Since its often your top clients attending your events, you have to do everything you can to make every aspect of your event easy and enjoyable to ensure they leave with a positive view of you and your firm. But, it can be tough just getting people’s attention, let alone holding it, so we’ve created a simple, four-stage event planning model that will help you refine your event planning skills and throw the perfect event any time of year.
For your convenience, below is a quick outline of the model. You can also consult the detailed explanation of each step if you have any questions or would like specific tips on any part of the process.
- The Invitation
- Send the “Save the Date” invitation
- Follow up with actual invite including a simple registration form
- Follow up with non-responders who have yet to opt-out
- Sustain the event’s buzz with regularly scheduled news updates regarding the event
- If you are offering CE credits, make sure to include that detail in your invitation
- The Reminder
- Send an email reminder close to the date of the event
- Keep your message practical. Provide additional info about the event details.
- At the Event
- Make the check-in process as painless as possible
- Make your guests comfortable and be considerate of their time
- The Follow-Up
- Send a thank you email shortly after the event’s conclusion
- Include collateral from the event in your email to give recipients something to re-read and share with colleagues
- Send attendees their earned CE credits as soon as possible
- Tell those who didn’t make it that you’re sorry they missed it and you hope to see them at the next event
- Take this opportunity to publicize future events
Stage 1: The Invitation
First comes the Save the Date. Send your target audience a message telling them about your event and outlining the benefits of participation. Urge them to keep the date free but don’t oversell it. Keep it brief and save the detail for later.
Then it’s time for the real invitation and registration form. The key: Keep it simple.
Pre-populate the registration form with as much information as possible to speed up the process and guarantee accuracy. Segment registrants so you can easily identify who has signed up and who hasn’t. Also, include a handy link in your registration form to add the event to an attendee’s Outlook calendar, which will ensure they have a reminder set in place.
If the event is on a large scale with various locations, you may want to consider an event microsite, which can easily show the events closest to the invitee using geolocation services (a nifty IP look-up or Google plug-in). A microsite is also a good platform for including other information beneficial to attendees, such as nearby accommodation and entertainment suggestions for those traveling.
Use information gathered from your invitation list to target messages to those still unregistered. When the day of the event is looming, tell non-registrants what the arrangements are for last-minute registration and whether they can turn up the day of the event. Everyone who hasn’t opted out is still a potential attendee.
Test everything. Check for duplicates in your list, test the creative on a seed list, check the registration form and ensure that any form validation (i.e. email address format) is working as expected.
Sustain the buzz by regularly emailing news about the event, and reinforce reasons for attending. But be careful not to nag. Send fresh information each time, perhaps announcing a new speaker, or topic a portfolio manager will be speaking on. Short, relevant emails build momentum. Irrelevant messages turn people off.
Also, if your event is offering CE credit than you should make that clear to your guests as this is a pretty sizable incentive for clients and prospects alike.
Stage 2: The Reminder
Even after registration, your attendees aren’t guaranteed. There are a million reasons why those who registered to your event will decide to drop out without a word.
Don’t let your audience slip away at the last minute. Make sure your event remains their priority, and they don’t forget about it. A simple reminder email can go a long way. For online events, a reminder emailed an hour before can dramatically increase participation.
Remember to always keep the content of the reminder practical. It’s too late if they’re not sold on your idea by now, so don’t waste time repeating a sales pitch.
Stage 3: At the Event
Make the check-in process as seamless as possible. Ditch the archaic clipboard for an event check-in app on a tablet developed to speed up, facilitate and even integrate with existing contact databases. It also eliminates manual status updates and uploads. Creating a slick check-in process keeps visitors engaged and creates a professional feel for the brand.
The main thing to keep in mind at the event itself (besides the content of the event, but that’s on you) is to constantly, non-verbally remind your guests how thankful you are that they took time out of their busy schedules to attend. Whether that be through how comfortable the set up is, how strictly you adhere to the agenda out of respect for your guest’s time, or by providing refreshments, these non-verbal signs of gratitude will go a long way to keeping your guests content and happy they came.
Stage 4: The Follow-Up
Thank attendees for helping to make the event the success it almost certainly was. Tell them what you liked most about the event so that your message doesn’t look like a soulless standard email. You can also share any content that was gathered during the event, such as session materials, presentations, pitch books, and other investment ideas. You should also send applicable attendees the CE credit certificate that was promised during the event as soon as you can post-event. This process can even be automated for the simplest and quickest delivery.
Tell those who didn’t make it you’re sorry they couldn’t come and hope to see them at the next event. If it’s done smartly, people will think they’re getting a personal email from an event organizer and will be more likely to react. You could even tell them what they missed out on, and offer them copies of the program slides to keep your message useful.
If you’ve already got the next event planned, take this opportunity to publicize the date and location, but save the details for the invitation.
The secret to successful events promotion is simple: don’t bore your prospects and don’t make them work for it. Treat them like kings, and you’ll be guaranteed a fruitful, lasting relationship.
If you’d like to talk about how StoneShot’s technology and consultancy services can make your event drives more effective, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org