Now you’ve had a chance to think about WHY and WHO, the WHAT question should be quite straight forward. What type of event will best allow you reach your objectives? This stage of the process requires evaluation of the merits of possible event formats and some creativity. Of course, budget will be an important factor too and we’ll come to that but first let’s look at it from a host / participant / attendee perspective.
Hosting an event
Participating at an event:
The same rule applies in this scenario. Evaluate your objectives against the events that exist in the market you are trying to reach. Conferences, exhibitions, installations, open days, awards ceremonies all provide opportunities and selecting the right platform to invest in will depend on how well your objectives match what the event organiser will deliver in terms of audience.
You’ll recognise the synergies easily because you have done your homework and already decided WHO it is you need to meet. As mentioned before, data collected by the majority of event organisers is incredibly valuable in ensuring the event is appropriate for YOUR BUSINESS. Organisers will never disclose contact details but should willingly provide a detailed profile of historical event attendees. They may even be able to provide a profile based on those registered to attend the upcoming event. There is certainly no harm in asking.
Visiting an event:
Same rules apply here too. Evaluate the potential events in the sector you are targeting against your objectives and WHO and hey presto you’ll soon have a very short list of events to attend. Some may require registering to attend, some may charge an entry fee and some may involve requesting an invitation via a PR agent or industry association. Some events offer one to one appointments, a kind of speed dating for businesses – check out what buyer/supplier facilitating the organisers offer. It’s also worth identifying whether a VIP club exists. Additional benefits may be available to certain buyers including private views, hospitality and appointment setting services.
When? Are you ready for this?
Are you ready for this?
I’ve combined WHAT & WHEN because in the case of participating at or attending an event, the WHEN may very well be determined by the organisers rather than you. If you are preparing to launch a product at a third party event you may need to factor the WHEN into your production timeframes. Likewise, if attending an event is required for the successful delivery of a project, the WHEN needs to be considered ample time ahead of setting deadlines.
If you are hosting an event you may have a little more freedom in choosing WHEN it’ll take place. Your event date could be affected by datelines of other events taking place in the market, seasonal / national / religious holidays, buying cycles, budget cycles, venue availability and even the weather!
So, on to budgets....
When participating at an event, the cost to be present is more often than not the tip of the iceberg. Other costs to account for include;
Visiting an event if on home soil will impact the budget the least and if you’ve done the research, you are likely to make exceptional use of the time away from the office! Still, be aware of the costs associated with attending the event including:
That’s all for now, I hope this blog post has been useful. I’d be happy to answer specific questions so please do post below or call / email me directly.
Welcome back! I hope last weeks’ blog gave you plenty to think about and enabled you to make a productive start with your event planning process.
Now you have decided why you’re engaging with an event, this time, we are focussing on WHO.
Who the event is for is very important and being absolutely clear about the WHO will enable you to answer many of the questions that follow including When, Where, What and How.
An event, be it a product launch, private view, party, festival or international trade show is all about getting people together, being in the same room and networking, discovery, having conversations and connecting.
I expect your answer to Why you are engaging with an event involved who you'd engage with – stakeholders, staff, clients, prospects, media, supporters, investors...the list goes on. If you are struggling when it comes to who – make sure you understand WHY and it’ll make this part of the process easier.
We’ll look at this question from your perspective of host, participant or attendee;
If you are hosting an event – who will you invite?
For example; You want to launch a new product. You have an established client base as well as many stakeholders and a list of potential clients appropriate to the new product so it’s decision time… Will you invite them all? Are they all relevant? How about your internal staff including sales agents potentially located elsewhere – will they benefit from attending too? Who from the media / influencer community should be added to the guest list? What kind of numbers are you looking at and what kind of conversion from invited guest to attendee would you anticipate?
How will each group of guests benefit from attending the event you are hosting? Thinking about this against WHY you are doing it in the first place will ensure your guests are on the list for good reason and that your investment is worthwhile.
If you are considering participating at an event - who do you expect / want to meet?
For example; You want to raise awareness of your brand in your core market sector. Research the attendee profile of the events in the sector – in basic terms who attends? Is there a good mix of existing and potential new clients? Does the profile match your requirements?
Where possible, identify the visitor product interest and main reason for the attendee visiting the event. Organisers will have this information and should be willing to share it. Is the visitor interest aligned with your offering / reason for participating?
Does the event provide opportunities to meet representatives from companies you’d otherwise struggle to connect with? And coming back to the WHY – in this case raising awareness, in addition to customers, who from the media will be there, who is contributing to the content programme? Are potential influencers, partners and industry bodies signed up? Are your competitors participating? If not, why not – is that an opportunity or a red flag?
It may take some time but do your research and take the time to compare events against eachother. Score them, rank them, draft a list of pro’s and cons. This information will help you to decide which event(s) are best to invest in and most likely to help you achieve your objectives.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Event organisers capture a wealth of information about their attendees – ask for as much detail as possible in order to enable you to make an informed decision.
If you are visiting an event – who do you want to focus your attention on?
For example; You’re looking for a new supplier. There are few industry events you could attend but it’s a whole day, possibly two, maybe even a week out of the office so it’s a big commitment. It’s time to be selective.
Which event has the widest range of businesses that could potentially help you? Which event has the companies with a proven track record and a good reputation? Find out which companies the potential suppliers are currently working with. Are there any synergies in the services they are providing already and what you need? In addition to who is exhibiting, who is speaking, hosting workshops, running drop in clinics or interactive features that could be of interest? Is an industry association or governing body present who can offer some impartial advice?
This all sounds quite obvious but you’d be amazed at the amount of companies who say they went to an event (as a visitor or participant) and didn’t meet anyone relevant, or said it was a waste of time and money. This situation is completely avoidable. I truly believe these people just can’t have done the right research and as a result their experience hasn’t been a good one.
So, before I start droning on about the perils of poor planning I’ll sign off. I hope this article has given some food for thought and will improve your approach to engagement with events moving forward.
I’m Syreeta. I’ve worked in events for my entire professional career. I’m fortunate to have chosen to work in an industry that I thoroughly enjoy being part of, satisfies my sense of purpose is challenging in a good way and super rewarding. I suppose you could say I have a passion for events and what’s more, I truly believe in the value of the face to face opportunity events provide.
After 20 years of working for the world largest event organiser on domestic, international, large, small, trade and consumer events, I’ve set up on my own and I’d like to take this opportunity to share what I’ve learned along the way.
I’m not claiming to be the oracle by any stretch, but I am willing to share what I know for the benefit of non-event-based businesses involved with hosting, participating at and visiting events.
I’ve created a short series of blogs to support your event planning process. It’s not rocket science but I hope it’ll provide some useful pointers and help you get the most out of your time and financial investment.
So let’s get started……
Like many things in life, Who, What, Why, Where, When and How are applicable to events whether you are hosting, participating or visiting an event. Asking these questions of yourself or brainstorming with your team is a great staring point for the planning process.
If you are hosting an event or considering participating in an event – ask yourself WHY this event is needed?
What’s the primary objective? What do you want to achieve? To get you started, try putting these possible objectives in order of priority:
For example, let’s say the primary objective is R&D. You’ve got a product that needs to be enhanced / upgraded but want to conduct some research to support decision making on the best enhancements to implement. You could take prototypes of the enhanced model to an event and canvas for feedback. The event provides an opportunity to get detailed direct feedback from your customer base in a relatively short period. At the same time, your presence at the show could allow you time to manage customer relationships, keep up to date with industry trends and maintain profile in the sector.
Identify what success looks like and again be realistic. Think about the number of attendees expected at the event. Not all attendees will visit you (we'll talk about pre show promotion in a later blog) so decide what is an acceptable level of engagement in order to make the time and financial investment worthwhile? Set some targets that will help you measure success against your objectives, for instance:
X customers met
X prototype feedback from customers
X prototype feedback from prospects
X new business leads etc etc.
X interest from the media
If you are visiting an event – quite simply ask yourself why you should go?
What do you hope to get out of attending an event? Why will attending an event help you to achieve your objectives? And why is one event preferable to another? As above, set some clear objectives which will not only become your business case for the company investing the time and money for you to attend but will help you to focus on what’s important when you are planning your visit – which companies to meet, which education sessions to attend, which media and industry bodies to connect with etc.
Remember, times flies when you are visiting an event. To spend 20 minutes with 9 companies will take approx. 4.5hrs and that excludes travel time, breaks, bumping into an old colleague etc. Do you need some support from a team member to ensure you see every company you are interested in?
And, when visiting an event consider how many relevant exhibitors or existing suppliers will be there in addition the valuable content you might want to take advantage of. Your targets may look something like this;
X exhibitors met offering the product/service you need
X existing suppliers met
X seminars attended – notes taken to share back in the office
X meeting with journalist / industry association
Understanding WHY you are engaging with an event will help make all the decisions that follow. Make sure you and your team define, agree and stay focussed on WHY.
Next week, I’ll go into more detail about WHO.
Good luck with your planning!
I'm the owner of The Positive Event Partnership and have spent my entire professional career working in events sector.