To market events (Read: Event Management – A Modern Strategic Marketing Tool), one should be well organized, with the required infrastructure that the target clientele will find it worthwhile to invest their time and resources in anticipation of assured results. To achieve this objective, a suitable event strategy should be designed and developed. There are seven important steps to organize a successful event.
Step 1: Planning
Prior Planning prevents poor performance. No event manager should be complacent or procrastinating. Nothing should be left to chance, only to regret later. Planning, hence, is essential in all respects. Before starting any event, a bit of research would help. One should start sufficiently early so that there will be ample time to complete the assigned project. It would help to have a briefing note or a checklist listing out the objectives and goals of the particular event, the target clients, the venue, the dates, products to be displayed, brochures to printed, gifts to be distributed, etc. An appropriate event strategy that improves the corporate image or the brand identity must be designed and developed. The way of presenting the event content should also be carefully planned. Whether a celebrity or an industry expert is needed to kick off the event, to present the event, engage the audience or tie-in the message, should be carefully thought over and finalized. If the target clients cannot interpret the event content, or the event fails to match the market, the whole exercise will prove futile. Since the relationship between event success and sales could be significant, knowing the customers and evaluating their needs at the planning level itself is a must for scheduling the right event.
Step 2: Budgeting
Once the planning is in place, budgeting should start. It could be either a part of the existing promotion budget or a special budget exclusively for the event. Whichever be the way, a correlation must be sought between the budget and the perceived benefits while marketing of a particular product/service. Naturally, all products, logistics, service and manpower costs, from the beginning till the end, should be anticipated and taken into account. More than the financial budgeting, manpower budgeting is crucial. One should consider carefully, whether the existing employee members can be reallocated duties or a fresh team should be hired temporarily. Otherwise, one may also consider whether a mix of both can take place. A wrong choice of the event members can result in disaster. Budget should provide not only for such arrangements but also for contingencies, so that there will be peace of mind. Spending short out of a big budget is desirable than falling short of an inadequate budget.
Step 3: Execution
To translate all the plans into reality, the project/event should be executed. The first task of execution is to assemble the teams, provide multiple interfaces to the members and set out tasks. Messaging mechanisms and a document management system should be put in place. While one of the teams hunt for sponsorships required, another team should start on site inspections for recognizing the local conditions. Yet another team should be entrusted in finalizing and procuring additional products like stationery, gifts, etc., if required. If the event is to happen at a place other than the base, the team entrusted with the logistics arrangement should ensure shipping the display products, material for the delegates, point of purchase (POP) material, gifts for customers, dignitaries and escorts, higher officials, etc. The distribution system to be put in place is also planned. One team should be given the task of setting up communication systems, power, arrangement of conveyance vehicles, water facilities, food and beverages, etc. If the event takes place in another country, travel visas should be arranged. Material should be shipped well in advance, so that no surprises take place like being held up at the customs and not released till the event’s last scheduled date for some reason or the other. Once these things are being put in place, let one team work on the designing of the event and if need be, support like a good interior decorator should be enlisted. To ensure understanding the management and strategy, one may resort to rehearsals. During the reviewing, shortcomings, if any, would surface. These then could be avoided/rectified and different creative solutions could be found.
Step 4: Publicity and Media Planning
Publicity or promotion is the backbone for any event. The marketing team, in consultation with the advertising agency, must print good, informative and attractive literature, posters, calendars, visiting cards, etc., well in advance. The more creative these materials are in thought, the better they would be in reality, since they can attract more attention. The media planning should be well coordinated to release initially teasers and later offers, through a mix of media vehicles like TV, radio, newspapers, internet, etc.
Step 5: Delivery
With a lot of hard and smart work behind and a prayer on their lips, the members of the team await the day of delivery, where all their work and efforts are put to test. They keenly look forward to the success of the event with bated breath, for success could result in awards, rewards and promotions for the team members. The event should be conducted with uniform discipline throughout the period so that confusions could be minimized and a professional atmosphere could prevail. Invitees and visitors should be impressed not only by the setting of the events but also with the general conduct of business.
Step 6: The End
Once the event comes to a close, the remaining material should be returned to the base, after a thorough check of the inventory and accounting for all material that has been used. If any superstructures have been erected or built at the venue of the event, like in the cases of exhibitions, the same should be dismantled and disposed of, while ensuring a decent and optimum return. Legal or statutory or mandatory formalities should be fulfilled without fail to avoid penalties. At the conclusion time, all the task members must be appreciated depending on the success or of the event.
Once the event ends, it should be ensured that all the visitors are contacted again through a thanking note for visiting and making the event a success, which will turn out to be a reminder of the event and the esteem of the organization will also be enhanced resulting certainly in better business prospects in future.
Step 7: Feedback
Once an event is concluded, the effect of the event should necessarily be measured by a survey. The survey could be informal and oral where one may question the prospects/clients and await the response. Alternatively, a scientific survey could be undertaken by designing a suitable but simple questionnaire, distributing it and collecting the data for analysis. The invitees could be added in the marketing database so that they can receive future communications such as newsletters and product announcements. Suggestions could also be solicited to make further improvements in future events.