You’ve an idea for event perhaps a product launch, or fundraiser or your Uncle Ted’s 70th birthday but it’s all too overwhelming to think about how you are going to pull it off.
I began my career working for a conference and production business. Prior to the digital age it was a challenging but exciting job – I think having to wrap a car as a giant present was my favourite project. My boss’s wise words still ring in my ears every time I plan any event; Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. So here are my basic steps to planning successful event;
What is your objective?
This may seem basic but its crucial to have a clear vision of what it is you want to achieve and what it is you want to do. What are your long terms goals – is it to raise the profile of your organisation or is your fundraiser part of a wider campaign? Keeping a view to your long term strategic plans and a clear set of objectives will help you build a more effective event.
I find a large piece of paper and box of pens helps me map out how an event will look and feel. Think about who will attend? Where is the event to be held? If you are a business you can generate valuable goodwill and ‘buzz’ about what you do. If you are a charity how will you attract new donors?
Draw up a plan
Once you’ve got the basic outline the event draw up a timetable. You can either use simple checklist or something more technical like a Gantt chart (basically an excel spreadsheet with pretty coloured boxes!).
Consider all the resources that you are going to need such as venue, refreshments, invitations or programmes. What physically needs to be done like booking bands or checking your insurance? Who is going to do all of these tasks – hopefully you’ll have a team of people to help – if not put ‘asking for help’ on your list! Draw up a timeline of when everything needs to be done. Finally, plan for the unexpected; what happens if the toilets block or your guest speaker doesn’t turn up?
And ‘ta da’ you have the start of your plan!
It doesn’t matter if you are planning a party at home or a fundraising extravaganza you need to set a budget. This will focus your mind between what is needed and what you want to make the event a success. If you want a £10,000 wedding but only have £1000 in the bank that quickly focuses you on what you need and what you want (I’ve been there!). Get quotes and firm up costs as much as possible, and don’t forget to include a ‘contingency fund’ for unplanned expense or emergencies.
For events that aim to generate revenue whether for a business or charity (such as with ticket sales) include figures in the budget to offset the costs of putting on the event. Identify the event’s breakeven point and what you can do without if ticket sales don’t meet expectations.
Tell people about it.
The key to any successful event is great publicity and marketing. If you want people to come to an event whether a family party or the launch of your new book you need to tell then when and where it’s happening!
Put together a plan that includes all the different channels that your target audience will use: email, social media, Enewsletters, posters and flyers. Using a well thought out combination of different media and content you can create a buzz and get people talking about your event.
If you need upfront commitment say so, for instance, you could ask them to join a Facebook group or subscribe to an event newsletter. If you are selling tickets think about how you are going to track ticket sales.
PR and getting your event in the media can play a crucial part in getting your message out there. Use a PR specialist, if you don’t have the skills or time.
Enjoy the day
Yes, on the day running an event can be nerve-wracking, hectic and just a little stressful when things don’t go to plan but try to enjoy it. You’ve worked hard to create a fabulous event, you’ve promoted it effectively, lots of people are there raising money for your charity or buying your products and they are having a great time!
Remember those clear set of objectives you set? Follow up contacts or donors with simple feedback forms or an online survey will help you evaluate how successful your event has been.
If you are organising a big event but don’t know where to start or you just haven’t the time then why not use an event management consultant? Danells & Bewley Consultants have experience in fundraising, corporate, family and even royal events – just drop us an email to organise a chat about how we can help.