Launching a business event is just as much an art as it is a science. Create an event website and you can expect that someone will register for the corresponding event; email out event invitations and you can expect that someone will RSVP. But it’s in the how that the difference is made.
How you create your event website will dictate how it ranks organically in search engine results pages. How you design and send out that email will likewise determine whether or not it gets opened and whether someone will click-through it to your event website, and register.
Whether you are running an internal business event for employees, an external event for prospects or a hybrid event for prospective employees—a business event is equal parts art and science.
But before you paint the Mona Lisa, it’s helpful knowing how to sketch a convincing vase. Before you run the titration for sodium hydroxide, it’s helpful knowing what pH is. Before launching a business event, it’s helpful to know what steps are common prerequisites for a successful launch.
In this post, we’ll review some of the most common steps for launching a business event and why they are important. Your event may skip some of these steps and will likely add many more that what is listed, but after reviewing these steps you will have a better idea of what your event strategy requires. You may also learn how to titrate sodium hydroxide.
1. Determine Your Goals
The absolute first step in launching any event is understanding the why behind it. Your organisation has limited resources, so why are you investing in an event? It can be a scary question.
“Because we should” often isn’t the best way to respond. Of course you should—the majority of your peers and competitors view live events as critical to their success—but each of these organisations has determined set goals that align with the aims of their organisation (source).
These goals can include, but are not limited to:
- Driving Event Revenue: If you’re running a paid event, you’re likely interested in your event revenue. The goal of your business event may simply be to generate additional revenue or this revenue may be seen as an offset for the cost of achieving other goals
- Building Brand Awareness: One of the main goals of your event may be for the splash it makes among your attendees, social media and the press
- Accelerating Sales: For organisations that offer a product or service, events can be valuable channels for building out the sales pipeline, nurturing prospects and closing deals
- Delighting Customers: Your customers are the reason you’re in business. It may be the case that you choose to show your appreciation through an event
- Finding Top Talent: Events can make for the right environment to meet a broad swathe of candidates for your team
Once you have a strong grasp of the goals of your event, the other requisites for launching an event become a lot easier to realize.
2. Choose Your Event Platform
Artists have easels, scientists have beakers, wizards have wands and event professionals have event software. There is a lot of work that goes into events, and while it’s possible to do without, it is much easier to do with the help of software that manages event registrations, executes promotional campaigns, surfaces valuable insights and generally boosts productivity.
There are many event software providers on the market. In evaluating these different providers there are several questions you should ask yourself:
- Which of my goals are most and important and how does a specific event platform assist me in reaching my goals?
- What do peers in my network and on third-party review sites like G2Crowd and Capterra have to say about each event platform?
- How many events do I plan on using this software for?
These questions serve as an introduction to how you suss out the right platform for your organisation. Another step would be to take an event technology assessment to better understand how technology can specifically help you meet your goals and enhance your event strategy in ways you might not even be aware of.
3. Develop Your Event Brand
Your event brand is what your prospective attendees will see before they even register. It’s the speakers, activities and thematic choices you make for your event. It’s the total sum of your event experience and your attendees are expecting it to be cohesive.
According to one study, 60% of US millennials expect consistent experiences when dealing with brands online, in-store, or by phone (source). Your brand is important.
When attempting to craft the brand of your event, there are several touchpoints to keep in mind. These include your:
- Event Website
- Event App
- Event Emails
- Social Media
- Paid Ads
- Event Design
For every one of these touchpoints, maintaining consistency with colors, fonts, logos, and themes is essential for conveying a cohesive brand to your audience (think back to those millennials).
Check out the below example from GitHub’s Universe event.
Another part of your event brand is your event venue. Conference halls, bars, boats, zoos, museums, flats, piers and fields are all potential event venues. Each brings its own implications for your event brand.
Where you host your event is ultimately up to you, but when looking for venues, consider using an online venue marketplace.
4. Create Your Event Promotion Strategy
How you promote your business event ties back to your event goals. Whether your event is paid or free, internal or external, focused on brand awareness or employee education will change how you promote it. One thing that will almost never change is the need to promote your event.
Often one of the first steps in spreading the word on your event is creating your event website. Built with your event brand in mind, your event website should provide prospective attendees with a compelling reason to attend your event and a registration page for them to sign up. Your website may be hidden so only those invited can see it or it may be available to the whole wide world.
After your website is established, it’s a matter of determining what other channels are most appropriate for driving buzz and, hopefully, registrations. Social media, email marketing, video marketing, content marketing, paid retargeting ads, paid search ads, influencer marketing and attendee marketing—where you incentivize your attendees to promote your event for you—are all viable promotional channels.
Promotion doesn’t end once the event has arrived. Check out how the event marketing team at INBOUND keeps attendees engaged and informed throughout the multi-day event.
5. Leverage Sponsors and Partners
No matter how large your event strategy is, sponsors and partners can be critical for making it happen. This is especially the case for events that are just getting their feet off the ground. Event partnerships can help an event organiser cut down on costs, access resources that they would otherwise not be able to and boost the reach of their promotional efforts.
Consider Sales Hacker, an online community and resource center for sales professionals. Every year, Sales Hacker holds several landmark events including Sales Machine. To help boost the reach and credibility of their event, Sales Hacker collaborates with Salesforce, one of the largest B2B software companies in the world.
At first glance, it might seem unusual that a large enterprise B2B company would be willing to partner with a smaller community of event professionals, but the arrangement is beneficial for both sides. Sales Hacker gets the aforementioned perks while Salesforce gets to be the primary sponsor for an event comprised of their target audience. Access is valuable.
In searching for partners and sponsors, consider what you have to offer them and don’t sell yourself short.
6. Craft a Compelling Agenda
The agenda is the heart of your event. It’s the content that will satisfy your attendees and keep them coming back for more. It’s the talented speakers that will attract attendees and help you generate buzz. And yes, it’s also your partners and how you leverage them to create an unforgettable experience.
In crafting your event agenda consider including:
- Big name speakers: It may cost a lot of money to bring them out, but a famous actor, writer or musician can bring a lot of pull to your event
- Industry thought leaders: Sometimes you don’t need an celebrity, you just need someone who’s contributed in a big way to your industry
- Customer-led sessions: Whether you are looking to win new customers or excite other customers around your organisation’s community, customers can make for compelling speakers
- Employee-led sessions: Featuring employees as speakers can provide prospects and customers with an exclusive look at how your organisation conducts business
- Workshops: Depending on your event, it may be nice to break up the regular session flow with something more hands-on, be that a demo or a training session
- Fireside chats: A spin on a regular speaking session, fireside chats provide for more intimate discussion with a thought leader
- Panels: Multiple speakers means multiple brands and multiple areas of expertise which means multiple satisfied attendees
Here’s a snapshot of the agenda at South Summit. Notice how within the first hours of this multi-day event there is an opening ceremony followed by a pitching event. Variety in programming like this can help keep your attendees engaged.
7. Follow-up, Analyze and Improve
An event is like any other campaign. The more you know about how it performed, the better you can optimize it in the future.
Depending on the event software that you are using, you may be able to access different event metrics like gross event revenue, total registrations, total check-ins, event app adoption rate, messages sent within the community and more. Some platforms may event make it possible to measure your performance against set goals and even past events.
Aside from these event metrics, there’s one that lies at the center of your event: attendee satisfaction.
If your attendees aren’t having a good time, that means that you likely aren’t going to be able to achieve any of the goals that established at the beginning—at least not in the long run. (Unless your goal is to make your attendees have a bad time, which for the record is not a very good event goal.)
To measure attendee satisfaction, look no further than the net promoter score survey. You can send this out to attendees after events, but some software enables attendees to report their satisfaction at any time during the event.
Don’t just stop with attendees. Sponsors, partners, and other stakeholders all are crucial to your business event and their sentiment should be weighed accordingly.
Wrapping Up: Launching Your Business Event
To leave form, we must learn form, and so this list has aimed to provide you with a helpful form for approaching your business event strategy. Now that you have an understanding of the basics, your event is your art and your science. Experiment, try something new, but be sure to measure.
That’s after all how you figure out whether or not your event strategy is working, and turn sodium hydroxide into sodium chloride with the help of hydrochloric acid.