8 Steps for More Effective Event Planning

The past few weeks we have been preparing for a trade show that one of our clients is exhibiting at next week. This can be a very time consuming and expensive effort for any size business, but especially for a small business where thousands of dollars can be wasted.

How can you avoid wasting precious marketing dollars and sales time on the wrong event?
1. Do your homework to identify who attends the event. Ask yourself, are they my ideal target client? if not, are your ideal referral sources attending? If yes to either question, move to question 2. Otherwise, stop kidding yourself and don’t commit to this event.
2. Is there an opportunity to speak or be part of a panel to reach your target audience?
3. Carefully review the exhibiting opportunities. My client committed to space to then discover displays were limited to table tops only eliminating the opportunity to leverage existing display materials that were too big for the space. Cha-ching! Suddenly this event became very expensive.
4. Clearly define success metrics for the event. What will make this investment worth it? Consolidate all event-related expenses. Know exactly what you are investing (ideally BEFORE making a decision to commit to a sponsorship or exhibiting) although not realizing we were limited to a table top, unforeseen costs quickly changed the investment for this particular show.
5. Define roles of everyone attending. This is not a free day or two out of the office. Clearly communicate what is expected, what success will be and how success will be tracked. If you can’t track results, why are you even thinking of going to begin with?!
6. Define a source tracking code or a mechanism to track contacts and leads coming from this event. Make this systematic. Don’t rely on sales saying they will remember where contacts and opportunities come from.
7. Especially for small businesses, don’t assume event details are covered. Have checklists of who is doing what, bringing what and doing what. In other words, for every event being considered, have a repeatable plan and process for evaluating and planning.
8. A step that most companies never do: Have a post mortem meeting shortly after the event. Document what went well, what did not go well, would you go to this same event in the future and if so why. No one ever remembers the details that make or break the ROI on an event. Document it, store it and pull it up for quick review prior to committing. The sooner after the event the better as waiting too long diminishes the value.
Events can be an effective marketing element for businesses. Most companies don’t evaluate events well and are ineffective in measuring the ROI. For a formulaic approach, see a .


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