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 the owner of The Positive Event Partnership and have spent my entire professional career working in events sector.