As an event professional, it can be hard to have a uniform process or set of guidelines for planning and executing an event for your business.
People quickly figure out in the event management, unless you work with a large internal Events team, you might be a lone ranger, responsible for anything that pops up.
You may often find yourself scrambling and putting out fires versus having a top-down approach that gives you control.
This is why the corporate events world as we know it is by and large focused on the logistics and operations, which can equal chaos.
The answer is having an Event Strategy.
Christy Lamagna and Event Strategy
As Christy Lamagna says: Until we as Event professionals can incorporate Strategy into our event processes we’ll never have a seat at the big table. I will be quoting her quite a bit from her book in this article: The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals…She is one of the most notable event management professionals in the business, so check her out!
An effective event strategy will produce a significantly higher ROI, and an increase in the overall mood, culture, and career trajectory.
There is no doubt about it.
Event strategy involves pulling in your stakeholders, grabbing mind share, assigning responsibility, and clearly establishing goals and objectives.
If you think about it, without an event strategy you are just trying to put together the pieces with no formal outline as events pop up.
There is nothing to measure your success or failure against at the end of the Event, AND you have no recognition from Executives or peers.
You have to set yourself up for success at the very beginning, by following a strategic plan that clearly outlines roles and responsibilities from the first meeting, and lets the stakeholders know the potential outcomes if they all collaborate together effectively.
As an events professional, you know things can go sideways, frequently. Maybe the cause is internal, or perhaps its the hotel, a supplier, the entertainment, transportation or an unexpected outside party — You never know.
But with a plan, you can limit the number of unexpected obstacles you’ll face, and gain face time with your Business’s most important people in the process.
The Event strategy sets the tone for your year of events and paves the way for effective logistical and operational aspects of each event. Without spilling the entire guts of the book, I’m going to focus specifically on Christy’s outline of a Strategic Plan, as it is one of the most important things she focuses on upfront, and we use it ourselves at J.Shay Event Solutions!
For more detail, you can find a copy of her book here.
Event Strategy Overview
Master Discovery Session
Assign objectives to individual events that fall within your strategic timeline. If you have an Events calendar available, assign objectives to each event.
As you can probably see, these are per event sessions. Assemble your team of Stakeholders, establish event objectives, a common vision, the Business’ direction, and eliminate any wastefully financial decision making that could arise later on.
These sessions determine the “Why”.
You must understand your audience’s pain points and concerns. This is the “What”.
What is going to have the greatest impact on your audience in getting your objectives achieved? “Understanding what to ask, how to ask it, and who to speak to is the next step in the process.”- Christy Lamagna
Strategic Content Creation
Content that’s been identified as supporting your Event objectives. This is actually going through the process of putting the data discovery session to action.
Post Show ROI Reporting and Analysis
See how you did, and learn lessons to apply to future events.
By breaking up the process into different attainable steps, and sticking with the process you’ll have an outline for developing an event strategy moving into each year.
After your event strategy is developed, you already have stakeholders brought up to speed, goals stated and objectives outlined for each event. Everyone knows what is at stake, and their particular role to play.
Although, it doesn’t stop there.
Per the book, there are several components to an effective Event Strategy that wouldn’t you know it, can make up an entire book (or more).
Realizing the Importance of an Event Strategy
Here’s something we consistently see when talking to different prospects and customers: The companies with the most successful events have a strategy in place.
If you have an Events crew (or just 1!) in house, they can focus on developing the strategy while farming out the logistics and operations to a 3rd party; overseeing the big picture items and being the liaison with the Executive team.
If the Events team is large enough, they can handle the Strategy in house, and even some of the L&O (logistics and operations) themselves, while farming out the surplus they might receive at any given time. (Some times its easier to farm out than hire and train a new employee).
And lastly, if your company has no designated Events professional, your 3rd party should be covering the Event Strategy for you!
It makes zero sense for someone in your Business with no events experience to have the Strategy position which arguably requires the most Events experience!
An effective Event Strategy will do a lot to improve your career and your Business.
By pulling in your Stakeholders upfront and having a clear outline for success in front of them, and letting them know that their department’s involvement is important for everyone else helps hold them accountable.
Not only does it include everyone from the top down, but the likelihood of a successful event increases exponentially. And guess who gets the credit?
When you pull the surveys, run the reports and present the evidence to the Executive staff, not only will you be able to show the positive results, but you’ll have the Executives excited that each team pulled through, and you were there to corral and lead the way.
You are an event badass!
If you or your organization can benefit from a defined event strategy, or you are just looking for someone to do the logistics, please click here to share your needs!
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Jeremy Sweat is the Sales and Marketing Director at J.Shay Event Solutions. When he’s not working, he enjoys traveling with his wife, scuba diving, and triathlon training.