Event Marketing Survival Tips for Small Businesses
- Decide the target audience. Once you pin this down, you have a framework for all of the other decisions you need to make, ranging from format and location to venue and content. Focusing on our audience should make setting and achieving goals easier as well. Ask yourself how relevant each session or aspect of the gathering is to the target participants.
- Determine the objectives. Are you conducting an internal meeting to plan the company's strategy for next year or hosting a new product launch to engage early adopters? Are you bringing employees together to build teamwork or are you exhibiting at a trade show to generate leads? Whatever you are trying to accomplish, you should create SMART goals, which are: S = Specific, M = Measurable, A = Achievable, R = Relevant and T = Time-bound.
- Check the calendar. First of all, allow enough time for planning. The bigger the event, the more lead time you will need. Be careful about scheduling on or too close to holidays. You should also be aware of major events in your industry and others to be held in the same city or you will find yourself competing for flights, hotel rooms, dinner reservations and even for attendees if your participants are already committed to other events. Whenever our annual strategy meeting is held in Chicago, I know it conflicts with Graph Expo and I have to book a block of hotel rooms before the thousands of attendees of the trade show start signing up.. These are a few sites that track trade shows: www.tsnn.com, www.eventseye.com, www.biztradeshows.com and www.exhibitrac.com.
- Scout locations. It is not a good idea to rely on online photos and virtual tours to view venues because they can be deceiving. Make the investment in a trip and you will likely save yourself major headaches. On your scouting trip, ask questions and take photos from a variety of angles. Look at spaces at the same times of day when you'll be using them to get a sense of lighting, traffic, etc. Walk through every part of the experience for an attendee and check bathrooms, parking, coat checks, how far the rooms are from the entrance, how helpful and friendly the staff is, etc. Take lots of notes because details are likely to be lost three weeks later at your desk when you need them. Find out what other events are scheduled at the same time. If there is a giant wedding when you're holding an important educational session on your business, you might want a different location.
Make lists. You can't have too many lists and you should cover attendees, speakers, technology, restaurants, vendors, emergency phone numbers and more. Everything your audience experiences in the scope of the event will be attributed to you and/or your brand so the more organized you are, the more professional your event will be. Nothing is beneath your notice and you have to be able to lay your hands on information quickly. At my previous company, we would have a huge annual sales kickoff meeting. Invariably, some of our packages would not be delivered to the staging area. I was always able to whip out one of several copies of my list of boxes, their contents and the tracking numbers to hand off to my assistant so she could quickly determine what was missing and find it.