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The Seven Secrets behind Successful Event Planning

Planning any sort of event, if not done systematically can be a major headache, and even potentially soul destroying, unmitigated disaster. If you are the one who has been delegated to the task of organising a work-related event – such as an office party, brace yourself, because you cannot afford to get it wrong. Get it right and you will score major points across the board with both your colleagues and senior management. Get it wrong, and you are likely to deal your personal reputation and your career a mortal blow. The only way to handle this effectively is to make yourself aware of all the possible constraints and pitfalls others have experienced. The advice your can heed is, do not take it on if you follow a well-defined, and proven process. The variety and extent of an Event planning operation 1. Interview the Key Players Speak to the people who have initiated the idea of holding the event and be crystal clear what is expected, both from the event, and then from you. Make careful notes, and make absolutely sure there are no misunderstanding. If necessary, ask the people concerned to repeat anything you do not understand. Also, if there is any aspect you do not agree with, whatever it may be, rather voice your concerns at this time. You will not be sorry. A little bit of heartache is better than a bucketful of blood. 2. Carry out your research diligently Speak to people in the company, if available, who have previously organized this particular event, or others, and don't be shy to pick their brains early on – this will get you out of the starting blocks quickly, and puts you in a good position to emulate their successes, or avoid their mistakes. Ask them what was the best and worst of their experience, and if they can pass on any advice to you. Also, nowadays, there is a huge amount of information freely available on the Internet, and you will add some real sparkle to your event by bringing in a wealth of experience from the international community of event planners. http://www.freedownloadmanager.org/downloads/event_planning_software/ http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/event-management/free-tools-for-the-open-source-eventplanner Then, you must try to speak to people outside of the company, such as the local bottle store owner who probably has a huge amount of knowledge to pass on based on personal experience. Talk to them about finances, food, and features, especially if they are professionals in this field. 3. Home in on the objective without delay Be very clear about the primary objective of the event, and what the bottom line is regarding what it is meant to achieve. Nowadays, even kids parties are planned in minute detail, so your event is no exception. Focus on this objective, and try to encapsulate it in an event slogan, such as “Today's Standards are Tomorrow's Goals”. 4. Keep costs under control at every turn Establish what amount of money is being made available for the event, and where it is coming from – if you are told that it has been budgeted for in annual company expenses, ask which budget, and how much. If a company resolution was passed, ask to see the document and make sure about the


amount that has been allocated. Money and expenses are always a sore point, and it will come back to haunt you later. Rather be safe than sorry. Now draw up a meticulous, itemized budget. Not something on the back of a cigarette box or scribbled on a notepad. Rope somebody in, if you can, who is a Cost Accountant, and work with this person closely. Establish a good rapport with this person, and make sure that every document, receipt, order, invoice is duplicated. Keep a hard copy in a safe place, and put it on a computer, and make a CD copy in case the system crashes. Make sure that two people, one of whom should be you, are in charge of cash disbursements, and make sure that this is meticulously controlled. Do not give away your authority in this area. 5. Develop a Telling Theme Go for something, if that is your wont, along the lines of “Keep it Green” which can set the theme of an environmental message, but also the colors and the food menu. Another could be “Go for Gold”. 6. Form a committee Organizing anything usually needs more than one person. In fact it would be brainless for one person to take on the burden, unless there is adequate, paid, professional outside help, and the organizer is just a link to these people. That is another ball game though. 7. Supplement Costs with a Sponsorship Monetary or other tangible support was once confined to major events, notably in the sporting arena. The scenario has changed, so it would pay dividends, especially in a company, to ask one of your vendors to furnish your cause with a specific contribution, either in cash or kind. You could have a quid pro quo with them by allowing them advertising exposure at the event.


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 2 Chapter Summary:              

Selection of a Venue or Location Arranging Refreshments Negotiating with your vendors Sound System & Entertainment Legal Considerations and Contracts Air, road and rail transport for guests Invitation protocol Parking on Site Local Accommodation for guests On-site supervision Security for guests and VIP's Troubleshooting beforehand and conflict handling Post-event performance evaluation Your Attitude and Gratitude

Having dealt with the broader concepts of professional event planning, we can now move on to the actual nitty-gritty, hands-on, face-to-face aspects involved in planning a successful occasion of any nature. What are called the tangibles: Location and Venue The location and venue are not synonymous in this context. The location could be anywhere in the world, and not just the immediate environs of the office or home – in the same suburb or city. The primary constraints to the place where an event can be held are the funds are available, and then the purpose of the function. Whatever the case, an on-site inspection of the venue is mandatory. This can generally be carried out by just the organizer, but for more complicated events, part of, the entire committee can attend. Here are the factors to keep in mind: Location – Local, another State or another country Venue – Office premises, sports club, City Hall, Hotel or say, a luxury game ranch. On-site Inspections – factors to bear in mind are the costs, and then who should carried out this task. Arrangements for Refreshments – Food & Drinks The most basic get-together requires some sort of refreshment – just a one-hour morning meeting can stretch to coffee and croissants. At the other end of the scale, with with multi-city affairs, and professional catering, the organizers could end up spending weeks on comparing the pros and cons of a range of suppliers.   

Negotiating with Vendors Without exception, unless they have marbles in their collective heads, every business worth its salt has a basement price to which it can be directed, albeit accompanied by considerable haggling and arm-twisting. However, it is highly unlikely that this price is the first one that is offered by the vendor. As the organizer, your negotiating prowess will be tested to the utmost, in pushing to get the


“best” deal from a variety of vendors, including: photographers, printers, car and bus hire, entertainment, music, security, signage, landscaping and marquee tents, etc. Audio and Visual When it comes to organizing a professionally run event, never underestimate the importance of the speeches and the people delivering them. Allied to that the quality of the sound and visual effects (e.g. PowerPoint presentations) is paramount. Make a mistake here, and it could negate all the other good work done by the organizer. Hire your speakers (the people) or entertainers only after seeing them in action – unless of course there is some occasion where they have been employed before. If they are in another city, get hold of a promo DVD or use Skype or similar. Have somebody who is familiar with technology, to pre-test all microphones and other equipment, such as projectors and laptops. Cabling and plugs need to be checked, including plug points and their proximity to where they will be used. Sods law says that even with the best equipment, bulbs blow and batteries fail – so have adequate back-up. Legal Constraints. Do not ever underestimate the importance of event-planning legal niceties and contracts to back them up. Unfortunately, the days of sealing deals based on a handshake, or a gentleman's agreement have gone with the Mauritian Dodo. Getting details in writing serves toward ensuring can lead to ensuring that whatever a vendor promises is not just hot air. Transportation Similar to the planning required for the venues and locations, the logistics surrounding the matter of transportation can be a massive challenge. The organizers work does come to a grinding halt with the arrival of the delegates or participants at the venue. This can be further complicated by intervenue transport – especially true of events such as weddings and funerals. Accommodation If the action that the delegates are involved in is going to be mentally, and perhaps even physically demanding, it is self-evident that they will demand a good nights sleep. The organizer is liable to get it in the neck for things as diverse as lumpy mattresses, loud noise and late early-morning wake -up calls. On-site Supervision Veterans in the Event-planning field will readily admit to experiencing days where everything coming down to an exercise in crisis-beating communication. Ironically, whatever can go wrong in event -planning often does. So if you start by planning for the worst situation, then the worst is already handled effectively. Moreover, the organizer and the team will need to be available round the clock, especially geared to addressing last-minute SNAFUS. Trouble Shooting Wise, considered staffing of the organizing crew or team well beforehand will pay considerable dividends. Moreover, should they be of the action-oriented variety, with a talent for resolving conflictsituations with the spot. But, in the final analysis, the buck stops with the organizer. This person then, may have to be capable, and have the power, reserves or backing to intervene, evaluate and take remedial action.


Evaluation Stage Just as Baseball or Cricket are minutely examined and evaluated by ardent devotees in modern times, so has post-event performance measurement become the mantra in event-planning. There are a variety of approaches to addressing this XXXXX (charts and record keeping examples from internet) and indeed may be mandatory to adequately demonstrate to the hierarchy of the organization that the event has met or exceeded expectations. This of course would include the financial and satisfaction targets. Gratitude and Attitude There is an irony in event-planning if the job is well done, and the result is seamless, hardly anyone will notice. But get things wrong, and the heavens will fall and heads will roll – guaranteed – especially that of the organizer. Finally, even when things look dark, and others are panic stricken, the organizer must keep calm. The emotion that cannot be entertained is that of anger – even if people's actions border on being unfair or unwarranted.


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 3 Chapter Summary   

How the organizer is meant to lead The bones of the committee stage outlining the major tasks

No one should underestimate the role and encompassing job description of an Event Planner. The successful ones are those that think and plan as if they were Projector Managers. As a comparison, the role of the Project Manager embraces all of the following:  Comprehensive planning, and then the actual execution of what an “event” entails  Strict observance of factors such as cost, time and quality factors The observable difference between an event and a project is that projects generally are directed toward a tangible end result. However, both occupations share the following characteristics:      

Planning Skills Ability to do background and relevant research An analytical bent – not the classic “geek” though. Multi-tasking and superb organizing ability Team supervision skill Follow through mentality

The analogy of event planning to that of directing a stage production on Broadway or similar is not far removed from reality – simply because, once the show is on stage, and on public view, there are no dress rehearsals – then there is no second chance! Of course, some things can be subject to stumbling, because there are always some unpredictable factors. These can be in the form of an unpleasant interaction, or hot exchange between a guest and a supplier. The best a planner can do is to plan, prepare, and handle the unanticipated when it rears its ugly head. Purpose of Goals These can include, depending on the occasion:  The Introduction of a new Marketing Campaign  Functions to recognize performance  Fund-raising for events such as charities and political parties.  Sports Events Award evenings  Funerals, Weddings, Coming of age....generally the family type occasion The Purpose Points the Way It has oft been said, and the old adage applies here: “if you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there.” What that boils down to is that if your event stumbles and falls down, not having a clear-cut purpose, then those individuals involved in the planning process may well end up going in different directions – like chickens without heads. Taking the Initiative & leading from the front


Just as in the middle of a circle there is a centre point, so it is that to make things go round, it all comes back to one person having to take the rap, if they want to be the focal point of planning. The 10 Point success Mantra The key qualities required of a planner can be distilled down to just two words: Entrepreneur's Mindset. This can be demonstrated in practice as follows: 1. Keep communication open & direct. Be precise and honest about what you say, and make sure the feedback you get from staff or team members fairly reflects what you are trying to convey and do. 2. Keep your eye on the ball Although some day-to-day details may sometimes go awry, always be cognizant of your objectives and keep going...picking up any loose threads, and move on. 3. Keep yourself available and accessible Do not, under any circumstances, run away and hide, especially when problems come along, as they surely will. Act like the Rock of Gibraltar and be the ultimate support base for your team – but don't let anyone sit on you. 4. Forget the favourite tag be balanced and equally fair in your treatment of each individual. 5. Integrity & Honesty This is a sensitive issue, because corruption is rife today in many business dealings. The cash from sponsors must go to the charities it was meant for, or held in a visible, accessible account – not the event-planners pocket. 6. Inspire by example and motivate by mouth Show by deed and word that the occupation of event-planning and organization is dignified and worthwhile. 7. Allocate & Delegate Don't be under the misapprehension that you are the only one who can handle a job properly. A good leader knows how and who to delegate to, but is still able to control and coordinate. 8. Be decisive and direct. Don't dilly-dally. Collect the facts and information together as best you can, but be obsessive about every dot and tittle. Get on with the job at hand.


9.

Resolve conflict

People are bound to have differences of approach and opinion, and your job is to diplomatically resolve these situations, and then move on – with resolve and intent. 10. Be lavish with praise and hearty with approbation Go out of your way to praise people who are doing a good job – just don't be too effusive, and therefore come across as being false. People sense that very quickly. Also, encourage those who are lagging behind. If somebody is obviously not capable of doing a job, get help or replace them.


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 4 Selecting your committee Putting together a dream team of people who can make things happen can be the biggest single challenge in making the difference between your event being a frisby flop or phenomenally fantastic. Co-opting people to serve on ANY sort of committee can be really daunting – primarily because it is often a thankless chore for many people. Most people, volunteers, will do things only under duress and close monitoring – mainly because of the selfish motive that there is “nothing in it for me” or some cash reward. If that sounds a touch cynical, it is directed at destroying any patently false illusions about the job being glamourous. It requires a person with sheer grit and determination. If you have those qualities – then read on, because I have plenty to impart from on-hands, personal experience. How can you, the event organizer, get over this “people hurdle”? Here are some helpful ideas which are triggers to getting cooperation in commonly occurring categories of events: Social Events Here it will help if you emphasize the personal benefits of working in the event. Stress that this will be a good opportunity to become acquainted with the members of the community, local organizations, and then people with common interests, is often sufficient ammunition to attract at least some people to join a committee. Coupled with the sense of anticipation of at last tracking down long lost college mates, or classmates, and then also previously close family members might encourage individuals who are keen to help toward organizing a reunion of like-minded people. Sports Committee Here it is a good idea to stress the real fun in the activity, and the rare opportunity to interact with sports-minded folk. An added incentive in this scenario could be that they will be rubbing shoulder with, say, famous or well-known sports personalities. Fund Raising Committee The key to persuading people to join this type of committee, is to stress the huge amount of good that will be forthcoming to deserving people, in dire need of a leg up in life. Appeal to their emotional, caring side. Emphasize that their efforts will have a profound impact on the beneficiaries. Business Function Committee Here you can subtly link success at this level to long-term success in the wider organization. It is a soft approach for demonstrating worth later in the harder core of business operations. Local & National Political Committees This sort of committee is an excellent “training ground” for folk harbouring higher political aspirations. It often starts with the local school committees, then moves up to local and provincial


politics, and finally up to national level. The incentive here to join your committee is simply personal interest, and this is coupled to long-term political aspirations. Academic Committee Ego plays a big part here. People want to to be recognized, if not only for their academic prowess, but also amongst their peers. This sort of committee is an excellent way to get on the “lists” and then to be noticed for promotion to niche academic posts. Stressing that standing back in the participation here for a committee could be damaging to career prospects is always a winner. Generating Event Theme Ideas A pervading, compelling theme is critical to the ultimate success of any event – but strangely, that fact is often overlooked, and that is sad, because it can set the overall tone, and bring better results for all concerned. So, once you have:  

Defined your purpose Formed the committee

the next most important step is to go for generating crackerjack ideas. Crackling and meaningful ideas are everywhere, and you can often discover relevant concepts from the following broad sources: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Current Events History – personal, local and international Popular culture found in TV, movies, books, magazines and internet social networks. Company Promotion links Destination

People have a tendency to want to move out of their own culture, simply to learn about the differences from their current daily experiences. Current Events This is a very fertile area for using your imagination, but in case you get bogged down Peter Fisk has some amazing ideas: http://tinyurl.com/33gy7hm and then here are some other free ideas: http://tinyurl.com/36eblfv History A universal theme (International) can easily be related the Moon landing all those years ago, and which has touched all our lives in some way – this theme lends itself to a rich variety of costumes and landscapes. Properly handled, a Wild West theme can still be huge fun, because you could consider the Bad and Good guys, and then the early pioneers. This pioneer theme can also resonate internationally where early settlers have opened up the country, whether it be Australia, Africa or America. Company Here the connection is often a new product launch, and that simplifies the theme approach somewhat, or the company may be due for some sort of remodelling or restructuring. For exam-


ple, they may be embracing the Green revolution, and want everything to go the energy and resource saving route. Worms and cockroaches could provide excellent “food” (ugh!) for thought. Destination The towns in the USA that readily spring to mind have a built-in historical destination theme: Williamsburg, Virginia (http://tinyurl.com/3x42lhm ) and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (http://tinyurl.com/ygqtv9z ) – especially known for the great battles that took place there. Then if one goes wider afield, of course the list becomes mind boggling, but here are some ideas: (http://tinyurl.com/3924yf3) This last one is particularly good for wedding themes. If you are planning a convention for computer executives and geeks visiting from the Middle East, forget about the belly dancers for their entertainment, and falafel (http://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Falafel) for mains. No one wants to circumnavigate the globe, only to endure a poor, halfbaked local translation of their long held national traditions and culture. It could actually be an embarrassment for guests and hosts alike, and a potential PR disaster. Creativity is the very Essence of Event Planning Although the foregoing theme ideas are just tasters, there are a veritable wealth of possibilities to throw into the pot, which may include:   

Camcorder/TV Camera festival: highlighting the contribution made by young apprentices in the film/movie production environment. Motor-Bike, Scooter and Push-Bike Wash: That part for the men, and then the women accompanying them on the pillion seat are treated to traditional Indian arm and hand Henna painting art. Here is a very good reference on that theme: (http://tinyurl.com/356n6fb)

Stage a local talent contest: Across the spectrum, there can be a surprising amount of untapped local talent (http://tinyurl.com/23u92h6) in any community. Budding talent is often evident at Karaoke sing alongs: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karaoke ) All that may be needed is to change the scenario encountered there to that of a stage, and then encourage audience interaction.

Address Global Energy and Global Warming Issues: This could reflector panels worn as a shield, Gas lamps, Candle Power, Pedal & Solar driven Cars, Rowing and paddle boats.

Underwater Hockey and Polo: The polo bit is quite unusual. I used to play a made-up version myself as a 21 year old, using plastic water bottles filled with a neutral, brightly colored liquid – and our only rule in this rather rough approach was that you were nor allowed to drown your opponent! Of course, breathing apparatus is optional. As far a th hockey is concerned this can be very interesting. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_hockey) Underwater hockey (UWH; also called Octopush) is a global non-contact sport in which two teams compete to manoeuvre a puck across the bottom of a swimming pool into goals.

Upcoming Episode 5 will cover:   

Major task outlines Forms required to keep tabs on progress and completion, such as: Budgets, Assignments, Contacts, Program, Organizing documents, Task vs Skills match, Personality styles.


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 5 Chapter 5 Summary:   

Major task outlines Forms required to keep tabs on progress and completion, such as: Budgets, Assignments, Contacts, Program, Organizing documents, Task vs Skills match, Personality styles.

Keeping on track using predefined templates Getting organized for anything from a family lunch to an international Symposium involving thousands of delegates needs a well defined system. Checklists and charts are usually the way to go for ultimate success. The forms required vary widely. Planning a corporate meeting or function has been made considerably easier with purpose designed software: http:// www.eventsoft.com/ There are 5 main areas which need to be focused on and then controlled:    

Timeline Budget Contacts Contingency Plans

Timeline The period will stretch from about 6 months before the event, on the day/s of the events and afterward: 6 months before:      

Form committee, allocate tasks, issue relevant documents Select date/s Select venue/s Prepare budget 7 cost controls Commence drawing up guest list Explore vendor & sponsor options, and then contact for proposals

3 months before:      

Solicit for speakers, entertainers & photographers Sign contracts with vendors/sponsors/speakers etc Arrange Air flights, transport etc Arrange Hotel rooms/similar accommodation Order printed materials – brochures/invitations Recruit day-of-event volunteers for later

One Month before:  

Review budget and adjust where needed Discuss gifts, trophies etc for specific people


  

Co-ordinate Media contact Send out invitations (Perhaps use Google Calendar here – much easier) Collect sponsors contributions (cash or kind)

14 day countdown   

Follow up with non-responsive invitees Liase final details with vendors Advise vendors & caterers of final head count

7 day countdown       

Rehearse aspects of events as needed Meeting of guests Arrival of guests Seating arrangements Check equipment, tables, chairs, parking Liase with security operations Communicate & update with Invitees, vendors, sponsors, committee

Day-of-event    

Go to venue well before event start Final recce to check: table settings Liquor & Wine (cold, serving positions)

Post Event   

Feedback from committee Budget Analysis Thank people concerned appropriately (Handwritten notes are good)


ASSIGNMENTS TASK

Committee Member Name

Deadline

Completion Date

Record very task & allocate a number

Name & contact number

Time & date

Time & Date

BUDGET ITEM

Planned Amount

Actual Amount

Variance

Itemise in detail

Realistic – no waste

This may happen due to unexpected

+ or -

CONTACTNAME

AFFILIATION

ADDRESS

CONTACT No:

E-Mail Address

ALL names incl Committee, Vendors & Sponsors

Which Company etc

For Written thanks etc

Mobile & landline

Check if valid by sending mail

PROGRAMTIME

ACTIVITY

SPEAKER

LOCATION

TEAM MEMBER

Start & end times, for ALL facets, including speakers etc

e.g. Introduction, Toast etc

Name, Company etc

* Venue name * Room name * Address

Responsible person's name

EMERGENCY

CONTACT

ACTION

Fire, Electricity, water, Security

Responsible person

Plan for unplanned & unexpected


DOCUMENTATION A well organized filing method for all event documents is mandatory and this can include lever arch files, alpha index, punch, pens & guillotine File Headings – Suggested Venue     

Estimates Permits Brochures Agreements Contracts

Room arrangements 

Drawn schematics – plan for room layout

Seating plans  

Importance of guest concerned Diplomacy – correct people together (e.g. divorced not together)

Refreshments    

Menus Serving Bar Layout Waiters/Helpers Contracts

Accommodation  

Room arrangements Contracts

Transport 

Limo contracts

Speakers   

all speaker agreements, fees etc Introduction instructions Accommodation

Equipment   

Sound Equipment specs Lighting (including room & stage) Audio-Visual Equipment


Entertainment 

Other entertainers (dancers etc)

Décor 

Documents of Sources, prices, vendors

Insurance 

Equipment, personal

Security  Disaster plan  Emergency contacts  Special Guests watch list Committee 

ALL names & contact details

Other


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 6 Negotiating with your vendors – suppliers Obviously, the nature of the event you will be organising determines the nature and number of vendors you will need to either consult with or obtain the services they provide. To get your act together, it is a good idea to keep them in broad categories:         

Transport: Air, ground, Rail Catering: Catering/Food, Waitrons, Bartenders Sites/Venues: Hotels, Conference venues, Museums, Zoos, Parks, Game Farms Accommodation: Hotels, Private homes PR: Graphic Design, Printing, Web Site, Photography, Publicity Entertainment: Entertainment/Acts/Dancers, Audio Visual, DJ's Function Room: Lighting, Flowers, Decorations, Trade Exhibitions Technology: Computers, Specialised Software Applications Janitorial: Child Care, Security, Coat Check, Concierge, Valet, Janitorial, Toilets, Gifts

The Paperwork For the inexperienced event-planner, just the idea of drawing up, and then getting a contract signed can be somewhat unnerving – but to not have any form of agreement is far worse. It is far better to rein in the services of a professional, seasoned in the game, a specialist contracts lawyer – simply because this is a veritable minefield. It is a good idea though, to have a handle on some of the terminology used: The parties involved: both sides of the deal must be identified, ie., YOU (as the organiser) and A.N. Other (the other party/organisation) The Offer: Here all the products and services provided by the sponsor or vendor are detailed. Be very careful about missing something here, because it is often a target for costly lawsuits. Consideration: This, of course is the money being paid. Acceptance: This means that the deal must be signed to prove that it has been seen by both parties. The pages where there are no signatures must be initialled by all of the signatories. Terms: This clause in the agreement is meant to spell out WHEN the funds/cash will be paid to the party extending the offer. You are the PAYOR. Cancellation: There is always an element of risk involved in the carrying out of a function or event. That means that all the possibilities must be considered and spelled out, leaving no loopholes for the unscrupulous folk around. This must cater for the payment of financial penalties in the event it does happen. Force-majeure: This is legalese for an “Act of God” - I.e the provision, usually financial, for unexpected or unusual events, such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, Tsunamis to allow for either or both parties to cancel without incurring any penalty. Insurance: Here you need to research the nature of Insurance that will be necessary. There are plenty of Short Term Insurance around. Use your discretion.


Arbitration: To control any possible legal costs, consider including a clause which allows both parties to resort to using the services of a low-cost mediator to settle any disputes. This is much more cost effective and less costly than going the legal route. Billing: Make sure that if you are dealing with prominent entertainers, that they get the right level of promotion beforehand. Some of them can be real prima donnas. Time: The time element involved in the completion and signing of any contracts is highly important, for one very good reason: The jobs can all start promptly, because the vendors know they have the job, and then that will be paid. Developing Potential Sponsors Seasoned event planners have developed some well-tuned strategies for hauling in sponsors that have worked admirably for them. So, if you are new to the event-planning game, it is probably a good idea to use these until you have cut your teeth. Then, that done, you can expand your horizons as you rise in confidence and competence. Here are the basics around which you can build your strategies: 1. Structure a formal letter of invitation, which addresses your plan, but keep it simple – actually, even old-fashioned by handwriting it. No flashy, expensive brochures. If you have been referred by a mutual acquaintance, use that to your advantage – it weighs heavily in your favour. DO NOT E-mail this type of request EVER – in fact, it runs the risk of being deleted as being SPAM. 2. Invest in some inexpensive Desktop Publishing Software (A good supplier, which I have used successfully for over 6 years: http://www.serif.com use this to make some simple brochures. A printer such as a Canon Pixma IP4200 is good for this aspect, as long as you don't need too many copies. If you invest in an excellent bit of additional software: www.fineprint.com this helps to print the brochures and also booklets if needed. These can be dished out at networking events. 3. Make your follow-up a VOICE call – not a letter or e-mail. When enough time has elapsed after your initial letter, the next, and most effective action is to phone your prospect. Do NOT send a 2nd letter. The timing of your call should not be at a time when you can expect the person concerned to be in meetings, or otherwise engaged. Usually early-morning or late afternoon are the better options. 4. The key is the Gatekeeper: It is very important for you to curry favour (professionally and subtly of course) with the Executive's P.A. This person can often get you through the door if you convince them that what you are doing is worthwhile. 5. Test your mettle: This part is not easy, and certainly not for the faint of heart.


The Secret to Successful Event Planning Chapter 7 Promoting and marketing your event Whereas when you are roping in potential sponsors your approach would have been face-to-face, the promotion and marketing aspect demands a totally different strategy. For one, the logistics are different. With sponsors, you would probably be talking to 3 parties at most. Marketing demands that you speak to a much wider audience, which means that you cannot expect to be able to see or speak to all the people concerned. Not only that, to get a desirable result, you will need to repeat your message, based on research, at least 6, and perhaps as many as 8 times. Even then, you may not get the numbers attending that you ideally would want. Moreover, your repetition would have to be very subtle, and not look like you are going over the top. Here are some effective channels of repetitive marketing that have been shown by the seasoned event-planner to get results: 1. Local newspapers: information sheets, adverts 2. Internet: E-mail, web site, blogs and chat rooms 3. Paper notices: Formal invites mailed, brochures, bulletin boards, postcards, a notice in a newsletter, posters, door-to-door leaflets, flyers on windscreens and handouts at networking events. 4. Radio & TV Attention-Getter Marketing - TV Adverts are known to be louder then the show you happen to be watching. The reason for that is simple – it must stand out. Thinks about how you can get your strategies to stand out. Open with a question - Try to make your question force the reader to take a second look, and then go on to read further. For example: “Are you suffering from any of these symptoms: excessive thirst, tiredness, etc – could your body be trying to tell you that these may be the signs of diabetes lurking?”.......then show how some people's lives have been destroyed by the disease. A Call to action – to attend an event - Show what they can do to change the situation by joining in your event. Offer a FREE gift or Trial - Show how, by attending the event, they can collect their free trial of a radically different and effective new treatment. Morph your Images - Show a dog giving your message, but with human lips and teeth. There is currently a very effective South African Ad Campaign for a motor vehicle doing just that. Talented children, for certain aspects (don't overdo it) do get into people's hearts. Use real names in your letters - Avoid, like the plague, phrases like “To whom it may concern.” Actual names are more challenging, and they have been shown to work better time and again. Make your images bold, colorful and fun - Disney did it, daily newspapers have fun cartoons, so try to be different, but also relevant to your target market. Create standout shapes - If you are planning an event which is connected to a from of sport, then your invites could be cut to suit. For example, if the sport is football...soccer, the shape could be round. Use your imagination here – there are an abundance of shapes


Logo Design - A logo can be a very significant attention getter, acting as a positive trigger to get the action you are looking for. It is rumoured that the Mac Logo gets people to salivate! Having a logo professionally designed can be an expensive exercise. Consider investing in Serif's inexpensive, and very good DTP Software designed for this purpose, and many others. (www.serif.com) There are literally hundreds of built-in templates, and ideas which you can use to cater for what you are looking for – not somebody else's idea. If you are not computer-literate, then consider these alternatives: Ask your planning committee for ideas. Even if the members of your team do not have the answer to this one, they are bound to know someone who does. Sponsor a contest at the local High School Speak to the arts and crafts teacher, get them on your side to see what they think, and then offer a prize for the best submission Homing in on your target audience - There are a variety of target audiences to consider, which could include:  Sports Contests  Fund Raisers  Social events  Academic presentations  Political Fund Raisers  Business Promotions Sports Contests    

Use a sports-related image – and use a timetable connected to an innings or a quarter A tangible gift such as a T-Shirt with the sports-related motto emblazoned on it. Past or present sports heroes or celebrities Public posters put at strategic points

Fund Raisers      

Use emotional material, such as pets in distress, orphans or cripples Profile to recipients – especially if they are worthy in view of the effort they have made themselves Photos, especially good ones, always attract attention and get a positive response Emphasise the social aspect and the benefit to community life. Avoid non-attendance by potential contributors – cater for those who cannot be there, but who may still contribute financially. Appeal to the ego – tell donors that their name or company will be mentioned in the program

Social Events Invest in posh Invitations – if you really want to give your son (or daughter of course) a memorable 21st birthday then consider: cream coloured, gold engraved, foil-lined, heavyweight paper and envelopes. Attire: For a really formal event, be clear about the dress-code being mandatory – e.g. no sports coats, only dress suits, no cocktail dresses, only formal gowns. Menu: Cater for vegetarian and special needs, and dietary restraints Cut-off date: Don't be overly perfunctory about the cut-of date for replies - in this instance it is far more diplomatic to give this sort of person a polite call.


Directions: Make sure you provide an easy-to-read map, with street names and a GPS reference for the folk who have a Garmin or TomTom Academic presentations Speaker Credentials – place an emphasis on speaker credentials, as this carries a lot of weight in academic circles. Slot into the publish or perish mind-set - Hopefully your conference/event will feature experts in their field – if that is indeed the case, then make this crystal-clear. A high proportion of those invited will welcome the opportunity to gather material for their own planned papers and publications, by meeting experts in the field. Emphasize the prospect of Networking - Most academics are confined to their campus during the academic year, so they are likely to value the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues from other academic institutions. Highlight the Locale - Unlike some other professionals, a high proportion of academics seldom travel as part of their work. The answer is easy: stress the unique and special locale as your selling point Invite their spouses - This will encourage attendance because academics sometimes use their vacation time to attend meetings. Political Fund-Raisers Budgets - demonstrate budgetary restraint – the party people responsible to their electorate for contributions, so over-the-top spending is not “politic” Stick to protocol – with a cross-cultural event, and levels of authority, make sure cognisance is taken of of positions and preferences. Cater for languages – If you live in a uni-language country, this is not an issue, but on the other end of the scale, South Africa has 11 officially recognised languages! Emphasize travel-ease: Make access to the venue as central as possible, and accessible to all forms of transport. Car, train, bus, air, helicopter. Business Promotions Design and print a standard brochure – Modern DTP software makes this part easy for you to do it all yourself, or to delegate it to someone who you can trust. Focus on Career development – Attendees want to come away from your event with a tangible result. Arrange for a continuing education credit that can be used at other gatherings in the future Highlight unique and “just off the press” - business books with newly released scientific/ technical discoveries – and draw a lot of attention to them. Emphasise Rapid-Fire Event action – Make sure that people attending are aware that you are eliminating the potential yawn-factors, and do that by stressing a very tight time-based schedule.

Seven Secrets of Successful Event Planning  

Planning any sort of event, if not done systematically can be a major headache, and even potentially soul destroying, unmitigated disaster....

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