05 Jan Pro Tips to Increase Attendance at Your Next Corporate Event
Whether it’s a conference, client appreciation bash, or seminar, throwing a successful event is tricky. It’s going to take time, money, and personnel resources, so you want to make sure your investment pays off. If you’ve got a corporate event on the calendar in 2016, you need to know these insider secrets to putting on an event that brings in the crowds and keeps them engaged.
Fortunately, you’re not alone when it comes to deciphering the keys to success. We’re unlocking our event planning vaults to give you an insider’s look at what makes an event a flop and what makes it fabulous. Before moving forward on your 2016 event plans, you need to check out the event planning secrets we’re blowing the lid off, below.
Planning is Everything
It’s impossible to pull off the event of the year (or the century) without proper planning. Before you even start considering the menu or lighting, you need to hold a kick-off meeting with all interested parties. Your planning team should consist of everyone that has a hand in the production of your event — from corporate event planners to whoever’s in charge of logistics, social media, or the invitation list. Make sure you address these key items in your kick-off meeting.
- Audience: Who are you targeting with this event? The more specific you are about who you want to attend the easier it will be to target them with invitations, promos, and social media outreach.
- Intention: What is the purpose of the event? Do you want to gain new customers, retain current customers, gain brand recognition, or some combination of these? Identifying the audience is the first step, but then you have to be able to let them know why they can’t pass up your event if they want to raise their own success to the next level.
- Venue: You don’t need to identify the exact location at the kick-off meeting, but you do need to narrow down the type of venue that is best suited to your event. Would your purpose be best accomplished in a wide, open, outdoor venue? Is it more suited to a swanky downtown hotel? Could an artsy loft space or gallery provide the right atmosphere? Discuss and figure out the vibe you want to create and start seeking out a venue that meets that criteria.
- Timing: What time of year will be best for your event? Identify some possible dates and take into consideration the needs and means of your target audience. If winter is their busy time it will be more difficult for them to get away; likewise if summer is when they see a rush. Be judicious about picking a date that allows for maximum attendance by your key audience.
- Budget: Money can’t be overlooked. Before you start dreaming about booking The Met, make sure you know how much you can reasonably spend to accomplish your goals.
Event Planner’s Pro Tip:
Follow up the kick-off meeting with bi-weekly or monthly meetings leading up to your event. Use this time to review timelines and deliverables, and revisit event goals to make sure you’re staying on track and keeping with the original intentions of the project.
Spread Your Message
Once you determine who your audience is, you need to let them know why your corporate event is an industry must. Make sure that everyone who’s anyone marks their calendar with your event by using these smart promotion strategies.
- Branding: This goes beyond catchy signs and slogans — true branding delivers your message whether through words, images, or icons. Make sure everything you use to promote your event is cohesive and delivers the same message, be it via postcard, email, social media, or posters.
- Value: Every message about your event needs to let the recipient know what they’re going to get out of it. Tell them what’s in it for them and make them an offer they can’t refuse through factual, statistic-driven, and testimonial-laden value propositions.
- Innovation: Think outside the box when it comes to engaging your audience. Consider a digital scavenger hunt that’s tied into the event or create intriguing hashtags to promote the event that will live on long after the closing speaker.
Event Planner’s Pro Tip:
Include a creative giveaway with your promo materials or as a reward for registering, re-tweeting, or liking your event on Facebook. Tie the freebie in with your event’s message. If you’re all about going green, hand out event flash drives or attendee links instead of printed materials. If fitness is the focus provide BPA-free reusable water bottles or a code to access a week of online workouts. Anything that supports your message and gives them a preview of coming attractions will do the trick.
Deliver What You Promised
The best way to ensure a fruitful return on your event investment is to give the people what they want. If you’ve been able to entice your audience and secure their attendance, you’d better make sure they get what they came for. Here are the biggest ways companies let their attendees down and how you can avoid making the same mistakes.
- Disorganization: Nothing takes the wind out of your event’s sails faster than attendees arriving to a chaotic mess. Make sure you allow ample time to get everything set up and have backup plans in case key people have an unexpected illness or emergency. No matter what ensure that the registration and welcome areas and events go off without a hitch. First impressions really do make a difference.
- No Flow: Walk through your event like an attendee. Is there ample room for people to move between rows in lecture rooms? Does the buffet have enough plates, napkins, and silverware? Can people access the bar without bumping into revelers on the dance floor? Look at everything with an attendee’s eyes and take care of trouble spots before they become an embarrassing bottleneck.
- Takeaways: We’re not talking about swag. Your speakers and activities need to provide meaningful information that attendees can put to use immediately. Avoid booking superstars that get caught up in their own magnificence and offer ego-inflated theory instead of actionable, pragmatic advice. Leave your audience wanting more and ready to book their attendance at your next event.