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Writing Event Business Plans

Event business plans are not the most exciting part of running an events company but they are a necessity in many situations. If you’re planning a commercial event or need sponsorship or financial backing to fund an event, you will become intimately familiar with business planning.

As part of our series on setting up your own events business, we are going to cover the basics of writing event business plans. It’s a necessary step in your growth and development and every event planner needs to know how to design and produce a quality business plan.

Event business plans are covered in the ‘Setting up an event business masterclass’. It contains everything you need to know about setting up and running an events business!

What is an event business plan?

An event business plan is not the business plan you use to gather funding for your business. That is entirely different. An event business plan is used for a specific event you are planning to host and will be used to attract stakeholders, sponsorship or to sell your idea to a commercial backer or client.

The intent of the plan is to outline the purpose of the event, its tangible goals, its financial viability and the returns a backer or sponsor can expect.

You don’t have to use an event business plan for attracting backing. You can also use them internally to help outline the goals of the event and help maintain focus on the bigger picture.

What is included in an event business plan?

There are no specific rules for event business plans but they would typically include:

  1. A table of contents
  2. Executive summary
  3. Background
  4. Event overview
  5. Vision and analysis
  6. Event requirements
  7. Marketing plan
  8. Financial plan
  9. Management controls and measures
  10. Appendices

You would also have a cover page to make the document look professional. It should include the events company name, planned event name and your branding.

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Table of contents

The table of contents helps keep the business plan organised and shows the reader what to expect and where.

Executive summary

The executive summary is an overview of the event and should include features and benefits, reasons why the reader should be excited and why you need their help. You should also include who you are and who the event business plan is aimed at. It should explain what the event is, the when, where and how. Also mention who the event is for and who the target market is.

It should also include the event goals and outline the returns any potential backer would realise. Include projected costs and financial returns and outline the measures and controls you will use to monitor progress, finances and achievements.

The executive summary should ideally be a minimum of a single page but not so long as to bore the reader or include everything you will be outlining further into the plan.

Background

The background section of your event business plan is the ‘who am I’ section. This is where you outline your events company, you as an event planner, any history of the event itself and your experience. Think of this as your CV where you outline significant achievements and list a few high profile or immensely successful events you have planned in the past.

This is where you sell yourself, so concentrate on achievements, accolades and justifications as to why the reader should have confidence in you.

Event overview

The event overview should outline the event and its goals. It should include the core purpose of the event, key objectives, projected returns, requirements, timescales and a strategy for pulling it all together. The overview should include the event program, target demographic complete with personas and the features and benefits for the stakeholder.

The event overview should use SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Based. Make sure every element within the overview adheres to these requirements.

Vision and analysis

The vision and analysis section is where you outline the high level vision for the event. What do you want it to achieve? What is its long-term purpose? How will you achieve that purpose? How will you measure its success or failure? This part of the plan should include a lot of detail on the strategy and specifics of how your event will deliver on those goals.

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It may also be useful to include a SWOT analysis. This is where you identify and outline the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of the event. It is also where you detail how you will leverage its strengths, mitigate its weaknesses, maximise the opportunities and protect against any threats to its success.

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Event requirements

The event requirements section should go into detail about what you will need to deliver the event. That should include venue, facilities, equipment, staff, talent, catering, transport, support crew, outside providers, legal and insurance. Every element that will contribute to your event needs to be outlined here.

You should also provide a projected cost for all these elements. Make the estimate as accurate as possible within reason.

Marketing plan

Here you should outline your marketing strategy for the event. This section of the event business plan should include the event USP, key messages, unique marketing opportunities and your overall marketing strategy. Include offline, online, promotion, social media, email, celebrity promotion and every medium you can leverage to get the word out about the event.

Include a marketing budget and a breakdown of how the money will be spent.

Financial plan

The financial plan is probably the most important if you are trying to attract sponsorship. It will outline what the stakeholder can expect to pay and the return they can expect to get.

Make sure to include the predicted costs of the venue, equipment, talent, outside providers, staff, marketing, software and apps and every element of the event. Then outline the potential sources of income from tickets, merch, exhibitor fees, grants, other sponsors and anything else you can identify.

Management controls and measures

This section should outline how you will deliver the event. What staff, organisation, practices, tools and measurements you will use to achieve the stated goals and provide the projected return for the event. It should also include how you will measure participation, success and effect of the event and the specifics of any reporting functions you will use.

There should also be a frank and realistic risk assessment included within this section. It should include realistic risks to every part of the event and the measures you will take to mitigate against them.

Appendices

The appendices can include a range of supporting material. It can include maps, metrics, graphs, health and safety statements, insurance quotations, research, audience persona data and anything you can use to support the overall event business plan.

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Event business plans are resource intensive pieces of work but also incredibly useful. They are detailed and need to be specific but can provide the backbone for your entire event from initial planning to delivery. Well worth doing even if you’re not looking for funding!

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