A Meeting Organizer’s Top Priority
Event planners and meeting managers often ask me, “What does it take to pull off a great event?” I answer, “A great event happens when all the important elements come together perfectly.” However, the conversation rarely ends there, I often engage the inquirer with questions that gather more information like “what are you trying to accomplish? Or who is your audience? What are your group’s values?” Once an organizer knows these answers they have the foundation to create a great event.
While each groups circumstance is unique and full of challenges I am surprised that most inquiries revolve around conference details like what’s best location, who is the most dynamic speaker and how do we create a unique experience. Rarely do the questions revolve around what I believe is the one true goal of all successful events, finding a way to uniquely serve your group’s needs. To serve your group you need to intimately know them and their needs. Every group, and for that matter every event, has its own personality, character, and even culture.
To serve your group’s needs you must first identify what your event has, what it creates, and even what it cultivates for your attendees. This lays the ground work for any great event. It’s what I call, an events Core Values. Once these are discovered, they become the framework for all other event decisions. Decisions like location, audio/visual, keynotes, and signage become easy to solve when you know your core values.
Once Core Values are set, you are ready to tackle what must be your top priority as an organizer, it is what it takes to pull off a great event—marketing. Yes, marketing. I am sure you are surprised that this takes top billing. When you think about our world and the culture we live in, we are surrounded by marketing. Whether it’s TV, internet, or websites it is all about the marketing of goods and services.
While most planners think marketing should be a lower priority or even performed last, they are sadly mistaken. In today’s world marketing drives everything we sell or buy. If you are selling event space to attendees and/or vendors then marketing must take its proper importance. You can do everything right, but without really great marketing you won’t have the perfect event and you may even risk experiencing what a lot of live events are experiencing—lower attendance. Many live events are seeing reduced numbers and while marketing is not the cure-all, without it your event won’t reach its full potential.
For meeting and conference organizers this may not be easy. Marketing can become this overwhelming task for organizers. Rarely is marketing in a planner’s wheelhouse of talents. Planners are forced to depend on either an internal team or an outsourced company to plan and execute perfect marketing. The planner’s number one job regarding marketing is to be the communicator of the event’s core values. A planner will need to spend time educating those who create the messaging and graphic advertising for your event. No marketing plan can work without the communication of the event’s core values.
To start, planners can gather data on past events, audience demographics, and groups’ mission statement. Write these down and be prepared to spend time articulating as many details to your marketing group. You must spend enough time for them to understand what you know and what you have created as core values of your event. While this may sound like a simple task, if the message and advertising is off track, your event will not reach its audience or clearly articulate the events value, and it is this intrinsic value that people are compelled to attend any event. They will place a value on the information, products, and experience they have at your event.
So how do you pull off a great event? Know your members core values, serve those values, and communicate them through great marketing. Once this is done you are ready to pick a great location, venue and keynote. The rest is all downhill.