Are you planning your next conference or seminar? Perhaps you are wanting to make the most out of exhibiting at a trade show? Or even hosting your own company event or party? With business events all being fairly time consuming to organise and often seen as a fairly major marketing investment, the pressure is on to make sure you get it right. Event planning is then an absolute essential step to ensuring a smooth and successful event.
What is event planning?
Event planning is the process of organising and coordinating all the activities involved in an event. From a client meeting or a team building activity, right through to a trade show, exhibition or festival; all events take time to organise and manage. Event planners will consider every detail of an event, be it the catering, booking speakers and entertainment, transportation, arranging equipment and furniture, right through to promotion of the event and contingency plans. Planning each step of your event will allow for a show that is within budget, is delivered on time and fulfils your event aims and objectives.
What does event planning consist of?
The principle areas of event planning are:
Preparation: Establishing your objectives, budgets and timelines within an event plan is the first step to planning an event. You can then look to research event sites, suppliers and the costs involved.
Organisation: Booking venues, ordering supplies and equipment needed for the event.
Promotion: Consider how best to promote and raise awareness of the event and your brand to your target market. Promotion pre-event, at the event and post-event are all aspects to cover during the planning process.
Event Day Management: Making sure everyone involved knows their roles and timings for the day. Managing the running of the day so that it flows smoothly without any issues. You will also need to have a contingency plan if anything doesn’t go to plan!
Post Event Debrief: Ensure your team is debriefed following an event. Review your objectives to see if they were met and collate and analyse any data from the event.
Here at Steel City we regularly advise our clients on how to make the most out of their brand when it comes to engaging and raising awareness at exhibitions and events. We always endeavour to source merchandise which will help to fulfil the aims of their event long after the day has passed.
Be it pre-event incentive gifts, how to brand your exhibition space with stands, banners and table cloths to selecting branded uniforms for staff, to ideal, well targeted promotional product giveaways. With years of experience in the exhibition and events industry, we’ve compiled a checklist of event tips and best practices on how to plan and carry out a successful exhibition or tradeshow. Here goes!
Event Planning Checklist for Exhibitions
Event Preparation & Organisation
Do your research
When choosing your next exhibition or trade show, make sure you find out as much as possible about it. That way, you know if it is the right fit for your brand and marketing strategy. The key points to take note of are:
Who is attending the show? Are they your target market and more importantly will the decision makers by there?
Is the location right for your target market? Is it easy to get to and is parking available?
How many delegates are likely to attend?
How long has the show been running for?
How much will it cost? Is it within budget?
What is included? Large show organisers usually offer a shell scheme package or space only. If it is space only, you will need to provide everything for the stand.
See if any of your competitors will be at the exhibition and where they are located – you won’t want to be too close to them. Find out how they are marketing themselves to help you to improve your own event marketing.
Set your objectives
What are your key objectives for the exhibition? What message do you want to portray? E.g. is it to increase your brand awareness, to engage and interact with an existing or new client base? Do you want to promote your whole range or a specific product or service?
Once you know what your main event objective is, you can then define quantifiable metrics and align your efforts with your team to ensure you can all achieve them.
Establish your budget
Make sure you are comfortable with your expenditure and ensure costs don’t get out of hand with a marketing event budget. It’s a good idea to have a little extra for any unexpected costs that could crop up.
Set up meetings
If you are attending an exhibition or trade show, try and obtain the delegate list before the event. This will allow you to make connections with your ideal customers prior to the event, and potentially have guaranteed meetings already set up for the day.
Related post: What is Branded Merchandise?
Plan how you will record interactions with delegates
This could be from as simple as an enquiry note pad and pen, to an integrated app system supplied by the event organisers. This will mean you will have a record of your interactions and can follow up any enquiries quickly after the show.
Event Planning and Covid-19
With the event industry having just recently opened up again after the Covid-19 pandemic, making sure you conduct a safe event is essential. All aspects of your event planning should have safety measures in mind to ensure everyone involved feels confident to attend. You may want to look at the following measures:
Have a plan in place to market your presence at an exhibition. Utilise email marketing and social media to inform your target market about the event and what they will gain from attending. Don’t forget to include all the essential information such as the exhibition venue, dates and times.
Make a buzz
Think about the theme of your event. What do you want to get people talking about on the day? Could you create a PR stunt either pre or at the event itself? Make sure it is aligned to your brand and the event itself. Another way of creating a buzz is to send invitations to prospective attendees and those who you would like to attend your event. Physical invites which include an imaginative branded gift will create a talking point and stand out against other digital invites. They should also entice delegates to want to find out more, and sign up to attend the event.
Create a hashtag
Make sure it is simple and easy to remember and include it on your banners, graphics and merchandise. This will help to promote your presence at the event via social media and generate conversations.
Ensuring that your event is a success and attracts the right audience can be helped by incentivising them. The type of incentive you choose will depend on what they are required to do to attend. Are you using a pre-registration system, selling tickets or offering free entry? Free gifts are a great way to encourage more feet through the door. If it is a registration system, you could offer a prize to the first few people to sign up. Paid events on the other hand are a great way to encourage group bookings, for example, groups of six get one free person. If the event is already free, you could run a prize draw on the day for one lucky winner.
Keep your stand simple
Try not to over complicate your exhibition stand. By keeping to key themes and colourways, you will be able to convey a clear marketing message. Delegates should be able to instantly recognise your message and what you can offer them. Showcase products that are relevant to your target market.
Tempt delegates to engage with you
An exciting game or challenge will draw people to your stand. Couple that with an enticing reward such as a highly valued prize. The more creative you are, the more you will stand out. Veer away from the standard bottle of fizz and business card dump if you can. Prizes which are branded will also reinforce your company with the delegates. If you incorporate the competition with a social media campaign – i.e. photos of the delegates or winners with the branded prize and your company tag, it will encourage social sharing and increase brand engagement.
Give away branded merchandise
It is a fact universally acknowledged that everyone loves a freebie! Branded gifts that are useful and reflect your brand, will carry on promoting your company well after the event itself. What promotional products are of most use to your audience and what do you want these products to remind them of in years to come?
Branded merchandise will also entice delegates to your stand and create an instant ice breaker. For more tips on choosing the perfect branded giveaway, see our blog: 5 Promotional Giveaway Tips
First impressions count
Is your brand coming across as professional & approachable? A branded backdrop with stand, banners, tablecloths and even branded beanbags and chairswill create a coherent and instant professional image of your company. Having a catchy message or call to action or making your brand bright and colourful will help to make your company stand out and be remembered after the exhibition.
Record the event
Whether you employ a professional or do it yourself, make sure you photograph your stand and/or video the event as it unfolds. It is a great way to showcase your brand as it unfolds on your social media and will encourage engagement with other attendees or exhibitors.
Event Day Tips
Have an event agenda
Make sure everyone involved has an agenda for the event with detailed timings. This could include set up timings, event day arrival time, who is responsible for the stand at which times, speaking slots and allocated breaks. Dress appropriately
What you wear will reflect your company image. A branded uniform is a sure way to come across professionally and makes your company instantly recognisable. You don’t have to be branded head to toe to make a good impression, a simple branded polo, shirt or hoodie can co-ordinate your team and event theme. Read our blog on branded uniform to learn more.
Make sure your staff are easily identifiable
Name badges and branded lanyards are a low cost way to make your staff easier to identify. Not only that, but delegates will likely find your team more approachable if they can see a person’s name and position within the company.
Choose staff who are passionate
Staff that are enthusiastic about your company, are knowledgeable about your products and services will exude a positivity and create the best impression on prospective clients. Make sure no-one eats, use their phone or looks uninterested on your stand.
Empower your team
Empower your staff with the knowledge they need to be able to convey your companies offering to attendees. That way, they will feel more comfortable and confident when approaching potential clients. Make sure your team know the objectives of the event and their own role within it.
Strive to connect with people
By listening and helping people to solve their problems. Tailor your advice and tips to their situation, don’t hard sell – it puts people off.
Ask open ended questions
Keep the conversation flowing with open ended questions such as ‘what brought you to the exhibition?’
Be aware of how much time you are dedicating to each delegate
If they aren’t your target market politely limit your time with them. Try to keep all conversations to a maximum of 10 mins.
Post Event Tips
Debriefing and Analysis
Following the event, make time to debrief the team, and evaluate if your objectives were met. This will allow you to identify anything that can be improved for your next event. Also, remember to follow up any enquiries as soon as possible to make a good impression. Thank guests for visiting your stand.
Reward your team
If your event team has reached the objectives set, a reward is a great way to acknowledge hard work and motivate them to achieve results at your next event.
We hope you have enjoyed our event planning checklist and it will help you make the most of your next exhibition, trade show or conference. If your company could do with a refresh of branded exhibition stands, banners or tablecloths, or you are looking for your next event giveaway, why not give us a call? We would be happy to offer our expert advice and guide you to targeted event marketing materials.
You can call the team on 0114 275 4150 or contact us here.
With over a decade of design and marketing experience, Jennifer possesses a broad range of marketing expertise covering everything from event planning to digital marketing. Joining Steel City in 2015, Jennifer manages all areas of the company’s marketing, from writing creative content about promotional merchandise, managing social media activity to organising events and direct mail campaigns. Outside of work, Jennifer loves to try new recipes, keeping fit and spending time with her family. Linkedin