Conferences and events can be priceless for some businesses. Social media is a great platform for maintaining regular dialogues and interaction with customers and clients but there’s still a place in today’s world for a live event: they can be a powerful way to build loyalty, increase and enhance a company’s reputation, and market your services. However, planning a successful live event is not easy. Let’s take a look at some of the elements you must consider.
Where you hold your event can be critical. Key points to determine include the size of the venue, and its location. If yours is a huge multi-day event, you’ll no doubt need to contemplate some of the biggest venues in the UK, such as the NEC, in Birmingham. But for the purposes of this article, let’s assume you’re debuting with a modest one-day event to showcase your company, which creates software to convert print magazines to a digital format.
That being the case, who is your target customer? Magazine publishers, almost certainly, so your hotspot may well be London – the capital certainly isn’t short of option when it comes to venues for hire. Consider price, naturally, but also ease of access for attendees. Nearest tube station and other travel links, for example. If you have visitors travelling from outside London, they can get to you easily?
Equipment and facilities
Venues should provide some equipment – tables and seating – but much of what you need, as host, you’ll need to bring, particularly any presentation aids. These could be a Powerpoint presentation on your laptop, or a good old fashioned flipchart. Depending on what your event entails, you may need to enlist the services of a specialist company to help you set the room up, especially if you have pop up banners and boards. Or you may bring everything yourself. Top tip: have a back up plan if you forget something vital – a courier company, like Courier Expert.co.uk, can collect and deliver that all-important item.
You have to let people know about the event, or no-one will show. And that would be embarrassing. Start by reaching out to your client base, create some eye-catching content for your own website, and reach out to the resources you know your target audience are reading. So, again, if you want to attract publishers, you could write a guest piece for an influential trade publication, or you could draw up a list of ideal people to invite and contact them directly. Exploit social media to the full. Use Twitter, create a hashtag promoting your event, and drive awareness. Although, if your event is one the smaller side, you need to manage numbers. A hand-picked 100 delegates might be what you need, rather than 1,000 casual attendees.
Don’t do it all yourself. For once, it’s too much to fill a whole day using just your own staff, secondly, you’ll need the variation in terms of presentations, and thirdly, from a credibility point of view, external contribution makes for a better event all round. Recruit speakers, well respected in their industry, to contribute. You’ll want to open the day yourself with an introduction about you and your company, and you’ll also want an interactive demonstration from one of your employees, who knows (or even better, devised) the software.
On top of that, consider inviting a leading digital journalist to speak; a well-respected editor; maybe a notable media expert. All will have a different presentation style and delivery, and that will help with the pace of the day. Even better, once all speakers are confirmed, you can feature them in pre-show marketing, and also ask them to spread the word within their respective circles and groups.
The follow up
In many ways, once the event has concluded and the hard work is done, the hard work begins. You should have a fistful of business cards, or an inbox of email addresses – start by thanking everyone for attending, and perhaps include a short survey to gauge feedback. After that, you can follow up any potential leads, and set up separate meetings – hopefully, all your endeavours have led to genuine interest in what your company does.