Looking to plan your very first event but don’t know where to start?
Or you are not a first-timer but looking for more effective ways to plan your next event?
You’ve come to the right place.
While organizing an event is always challenging and will require detailed planning and management, there are strategies you can adopt to make the process as stress-free as possible.
While different events are unique with their own unique goals and target audiences, you can follow these five phases as a guideline for planning your next event:
Phase 1: Defining Objective and Market Research
Step 1: Identifying purpose and objectives
A crucial step that’s often overlooked by many event planners is to identify the purpose of the event before you even begin planning for it.
What’s the reason for hosting the event in the first place? You’d be surprised how many event planners are hosting an event just for the sake of having an event or just to jump into the bandwagon to cover a trending theme or niche.
For some events, the purpose might be obvious, but for some others, less so. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to identify the purpose of the event and then define the objectives related to this purpose.
Your event’s goals should be clear, specific, and measurable so you can evaluate whether the event is a success (or not) later on.
Step 2: Defining your target audience
Based on the purpose and objectives you’ve set in the previous step, who is the target audience that is the most likely to help you achieve these objectives?
Your event should be designed with a customer-centric approach. Meaning, you are building an event that caters to this specific target audience’s needs, and not the other way around.
So, you should gather as much information as you can about this target audience. Build a buyer persona and identify their demographics, behaviors, interests, and pain points.
The better you understand your target audience, the better your event will be.
Phase 2: Designing The Event
Step 3: Outline the event’s agenda
Define the high-level details of your event. This shouldn’t need to be set in stone, and you can always go back to it later. However, identify key elements of your event design including:
- Type of event: will this be a conference, keynote session, concert/festival, etc.? Decide on the best type according to your target audience and the event’s purpose.
- Venue/location: at least a shortlist of potential venues. If it’s going to be a multi-city event, create a shortlist listing your cities and venues.
- Technology: what technology solutions and tools are you going to need
- Date/time: at least a rough time frame for the event (i.e. in next November/December)
- Agenda: an outline of the event’s schedule/agenda
- Talents: a shortlist for speakers/talents to pursue
- Sponsors: target sponsors you are going to reach
Step 4: Picking your ideal venue/virtual event platform
If you are planning a live/in-person event, then it’s very important to secure the venue as early as possible on the event planning stage. The venue you get will dictate other elements of the event: date/time, decor, stage design, and others, and the earlier you research potential venues, the more options you’ll have.
If it’s a virtual event, then you should decide on the right virtual event platform depending on the type of the online event, as well as other technology solutions you may need.
Phase 3: Marketing Your Event
Step 5: Create a strong event branding
Even if your company is already an established brand, including if you are an experienced event organizer, the event should have a strong, independent identity on its own.
If you’ve established a clear purpose and objectives for the event, then it should be easy enough to brand. Again, your event’s brand identity should be customer-centric: understand your target audience’s expectations and design your brand identity around it.
Create a strong brand name that is unique and easy to pronounce/remember. Also, make sure the brand name can show why the event is unique and why it’s worth attending.
Make sure to maintain branding consistency across your marketing efforts.
Step 6: Create a marketing plan
Explore all marketing channels available based on your target audience’s preferences and behaviors. Your event is unique, and you will need unique approaches on how to promote the event.
Publish a well-written press release to relevant media, websites, and influencers, and obviously, we should market the event on social media. Consider investing in paid advertising on relevant social networks and endorse the right influencers.
Phase 4: Execution
Step 7: Coordinating the event
The D-day of the event is coming, and now we should finalize all elements of the event with each team member.
You’ll need to share a finalized schedule with each team member and assign a venue manager as your representative at the venue. The schedule should list all components of the event with a clear timeline, and should also list who (or which team) is responsible for each component to maintain accountability.
This step is mainly about perseverance and hard work.
Phase 5: Evaluation
Step 8: Post-event evaluation
You’ve successfully hosted your event! Congratulations!
However, your job doesn’t end there, and it’s crucial to perform a formal evaluation to measure the performance of your event.
Send out a post-event survey to collect objective feedback on the event, as soon as you can so the feedback is fresh.
Also, evaluate with your team whether the event’s objectives are met, and identify areas that you can improve in the future.
By understanding the five phases of event planning above, you are now ready to plan your next event and make sure it can attract a lot of attendees.
The secret to successful event planning remains to understand who the event’s target attendees are: the better you understand this target audience, the better you can design your event to cater to their preferences, and the more attendees you can attract and satisfy.