HOW TO WRITE A KILLER EVENT PLANNING DOCUMENT
BEST EVENT PLANNING TEMPLATE / CHECKLIST
Below is the best event planning framework downloaded by thousands of marketers to ensure they have a year full of successful events. This template should be printed out and pinned to the closest place next to your work space. You can even save it is a screen saver if it helps keep you focused on your most important event goals!
THIS BEST EVENT PLANNING TEMPLATE /CHECKLIST /FORM INCLUDES
- Name: The name of your event. Simple, right? Well, not quite. Before you name your event, think through these questions: Is your event name unique? Memorable? Clear and descriptive so it’s easy for people to know what your event is about?
- Date: Again this sounds simple, but have you thought about the following?
- Competitive events: Have you checked to ensure there are no big direct or indirect competitive events on or close to your event date?
- Holidays: Have you ensured there are no big bank holidays, religious holidays or other large national events
- Venue availability: Are you sure the venue is free and at least on hold for those dates?
- Location: This could be your specific venue, or if you haven’t booked it yet, the intended city or destination for your event. Before you make a decision, consider these factors: If you’ve run this event before, have you checked you’ve picked the best location based on where your attendees come from? Are there easy/fast transport options to the venue? Does it fit with your budget, brand, preferred dates and anything else materially important to the experience of your attendees?
- Purpose: People run events for lots of reasons, what is the purpose of yours? Some options include: Profit, fundraising, brand awareness, lead generation, networking, education, community engagement, product launch…and many more. Be sure you know what the essential outcome for your event is!
- Need: Getting into the meat of the document now, let’s start off by identifying to core need of your attendees. Why are they doing to pick your event over everything else they could spend their time or money on? What do you give them? Here are some examples: A professional conference organiser: Our attendees need to learn about the latest trends and opportunities taking place in their industry. A festival director: Our fans need a fun weekend with their friends where they can see all of the hottest bands in Indie music in one convenient place. A charity: Our supporters need an event that lets them get involved with our cause, show their commitment and help raise money at the same time. A small business: Our customers need a place where they can meet their peers, learn about our latest product updates and how to implement them.
- Solution: This is the place to describe some of the key features or benefits of your event, which directly meets the needs of your attendees. For example: Conference: We have the best speakers in the industry, who will share their uniques insights to help our attendees leave with a plan for the future. Festival: We have the best bands – established and emerging – in Indie music, with an amazing array of fun features to keep everyone energised for a full weekend. Charity: We have an inspiring 5k walk, making it accessible for everyone, with all entry fees being dedicated to our cause. SMB: We’ve our Product Director to explain all the key new features of our latest released, followed free drinks and food so everyone can enjoy a fun networking evening after.
- Unfair advantage This is typically an internal resource (or resources) or processes that would make it very hard for a competitor to replicated your solution. Some examples: Conference: Our producer has the best relationships in the business, meaning we can secure better and more senior speakers than any other conference. Festival: We have exclusive contracts with our top 3 headliners, meaning they won’t be seen anywhere else this summer. Charity: We have a unique site secured exclusively for our walk, making it a uniquely beautiful experience for our supporters. SMB: This will be the first time anyone has heard of our product updates, making it an exclusive event for only our top customers.
- Unique Value Proposition: We covered how to create a compelling Unique Value Proposition in a previous post, so this is the space where you pull the key elements of your event together into a simple, memorable tagline. For example: Conference: The only place you can hear all 10 of the Top 10 Fast Tack 100 CEO’s speak in one place. Festival: The only place you can see XXX, YYY, ZZZ play this summer and enjoy 50+ incredible gourmet food trucks catering every cuisine you can imagine. Charity: Join hands with your community and show your support for XXX in the unique grounds of YYY this Spring. SMB: Be the very first to hear about our first major product update in 2016ßΩ, then catch up with your peers as we serve up drinks and food all evening.
- Audience Arguably your audience comes first of all, but as you start thinking about promotion, it is a great place to document exactly who you think should be at your event. We’ve also covered audience development in depth here. For the strategy document, you may just put the essential demographics down, such as: Conference: Mid-to-Senior Management at fast-growing companies with annual revenues between £1m-10m. Festival: Millenials (aged 21-40) with disposable income, active on social networks, typically single. Charity: Anyone who has been touched by the same issue as our members (e.g. cancer survivors, relatives of crime victims, orphans and their adoptive families.) SMB: Our 100 most valuable customers and our business development teams top 50 priority list.
- Channels: This is where you detail the most important marketing channels for your event. Try to stick with 3-5 so you don’t spread you team and budget too thin. In our examples they may look this: Conference: The marketing channels we will focus on are: Email, Direct Mail, Paid Social Media. Festival: Sponsors, Social Media, Display Ads. Charity: PR, Word of Mouth, Partnerships, Blog. SMB: Influencer Relations, Webinars, Email, Social Media
- Key Metrics. The key metrics you should document in this segment should tie back directly to your events’ purpose, or support it in the some way. Again, try to limit these to between 1 and 3, for example: Conference: 1. Profit; 2. Average ticket price; 3. Growth. Festival: 1. Revenue; 2. Number of attendees; 3. Cost per acquisition. Charity: 1. Funds raised; 2. Number of participants; 3. Press mentions. SMB: 1. Attendance.
- Costs: This is the place to details your headline costs or expected budget, so everyone is on the same page as to what they can and can’t spend, and where they will need to make savings. To illustrate: Conference: 1. Venue Hire; 2. Food & Beverage; 3. Marketing; 4. AV & Equipment. Festival: 1. Artists; 2. Insurance; 3. Venue Hire. Charity: 1. Insurance; 2. Promotion; 3. Branding/Printing. SMB: 1. F&B; 2. Onsite Branding; 3. Marketing; Venue – free (internal space).
- Sales: Last but certainly not least, you need to document how you’ll be balancing the books and getting some money in the bank! For example: Conference: 50% Delegate Tickets (early bird, standard, onsite); 50% Sponsorship. Festival: 30% Sponsorship; 20% Concessions; 50% Ticket Sales. Charity: 60% Entrance Fees; 30% Onsite Donations & Concessions; 10% Sponsorships. SMB: 100% Internal Investment.
Now, the best event planning template will not be successful by itself. You need to ensure this event planning template is aligned to your overall event marketing strategy for the year.
Some of the key Event Strategy points you need to have defined are:
- Last year events review: Was 2016 a successful year? The first thing you should do is look back on the year and consider what was a success. Whether it’s reaching attendee numbers, saving money on a venue, or providing stellar customer service, make sure everyone in the team finds at least one achievement they’re proud of. Celebrate achievements as a team and see how they can be catalogued as best practice, to be repeated and improved upon next year. Of course, no event is perfect. After celebrating successes, consider what could be improved. This should focus on processes, rather than people/performance. How can mistakes be avoided, processes improved and which tactics simply didn’t work as well as you had hoped? The third item to focus on is your return on investment. Think about efficiency – of time and resources. Has something produced good results, but tken an inordinate amount of effort to achieve? Is it really worth doing again? This is where looking at ROI can really help you prioritise better, above looking only at absolute results.
- Reconnect with your event mission and attendee demographics: The next stage of the review moves up from tactics and processes to one of values and strategy. Here you should look at two critical components: Mission: Take the time to remind yourself and your team about why you do what you do. Having a clear mission or purpose invigorates everyone, makes the day-to-day grind worthwhile, and helps get us through tough spots. Attendees: Who is your customer and why do they come to your events? Now is a great time to really think about your target market and how well you know them. If you have been collecting demographic data through 2016, review your results based on the audience you have been targeting. Has it shifted? Re-evaluate your ideal customers for the year ahead. If you haven’t been collecting data to date, now is the time to start! Consider what data will be most useful to you. It could be age and location data, or if your event is information-based you could look at what their biggest challenges are or what they hope to learn from your event.
- Develop an event strategy for current year: Now you’ve looked back, it’s time to take those reflections and start looking forward to the year ahead. This time we start at the top: your strategy. Let’s break it into four parts.
Customer Needs: All good strategy needs to start with the attendee and how your event meets their needs. What does your event provide they can’t get elsewhere? If you overheard your customer trying to describe your event(s) to a friend, what would you want to hear them say about you or that event? Your strategy should then be to create a company and event that would match their description.
Company Needs: While it’s top priority to cater to your customer, you can’t forget about your own needs either! What do you care about? Is it growth and profit, brand awareness, connecting your community or support for a cause?
Metrics: Once you’ve answered the above two questions, you need to put in place metrics that keep everyone focused on your agreed strategy. For example if you care about growth, maybe you’ll focus on month-on-month ticket sales and not talk much about cost. If you care about profit, cost-per-acquisition may be much more important.
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