Organizations around the world regard corporate events, such as conferences and summits, as essential components of their high-level strategic plan. This is because the right events can directly help companies increase growth, revenue, and brand awareness. At the same time, major events –be they in-person, virtual, or hybrid– require a significant investment of company resources, and with investment comes risk. That’s why event organizers should first build a comprehensive event strategy designed to maximize ROI and minimize the risk.
- What is an event strategy?
- The importance of planning an event strategy
- 7 steps for creating a successful event strategy
- Examples of common objectives and strategies for achieving them
- Final Thoughts
What is an event strategy?
An event strategy is a plan of action for organizing events that run smoothly and achieve clear-cut results. Event organizers can build these strategies by determining the nature of the event they want to produce, taking stock of the resources available to them, such as budget and staff, and plotting out exactly what steps need to be taken and when.
The ideal strategy covers every step of the process from the early planning stage all the way through to the post-event follow-up. The best plans include internal instructions that staff can refer to as a guide before, during, and after the event. When building out their strategies, organizers conduct in-depth research to come up with a realistic, data-driven framework geared towards achieving clear, measurable outcomes.
The importance of planning an event strategy
Events are a complicated business. Their success depends on many variables coming together seamlessly in a way that benefits both the hosts and participants. This takes timing and preparedness and neither of those just happens on their own. A strategy is a way to make sure an event always remains on track toward a desired result.
7 steps for creating a successful event strategy
We identified 7 steps to help you with building an event strategy that will help you produce a successful event on all levels.
1. Set the main goal of the event
The first (and most important) step to creating a powerful corporate event strategy is determining what the event is meant to achieve in precise, quantifiable terms. Naturally, most events will be able to advance several goals, but it’s important to specify at least one that is measurable and have that be the focus. It could be something like generating 2,000 new leads or bringing in $65,000 in revenue. Defining a measurable goal allows planners to strategize with an endpoint in mind. It also provides an objective way to evaluate whether the event was a success.
2. Review budget/resources
The budget determines the scale of the production. Organizers need to understand not only the amount available for each event but the overall events budget for the year and use that information to plan how events will build off of each other. Additional resources to factor into the planning are staff (number, skill sets, experience, etc.) and technology. The events platform, microsite/registration site, and camera equipment all fall under technology and can fundamentally change the nature of the event depending on what is at the organizers’ disposal. Kaltura Events is a highly versatile platform for creating virtual and hybrid event experiences at any scale with preset templates and specialized management tools.
3. Set a schedule for each phase
The key to scheduling is starting as early as possible. Booking speakers, booking venues, finding sponsors, and advertising, all need to start well in advance of the actual event. Then there is the question of how an event fits in with other events the company has planned as well as what else is happening in the industry at large. Events can’t be scheduled randomly. Everything from competitor events to the weather needs to be considered. To be fully prepared, there should be a detailed timeline/checklist of each action item starting at least several months prior to the event date.
4. Create your vision of the target audience
The target audience for an event is the audience whose attendance is most likely to help further the company’s goal. Knowing your target audience will help you determine what type of event should be planned. It also makes it easier to reach that segment of the market through advertising. A way to visualize the target audience is by creating personas. For events, personas would be fictional portrayals of the ideal participant, embodying the age range, interests, needs, and other characteristics of that type of person.
Since there is no substitute for having a good number of participants in attendance, marketing typically takes up the bulk of the event staff’s time in the months leading up to the occasion. Social media offers plenty of organic and paid options for advertising to target markets but will require a lot of time devoted to managing the posts. Likewise, collaborating with online influencers is a good way to reach specific market segments, but they must be vetted to make sure they align with the company’s values and need to be provided with branded content to share with their followers. Email marketing is also effective but must be well crafted and timed just right. Lastly, print, radio, and even billboards are used by some large-scale events for promotion, which demands a high level of planning, usually in lengthy collaboration with an agency.
Seasoned organizers know they can’t put together a major event at the last minute and expect everything to go off without a hitch. In fact, even carefully planned events are likely to encounter an unforeseen setback or several. The best way to make certain that an event runs smoothly is to have a checklist for everything that needs to happen throughout. As much as possible, this checklist should include instructions for addressing whatever issues may arise. Of course, most issues are hard to anticipate, but the process of formulating the event strategy itself will offer clues as to what may go wrong later. Having a predetermined guideline for addressing mishaps can be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major crisis.
7. Analyze data
After the event is over, the first thing to look at is whether it succeeded in attaining the goals it set out to achieve. If not, what could have been done differently? What positive results were achieved other than the goals set at the beginning? If the actual results were different from the goals, do they still justify the investment of time and money? These are the types of questions organizers need to answer to continuously improve their event strategies. Site analytics and participant surveys are good sources of this kind of data.
Examples of common objectives and strategies for achieving them
No two strategies are identical, but the following examples explore different approaches based on the goals the events are aimed to achieve:
Raising brand awareness – If brand awareness is the goal, the event needs to convey the feeling the company wants its brand associated with, be it security, success, trustworthiness, or any other positive emotion. Creating a memorable experience for the audience at an event allows companies to link their brand with a positive feeling in the audience’s mind which strengthens brand awareness.
Increasing Authority – To position themselves as authorities in their field, companies should focus on events showcasing high-profile thought leaders in their industry. The information covered should inform the audience and teach them new things or even help solve a common problem.
Lead generation – To bring in new leads, the marketing for the event needs to be targeted outside of the normal channels used by the organization. Organizers determine what spaces their target audience occupies, both online and in person, then advertise the event in those spaces. To obtain contact information for new prospective customers, rewards for registering can be offered in the form of discounts, gifts, or other incentives.
Create community – Bringing together a community of people that identifies with your brand starts with determining the type of event those people would enjoy attending, preferably one that does not already exist or at least doesn’t happen at the same time. Companies can then add value for participants by facilitating connections with fellow attendees through workshops, happy hours, meet-and-greets, and other types of networking sessions where attendees can get to know each other. This can be done virtually through chat and breakout sessions.
Building an exhaustive corporate event strategy can be a challenge even for the most experienced of organizers. Still, they are an indispensable aspect of smoothly running a professional event that gets results. For those who have not yet tackled this process, the best advice is to start early, know the facts, and focus on one piece of the puzzle at a time.