This month’s blog has been written by Lucy Cheesewright, Managing Director at Langstroth. Lucy has developed an international reputation for all aspects of event management, and has many years of experience working across a wide range of events. Abacus works in partnership with Langstroth, a professional event management company with a passion for excellence, to deliver prestigious high quality events for our clients.
Firstly, I love creating events. I think it’s important to make this observation, as I sincerely believe that you cannot be in this business unless you love it. Events are ridiculously high stress, high pressure, physically and mentally exhausting and often complete madness…. But. We. All. Love. Them. Mainly, because with all of the above, you get a physical product to experience at the end; and when you smash it out of the park? Outrageously rewarding. So – what are the vital ingredients that go into creating a kick-ass event? Well, I’ll tell you.
Why are you doing it?
A seemingly obvious but often overlooked fundamental starting point. This question is essential for all marketing and communication activities, but a lot of the time people decide to do something without really thinking about why and who it’s for. This forms your key messaging, the anchor focus for the whole project that you must continue to refer to throughout the process. This includes outlining any ROI if relevant.
Establish the basics
In an ideal world, the next thing to establish is date, number of people, area of location, type of location, timings/programme and budget. These are likely to be estimates at this stage, but invaluable to the next step.
Find the right venue
The more of ‘the basics’ you are able to establish, the more effective your venue search will be. Take London as a case study – we are literally spoilt for choice, so the more thought that has gone into ‘the basics’, the better suited a venue you will find.
Smiling multiethnic staff at the wall with stickers on a meeting in the company.
Create a budget
Make this as detailed as possible with allowances for any and all elements that you might want. Better to overestimate now than try and find additional money later down the line. And always, always give yourself a contingency pot of money in the budget.
Now you have all the foundations in place, it’s time to think about the fun stuff! What touches can be brought in to make this event special – what is going to make it really memorable for your attendees? This is the part where getting the right talent involved is key. Generally, our expectations when attending an event have gotten higher and higher as the bar is continually being raised, so bringing the right creative people into the mix to make your event sparkle is essential.
Use reputable suppliers
This can be a minefield if you are new to events, as suppliers for all disciplines are in their abundance, but naturally some are better than others… It definitely pays to entrust someone in the know, you know….
You’ve got to care
You can always tell when someone has put a bit of love and care into a really good sandwich right? Exactly the same with events. Care about every single element of what you are doing; care about the people you are doing it for; care about the people who are attending – I wholeheartedly believe it will shine through.
Don’t drop the ball
Events are all about incredible attention to detail, so make sure you are as prepared as you can be beforehand. Ensuring all the big things are right, means those fun inevitable ‘surprises’ during the event are much easier to solve on the day. Every small touch and piece of detail makes all the difference.
Look after the team
You can work your socks off to create the perfect event, but onsite staff are the ones your attendees will interact with. It baffles me that they are often treated like faceless bodies rather than as an essential part of your team. Feed them, water them, talk to them, make them feel as if they lie at the very heart of what you are doing – and they will do a brilliant job and have more fun which will emanate through to everyone.
Get the most out of the event
Often, people only think about the event itself as a moment in time. This no way gives you the maximum outcome you can achieve. Think of the event as a campaign and consider everything that can be done before, during and after to get the biggest impact possible.
You’d be surprised how much information falls out of your brain in the weeks/months following an event. Ensure you record as much of a debrief of the event as possible, gathering data and feedback from wherever possible. This is especially invaluable if the event is going to be repeated. Also, don’t forget to take the time to send personalised thank you’s to everyone who made it happen. A small gesture of gratitude goes an incredibly long way long-term.
Here are some quick tips to bear in mind for a few of the more obvious types of event.
- Always try and respond to delegates within a day – even if it’s to say ‘I’ll find out and come back to you’ – attentive communication is key
- I personally really don’t like hosting a conference dinner in the same room as you’ve had the main meeting that day – no matter how you dress it, you’re still taking delegates back to the same room they’ve spent all day in.
- The production/stand build company you use for an exhibition stand is absolutely key. Exhibitions are highly complicated in terms of logistics, working with the venue, and ensuring the end product is exactly what the client wants. Make sure you work with someone who knows what they are doing!
- If you are taking part in an exhibition, it’s likely you are one of many. Take some time to think about how you will stand out from the crowd and get people on your stand and what you can giveaway that has a strong call to action on it. A leaflet with your information on will probably get thrown in the bin!
- If you are running your own exhibition, the first bullet above regarding the production/stand build company is even more relevant. Running your own exhibition is a huge undertaking – ensure you get the right talent with demonstrated experience on board!
- Do as much research with your participating exhibiting brands as possible. They are investing to be part of the exhibition for a reason, so they will therefore be a great source of market research. Pour their feedback into the content of the exhibition and make it for them – you’ll have much more chance of repeat business that way.
- Find a great creative agency to bring your ideas to life – they’ll undoubtedly have ideas of their own and access to great suppliers.
- Remember to make sure you really listen to the client at all times! If they are willing to pay out for someone to create their party, it’s crucial that it’s personal.
- Get on good terms with the local council, and quick. Find out exactly what you need to provide them in plenty of time – I guarantee you it will be more complicated than you think!
- Scope out the best local suppliers and use them wherever possible. Bring the character of the area you are doing it into the festival by bringing in the local talent! When you go on holiday you like to sample the local wine don’t you…..?
- Take the time to find a venue that emulates the brand and the look and feel/messaging of the event. Not an easy task, but a worthwhile one
- A goody bag at an event is a great idea, as long as the contents are on point! Ensure what’s in there is in the form of a gift/nice giveaway or has some sort of call to action on it, in the form of a competition or offer to connect with attendees after the event. Anything else is pretty obsolete!
So, there you have it! Of course, there is only so much that you can write in a short blog, but hopefully this gives you a flavour of how to put together a successful event and provides some useful tips to get you going, whatever form your event takes.”
As an integrated strategic marketing consultancy, Abacus offers a full range of event marketing services. To find out more about how Abacus and Langstroth can manage and/or market your event, please email Stephen Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7795 8175. Please visit www.abacusmarketing.co.uk to find out more.