Let me ask you a quick question: How much time do you spend on strategizing versus planning an event? If you’re like the majority, you probably take a few hours to design the event, and decide its mission and objectives, the format, and the expected results.
From there, you probably dedicate most of your time on navigating the logistic hurdles and overcoming the planning challenges. After all, this is what one can expect when setting up an event. However, this strategy of spending less time on thinking and more time on taking action will not ensure the success of your event.
Events nowadays are less about planning and more about strategy. Why? Simple: Using an event management platform or software saves you a ton of time, because the logistics will be automatically taken care of for you.
Obviously, you’ll still encounter unexpected challenges; however, most of the things that took you days to do manually will be solved in a few hours (if not minutes) digitally.
Having this, you can finally take your mind off the planning logistics and actually focus on designing a powerful event strategy that will not only bring you success, but actually give you more control over the planning and results.
If you’re ready to take your upgrade your next event, take note of these recommendations on how to master your strategy:
Establish your long-term vision
There are two things that make event planning different from an event strategy. The first one focuses on implementation, meaning the exact actions you’ll take to achieve your goals. The second one is about your strategic framework that will determine how to generate business value from the event.
When designing your event strategy, you’ll want to think long term. This approach includes things such as the overall planning costs and energy, the industry stakeholders who will support your events, your brand identity, and your desired future.
In other words, when setting up your event strategy, you won’t be thinking about your next event. On the contrary, you’ll be focusing on the event series you want to run for the next one or two years and how will they help you grow your business.
By defining a core, long-term vision, not only will you know where you’re heading, you’ll have the flexibility to experiment and maximize the impact of each of your events.
Define the event OKRs
When planning events, we’re used to setting up the KPIs (key performance indicators) and analyzing the ROI (return on investment). Most of us aren’t yet familiar with the idea of OKRs (objectives and key results), which in most cases will strengthen your KPIs.
In his book Measure What Matters, American investor and venture capitalist John Doerr argues that KPIs are numbers without soul or context. According to Doerr, "Objectives and key results are the yin and yang of goal setting—principle and practice, vision and execution. Objectives are the stuff of inspiration and far horizons. Key results are more earthbound and metric-driven. They typically include hard numbers for one or more gauges: revenue, growth, active users, quality, safety, market share, customer engagement"
You might feel tempted to overload your OKRs list, yet as Doerr recommends, "A limit of three to five OKRs per cycle leads companies, teams, and individuals to choose what matters most."
Your event OKRs can be, for example, to increase the brand awareness of your company, create a community, or even transform attendees into clients. These OKRs refer mostly to defining the event vision and decide which results will indicate your success.
Align the event with your business goals
If your intention is to sell your products or turn existing clients into brand ambassadors, it would be a waste not to use event marketing. You see, sometimes we might run events because this is what others do, yet we fail to understand that they can actually help us achieve our business goals.
When you’re designing your event strategy, first write down your business goals, and then align the event OKRs with these objectives. By doing so, your resources will be well invested in events that can actually have a positive impact on your business and help you grow.
Run a 100% attendee-centered event
This is something we can’t emphasize enough. Although you’re running events to achieve your goals, you can’t do much if you don’t put your audience in the center of the equation. If you are transparent and honest, show your interest in providing your attendees the best, and not hold back the value you can generate, people will start trusting your brand and take the actions you want them to.
Having a 100% attendee-centered approach is crucial when defining your event strategy. Jot down all of your audience’s needs as well as how exactly your events can meet those needs, what you can offer them, and how you can make your events as friendly and stress-free as possible.
Change the way your attendees think
The one thing that makes events truly competitive in a digital world is their transformative power. If planned correctly, events can change people. Whether it’s a unique experience, meaningful interactions, or groundbreaking content, an event can make your audience think and feel differently.
And this is something that doesn’t happen by default - you can actually engineer this.
When building your event strategy, ask yourself what exactly you want to change in your guests. Do you want to get them to trust your brand? Or maybe you want to build a strong community? Knowing what you want from your guests and what you’re willing to give back gets you one step closer to achieving your goals.
There’s no template or model on how to build an event strategy. Each one is different depending on a company’s or brand’s goals. However, there are certain elements that ensure a more efficient action plan.
Start by defining your long-term vision. Why are you planning the event in the first place, and what do you want to achieve? Then, set up your event OKRs and align them with your business goals. Also, always have an attendee-centered approach, taking care of making your guests’ experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Finally, ask yourself how you want your event to change the way your guests think and feel, and design specific experiences and dynamics accordingly.