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Are you contemplating taking a booth space at an upcoming industry conference?

Maybe you’d like to invite potential customers to an event to showcase your business?

Whether you are planning a big event or a small gathering…

Planning is the key to a successful event.


Plan what are you trying to achieve?

Set goals. Why are you organising this event? What are you hoping to achieve as a result? What do you want people to know about your business? These goals could be financial eg sales you would like to achieve as a result. Or they may be social goals – raising awareness of your brand amongst key players. Set goals that determine a “successful event” – so that you can measure how well you did post-event. Your goals need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based.

Plan and define your target market:

Who are you trying to speak to? Define your event target audience and the number of people attending.

Plan a budget:

Agree on an appropriate budget and document quoted versus actuals to track event costs and stay on track.

Plan the detail:

Confirm the date, the time, the venue. Check that there are no conflicting events on at the same time. Is there parking available for key people? Put together timelines for activities to tick off prior to the event, on event day, and post event.

Plan some helpers:

These may be trusted staff members who are savvy with what you do and how you do it. If they are going to be front-facing to customers, ensure they are confident, able to relate well to others and able to answer any questions that may come up. They are the personal face of your business, so they need to emulate your brand.

Plan your marketing material:

Invest in some support material. How can you stand out – particularly if it is an industry-wide event. Depending on your event this may include brochures, signage, banners, promotional flags, giveaways or samples. Ensure that your material is clear, eye-catching and not too ‘busy’. There also needs to be a strong call to action – whether that is a phone number to call, a website to visit or an offer to contact you about.

Plan your venue:

Investigate the venue you are intending to hold your event in. How can you best utilise the space you have, and draw people in to see what you are promoting.

Plan your communication:

How you will let people know about the event? If it is an internally organised event, will you use your own databases? If it is an industry wide event eg a conference, check if there is an opportunity to advertise in the programme and enquire as to what promotional coverage you get in the programme as an exhibitor.

Event Day:

Plan your technology requirements:

Do you need WIFI? Do you need a laptop or projector? Will you have ipads for people to browse your website? Lighting? Do you need to prepare a formal presentation – if so, be sure to have a full practice beforehand to check that your technical support works well.

Plan your photography:

Do you require photographs to be taken at the event to be used for promotional purposes or industry magazines? Organise someone you trust to take them before and during the event, to capture the activity. Likewise video – are there presentations that you need to capture during the event that could be useful to put onto your website?

Plan to collect prospects:

Exposure to new prospects? How do you intend to capture their details? Maybe you have a competition they enter which allows you to obtain their email addresses for future marketing opportunities. If it’s an industry event – maybe you swap business cards.

Post Event:

Follow up with contacts:

Follow up with any new contacts you have identified during the event.  Send them an email thanking them for attending and perhaps drawing their attention to a special deal you have going. Maybe offer them the chance to have a coffee and a chat. Show an interest in their business, and find ways for your organisation to help them to solve their problems. Utilise any opportunities for interaction and do it within a few days of the event, while you are fresh in their minds.

Evaluating your success:

Post-event, measure the success of your event against the goals that you originally set yourself. Did you achieve your sales targets? Did you gain more connections or prospective customer details?   Be sure to evaluate ways to improve for future events.

NB:  This article was published in the EMA “BusinessPlus” magazine.  Enterprises of all types and sizes join the Employers and Manufacturers Association, for opportunities to learn and grow, make valuable business connections and change the world.  EMA provides its members with professional advice and training to succeed in many aspects of business.

cover - BusinessPlus May 2016 LR