25 Tips for hosting a successful event for your brand

Successful EventsWritten by Chipo Mapungwana

It’s the little things that make a BIG thing THE THING. Never skip the little things.”
Heidi Richards Mooney
Open the newspaper or email and there is likely to be an invitation to come to one event or other. For event managers and planners, hosting an event is a stressful business. And this can be worse for people who are just starting or doing this as part of their other jobs at work. Many organizations do not have the luxury of having specialist people to plan and manage their events. Marketing and PR departmental staff or the MD’s PA may be left holding the baby. No matter what the event, there are certain components which, when properly executed will keep people talking about your event long after it is over.

Of course, if you happen to be the one doing the planning, there will probably come a time when you say to yourself, “I just cannot wait for it to be over!” Why? Because  the work and details that go into the plan  can be overwhelming. Even the little annoyances and minor challenges can be the difference between hanging up your boots or not.

 Here are 25 tips to help you pull off the perfect event that will enhance your company’s BRAND and set the tone for events to come:

1. Always start your event with a Communication plan and event checklist, no matter how small the event is. Your plan should include the details of the event including the event objective, the target guests, equipment, budget, media to be invited etc.
2. An event checklist should include all the things that you will require for the event. Get colleagues to help you brainstorm. This should also include timelines for when you need to have those things done or acquired.
3. If you are planning to host an event with more than 20 people, consider recruiting a colleague to help with some of the details. Dividing the event tasks between a number of different people makes the job easier.

4. Use a personalized invitation to invite guests to your event. Follow up with the registrants and provide complete event details, such as location, time, directions and proper attire.
5. Encourage your guests to bring plenty of business cards to exchange with other guests
6. Generate targeted emails to these groups to let them know what you are offering.

7. Design a postcard Invitation to send via email. Or use one of the free online invitations available.
8. Consider having a draw to encourage attendance — such as a complementary service your company can provide or a coupon for something from a partner or sponsor.
9. Get a Sponsor for the event to help underwrite the costs. Make sure the sponsor’s name is included in the invitations, the media as well as mentioned during the event. You may also wish to give your Sponsor 5 minutes to address your guests, a table at the event which they can use to place their marketing materials in addition to allowing them to distribute their information to guests. If the sponsor makes a significant contribution to your event, consider giving them free attendance.

10. Post the invitation on your website and on your social media pages . Create a unique registration page to gather information. Make sure it includes information to RSVP.
11. Make sure all invitations, notices and flyers include information to RSVP.
12. Choose a time and venue that will work for the greatest number of attendees and you. Many people use city hotels for events, but sometimes this can work against you because of  the temptation to get back to work during the lunch break as this may become an excuse for your guests to go AWOL

13. Consider hosting your event at a location other than a city hotel. Some ideas include a country club, outdoor venue, out of town restaurant, University or hall, game park or garden to make it more interesting.
14. Keep a current list of registrants, updating it to reflect new guests. Never lose your guest list in case you want to invite them for another event later in the year. Send periodic emails of your upcoming events to them.
15. Send out more than one invitation. Some people don’t read the first one sent, so it is always good to follow up with a second and even third notice. Emails allow us to send regular reminders inexpensively.

16. 24 hours before the event, send a Reminder email notice to your guest list to ensure as many guests as possible will show up the day of the event. If you have the resources, consider phoning some of your guests to remind them.
17. If you are charging for the event – to cover costs of the meal, location, etc. have a deadline for sending in the money – RSVP (agreed upon with the venue/caterer/restaurant). Give attendees the option to pay on line or through your bank.
18. Consider giving a prize or special incentive to all who register EARLY. Or have a contest and choose a winner with a prize for early registrations. You could ask a supplier to donate a prize just for this.

19. Be sure and let the press media know of your plans as they unfold. For instance send a press release to “announce” the event, another release to announce any special guests or speakers, a third release for sponsors and an overall release describing the event in greater detail. Don’t forget to prepare a press pack for your journalists, if they are invited to the event.
20. If you do have guest speakers, give them adequate time to present, allowing time for guests to ask questions.
21. If you are using event planners for Décor , make sure that they get there very early or the day before. Check on your PA system sound, the Laptop, the presentations before the day.

22. Make sure that your presentations are loaded onto the laptop before the event and that you get all the hand-outs from presenters before the event. Consider sending attendees the hand-outs as email attachments or on DVDs to save costs.
23. Collect business cards or have a registration card at the sign-in table. This way you can follow up with your guests and thank them for attending. Be sure to send “thank you” emails after your event to everyone involved.
24. Make sure that all your communication and marketing collateral are properly branded. This also includes any hand-outs or programs that you provide your guests.

25. Make sure that your venue has the correct colours,  signage, banners, décor  that enhances your brand. To make an impact, even your welcome teams should also enhance your brand by adorning the company’s uniform or corporate colours. And don’t forget that your boss or CEO should be at the forefront of engaging your guests as they enter the venue. He or she epitomises the brand and should be seen supporting it. And by the way, if he/she is delivering a speech, keep a copy handy , just in case your CEO forgot his/her one at the office.

For Brand reputation consulting, contact Chipo on chipomaps@gmail.com


About chipomaps

A brand reputation, marketing and new media trainer and consultant. Constantly curious, constantly learning.
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