The phrase ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ has never been more relevant than when sponsoring or exhibiting at an event. Without clear objectives, careful consideration and planning, events can be a real time and money trap.
If you’re not sure where to start, follow our step-by-step checklist of things to consider at the four crucial stages of an event.
Before you book
Check who’s attending
It goes without saying, you need to make sure your target market will be attending the event you want to sponsor or exhibit at. If they’re not attending, it will be the equivalent of you standing in room talking to yourself.
Get the right package
Have a clear budget in mind and do you research into the packages on offer before you start negotiation with the event organisers.
When it comes to finalising the cost, don’t be afraid to haggle. Don’t just go with what they offer in their sponsorship package and if necessary, request a tailored package to suit you.
Remember to consider the details such as what support they offer to promote your presence at the event or a bundle of tickets as part of the package you can use for customers and staff.
Make sure the package you agree is in writing and that you have maximised every opportunity available within your budget before you agree to anything.
Leading up to the event
Plan, plan, plan… the devil is in the detail.
There’s no better place for a good Gantt chart than for an event. Have a planning meeting with all the people involved, allocate responsibilities and a lead organiser who gets all the details down and manages it weekly.
On the checklist for discussion includes:
What are you trying to achieve at the event? (Your objectives)
Before you start, make sure you have some objectives of what you want to achieve from the event. For example you may want to capture 200 warm leads, who are interested in a particular product you sell, in the form of email addresses.
What are you going to take with you?
Once you know what you want to achieve from the event, this should help you to know what kind of things you need to take with you.
To start with, branded pop-up banners are a great go-to for brand awareness.
How do you attract people and keep them on your pitch? Fun competitions, silly things and giveaways all help. People love freebies – what can you give out that people will actually want and will make them remember you? If it’s a family show and people are bringing their dogs, why not give out something for them?
Marketing collateral such as brochures and leaflets are useful to expand and provide people with take-away information on your products and services. If your objective is to collect leads, you need to consider how you’re going to do this. One way may be using an iPad with a Mailchimp sign up form.
Who are you going to take with you?
We’d be tempted to say that staff rotas should be confirmed before you book anything. Being understaffed or overstaffed can create equally problematic situations so you need to work out what numbers you need to make the event financially viable and make sure staff are properly briefed.
How are you going to let people know about it?
It goes without saying, it’s important that you promote your attendance.
Let current and potential customers know you’ll be there and where they can find you i.e. stand 33. Emails, newsletters, social media, countdowns, photo shoots, guest blogs on the event marketing literature…the list is endless, but aim for at least 1 thing per week.
At the event
It’s all about a team effort at this stage.
Be well briefed
You need to make sure the team is properly briefed, everyone is clear what their role is, they take regular breaks and they are invited for feedback after the event, the de-brief is as important.
In the excitement of the event, it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re there. Make sure you keep your objectives in mind and someone is charged with overseeing them. If you’re planning to collect data, make sure you collect data. If you’re planning to get 10 sign ups for your workshop, get those sign ups.
Get the timings right
Arrive with plenty of time to spare. This gives you time to set up properly and, if something was forgotten, or someone is ill, you can put back up plans in place. It allows you to plenty of time to set up and scout out the competition, analysing what the completion are doing will help you identify how you measure up and areas for improvement.
After the event
Don’t fall at the final hurdle!
Follow-up is equally as important as the planning. Make sure you follow up with the team, debrief on what worked and what didn’t, or ‘Like Best, Next Time’. Be sure to make notes and circulate to the team so you all remember for next time.
Finally, make sure you find the time to follow up all leads you generated – it would be criminal not to!
Assess the ROI
Assess the true value of being at the event. This might take a bit of time, but you will have a fair idea what the investment was. One way of doing this is to look at what the average sale value that each lead could generate for you, to give you an idea of what return on your investment might be.
You can also look at the softer return including monitoring your Google Analytics to assess brand engagement, was there notable increase in traffic to your website, being driven from the host’s website? Did you see an increase of traffic generally around the time of the event? And likewise with your social media channels.
Of course, this is just a checklist to get you started but if you have any questions or need a little help managing your event, feel free to contact a member of the McArthur Davies team on 0117 214 0471.