It’s a new year, and that means a fresh start on your event projects for 2018.
Free Download: 2018 One-Page Event Strategy Template
There is no better way to establish your goals for the year ahead than a full audit of 2017. Taking the time out to meet with the whole team will help you to reconnect, plan ahead, and plot your tactical execution for upcoming projects. This is essential for any event professional wanting to build on successes, avoid repeating mistakes, and ensure your whole team is on the same page when making decisions.
To kickstart your 2018 event strategy, here are five things you should reflect on from 2017:
1. Conduct a review of 2017
Was 2017 a successful year? The first thing you should do is look back on the year and consider what was a success. Whether it’s reaching attendee numbers, saving money on a venue, or providing stellar customer service, make sure everyone in the team finds at least one achievement they’re proud of. Celebrate achievements as a team and see how they can be catalogued as best practice, to be repeated and improved upon next year.
Of course, no event is perfect. After celebrating successes, consider what could be improved. This should focus on processes, rather than people/performance. How can mistakes be avoided, processes improved and which tactics simply didn’t work as well as you had hoped?
The third item to focus on is your return on investment. Think about efficiency – of time and resources. Has something produced good results, but taken an inordinate amount of effort to achieve? Is it really worth doing again? This is where looking at ROI can really help you prioritise better, above looking only at absolute results.
2. Reconnect with your event mission and attendee demographics
The next stage of the review moves up from tactics and processes to one of values and strategy. Here you should look at two critical components:
Mission: Take the time to remind yourself and your team about why you do what you do. Having a clear mission or purpose invigorates everyone, makes the day-to-day grind worthwhile, and helps get us through tough spots.
Attendees: Who is your customer and why do they come to your events? Now is a great time to really think about your target market and how well you know them. If you have been collecting demographic data through 2017, review your results based on the audience you have been targeting. Has it shifted? Re-evaluate your ideal customers for the year ahead.
If you haven’t been collecting data to date, now is the time to start! Consider what data will be most useful to you. It could be age and location data, or if your event is information-based you could look at what their biggest challenges are or what they hope to learn from your event.
3. Develop an event strategy for 2018
Now you’ve looked back, it’s time to take those reflections and start looking forward to 2018. This time we start at the top: your strategy. Let’s break it into four parts.
Customer Needs: All good strategy needs to start with the attendee and how your event meets their needs. What does your event provide they can’t get elsewhere? If you overheard your customer trying to describe your event(s) to a friend, what would you want to hear them say about you or that event? Your strategy should then be to create a company and event that would match their description.
Company Needs: While it’s top priority to cater to your customer, you can’t forget about your own needs either! What do you care about? Is it growth and profit, brand awareness, connecting your community or support for a cause?
Metrics: Once you’ve answered the above two questions, you need to put in place metrics that keep everyone focused on your agreed strategy. For example if you care about growth, maybe you’ll focus on month-on-month ticket sales and not talk much about cost. If you care about profit, cost-per-acquisition may be much more important.
4. Establish goals
Everyone needs something to aim for! So it’s time to agree on some goals.
When setting goals, it’s a good idea to break ideas down into small chunks or set milestones, so you can see incremental progress or correct the course if progress isn’t there, before it’s too late.
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals before: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound. All goals (even big, ambitious stretch goals) should be SMART, so you don’t chase the wrong things, or set everyone up to fail.
For example “attract more attendees” or “increase profits” is not specific or measurable. “Increase attendance by 25%” or setting revenue targets however, are.
Further reading: 3 Data-Driven Ways to Increase Your Event’s ROI
5. Create an actionable plan
Last but certainly not least, you need to turn all of your brainstorming and ideas into an actionable plan. How will you execute your strategy and achieve your goals? What processes and workflows are to be put in place? Now is also the time to consider if you have the right resources to be successful, to determine whether it’s time to hire assistance/upskill staff or implement new technology.
To get started, download the 2018 Event Strategy Template to get everything down in one place and keep your team on the same page.