5 TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR FIRST EVENT
Planning your first event can be intimidating. You know, you’re risking your name, money, and time for an event that can either be a hit or a flop. Oop, we’ve all been there so don’t worry! Listening to those negative thoughts will keep you always wondering and never executing. Throwing your own event can be scary, but at the same time, extremely rewarding! Here are some tips to help ease your load. These tips have helped me throw my own events too! They are in no particular order so feel free to tweak and cater to your needs.
Have A Purpose and A Theme
You want to be able to clearly define the purpose of the event, what you are doing, and what your end goal. Having a theme is extremely important will play into each of those aspects. Figure out what you’re trying to do, whether it’s bringing out the community, enticing amicable donors, selling products and merchandise, making a profit/elevating your brand, or simply providing an experience. It should only be a few aspects, just don’t try to incorporate too many into one event or you could lose the focus and purpose of your event entirely. Also, be able to communicate what your event is going to provide and what others will gain from participating and attending. The right theme could help bring your purpose to fruition and play into finding your target audience and resources.
Set A Budget and Proposed Date
Figure out what you can afford upfront and possibly afterwards. Plan out your ideal event and determine a realistic budget. Pick a few dates that would work with your schedule and your local area’s calendar (festivals, city holidays, grand openings, etc). You can use the time, date, and location to your advantage. Also, set aside money for a venue fee, decorations, tables, set-up, food, drinks, products, etc. It’s always good to plan ahead for as many expenses as you can, so if a venue provides them or you can acquire them in another means, you’ll have extra money to either save or apply elsewhere. Use your resource to account for expenses but don’t expect or budget for ‘freebies’ from venues or anyone but yourself to fund your event.
Find a venue
When looking for a venue to host your event, do prior research. Find a few venues of interest and envision your event taking place there. What can you do in each venue? How much space do they have available? How many people can they comfortably seat or place? Is this within your budget? Make sure the space can meet your needs and event expectations. Furthermore, try to find or request a floor-plan so you can visually map out your event. In most cases, venues will have this information online, so you don’t have to see EVERY venue on your list. Call and email first, to save you the drive. Narrow your options down and then figure out a time and date to have a walk-through at the venue and meet with the owner/event coordinator. This will be a great time to ask all your questions and negotiate. Essentially, find out exactly what is required and needed from you. You’ll never know what a venue is willing to accommodate for until you ask! Know what you’re getting yourself into whether a contract is involved or not.
Devise a Marketing Strategy
Pick a catchy yet descriptive name for your event. You’ll want to catch people’s attention so that they want to find out more information and ultimately attend/buy-in. If you do seek outside assistance or participation, make sure there’s a mutual benefit for ALL parties. For example, displaying work or increasing one’s photography portfolio may not be a benefit to all, especially if you cannot guarantee a specific audience or have proven marketing plan. You’ll definitely want to think outside of the box. Also, think about how you’re going to promote attendance and what platforms you’ll use to do so. You’ll want to do some form of RSVP’s to get an estimation of who will be attending. Are you going to sell tickets and for how much? Keep in mind that free RSVP’s aren’t very accurate (many people RSVP without actually deciding if they’ll attend) and ticket sales can be a bit tricky (more accurate number but requires a higher level of buy-in). Revisit your budget, theme, and purpose of the event to determine which tactic would work better. Weigh out your pros and cons. Lastly, make sure you have a way of collecting attendee information (name, email address, etc.). This is a great way to retain contact information for event feedback, email subscription list, future deals, events and more!
Here’s the ‘fun’ part! Execution! Your nerves will be running from a few days prior to the event to the end. That’s normal and there’s no getting around that (sorry lol). The day before, pack all your materials for your event and load your car/transportation if you can to ensure a good nights rest. For the day of your event, arrive as early as you can! It sounds simple but a lot can happen in a matter of minutes. But also, don’t be alarmed if things don’t go exactly as you planned. Things happen. Unforeseen circumstances can and will likely happen! Don’t freak out. A big part of customer buy-in is if they actually believe you and your purpose! Maintain your cool, control your emotions, and most importantly, HAVE FUN! If you need to step to the side, do so, but genuinely, try to enjoy the moment. You’ve just organized and planned your own (first) event and that’s huge! GO YOU :)
In all, everything is a learning lesson and you have to start from somewhere. Once you start envisioning and planning more events, it’ll be a smoother more intrinsic process. Research! Observe! Fill in the gaps that you see! Don’t be afraid to do something for yourself and on your own. You’ll have awesome events.