Special events are a core tool in marketing and communications and can be a great way to connect your audience to your product or service. The events themselves can run the gamut from an open house to a public seminar to a gala. And while events can play an integral role in an overall strategic plan, they can be misunderstood and misused by clients who think events will attract hundreds of customers and every media outlet in town.
So, as you plan that next special event, follow these tips to ensure you exceed your client’s expectations, and knock the event out of the park.
1. Determine what part of your strategy this event will support. If you’re responsible for marketing a hospital, and your strategy is to make your hospital top-of-mind for orthopaedics and cardiovascular services, then you’re going to waste valuable time and money spending months planning a reunion party for babies born in your birthing unit. Instead, design your event around connecting patients with chronic heart disease to physicians who can talk about their medication, or people considering knee replacement with the surgeon at your hospital who does the latest technique.
2. What is the goal for the event? Is it to attract media attention? Fill the room to the rafters? Convert a certain number of people to become customers? Determine this ahead of time so the goal is clear and no one is disappointed when the wrong people show up or attendance is lower than anticipated.
3. Make sure your client understands what a special event can – and can’t – do. A special event can allow potential new customers to experience firsthand what your product or service is. But it can’t guarantee that people will show up, or that they’ll want to buy the product or service. Special events are typically the awareness, not the adoption, phase of marketing.
4. Determine the budget, and who is paying for it. Special events can cost almost nothing or they can cost millions. And like going to the grocery store when you’re hungry, it can be hard to keep costs under control when one person wants to offer Champagne and caviar, but you still need to hire an a/v specialist and therefore, cookies are what you can afford. Have a budget set ahead of time and stick to it.
5. Determine the measurement. How are you going to measure the success of the event? Go back to the goal, and put a measurement tool around it. Maybe it’s media value, maybe it’s number of attendees, maybe it’s number of attendees who later became customers. Explain to your client how you’ll measure the success, then offer a summary report when the event has concluded.
I’ve learned these tips work from my own experience; hope they work for you too!