Planning an event can be a daunting task. Any errors can come with some serious repercussions for your mission and potentially your brand. It is imperative that you develop a strategic checklist when you are in the very beginning stages of planning and then smooth out the details later.

Some events big or small, complex or not can be overwhelming to some. In this blog I am going to go over the basic but very important items to remember when planning an event.

You’re sitting in the boardroom and you and your colleagues think an event is a great idea. Then suddenly a decision is made and you’re the lead of the event. Yahoo! So what is the very first thing you should ask yourself?

1. What is the purpose of your event?

Is that too obvious? You would not be surprised how many people think “An event is a fantastic idea! Let’s do it” But when they are asked what is the overall goal? The objective? Most have that blank stare and often find it difficult to actually articulate the overall objective. You want to make sure that there is a clear mission and business reason to hold the event—a fundraising event with a financial goal in mind. Is there an ROI? Measurable objectives? A celebration for either a new facility/branch opening up? Is it a product launch for your consumers? The questions may be endless but always a key point and very key point to start with. If the objective is not clear, it can become costly, ineffective and not serve any purpose. Most important who are the key stake holders? Accountability on all levels should be established in order to clear a path towards a successful event whether its a one-time occurrence or annual event. You now hold the key to this.

2. Set a budget

This is a very crucial element when planning your event. Typically, when you are creating your checklist, you should have an estimated budget with it. Consider all your costs and when I say all I mean every single thing that may be a cost factor to the company. Plus leave some wiggle room in that budget. Unexpected things to happen. Better to prepare. The last thing you want to end up with is nasty surprises along the way. I always say include a buffer cost which is your “back-up” costs for saving grace/peace of mind. For example, this is what some budgets include:

  • Venue
  • Food/Beverage
  • Marketing
  • publicity
  • Equipment (display stands, pop up counters, exhibition tables, chairs, signage etc)
  • Decorations
  • Entertainers/Speakers
  • Giveaways
  • Transportation/travel
  • Insurance
  • First Aid equipment and volunteers
  • Fees for licences and permissions
  • Buffer (back up)

3. Set the date

Depending on the event, some events already have the date pre-set. However, if this is a new event it is imperative that the date of this event is set for the following reasons.

  • Holidays/Traditions
  • Vacations
  • Key participants (VIP guests, speakers or presenters)
  • Venue availability

Large scale events typically take 4-6 months of planning so keep that in mind when selecting your date!

4. Establish PartnershipsSponsors

Ask yourself this: Are there any organizations that you could partner with or call on for sponsorships to contribute to the cost and could potentially increase participants? Take that into consideration, if you are able to involve more people or organizations into the event this will help with spreading the word and can definitely assist in making the event a success.

5. Organize the dream team!

Ah, the dream team!  Assuming you are team captain, you’re the one who is going to be in charge of building your dream team, creating tasks to delegating who is doing what and making sure everything runs its course smoothly. When preparing your dream team make sure you establish the people you need that will contribute to the success of your event. For example:

  • Creative Team will handle (Ads, website, photography, videography, print)
  • Operations Liaisons will handle (labor, security etc)

Always keep your team in the loop from start to finish, the lines of communication should always be open.  A team in sync is a team heading toward success!

6. Prepare your Marketing Strategy for the event

Advertising for your event should begin approximately 40 to 60 days prior to the date (all depending on the type of event you are planning) and include a mix of the tactics below:

  • Social Media platforms
  • Digital Advertising (display ads, native ads, push down)
  • Press Releases
  • Newspaper
  • Radio
  • Direct Mail
  • Corporate Sponsors
  • Local businesses
  • Offering free tickets

When the event is going on it does not stop there. Communicate with your invited guests and attendees how they found out about your event. It is always good to have this information as it can help you with future planning.

7. When all is said and done Recap 

After the event is done time to sit down and recap the event with your team. If it some things didn’t work out, talk about it, remember it and put it in writing. Keep a record of the good and the bad and the absolutely amazing things. Key people who made an impact, other stand outs of the event. If the event wasn’t successful was it due to lack of marketing? Did you have enough resources? Was the location venue ideal? Get some solid feedback and valid opinions. There are so many things to review and take into consideration whether an event was a success or not. Some events will go off without a hitch, some with crash and burn. All you can do is evaluate and learn from it so you can improve for your next one!

I hope that these tips will help point you in the right direction when planning your next event!