Your competitors are hosting conferences, seminars and workshops — and they’re seeing great results. Their businesses are growing faster than ever because of all the connections they’re making. You want in, and you’ve got the expertise to back it up. You just don’t know where to start.
At its core, a B2B event is a marketing opportunity for your brand, and like any other marketing initiative, it requires thorough research and careful planning. If you’ve never hosted your own event before, there are a few preliminary actions you’ll want to take before you book your venue and speakers.
While these are simply the first steps in the corporate event planning process, they’re a good starting point for first-timers. Following this outline can help you create an effective road map to a successful branded event.
Step 1: Set a goal and success metrics for your event.
You can’t start planning an event until you know what it’s going to do for your business. Do you want to build your reputation as an expert in the industry? Lay the groundwork for future relationships in your local community? Land your next big sales deal with someone who attends?
These are all good goals, and a well-planned B2B event can help you achieve all three. However, start with your most important goal and build the rest of your event around that. You’ll also want to define what success looks like and how you’ll measure it.
Some questions you may want to answer:
- Based on our goal, who is the ideal attendee for this event?
- What type of event will best support our goal while providing value for attendees?
- Will we measure to determine our success rate?
Step 2: Determine your budget and event scale.
Before you can start making any concrete event plans, you need to decide how much you’re willing to spend. Your budget will determine everything from event size (e.g., large, full-day conference with exhibitors and multiple presentations versus an intimate two-hour seminar with a small guest list) to the types of programming and technology you can incorporate into your event.
Here are just a few of the line items you’ll have to account for and prioritize when determining your event budget:
- Type of venue and location. Bigger trade shows and conferences will likely need to rent out a convention center in an easily-accessible metropolitan area, while smaller-scale events can save money by seeking out event halls or hotel conference rooms on the outskirts of a major city.
- Presenters/speakers. The most sought-after thought leaders and event speakers will generally charge much more to present at your event than, say, a local business owner with niche expertise.
- AV equipment and technology. Your venue may or may not provide all the equipment you need for your ideal event setup, so you may need to hire an outside vendor to help you with your stage, microphone, speakers, projection technology, lighting, etc.
- Catering. Most events provide guests with a meal or light refreshments. Plan your event time accordingly if your budget doesn’t allow for a full catered meal.
- Marketing. Corporate event marketing can include a number of different strategies, such as email blasts, social media marketing, blog content, printed flyers, digital ads, professional photo and video, and more. The larger your event, the more marketing dollars you’ll need to put behind it.
- Freebies/giveaway items. Will you provide printed event agendas and branded promotional items for your attendees? Be sure to account for this in your budget.
Step 3: Figure out your timeline.
Some events can be planned in a matter of weeks, but more often than not, a successful corporate event takes months of preparation and promotion.
If you’re looking to put something together on a tight turnaround, you may need to adjust your budget and expectations accordingly. For example, your top-choice venue, speakers and vendors may not be available on short notice, or if they are, you may need to pay extra to accommodate the time crunch.
If, on the other hand, you have a longer lead time, you have some flexibility with your location and programming options. For instance, some venues and vendors may offer special pricing for “off-peak” events held during their slower times, so it may be worth asking how rates vary depending on the time of year.
Step 4: Talk with experts who understand the corporate event planning process.
There’s a lot that goes into planning a B2B event, and it’s easy to miss little details leading up to the big day. That’s why it’s worth it to consult with corporate event planning experts prior to signing any contracts for your event plans.
Find someone who knows the ins and outs of corporate events to help you every step of the way, from the initial idea stage, to booking all the right vendors, to developing an effective marketing strategy for before, during and after your event. The right partner can help you stay on track and on budget for your event, and most importantly, help you maximize your ROI.
BridgeTower Media can walk you through the corporate event planning process with end-to-end event planning, consulting, and management services. Learn more about our private label events here, or contact us for a quote.