Beginning the planning process can seem like a daunting task, especially for those of you who have never done it before. There are many aspects that must be addressed before the big day, but where do you start?
The most important thing when planning your marketing event is having an in-depth understanding of why you are hosting it. A Product launch, office opening, award or recognition, participating in industry or trade shows, team building, fund raising, appreciation, sales promotion, store opening, to increase membership or just simply to build awareness are just a few examples of the hundreds of reasons why you may be planning an event. Figuring out why you are hosting an event first will help better direct the next stages of the planning process.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC’s Run for the Cure is a major event that occurs each year put on solely by volunteers and their sponsors. It is an annual nationwide fund raiser to raise money, educate and build awareness for breast cancer research (there’s the why). In this case, CIBC and many other businesses sponsor the event to show their support for the cause, gain exposure and develop their reputation within the community.
Now that you know why you are hosting an event you are faced with the task of deciding what type of event you want to host. Gala, pop-up Store, in-store sampling, information booth, mall tour, conference. When deciding on an event type there are 3 things that you need to take into consideration.
- Your target audience. This is the single most important consideration. Where are your customers located, and how will you make them aware of the event? What will attract them to the event? What will they respond positively to? What will bring them to the desired behaviour?
If you are not asking yourself all of these questions – and more – you run the risk of creating an event that will not attract and engage the right people. You want your target audience at your event, obviously.
Let’s just say we make and sell heavy duty, all-terrain pickup trucks, but our brand is not known for our trucks. We are looking to create an experiential marketing event to promote our line of trucks. We decide on hosting it at a busy mall, on a Saturday to reach the largest number of people. We have decided to create a simulated off-roading track for consumers to test drive our trucks. Our audience? Mainly men, who are more of the outdoorsy type, between the ages of 25 and 50 who can afford our products. Location? We chose the largest open area on the mall grounds, which happens to be outside of the main entrance to La Senza. Smart move? Not exactly. Though the idea is great, we are focusing mainly on our execution and set up needs and not on where our audience will most likely be.
- Resources available to you. The resources you will have available for the event will have a major effect on what type of event you choose to host. Of course every brand would like an elaborate pop-up display in the middle of Yonge and Dundas, but this is an unrealistic feat for many. We suggest figuring out what you will have before you start using it. Resources could include available funds for the campaign or personnel.
- Timing. Time constraints could play a part in what type of event you will create. Maybe your product is being launched in exactly one month. Or maybe you want to promote a product that is not in-season. Take into consideration how much time you have to plan and the time of year you want to host it.
So you’ve decided on the type of event you want to host, here comes the fun part – at least I think so. It’s time to engage the right side of your brain, the creative side. Brainstorm ideas with the rest of your marketing team, run ideas by top management or staff members. Talk to front-line staff members who deal with customers and find out what customers are drawn to, what they like or don’t like. Look at the company’s past events, what has worked and what hasn’t. And look at people in other industries see if you can make a unique idea work for you.