Plan it before you do it

July 8th, 2015

Kudos to Dr. Cathy Key for a superb article (“Are you an Event Planner or an Event Doer?”) published recently by Event Manager Blog.

“Every event has so many moving parts that it is easy for Event Planning to turn into Event Doing,” she wrote. “But the danger with all of this doing is that we can lose sight of why we are hosting the event in the first place and what success really means.”

Dr. Key makes some powerful points:

  • Planning starts with strategic and creative thinking about what you want the event to achieve. Then, based on the event plan, you create a plan—a roadmap to success. This happens before you do anything else—including booking the venue.
  • Her planning model consists of defining audience segments, deciding what kind of experience you want each group to have at the event, creating a central theme, and defining how to fulfill your desired outcome.
  • Close monitoring of the plan makes it a compass for keeping everything on track and assuring success for you and your attendees.

The bottom-line in Dr. Key’s post is simple: Don’t dive into event tactics until you’ve thoroughly planned, refined and vetted the event strategy.

In several posts on this blog, I’ve covered similar ground. For example, this post—Keep asking ‘What’s the problem?’ — drilled down on the most important part of the event planning process: building a consensus on who are we inviting, what challenges they are facing, and what would incent them to attend.

It’s a message all event planners have heard time and again. But, if we’re going to be measured ourselves by the results we produce, we need to keep hearing that message. As you read this, another category of experts is rehearsing fundamentals they know extremely well, too. Football players at high school, college and professional levels throughout America are practicing two prerequisites for scoring: blocking and tackling.

Marketers: Connect the dots between content and events

May 13th, 2015

Marketers: Connect the dots between content and events

What if you had an event and few showed up? You’d look for reasons, of course. Here are a few clues you might uncover:

  • Your promotions didn’t resonate with the audience.
  • Invitees were not “hooked” by the dull, uninspired agenda.
  • Your past events failed to impress attendees, so most aren’t coming back this year.

All three event problems have a common root cause: poor content.

Does one of your biggest budget items need a makeover?

April 24th, 2015

Heads up, B2B marketers. Did you know that events are typically the second-biggest line item, after sales force costs, in corporate marketing budgets? According to a report by the Convention Industry Council, spending on hosting, attending, and exhibiting at events constitutes 21% of marketing budgets.

That’s big bucks—and much of it isn’t being spent wisely, say the authors of “Get More from Your Event Spend,” published recently by Harvard Business Review. “Three of five marketers use no tools to measure event ROI, and most companies plan and execute events without specific business objectives,” the article states.

The authors make the same points I’ve espoused repeatedly in this blog (such as here, here and here, for starters):

Keep your meetings focused on one goal

March 9th, 2015

An excellent post recently at Event Manager Blog, 5 Principles to Make Every Minute of Your Meeting Count, hit the mark on a major planning sin I’ve often seen at events of all types and sizes: Trying to do too much. “Most meeting schedules are crammed from minute one to the last second,” wrote guest blogger Jan-Jaap In der Maur.

The root problem, he stated, is setting too many goals for the meeting. That leads to scheduling too many speakers trying to say too much in the available time, with cascading consequences. Things start running late. Q&A gets shortened. Breaks get shortened. Lunch gets shortened. Lost in the fallout is a major benefit meeting sponsors and attendees both seek: Time for interaction and networking.

A survival guide for federal event planners

February 18th, 2015

federal event planners

Remember the uproar over federal agencies hosting boondoggle meetings? Recently, the Washington Post reported the aftermath of the executive branch’s crackdown on travel and conference expenses. Anyone desiring to attend a meeting of any kind faced massive roadblocks to approval. “Conference” and “travel” became dirty words. Those who won approval to attend local training sessions had to buy their own lunches. Ditto for coffee.