10 common mistakes to avoid when planning a corporate event

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Are you planning a corporate event? Read 10 common mistakes to avoid if you want to make sure it’s a success.

When event manager Lindsey Fish finished her maternity leave in 2014, she decided not to return to her old job. Instead, she launched Little Fish Event Management.

But as much as she loved organising events for other people, she really wanted to develop an event of her own. So, in 2015 she teamed up with creative designer and business partner Lucy Chaplin to create the Mums Enterprise Roadshow, a dedicated, child-friendly work and business event which is THE exhibition for mums on a mission.

They launched two events in 2016 for mums who want to start or grow a business, or just don’t know how to put their talents to use now the 9-5 doesn’t work.

And now they’re planning a third free event in Brighton in February 2017. (You can find out more about it and book your free tickets here.)

10 mistakes to avoid when planning a corporate event

But first, Lindsey is very kindly sharing her event-organising expertise with us. So, if you’re planning a corporate event of your own, here are 10 common mistakes you really, really want to avoid.

1) Your visitors came for Adele but got Snoop Dog

You need to understand your target audience. Like any marketing tactic, your event needs to be needed, to meet challenges that are real, and to give people a reason to attend in person.

Once you have decided to organise an event, make sure you know exactly who you are organising it for, and make the content relevant. There is nothing worse than an event which doesn’t deliver what it says it will on the tin.

2) Where exactly is the conference room?

This is quite a soft mistake BUT so many people make it. Choosing your venue is key and leads on from knowing who you are organising this event for.

Make sure its easily accessible, that it has the facilities your audience needs. And choose a venue to suit the needs of the attendees and the needs of your event schedule. If the layout isn’t right, if you have to have rooms here, there and everywhere, it probably won’t work.

So be patient and visit more venues, choose one that flows nicely, where people can find every element. And remember always print extra signs with arrows in all directions, so once you’re on-site you can easily walk through the attendee journey and add directional signs where needed.

3) Is it me or is this too small?

This comes back to choosing your venue. I have made mistakes myself in choosing the right sized venue – it is very difficult to predict numbers, especially with a first time event.

My advice would be try to find a happy medium between the numbers you want, expect and the worst case scenario.

Rooms that look small can often fit quite a few people in, so ask the advice of the venue and find out the capacities before committing yourself. Also look at other events held in the same space and make a judgment call. I would say more space is better than too little, just don’t go mad.

4) So why is this event on again?

This is a biggie – always keep in mind the reasons you are organising this event to begin with. You need to have objectives, know what you want to get out of it, and what value you want your visitors to walk away with.

Once you’ve decided to organise an event, keep re-visiting the core reasons why you’re doing it, as you’ll need to make a LOT of decisions. And if you stick to your core reason as to why this all kicked off in the first place, you’ll find it easier to make the right choices.

5) It’s your party but don’t cry… even if you want to

The term ‘ The Show Must Go On’ is what I mean here. No matter what happens while your event is happening, you must stay strong, keep focused and find solutions to any problems that arise.

You need to be tough to host and organise events, as nothing ever goes 100% perfect. But be prepared, think of every good and bad outcome and just be on hand to fix it at a moments notice.

Often guests have no clue there was ever even an issue. Just deal with any the very best you can. It’s like the swimming duck, calm on above the water with little legs addling like crazy.

Also if you are covering a large-ish area buy or hire walkie-talkies, they really help!

6) The piggy bank is empty

Events can often throw up costs which you didn’t expect. With this in mind, write up your budget with everything itemised and then add a contingency.

And track your costs out and revenue in – it can really make all the difference. (Read five easy steps to planning your marketing budget.)

7) They think it’s all over… it is now

Once your event is over it would be easy to forget it and move on. But no, events these days are part of your overall experience offering. So continue the support, aim to create fans and ambassadors and ensure you get feedback so you can learn and improve.

Events are like websites, they are a project which is never finished and they are never perfect. You need the support of your audience to keep you going. So try your best to think ahead, keep up useful communication and keep offering value long after the event has taken place.

TIP: Something we are doing in 2017 is recording all of our workshop and Q&A sessions, as this content is a great way for us to collect data and promote the events long after the event day.

It also gives value back to attendees so they can watch any workshops they missed, and it offers insight into our events to those who couldn’t make it or perhaps want to attend in a different region.

8) Is this a party for one?

A vital thing to remember is that this event is not for you. Though in my particular scenario with Mums Enterprise it kind of is, and goes against this rule!

My idea came from my experiences and challenges of having a baby then launching and growing a business, which is exactly the ladies we are attracting to our event.

But that doesn’t meant to say I make every choice and decision based on my own needs. I think about choice, variety and how different people think and do business.

Remember events are awesome and can give so much good, and offer so much opportunity and value. This is why it is so important to know your audience, and know why you are organising this event so it doesn’t become a blinkered event which caters just for one – you. People see the world very differently to you, so you need to keep that in mind.

9) Don’t be pushed over the cliff

This is another lesson I have learnt the hard way. Once you’ve mapped your event out, and know your objectives and target audience, don’t let people push you off course.

Do not get pushed by suppliers, venues or other people into re-shaping your plans, as it may just result in you being pushed to the edge and over that cliff to doomsville.

You need to be a strong character to organise events, and you need to stick to your guns. It’s one thing to learn lessons after the event and amend your plans for next time. But you will only ever learn the right way by making informed choices and decisions and being strong enough to follow through with those this time.

10) Why are we organising this event again?

Events make up just part of your marketing mix. And an easy mistake to make is to allocate budget, organise a great event and then later think about the results.

Event results are notoriously hard to measure, so it is very important to set your objectives, and understand how you are going to measure success. It could be revenue, it could be new customers signed up on the day, or you can put the cost down to awareness.

But understand from the outset your reasons for hosting the event and make sure you evaluate this afterwards. This will be where all the other elements come in, such as good budgeting.

Final thought

You will never please 100% of the people 100% of the time. Just do your very best, stick to that plan you made in the very beginning and those objectives and get writing that to-do list and budget.

But most of all good luck! Events are scary but I think that’s why I love them.

Lindsey Fish is organising the third Mums Enterprise Roadshow in Brighton on 23 February 2017. Free to attend, it will have workshops, Q&A sessions and over 40 relevant exhibitors. Book your free ticket now

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