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Marketing – August 13, 2010

5 Steps to Planning an Event

Illustration: istockphoto.com

Successful events are a critical way of interacting with customers. Philip Richardson, CEO of Current Affairs, one of Hawaii’s most prestigious event-planning companies, offers advice on getting the most from your events.

1. Define your objectives
“You’ve got to have an idea why you really want to do this,” Richardson says. Are you building relationships with new clients? Reinforcing existing relationships? Closing deals? Once you know what you want, he says, communicate those goals to everyone in your organization. “Then they can help you stick to your objective.”

2. Hire event planner or production company
In most cases, Richardson says, it pays to use the right professional. Some organizations take event advice from people like their florists. Even if they’re well-intentioned, he says, “you get misguided information. Where do you think they’re going to spend most of your money?” A professional can give you unbiased advice and “make recommendations that dovetail with your objectives.”

3. Be clear about budget
Many companies don’t have a firm budget when they begin to plan an event, or they’re reluctant to share that budget with the event planner. “You’ve got to bring them into the picture,” Richardson says. “Otherwise, you might end up wasting everybody’s time and effort.” For those who are dubious, he suggests, “Give them the budget and have them come up with a recommended way to use those funds. Then, if you, as the client, don’t think something’s right, or you’re not getting good value, challenge them. I always say, ‘Share it. Manage it. Challenge it.’ ”

4. Reflect your company or brand
Whether it’s a fundraiser, an awards ceremony or an intimate party for clients, an event should continue your company’s image. Richardson points out this is cost neutral. “Cheap? If that’s your company image, then that’s the direction you want to go with your event. But if you have a corporate image that needs to be held to a high profile, then surround yourself with value-driven companies.”

5. Create programs with impact
A great event isn’t just about drawing a crowd; to be successful, you’ve also got to keep their attention. “Don’t show everything at the beginning,” he says. “Unfurl things throughout the event.” Stage food or entertainment to move people around. This is particularly important for the younger generation, which tends to get bored more easily. The unexpected, Richardson says, makes them think, “This is kind of cool. I wonder what else is going to happen.”

 

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