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Your Guide To

Event Strategy

This guide will discuss the various elements of event strategy and planning, launch, promotion, wrapping up and the many hundreds of tasks necessary to run a successful event.

In this context, event strategy refers to the planning of the event rather than the part events can play in corporate strategy.

Event strategy really is a strategy. It can be a complex plan that includes many hundreds of moving parts, changeable conditions, evolving requirements and lofty goals. Yet it is also the cornerstone of event planning. If you want to make it in this business, mastering your strategy is essential.

It’s a huge subject that we aren’t really able to do justice on a single page but we will try!

What is event strategy?

Event strategy is the overall plan of the event. It will include all tasks, from concept to wrap up and everything in-between. It should have a template or defined process for each step. It’s a complicated beast but like anything, once it is broken down into bitesize pieces it can be much easier to digest.

A coherent event strategy will include some kind of framework that governs everything that happens within it. Every aspect of event planning will fit into this framework so everyone knows what’s happening and when. Everything will be measurable and quantifiable.

Why is event strategy important?

An event strategy is the big picture. The what, the why, the when and most importantly, the how. It will include more detailed plans for every step that breaks down the details so everyone knows where to be and what to do but the strategy itself stays at the high level.

Event strategy is important to control the many hundreds of moving parts within the average event. Even modest events will include many dozens of steps, a steady flow of arrangements, decisions, plans, expenses and schedules and a strategy manages all that at a high level. Without a strategy things can get missed or you can easily lose control of timing, budgets or resources.

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide

How to successfully plan an event

Devising an event strategy can be done in two main ways. One, you create a linear flow from concept to wrap up and include every step in-between. The other is to start at the event itself and work backwards. Both are popular, both have positives and negatives and both should result in a coherent plan that will deliver a successful event.

The basic steps of event strategy go something like this:

Set the event goal or vision

Setting the end goal is the pinnacle of all the strategizing you will do. What does the event need to achieve? What is it you want to do with this event? Some events will have very defined goals such as increased awareness of a brand or charity, an album or product launch, a birthday party or wedding or something else entirely.

This vision needs to always be in the minds of your people. Everything you do in planning the event should be directed entirely towards achieving that goal.

Set a timeline

Whether you work chronologically or backwards, you will need to set a schedule that includes all the steps necessary to plan your event. That should include the planning stages, attracting sponsors, preparation, talent scheduling to feedback and wrap up.

Scheduling is a key component of project management and provides the backbone of your event strategy. Without it you won’t know when tasks need to be complete, how far ahead or behind you are, or be able to manage the multitude of tasks necessary for planning an event.

Set the budget

Budgeting is perhaps the worst part of event strategy. It’s one of the few times you’re going to have to play devil’s advocate or shoot down amazing ideas. It’s when you will have to say no most often which can be disheartening. Many people in the industry don’t enjoy the budgeting side of event planning at all for these reasons.

Yet budgeting is an essential part of strategy. Without budgeting you don’t know whether an idea is feasible. Whether you can hire the talent you want to hire or splash out on those pyrotechnics or have a sponsor app created.

Budgeting is also where your set a contingency. That contingency is often set at 10% of the overall budget but in our experience it should be set closer to 15%!

Decide the target audience

You won’t get to set the target market in many events but it may sometimes be necessary. Once you have set the vision and the budget, you now need to decide who you’re pitching the event to. The target audience will also influence the type of sponsor you go for, the talent you feature, the style and substance of the event and the venue at which you will host it.

Concept and brainstorming

By now your event strategy should be taking shape. You know the what, the when the how much and have an idea of who you’re pitching this event to. Now is a good time to include the event concept in the strategy. Coming up with an original concept is one of the more significant challenges you will come up against as an event planner but also one of the most important.

Some concepts will be limited by the type of event, some by the sponsor. Either way, you have to work within the constraints of your strategy so far to come up with an original idea that will attract a sponsor and deliver the overall vision of the event.

Set your measures

All elements of event planning need to be measurable. How far under or over budget are you? Are you on schedule? Will you achieve the required attendance or ticket sales? Did you attract the social shares or attention required? All these things need to be measured in order to provide reporting to stakeholders and to refine the strategy as you go.

Top tips for event strategy

Here are some tips we have learned along the way that can help with your event strategy.

Key takeaways

Event strategy is the big picture. The picture that has the overall vision in mind along with key milestones and measures. A strategy has to be firm but also flexible. Able to change and adapt as situations change. Able to be strong enough to hold fast in the face of adversity and provide confidence to your team. It’s almost a living thing and will feel like it while you’re working with it.

While complicated, detailed and measurable, your event strategy should never be seen as a burden. It will require a lot of resources and attention but it’s the framework upon which your entire event is built. Done well, it should make the planning and execution easier and deliver a much better result!

Want to find out more? Download our FREE Event Management Guide