5 Event Planning Tips...Even If You’re Not An Event Planner

by Laura H. Vogel on Monday, June 6, 2011 in Demand Generation

Here’s the dilemma: You need to plan an event, but you have no background in event management planning. Somehow this duty has been thrust upon your shoulders.

Relax. We’re here to help.

Many organizations don’t have a dedicated point-person for event marketing management. Yet, an event can make or break a campaign. Here are some handy tips to help you from planning process through the big day.

Get Out The Whiteboard
No matter the type of event you’re planning, you need to map out a strategy. What’s the goal of your event? Are you introducing a new product or service to customers? Running a demo for analysts or prospects?

Whether your end goal is to get in front of key influencers or present before a group of executives, you’ll want to whiteboard a strategy. Look at your ideal audience, what message will resonate with them and how you are going to measure results. Remember, you’ll have no clue whether your event was a bust or boon unless you have the right metrics.

Bring Up Budget
Once you have your goals outlined, you need to consider how much it will cost to accomplish those goals. Personally, I make a checklist of every single cost item I need to make an event happen. This can include signs, invitations, graphic treatments for the website, food, beverages, music, giveaways, etc. Think back to events you’ve attended and imagine all the little things that were involved. What do you absolutely need and what can you live without? Make up a checklist and start developing an overall price tag.


4 Event Management Planning Resources



  • Find A VenueNeed help finding a venue? Cvent makes it easy. You can search for venues all over the world and get info on the type and size of sites.

  • Your MapCheck out Keynote Resource for helpful master planning documents and checklists. You may need to customize, but having an outline can go a long way.

  • BudgetingSimilarly, it's useful to have an outline for a budget. Luckily, Best Events Catering have sample downloads for you.

  • Finding HelpIf you don't have an event marketing team, you may need to call in back-up. At Meeting Professionals International you can find pros that are available on a freelance basis.



A Time and Place for Every Event
Are you hosting executives or managers? Is it a presentation or a mixer? Is this event part of your demand generation strategy or about brand awareness?

The answer to these questions should determine when and where your event is held. If you’re targeting busy executives, for instance, you’ll want to plan a fancy breakfast. A networking event is best served in the evening with cocktails. A presentation feels forced in a bar. Better to hold that kind of an event in a hotel or conference room.

Be aware of how our surroundings influence our attention spans and the type of message we expect to hear.

Iteration of an Invite
The invitation to your event is one of the most important aspects of the entire planning process. You don’t want to send out the first invite too early or too late. Three weeks out is a good rule to live by. But if you want to get on executives’ calendars, you might want to send it out even earlier. A more detailed, elaborate invite for a dinner event is appropriate, but you may want to be more simple and straight to the point if you’re presenting a demo. Include directions that include access to public transportation. Make it easy to be an attendee.

Also, you’ll want to segment your invite list. Marketing automation can help immensely in this case. An invite to analyst event will just junk up a CMO’s inbox. And you’ll want to follow up. Those who have RSVP’d should receive reminders that differ in timing and message than those who haven’t.

Walk a Mile
Visit the venue the day before your event. Envision how you want attendees to experience the event. What signs need to be in place to avoid confusion? Where should you station staff? Basically, you want to understand what your guests will see from the time they walk into the venue to the registration table to the actual event. Feel matters. And the only way to anticipate how your event will feel is to walk a mile in your guests’ shoes.

What are your tips for throwing an event? Have you learned any lessons along the way?

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