small business planning Archives - TAB Corporate

Must Haves for Impactful Business Event Planning

business event planning

Event planning may seem like a business-related activity that has little do with a CEO or business owner’s primary responsibilities. In fact, a high-profile business event can significantly affect the quality of a company’s brand recognition efforts—in itself, a top priority for any business leader. So it’s important that an event that represents your business be planned and executed with the right commitment to quality and value.

Events are an extension of a company’s broad-range marketing efforts and can exert considerable influence among existing and prospective customers. In order to achieve the most from your event planning efforts, keep these factors in mind:

Decide what your key objectives are. If the event features a new product launch, the overall goal is likely to be alerting the world at large about this dynamic new offering. If the event centers around customer appreciation, different goals around retention would be at the forefront. Whatever the theme, you should have a clear idea of the desired end-result as the planning process gets underway.

Highlight the experiential factor. Event program specialist Ben Hindman emphasizes the “experience” factor behind every successful event. This often starts with the right selection of venue, he says, adding that “if your venue doesn’t excite your guests, neither will your company or product.”

Other valuable roadshow event tips Hindman offers include:

  • Identify your “feeling” goal. Know what sentiment you want event participants to come away with. If the objective is to make your guests “feel like they’re part of something exclusive, then be diligent in making sure everything reflects that, from the invitation to the event photos.”
  • Go for emotion, not hard sell. A truly memorable event is one in which attendees make new connections and have a favorable emotional experience. Avoid blatant promotion of your product, which is “tacky and a huge turnoff” for most people. Instead, “design an event around the most relevant, interesting theme, idea or debate in your industry.”

Harness social media to get attendees excited in advance. Who have you invited to attend your event and/or plan to highlight as “guest speakers”? If these individuals have large and enthusiastic numbers of followers on social media, encourage them to post news and updates about the event well ahead of time. This helps build that all-important buzz which spreads awareness and excitement among event participants. Also, have your own event planners stay active on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to boost awareness and keep your company brand top-of-mind among followers.

Position the CEO or business owner as a thought leader. If you have some speaking engagement experience, consider highlighting your company’s event as a guest speaker—with the goal of boosting your reputation as an industry thought leader. This means setting aside blatant self-promotion and/or internal sales quotas, focusing instead on offering insights into your industry that event attendees will profit from. In this way, your reputation will grow as a perceptive and generous thought leader—further enhancing your company’s brand in the process.

With the right focus and planning, your company can host an event that generates renewed interest and excitement in your brand. Yes, expenses are involved, but when dedicated to the right areas—venue, refreshments, compelling guest speakers—the experience will be one that people remember for a long time, and which they associate in a highly favorable way with your business overall.

Want to learn more about branding and event planning? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

Key Elements of a ‘Strategy Planning Day’

strategic planning

Is the thought of the strategic planning process too daunting for you to consider? Many small business owners and CEOs are inclined to put this off, thinking that such planning requires extended time away from the workplace, a commitment of additional resources and the risk of falling behind with critical deadlines.

But while it’s true an in-depth strategy planning session may take several days, there are alternatives that make the planning process more feasible for busy executives and their teams.

One such option is what’s called a “strategy planning day”—a single, focused day (at a venue generally offsite) with a schedule of intensive activities that are designed to “generate ideas [and] be done in an environment that stimulates freedom of thought and involve the right people.”

The structure of a strategy planning day may vary, depending on your business needs and other circumstances. But certain elements should be included in order to get the most bang for your buck. These include:

A skilled facilitator. It’s tempting for the CEO or owner to lead a strategy discussion, but that’s not necessarily in the company’s best interests. An objective third-party, skilled in encouraging a free-ranging discussion (but not letting the discussion get out of hand), is generally more effective in getting people involved than a business leader with “skin in the game.”

A clear view of key objectives. A vague goal of “strategy” is unlikely to move the needle in terms of efficient business planning. As part of the preparation phase, it’s vital to outline specifically what goals you intend to achieve by the day’s end—be they new product ideas, ways to enhance customer service, a revamped approach to vendor relations, etc. Knowing the “why” behind the planning session helps everyone involved stay focused on the task at hand.

A request for outside-the-box ideas. At least a brief portion of the strategy planning day should be set aside for brainstorming that adheres to no prescribed limits. Encourage team members to toss out the “craziest” solutions they have for ongoing business problems. The goal is to uncover some kernel of an idea that might lead the way to a genuinely practical solution that’s so far eluded the best minds in your business.

A few constraints. At the same time, introducing some constraints into the strategy discussion may serve to overcome commonly held misperceptions. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing notes that business leaders “sometimes can’t get past why something won’t work thoroughly enough to get behind any sort of unified plan.” Addressing these constraints, he says, “give everyone a common point to attack when trying to determine strategies that will help eliminate or overcome the hurdles.”

A SWOT analysis. Analyzing your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is always a good idea. When you allocate a set period of time for SWOT analysis, it helps to frame a broader discussion of your company’s place in the marketplace, its standing with respect to competitors, current (and future) forces driving sales, and so on. A strong SWOT analysis also helps to set the baseline for future strategy day sessions.

A list of planned action steps. The end result of a strategy planning day is having concrete action steps to implement upon a return to “business as usual.” Each objective should come with its own list of proposed actions, including specific steps to overcome existing roadblocks to success. Assign action steps to a team or to individual team members, along with a schedule for getting things done. Keep interest alive by promoting the work of these teams and individuals with everyone in the organization.

Following your strategy planning day, it may be time to embark on a broader approach to strategic planning. TAB’s “Strategic Business Leadership” process is designed with small and mid-sized businesses in mind. We invite you to download our free white paper today and learn more about how strategic planning can help guide your business toward greater success.