therefore, your organization will need to prepare for something to go wrong.
Before the event begins, go through all the scenarios of what might go wrong and come up with a plan for who is responsible for that scenario and how to fix each one. Communicate this plan with your volunteers whom and where to report any mishaps so that they can be resolved quickly.
Develop a risk management plan that features how you’ll back up the data you gain at the event, train volunteers to deal with any tech problems, and more. Then, minimize the need for this plan by testing all of your technology and event activities before the event begins.
You did it! You’re well-equipped to plan a successful event. But your work is not finished. Be sure to follow up with your supporters, thanking them for their participation once the event has concluded. You can even send out surveys to get a feel for how your guests received the event. That way, you can build on your success, maintain key relationships, and improve all of your future events, with these tips in mind, of course!