What makes a successful event?

I’ve been doing a review of a week-long exhibition that I ran recently where we had 25 businesses involved in promoting their products & services to the public and it has made me think about the whole process of running an event.

I have a very clear strategy in my own head for how I believe a successful event is put together – to be honest it runs exactly on the same principles as any other promotional activity.

When you put together an event, you have to be very careful to consider all of the elements of what you are running – what equipment do you require, what is your programme to be, who is the intended audience, what is a successful outcome. You need to run an event with the same principles in mind as any project – you should break it down into the various key deliverables and then create a time plan, with actions, owners, deadlines etc.

You have various stakeholders to consider – the person who has instructed you to run the event, the attendees, the suppliers & staff at the venue itself, any speakers you may have – all of these people will need to have their needs met in different ways.

And when you are thinking of marketing the event, then think of the AIDA process: Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. You need to create a hook, a real buzz to begin the process of showing people why they have to attend your event. You have to know how & when to communicate with the prospective attendees to attract their attention, the desire to visit. You then need to continue to promote the event and add extras to convince them that they need to take action and come along.

And of course, you have to be clear from the beginning about how you will measure the success of the event. Is it number of attendees, is it profit, is it satisfaction of attendees, is it media coverage? There could be a combination of these factors, but you must be clear what you will measure success on, otherwise you can’t gauge Return On Investment. The investment may not be cash, it may be time, it may be a different resource – as long as you know what you are putting in, you can tell whether you have reached the outcome that you wanted.

Events are an exciting thing to be involved in, I love the buzz that I get from being creative, putting on a great programme and delivering an excellent event which is seamless to the outside world.

I don’t think I’ve ever done an event where something didn’t go wrong – the main thing is not to be fazed by that, but to think on your feet, find a solution to whatever has happened – and keep it away from your stakeholders during the event. Afterwards, it can be good to share what happened, because the chances are they may have realised something was different but not known why – so show them that you had the ability to be aware of what was going on, and took action & ownership to solve the problem before it impacted the event itself – this is a great ability to have – not everyone can do it.

Events are fun, always throw up something unexpected and you have a great sense of achievement when they actually take place. There is a lot of work involved in putting together an event, and when people enjoy it, its a brilliant feeling.



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