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Free checklist: How to run your first industry event

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What are your initial event goals?

Before you even get started, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you promoting a product?
  • Do you have an update to your services that you need to share?
  • Is there new Canadian regulation that affects the business interests of your attendees?

Establish a value proposition

Get into the mind of your perspective attendee, what will they gain from attending your event? Research their business needs and tailor your event accordingly where you can.

  • What perspective or information can you share to event attendees?
  • Do you have a way for them to grow their business or increase profits?

When to schedule your event?

Imagine a calendar full of public holidays, industry crunch times and busy periods and find your ideal time slot to host your event.

Answer these questions to avoid any clashes and to maximize opportunity.

  • What’s going on in your atteendee’s industry?
  • Are there industry awareness days you can capitalize on?
  • Does your event clash with busy industry times for your customers? (tax season or end of year)
  • What competing events on the calendar must you avoid in order to get the highest attendance possible?
  • Will the weather conditions in your local area be a problem?

When to start planning your event

At the very minimum three months out is the latest you should leave it to organize an event. Organizations running large scale events will usually plan 8 months out.

Some venues will only confirm 60 days before an event in case they have an opportunity to attach their venue to an event that books a number of hotel rooms. For example, a wedding.

It’s a good idea to have a backup venue in mind throughout the planning process just in case.

During this planning time you will also need to execute the invitation aspect of the event including:

  • Registration
  • Deciding if you will charge your customers for attendance
  • Social media advertising / event awareness initiatives
  • Reaching out to potential sponsors

How to cater your event

Chances are that if you have ever been at an industry event you have seen that there are many different ways of catering an event.

The best way to plan what to provide is to first look at the timing of your event schedule.

If your event is at breakfast time and ends before lunch, you can offer light refreshments and tea and coffee. From here on, if your event spans over lunch – provide lunch. If there are events scheduled past dinner time, provide dinner.

If your event is happening in a hotel, it is likely that your venue will have catering packages available for a variety of needs.

Let your attendees know what refreshments to expect at the time they register.

Putting an agenda together

When it comes to putting the agenda together for your first industry event, be sure it matches the value proposition offered during the invitation process.

You will also need to decide if you or your employees will be doing all the presenting or if you will approach expert speakers. If you do approach external presenters, establish the following:

  • Cost or other expectations of presenters
  • Any presentation preparation they require
  • The relatability of your speakers to your audience

Risk management

There is always a risk that something could go wrong on the day of the event, so like the boy scouts it’s important to be prepared.

  • Do a dry run of your presentation among colleagues to get the timings right
  • Be in contact with your venue on the lead up to the event
  • Schedule any banners or other promotional materials to arrive a week before the event
  • Have an alternative way to present if your PowerPoint/projector fails (e.g. printouts)

Event follow up

  • Have a debrief with your team after the event has ended and establish what worked and what didn’t.
  • Provide a feedback form for your attendees.
  • Analyze the data of the combined internal and external responses to troubleshoot any issue in future events.

Assess the success of the event

It’s important to reflect on the learnings of your event and circle back on your initial goals

Did the event help you reach the goals you initially set out to accomplish? And should you do the event again?

It’s possible that your goals could be achieved by an improved repeat event, or you may decide that a different marketing channel could be more fit for purpose, such as a webinar.

Events with Sage

If you are an accountant or bookkeeper with clients you could be eligible for Sage’s Accountant Event Sponsorship Program.