Memorable events don’t just happen. Organizing and holding an event takes planning. Whether it’s a conference, seminar or a customer appreciation day, and whether you have three weeks to plan or an entire year, your event’s success is in the details. We’ve collected 42 small business event planning tips from the experts, including some of the organizers of the annual Small Business Influencer Awards.
Small Business Event Planning: What to Do First
Decide upon your target audience before anything else. The first step — before you do anything else — should be to clearly define who your target audience is. From this all the other decisions will fall into place in terms of format, content, prices, location etc. This structured approach will also help you to stay focused on achieving specific goals and not allowing the scope to become too broad or watered down.
Make a list of details — everything including lighting and public transportation, to content and refreshments. When you decide to have an event, everything matters. From program content and lighting to transportation and parking — everything counts. And your audience will attribute everything to you and…your brand. Making a list will ensure you don’t overlook things.
Have a clear business purpose for holding the event. Before you can begin planning a successful event, be clear on why you are doing it in the first place, because every decision after that should support your main goal. Is it lead generation? Is it to create awareness of your company or a particular product? Is is to develop customer loyalty? Or do you simply want to make money (which is okay too)? And make sure the team is aware of the purpose, so that you don’t have “scope creep.”
Watch out for other industry events when scheduling. Check the calendar. Make sure you don’t schedule your event on or too close to holidays or popular vacation times. It’s just as important to check for other events that your target attendees might be going to.
Be flexible with changes in size, location and other details. As you get into the event planning process, you may find that your event changes in size, location, and many other ways than you originally envisioned. This is natural and perfectly fine as long as you don’t lose sight of the reason you’re doing all this work in the first place. Some flexibility is necessary.
Know your limitations. We all know the goal is to throw a great live event. To that end, we also have to be aware of what we can or cannot realistically do — be it budget … or time-wise. If you decide to throw a live event in a week’s time, plan for a more intimate affair. If it’s a big event, prepare several months ahead. If the budget is small, you may have to counterbalance with creativity and a lot of do-it-yourself work.
Create SMART goals.Always start with strategy. Just like building any business, great events start with a strong, thoughtful and measurable strategy. Live events are an amazing way to share your brand, connect with your target market, get feedback on your product (and more!), but you need to know what you are trying to achieve. Stick with SMART goals and outline what you are aiming for. Then make sure that you proceed in line with reaching these goals.