Companies and individuals alike use a variety of channels to communicate with their audiences and promote their products. An event can be an excellent way to attract attention for your brand and create a memorable experience for attendees.
But how do you ensure your event is successful? By learning to harness the event lifecycle.
What Is the Event Lifecycle?
Events are a time-consuming, and often expensive, part of any business, from the logistics of planning a conference to inviting customers and clients to an extravagant launch party. It’s important to make sure that your event effectively engages with and delights your audience.
From the marketing perspective, events are great for generating buzz for your brand and creating a memorable experience for attendees. But what happens before the event itself can be just as important as how you present it on the day of the event — if not more so.
In this article, we’ll look at some best practices for promoting your event and improving the experience for attendees. We’ll also explore some ways you can use technology to streamline your approach so you can spend less time on logistics and more time focusing on deriving maximum value from your events.
Steps of the Event Lifecycle for Event Marketers
The event cycle moves through various stages, from theory to reality. There are many methods and models based on marketing an event. But the simple truth is that the tactical and strategic steps an event manager follows all work together in a cycle to create an event worth remembering.
In brief, the event lifecycle consists of the following steps.
Determine the Event Type and Your Goals
You’ve probably heard the adage that you can’t get to where you want to go unless you know where you are. The same applies here — before you can set goals, your team needs to identify the type of event you want to plan.
Are you hosting an annual conference? Is it a one-off fundraiser for a local organization? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you understand what your event’s purpose is and how it fits into the company’s overall marketing strategy. It’ll help you frame your goals regarding:
- Content and agenda
- Event setup and design
- Marketing materials and giveaways
- Speaker fees and travel expenses
What you want to achieve with your event will determine the strategy that you use.
Build an Event Strategy
There’s your marketing strategy, and there’s your event strategy. They’re closely related, but your event strategy focuses on the precise application of your marketing tools in a specific environment. There’s always a human touch in marketing, but it’s especially necessary for marketing events.
Flexibility should define your event strategy. You’re dealing with real people in an actual place, so micromanaging every detail will not work. Leave room for the unexpected, for errors as you draw up your plans, and don’t be afraid to change course if something isn’t working out.
Event planning requires certain leadership skills you might not have if you’re used to running an office or managing traffic for an e-commerce site. Learn about how to lead a team through a big job like this, as well as how to manage your own time and energy so you can help others when they need it.
A good event strategy is specific. It defines the audience, the venue, the timing, and what tools you’re going to use for marketing. You’ll want to think about how many people you want in attendance, how much space you’ll need, and what kind of environment will best serve your goals.
Determine Your Working Budget
Budgeting is always a challenge. You want to produce events that are memorable and exciting — but you also have to stay in line with your company’s revenue, as well as the resources you have available. Your budget needs to account for everything from venue selection to equipment costs, and even the price of food, if you’re planning on serving any.
Bear in mind the actual resources you have available — if your company is just getting off the ground and has a limited budget, then it may be best to host a small event with only a few employees and startup partners.
Your budget should account for things like:
- Venue rental or reservation
- Cost of food and drinks
- Equipment rental, including audio/visual equipment
- Any entertainment you plan on bringing in
- Travel costs for guests who will be flying in from out of town
You should also prepare for surprises — is there anything you haven’t accounted for that could come up? Consider building in some extra funds for anything unexpected.
Look Into Event Apps
All that said, event planning can be a stressful job. It requires time and effort to do the work right, and many event planners don’t have the time or resources to execute their vision. Serious marketers can turn to event planning apps to improve their efficiency.
Event planning apps can help you:
- Plan your budget
- Manage your guest list
- Schedule your vendors
- Coordinate deliveries
- Save all of your important details in one place
- Collaborate with your team members
Put Together a Tentative Event Agenda
An event agenda is a schedule of the various tasks that need to be completed for your event. You can create a simple event agenda by using a calendar program or a table in a word-processing program, or you can make one from scratch.
Some examples of tasks that might go on your agenda include:
- Pre-event meetings between team members, vendors, and other stakeholders
- Creating signage for the event
- Obtaining parking permits for vendors and staff
- Sending reminder emails to attendees
The best way to make sure everyone on your team is meeting their deadlines? Put all the event details, including schedules and deadlines, in one place that’s easy for everyone to access.
Design Your Event Portal
Your event portal is your chance to make a lasting impression on the people attending your marketing event. It is your shop window, and you want it to be as eye-catching as possible. Your goal is to design an event portal that keeps people’s attention and shows off your brand.
When designing an event portal, there are a few things you should consider:
- How will you get people to sign up?
- What kind of information will they need?
- Will attendees have to cover any costs for the event?
- Is there anything else attendees should know about?
If your portal attracts more people, that means more are likely to show up, which can mean a more successful event and more revenue.
Launch Your Event Campaign
Once you’re ready to launch an event campaign, it’s time to start spreading the word. Your goal here is to promote the event, not get people to buy directly from you. You want your audience to talk about your event and get other people to attend. That’s not just because a full house looks better than empty space — it’s also because the more people in attendance, the more buzz you’ll generate for your brand.
One of the best ways to encourage attendance is through a good offer. The ticket price should be low enough that people won’t think twice about attending, but high enough that it makes them feel like they’re getting some value for their money.
Provide Continuous Updates
Keep your audience informed with email updates as time goes by so attendees know what’s coming up at your event and keep it at the front of their minds. If you’ve got some big names speaking or confirmed some fantastic entertainment, make sure you let everyone who follows you on social media know. This will also help make your attendees feel like they’re getting value for their money.
Keep Track of Records
Meticulous record keeping both before and after your event allows you to identify the gaps in your processes and improve them for future events. Get together with your staff and review what went well and what could be done better next time. Document everything. Mistakes are unavoidable, so it’s important to learn from them.
To keep track of all this information, use an event app through which attendees can input their contact details. You can also use an event portal to gather important information from your staff and vendors, as well as update them with the latest information about your event.
Adjust Your Approach Based on Event Results
It is important to evaluate your event and make any necessary changes to your strategy, instead of just sticking to the plan you had set out. This means you will have to look over the data that you have collected and determine what has worked, what hasn’t, and where room for improvement can be found.
It’s also a good idea to create a post-event report for future reference when planning other events. Not only does an event report provide information about which channels are more effective when you’re looking at costs versus returns on events, but it also offers insight into which strategies work best for your brand so you can optimize them for success in the following year.
How Event Management Software Can Help You Navigate the Event Lifecycle
Although there are several ways to navigate the lifecycle of your events, many savvy marketers could benefit from using event management software.Event management software can help with anything from organizing your vendors to tracking your RSVPs. You can even use it to collect your audience’s email addresses so you can promote future events. The right event management software, such as what you might find at Events.com, can even help you map out all of the stages of your event planning, including what types of events should be part of it, who your target audience is, and how much money you want to make from each event.