I hate planning things. Anything. Everything. I hate it. This makes me a terrible friend at times because I don’t find any joy in planning a big birthday bash, booking travel for a weekend trip, or even being the one to choose a restaurant for dinner.
It stresses me out beyond measure. I obsess over whether I made the right decision, whether other attendees will be happy. Oh God, what if no one shows up?! What if I got the dates wrong?! What if it rains?! My self doubt takes over and I just want to cancel the whole thing.
I’ll redeem myself by showing up early to help you set up the dinner or bake the birthday cake – I’ll even work the clean up crew post party! If left to my own devices, my wedding will be nothing more than some Trader Joe’s cupcakes at the courthouse.
Luckily, I have friends and family who do enjoy the planning process. Who revel in searching for the best hotel deals, scouring Yelp for the coolest restaurants in town, and spending hours in bakeries and flower shops until every minuscule detail is in place. Just tell me how much I owe you.
Anyone else suffer from my symptoms? Well, welcome to the Event Planning Haters Club.
In B2B marketing, we have to plan events – webinars, conferences, and trade shows among others. But, relax, we’re going to get through this together. Here are four tips to survive the planning process and throw a wildly successful event in the process:
- Define your internal and external goals: Events, like other marketing tactics such as email campaigns, must have a clear end goal. If you’re planning a webinar, that goal might be lead generation from attendees. Customer events are more focused on education and networking. Attendees need goals, too! After all, if they’re going to be traveling to attend a tradeshow or conference they often have to justify the expenses to their managers. Be sure your event webpage and social posts define external goals outright – Meet other customers to share marketing tactics and network. Hear about our roadmap for next year. Learn tips and tricks from an industry expert.
- Put yourself on a schedule: Create an event planning checklist (we have a great one for you here) and obsessively keep track of dates. Be sure your schedule flows in a logical order. For example, if hosting a live event, wait until you’ve booked the venue to tackle catering and branding. There might be internal resources available to you at the site. Track dates as you check in with printers, speakers, and attendees as well. You’re going to be so busy in the days and weeks leading up to the event, you might lose track of what you have and haven’t checked off your final to do list.
- Be respectful of attendees’ time: While you might think a four day conference in the Bahamas filled with back to back presentations and nightly outings sounds perfect, remember that attendees are taking away time from their other responsibilities to attend. Go for a two day conference instead. Even online events like webinars shouldn’t take up more than an hour of your attendees’ day. Host webinars in the early afternoon (1-2pm), so it will piggyback onto lunch breaks. At trade shows, make sure your product or sales pitch can be demoed in five minutes or less.
- Plan your follow up before the event: Don’t go dark after the streamers have come down and the cars have pulled out of the parking lot. The real work begins post event – it’s time to send follow up emails, filter through business cards, update attendees CRM information, connect with networking prospects, and review your goals and achievements. Continue to nurture attendees with recorded presentations, infographics, eBooks, and opportunities to connect with one another.
Follow these rules, breath into a paper bag, and remember the exhilaration you’re going to feel when you pull off the greatest B2B event in history.