Events often form a key part of a marketing strategy, and a really successful event can have a myriad of knock-on benefits too.  Marketers themselves often love events; it can be one of the few occasions that we actually get to interact with our target audience (and show off our planning skills to our colleagues, of course!).

If you’re thinking about running any event, big or small, the following questions will help you ensure the event goes smoothly and achieves what you want it to.

  1. What is the purpose of the event?

It might sound an obvious place to start but why are you going to the trouble of putting on this event in the first place.  What are you trying to achieve?  What do you want the outcomes to be?  Being clear on these will help you focus on what’s important about the event and how you will decide if it has been successful. If it’s a celebration event, your outcomes might be happy people and lots of photos being shared on social media; you could measure these through a follow-up survey or social media likes and shares, for example. Have some processes in place to measure your outcomes in good time, don’t make this an afterthought.

  1. Is your event in keeping with your brand and values?

I’m not just talking about making sure your logo is printed on the napkins but also something more fundamental – is the type of event in keeping with your organisation.  For example, if you are a luxury car brand, would an informal hog roast reflect the values you want to project?  Would a black-tie dinner be more in keeping? Once you’re happy that your event format works for you, then you can think about the napkins (and everything else).

  1. What can we afford to spend on it?

And, perhaps more importantly, how will you measure the return on your investment (ROI)?  As always with marketing activities, ROI can be a tricky one to measure.  Taking the celebration event example we used above, ‘happy people’ and social media shares can both be measured but it might be tricky to attach a financial value to them.  You need to be clear on what your budget is but even slightly ‘intangible’ benefits like these can help you justify the spend.

  1. How soon can you start to promote the event?

(The sooner the better in most cases!)  What your event is will likely determine how you want to promote it; our celebration event, for example, may well be by invitation (although that’s not to say we won’t be anticipating it on social media in order to encourage invitees to accept, of course!). But, in most cases, promoting as soon as is practical and generating plenty of ‘buzz’ is going to help attract visitors to the event and encourage interactions with your target audience.

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?

In good time before the event, do a complete ‘walk through’ (either actual or in your head) of the whole event, from set-up to pack down.  Rope in a colleague or two to do this with you if you can.  Think about your event visitors and visualise all the interactions and experiences you want them to have during the event; have you planned it and ‘manned it’ appropriately?  Then also think about what could go wrong; literally, risk assess worst case scenarios and what you could do if they actually happened.  Hopefully, nothing will go wrong and you will never need your contingency plans but, if it does, at least you are not having to ‘fire-fighting’ and you will look calm and collected even under pressure.