As part of your account based marketing (ABM) strategy you’ve decided to host your own private and exclusive event. It will be a great opportunity to wow existing clients and move those hot leads even further along the pipeline.
Congratulations, you’re already one step ahead of the competition! These small and highly specialized events can act as a valuable sales accelerator, so it’s no surprise that more and more B2B organizations are cashing in on the tactic.
And when it comes to hosting an amazing event - one that could be a game-changer for you - there’s nothing more important than getting your planning right.
The success of any event lies in its planning and that all starts with making some strategic decisions over the big questions: Who is your audience going to be? When and where is the event going to take place? What type of event will it be? Who will be speaking?
For B2B events you should be thinking of quality over quantity. It will always be better to have 20 genuinely interested attendees rather than 100 who aren’t really bothered but fancied escaping the office for a few hours.
Once you have made the big decisions it’s time to prepare for the event itself.
Event prep checklist
The devil is in the detail and sometimes it is the smallest things that will say the most about you and your company, so make sure you leave a lasting impression (and make it a good one!). What you should be aiming for is a smooth, seamless experience that oozes professionalism and suggests what it may be like to work with you.
Here’s a checklist so you can make sure you’ve got the basics covered and avoid some of the most common stumbling blocks along the way:
- Registration – how are you going to record RSVPs? Electronic registration can make life easier for you and remove any potential room for error. Consider using a specialized service provider, such as Attend or Eventbrite
- Know what everyone is doing and when. Prepare two timelines for the event:
- One for attendees
- One very specific minute-by-minute timeline for you the organizers
- Contact details - pull together and print off a full list of phone numbers for absolutely everyone involved in the event, including the venue, speakers, caterers, team members attending and any other suppliers
- Presentations – have multiple backups so you’re not relying on one laptop or one memory stick. Save it in at least 2 different locations, one preferably being in the cloud so you can assess it from anywhere
- Microphone batteries – get your own, never rely on the venue alone
- Camera equipment - check and practice with the cameras that you will use to record videos at the event, get a tripod, have an extension lead with you just in case plugs are an issue
- Name badges – check, double check and triple check spellings. Use name badges that offer two options for attaching to clothes, to account for both male and female guests and always have lots of blank spares
- Promotional items for attendees – think about and order these well in advance as branded items often have long lead times. Consider having your most relevant e-book redesigned for print and provide physical copies
- Don’t forget to get gifts and bottles of water for the speakers!
- Signage – prepare signage to help guests find the venue, the car park and then to find the room. Plus check if you need signage to direct people to the toilets. Different venues will need different signage considerations. Do a recce, drive to the venue and walk around to assess the site as though you are a guest visiting for the first time. And think about when the signage needs to be put up.
One big question to answer is ‘who is going to be in charge of managing the entire event?’. You can, of course, outsource this, or give somebody in-house the opportunity. Either way, it is advisable to give this responsibility to someone who has relevant experience and who’s done it before - preferably more than once.
Managing an event, whether large or small, is no easy task and takes great attention to detail, as well as impeccable timing and organisation. It takes vision to be able to foresee issues before they happen and the ability to stay calm and think on your feet in the face of the unexpected.
When it comes to the tool kit an event manager will need on the day itself, it is about pulling together every type of item that may be needed to cope with any eventuality. If you don’t end up needing them, then great! If you do, then you’ll have saved both time and stress.
Fill a box in advance of the event with these essentials and any other items that you spot you may need following your recce of the site:
- Sticky tape and glue stick
- Safety pins
- Masking tape and packing tape
- Stapler and staples
- Pens and marker pens
- Plus a notebook and pen to have in their pocket to note down any requests or comments on the day (as everyone always asks and it's impossible to remember)
- Laptop for presentations
- Laser pointer
- Business cards
- Emergency medical kit
- Petty cash for extras
- Guest list print out
- Contact list print out
- Local taxi numbers
- Strong mints
- Bottled water
But it isn’t just the tools and materials you need to think about. Everyone taking part in the event needs to come with a "can-do" attitude and a smile on their face. They also need a clear understanding of the goals of the event and their role in making it a success. Plus a little luck is always helpful!
Hold a pre-event meeting with all employees who will be present, to go through the entire timeline and get their enthusiasm going. If you need to, do it at the venue itself and have a walk through. Explain that the purpose is to ‘wow’ every attendee, to entertain them and provide a valuable experience. For sales people, give them a quick reminder that they’re to leave the selling at the door and instead concentrate on the networking and relationship building. The selling will come afterwards.
And there you have it. While you can never predict everything that may happen, by being fully prepped and planning in as much detail as you can, you will be able to cover off a great many possibilities. And with the detail covered the event can remain about the content, the experience and the value you are providing – not be remembered as the one which was impossible to find, had presentation issues, malfunctioning microphones, or any other technical hitch.
The more events you go on to do, the more you’ll learn so remember to follow-up with all the attendees, speakers and your team members for their feedback. Take notes of what worked and what didn’t so you are even better prepared next time around.