Now that it's a new year, have you been thinking about how you'd like to up your marketing game this year?
Let me ask you a few questions to help you get started.
Do you base your marketing efforts on planning and running brand events? Do you usually set up an event business plan for your corporation or business? Are you extending this plan for a quarter or a year-long framework?
As a business leader, executive, or marketing professional, it’s your responsibility to acknowledge and understand the real impact of running events or exhibitions.
By leveraging this strategy as a primary driver for growth, you can drive measurable results and skyrocket the brand visibility of your company. Brand events are a powerful tool for achieving multiple goals on different funnel levels.
Here are just a few statistics to back up these affirmations:
- 75% of B-to-B marketers say that in-person events are most effective marketing tactic (Content Marketing Institute).
- 82% of executives say face-to-face meetings are a higher budget priority than technology or customer research (Meeting Means Business: Business Leaders Survey).
- Exhibition performance will accelerate to 2.8% in 2018 and 3% in 2019 as the economy picks up its pace (2017 CEIR Index).
In other words, if your business or company focuses its marketing efforts on planning and running brand events, you are on the right path.
Why brand events drive positive results
Seen as an efficient way to extend your business, increase brand visibility, and reach new audiences, brand events can be designed for and serve multiple purposes.
#1. Generate valuable leads
You don’t have to plan brand events for your employees or customers only. You can also run a conference, workshop, or trade show for industry professionals who are unfamiliar with your brand.
The success key is to design the event content accordingly to these people’s needs and provide quick wins or immediate solutions to some challenges they may have.
#2. Educate people about your products or services
People may not always be aware of the entire range of products or services you have to offer. That’s why a brand event can help you showcase the solutions your company is developing.
#3. Increase customer engagement
This specific event approach can be interesting for brand fanatics.
According to the 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, published by American Express, “The Brand Fanatic craves the wow factor, wants consistency in experience, and enjoys attending high-level events. In addition to owning the brand’s products or services, the Brand Fanatic may also follow the brand on social media, own gear or accessories that identify them as a fan of the brand, and possibly even invest in the company.”
Brand fanatics like unique brand experiences and are interested in assisting at exciting product demonstrations.
#4. Provide personalized brand experiences
Brand events provide you with the perfect context to explore new ways of communication and interaction with potential clients by designing unique brand experiences. As a result, you’ll generate incredible experiences by mixing entertainment and education.
#5. Transform attendees into customers
By establishing a valuable connection between the brand and the event attendees, you can always expect new people to opt in to your products or services.
Considering the multitude of goals and results brand events usually cover, there’s no other way around developing an event business plan (be it quarterly or yearly).
This is why an event business plan is good for you
Whether it’s a brand event or a simple event, a business plan is mandatory.
The same way you can’t really navigate around a new city without a map, an event business plan will help you orientate quicker and act more efficiently.
Apart from that, it will also help you gather all the necessary information needed to run a successful brand event.
#1. Align your actions with the main goals
You’re probably tired of hearing the “identify your goals” advice.
Fair enough—most articles about creating a business plan emphasize this part, yet never actually explain why you need it.
You see, when you’re working at the speed of light (considering the tons of decisions you need to make and tasks you must accomplish), it’s almost impossible to remember why you actually started something in the first place.
That’s why it’s highly recommended to be extremely clear about your goals. Apart from that, an event business plan will help you align your actions with the essential goals. In other words, you’ll know exactly why you are doing certain things and what decisions will impact the results you are expecting.
#2. Identify your value proposition
Sometimes you might disregard or be oblivious about the most meaningful approaches you can take when planning brand events. Since everything must be well orchestrated and adjust under one unique identity, you must pinpoint the value proposition you have to offer. This will make you articulate the entire design of your brand event.
#3. Assess your needs
One of the most practical reasons why you need an event business plan revolves around the identification and assessments of your logistic, administrative, and marketing needs.
#4. Distribute resources correctly
When planning a brand event, especially as part of the marketing campaign for your company, you must know exactly what means you have and how to use them to your best advantage. From financials to human resources, your responsibility is to distribute adequately the money, infrastructure, and efforts.
#5. Evaluate the event’s ROI
Are you aware of the results you are expecting? Do you have specific success KPIs? Are they well aligned with your goals? What are the post-event metrics you pay attention to when analyzing the impact of your actions? You must define all of these elements while creating the event business plan.
Knowing this, let’s take the designing of an event business plan a little bit further.
Since you are representing a business or a company, you’re probably running a few brand events per year.
What can you do?
In this case, you can think about a quarterly or yearly event business plan that will cover all of your activity for a longer period of time.
How to design a unique event business plan for your brand
Note that you can use the following framework to design a business plan for one event or multiple events during the year.
Here are a few tips to follow:
Tip #1. Agree upon the funnel stages you want to influence
When creating an event business plan, a great way to figure out what your goals are is to know just exactly who you’re running this event for.
In this case, it’s not about the profile of your attendee (buyer) persona. That’s something you already must have well-defined. At this point, your responsibility is to know if you’re planning events for those who are at the top of the funnel (ToFu), in the middle of the funnel (MoFu), or at the bottom of the funnel (BoFu).
Of course, you can plan a series of events and target a different stage each time. By doing this exercise, you’ll better understand how to articulate your goals.
For example, if your brand event is for those who are at the top of the funnel, you can design a massively valuable event (ensuring content that will solve your attendees’ burning pains) without showcasing your products too aggressively. Considering this, you’ll have to focus on planning an event for lead capturing.
Tip #2. Decide the added value you can provide
If you are not Star Wars or Apple, nobody will attend your event for the sake of the brand itself. You’ll have to give your attendees something in return.
In some cases, you’ll have to think about inviting really awesome speakers who can massively contribute to the event with their knowledge or skills transfer. In other cases, you’ll have to design a series of product demonstration (for BoFu) activities that will be valuable enough to attract as many attendees as possible.
Tip #3. Design the brand experience
What exactly makes brand events so powerful when it comes to marketing a business? Is it the possibility of networking and listening to great speakers? Or the chance to get some good discounts or better understand how a product works?
You can add those things to the list, but what really makes a brand event special is that your attendees get to actually feel the essence of your business. In other words, brand experience is the factor that determines your customers’ willingness to open their wallets and buy your products or services.
Tip #4. Set up the planning framework
When you plan one event, it’s chaos ..., two events, it’s a disaster, multiple events … well, who cares anymore? Just kidding.
Establishing the timeline (for one or multiple events) is just as important as the event concept itself. Since you aren’t an event professional, you may want to hire one. If this is not an option, know that planning events takes a great deal of time and effort, so be prepared to set up a very detailed and exhaustive timeline.
Tip #5. Identify the KPIs for measuring success
Let’s start by saying the success KPIs depend greatly on the initial goals you had for the brand event. If it’s a brand event for lead capturing, you’ll have to focus on indicators such as the number of attendees, the engagement rate, etc. If your brand event aims to transform your attendees into customers, you’ll have to identify a series of monetization indicators.
Keep your business plan simple and adaptable.
Just like planning an event, writing an event business plan can take lots of time and effort. You don’t need to feverishly write countless of pages only to throw the plan in one of your desk drawers and forget all about it.
Instead of using the traditional text format, try to visualize your plan all on one page. Make use of visual design and focus on keeping your document as flexible and open to changes as possible. Create mind maps that will help you align the goals with your further actions and resources.
Brand events are a big part of your company’s marketing campaign. They also are the key to generating new leads, attracting new customers, or increasing brand advocacy and loyalty. That’s why when you write an event business plan for your brand, you must cover all aspects.
From planning and resources to marketing and brand experience, your responsibility is to build your brand event’s identity and set up a realistic timeline. This can be demanding and exhaustive. However, writing an event business plan can be one of the best things you can do for your brand.