May 30, 2019

6 strategic ways to rethink your next event

Karen Gould

Planning an event in Columbus, Ohio, and beyond goes so much deeper than linen choices and buffets. How do you want to make people feel? How should they interact with your brand? What do you want them to do after?

When you focus on the strategy behind an experience instead of the execution of an event, you can shift perspectives and influence action. Here are our six favorite ways to get strategic with your next event.

Start with the end in mind

What do you want your audience to walk away with? This could be information you want them to know, an emotion you want them to feel or an action you want them to take. To guide your process, create a strategy statement and a singular call to action that encapsulates your target audience and what you want them to do as a result of your event.

Create audience personas

Identify and analyze your key stakeholders and dive into their personas to ensure your engagement tactics and creative tactics align.

What moves them to action? What makes them feel challenged? How do you engage them and produce the action you want out of this event?

Brainstorm around them as people to inform the strategic recommendations for your event. For example, if you’re deciding where the event should be, let your personas be your guide. Should it be in a city that’s easily accessible to everyone? A remote location that feels cool and custom? Or a professional setting with few distractions?

Focus on event experience over execution

Consider the experience before attendees even leave the house. What is the look and feel of the invite? Do they need additional guidance?

For example, when we helped our clients at Washington Prime Group reimagine their annual Sensitive Santa event that lets children with sensory sensitivities meet Santa, we created a weekly communication plan to keep parents informed. We also stationed Elf Guides outside each mall entrance to help direct families to Santa, creating a smooth experience before they even set foot in the mall.

Don’t forget to consider what kind of digital experience you create, including your homepage, FAQ page, online registration or app if you have one.

Know how you want people to interact with your brand

What makes your brand unique? What do you want people to take away?

For example, our clients at Flying Horse Farms—which gives kids with serious illnesses the chance to experience camp—wanted help rethinking their fundraiser, Campfire. Held in downtown Columbus, this event raises money each year to keep camp free for camper families. Our goal was to tell a powerful story about camp that would stick and make lifetime fans among our donor base. All our tactics laddered up to the Flying Horse Farms story so attendees would take away an always-burning fire in their hearts for this event.

Get ahead—way ahead

The nature of the event beast is that teams often don’t have enough time to change or update an event, even when they know it needs a shakeup. Plus, event resources are notoriously slim. It often seems more economical to do what was done last year, doesn’t it?

It may feel like you don’t have time to do the necessary research or the funds to do it differently. Instead of trying to overhaul the events you have coming this year, make small changes that get the ball rolling for a big change next year. Continue with business as usual this calendar year so you can put your strategic energy into what you can truly affect given a full calendar year.

Conduct qualitative and quantitative interviews

Rather than basing success purely on attendance or dollars raised, have a focus group so you can truly listen to what people have to say. In addition to round table discussions, you can ask specific questions in an e-survey. Using a variety of question types helps you get a sense of what the experience was like. Consider using different types of questions, like the Net Promoter Score (NPS) rating, open-ended and yes/no questions. A few examples, respectively, include:

How likely are you to tell a friend about this event?

What is one thing that was missing from the event?

Was parking easy?

Do you need help making your next event an experience?

There’s no special project like a special event. And behind every special event, there must live a compelling objective and a purposeful plan to make a lasting impact. From concepting the look and feel of an event to marketing tactics that reach the right audiences to activities and enhancements that make interactions more meaningful, we bring brand stories and strategies to life by designing creative event experiences.

  • Event ROI assessment
  • Event strategy
  • Concepting and creative tactics
  • Marketing, communication and activation plans
  • Experiential elements and activities
  • Vendor research and recommendations
  • Implementation guides and event playbooks

Reach out  to make your event an experience.