We have entered full-force event planning mode at the Academy these couple of months as we are gearing up for our annual Spring Summit the first week of May in Atlanta, Georgia. Although putting on an event can be lot of work, the outcome is often well worth the effort. In a world of heavy digital interaction, live events are a valuable way for businesses and firms to engage with their clients and prospective customers while creating ties within the community.
It doesn’t hurt to be an event planner, but you certainly don’t have to be an expert to execute an event or celebration that will impress clients and woo prospects! However, there is more to a successful event than food and music, and here are 5 key steps that business owners tend to overlook, and later regret, when hosting an event.
- Set a Goal
The key to a successful event is having a clear objective behind it. When brainstorming your event, reflect on what you hope to achieve by holding it, and what your attendees will walk away with. Your goal should be specific; any event will naturally promote outcomes such as “increased positive relationships with clients” and “engaging within the community” — so your main goal should be specific and unique to what you’re looking to do or emphasize within your practice. The objective could be to announce new services you’re providing, prompt existing clients to review their plans, or attain referrals from attendees. Whatever the goal is, having a main objective in mind will help you shape your event in a way that maximizes your investment, and ensure that you don’t miss out on opportunities to relay exactly what you want to your attendees.
- Create a Budget
Everyone wants to throw the party of the year, but the investment can exceed the return if you don’t plan accordingly. Always set a budget before you begin planning and adjust only where absolutely necessary. Having a budget in mind will help you narrow down your options for things like venues or catering, and starting with a realistic dollar amount will save you time from reviewing and turning away options that don’t fit the bill.
- Assemble the Troops
Unless you’re a full-time event planner, you’ll likely need a little bit of help organizing even a smaller-sized event. Play to the strengths of others in your office – planning an event can be a great teambuilding opportunity! If one of your staff Members is a foodie, have them put together a list of recommendations for a nice restaurant or venue. Does someone have an eye for design? They can help with invitations or advertisements. Star planning early-on (at least 6 months prior to the date) and hold regular meetings where you can all share ideas and brainstorm. Ensure that each staff member understands not only their role, but the main goal of the event, and you won’t find yourself carrying the weight of planning on your own.
- Make it Last
Live events end after a few hours, but with the right marketing tools can stretch your investment for years to come. Do not underestimate the value of hiring a photographer or videographer to capture the fun and excitement of the event you’ve put so much work into. Quality images or videos can be posted on websites, sent out in email blasts, used as holiday cards, featured on Yelp or referral pages, a videographer can even record client testimonials during the event…the possibilities are limitless! You may be tempted to assume that attendees or staff will take photos throughout the event, but it is very easy to become distracted, and amateur photos or recordings will not do your event the justice it deserves.
- Measure Success
The biggest regret many business owners have after hosting an event was not having a plan in place to gauge their return on investment. It’s great if everyone had a good time, but after your event you will want to know to what extent you achieved your main goal. During the event, have someone keep track of basic figures such as how many attendees there were, how they heard about the event, the quantity of materials passed out, commonly asked questions or comments, etc. This data, even if not directly applicable to your goal, may come in handy later on. This process can very well continue for weeks or months post-event. For example, if your goal was to announce new services to existing clients; make sure someone in your office is asking those making appointments how they heard about the new services. You may be surprised at some of the unexpected positive outcomes of the event, and keeping track of feedback and financials is the best way to measure the value it had.
Client events are something every firm can benefit from, and you’ll never know the success you could have if you don’t give one a chance. By planning ahead, and keeping these 5 important steps in mind, you are on your way to becoming the talk of the town!
Projects and Events Coordinator
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128
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