The reason corporate events are such a beloved marketing technique is their versatility. In a single day-long event, or maybe an extravaganza spanning several days, you can collect enough sales leads to keep you going for the next few months. Plus, if you plan it right, you’ll receive lots of press coverage, and you can gather enough publicity material to keep your social media active for up to six months. It’s all a matter of leverage.
Of course corporate events are also notoriously difficult to put together, so you need to plan it right. If you don’t put in the necessary work to carry out a flawless display, your public failure could haunt you and your brand for decades to come, especially in this digital age where nothing is forgotten. It’s ironic in a sense, because with instant access and 24-hour news cycles, your mess won’t be in the headlines very long, but anyone can retrieve it at will, all with a single click, so the damage will never really go away.
Your best bet then is to ensure your event is well organised, effectively publicised, and that it impresses the right people. You want to go viral, but you want it to be for the right reasons. Begin with a clear written plan, setting out the objectives of your event. Make them as detailed as possible. For example, do you want to generate 500 leads, collect 5,000 customer contacts, or launch a new product?
Think about your target audience, developing a profile of what they’re like. This will help you figure out the best way to communicate with them effectively. Do you want a celebrity ambassador to host your event, or will you piggyback on a current media trend? Are you holding a press conference or buying up space at a trade fair? Is your event exclusively about you or are you sponsoring some cultural fete?
Settle on a budget
Depending on how much leeway you have, you could begin with a set amount of allocated funds then brainstorm on the best way to use them, or you could draw up a budget then seek approval from your finance department. However you play it, stay within your financial limits, and remember to set aside some cash for contingences. They always come up.
Work with your design team to define the look and feel of your event. You could rent out a full exhibition display system that contains promotional flags, SEG booths and buntings, or you could buy a pre-assembled display system template complete with 6m cut-outs, inflatable arches, and retractable furniture. Plan everything in advance and if there’s a lockable space where your equipment will be safe, get it there the night before.
Start preparing early
It’s not always possible to set up your venue overnight, because of security concerns, so be sure to select display banners that are portable, lightweight, and can be set up in minutes. You want to reach the venue a few hours before everything begins, and if the booth or stage is complete on half an hour or less, it frees up your time and energy to deal with other things.
Because this is a winter event, it’s highly likely that there will be rain, so put measures in place for that. There should be an indoor hall or tented areas where people can move in case the clouds open up. As part of your preparation, have your staff and crew perform ‘rain drills’ so they are skilled at quickly and seamlessly moving equipment and guests out of the rain without causing damage or panic.
Coach your talent
Your event MC, whether it’s a local celebrity or your Head of Marketing, needs to do several run-throughs. Find out if they need cue cards, if they can work off notes, or whether they’d prefer an earpiece for studio prompting. Rehearse with the relevant equipment, and ensure there’s back-up equipment and back-up power. It could also help to have a kind of ‘understudy MC’ just in case.
The day before your event, have someone call all the key attendees. These include press teams, VIPs, and any of your own management team whose presence you require. You don’t want prominent empty seats or missed cues because somebody forgot to show up or double-booked. Prepare for every eventuality, then relax. You’re an expert, and you’ve got this.
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