“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh! The things you can think up if only you try!” — Dr. Seuss

Planning a corporate event is hardly child’s play. What seems like a fun party (or an educational experience) to attendees is often the result of weeks or months of hard work, planning and strategizing. Events are difficult to pull off well – but oh, the places you’ll go!

Here are three very important things to keep in mind.

Thing 1: Green Eggs and Plan!

It seems obvious that you should have a plan before digging into the “fun” stuff, such as picking a venue and hiring entertainment. But it’s all too easy to jump the gun – and doing so only makes things harder for you down the line.

The key to a successful event, no matter how big or how small, is setting specific goals. Know what you’re going for. Is it a networking event? Is it about lead capture? It is to raise visibility? Come up with a plan first – and make sure the plan informs all your decisions down the line.

We recently played a large role in planning a post-tradeshow party for a client who provides IT and document management services for a relatively conservative industry. Needless to say, this wasn’t the place for silly hats and noisemakers. The event was meant to “get their name out there” to potential prospects. We tailored the event to the company’s existing branding, its corporate tone and the expectations of the attendees – and the event was a smashing success. In the end, the company got 10 times the number of leads from that show over the previous year.

Here’s the beautiful thing: Once you’ve found a process that works, you can re-use it in future events. Having a baseline of repeatable processes for scoping, scheduling, allocating resources and communicating removes a lot of the guesswork associated with events. Then you can get to the fun stuff.

Thing 2: From there to here, and here to there.
Great ideas are everywhere
!

Look at what others have done, research pictures and ideas on the internet, ask around. And remember to take full advantage of all your resources. This includes co-workers, vendors, contractors and outsourcers, who often get left out even though they’re doing a huge portion of the work.

A thorough assessment of all resources at the beginning of the planning process can provide valuable insight into everyone’s ideas and skills. Once you take the time to cross reference with others, your event will come together in front of your eyes.

Thing 3: A person’s a person no matter how small!

You’ll definitely have a lot on your mind when the event finally rolls around, but you still have the obligation of making sure your guests feel welcome and comfortable. We like to tell our clients to pretend that every event is their wedding day. Make sure you go around to each guest to thank them for coming. If your reception is a corporate event, the guests can now place a face with your company’s name. This not only builds brand recognition, it builds a sense of trust and loyalty.

Think of every event as your wedding day.

Another way to make your guests feel welcome the night of your big event is to minimize any confusion. If your guests are not familiar with the area, be sure to include directions in your invitation. Make signs for guests to follow. At the recent tradeshow party, I called on my co-workers to stand at two separate entrances to point the guests in the right way. This was easy and invaluable to the success of the event.

Once the guests reached the front entrance of the party, there were at least three people to greet them, collect their VIP passes and ensure them they were in the right place. For events where you know all of your guests, have someone greet them all by name. First impressions do matter.

Remember these tips and you will succeed! Yes indeed, yes indeed!