Planning an event, no matter the size, requires time, attention to detail, organization, and specialization. Not just anyone can be an event planner. Some people are better at it than others, and then there’s the experience factor, which is huge.
New event planners often face the same problems over and over because they haven’t prepared the foundation of their event well enough. Before you go all in on your next event, double check that you aren’t making these seven common mistakes that could cause your event to fall flat.
1. Try to do it all on your own
One of the most common mistakes new event planners make is that they try to manage every aspect of their event alone. If you don’t have the right team, or a team at all, get one. A basic team should have at least three spheres covered: planning and design, marketing, and production (audio/visual).
As you build your team, utilize the expertise of others, even if that means hiring out to get the best product. Once you have built your team, delegate responsibilities and follow up. Meet regularly with your helpers and vendors. Assign deadlines to keep your project on track. All of this will prevent you from failing to measure up to expectations—yours and others’.
2. Wait until the last minute
New event planners often underestimate how long planning an event actually takes. An online event needs at least four weeks of marketing and lead time while an in-person event can need anywhere from eight weeks to a year or more. Consider this bit of conventional event planning wisdom: whatever time you think you’ll need to pull off your event, double it!
3. Downplay marketing and communication
Whether you are planning an industry conference or a micro-wedding, no one is going to show up if you don’t get the word out. For some events this is a given (think weddings). But if you are planning a conference or fundraiser, you’ll need to prioritize being where your audience is.
Build momentum for your event by sharing on social media, and don’t underestimate the influence of print or other traditional marketing. A steady stream of information will keep your event top of mind and encourage your audience to participate. If you aren’t sure what to share, start by showcasing any entertainment and unique features. Don’t be afraid to ask your vendors, sponsors, partners, and guests to cross-promote and increase your reach.
4. Blow off the budget
This one goes both ways. Budgets are there for a reason. Have the discipline to stick within the budget and the resourcefulness to make things work without endless finances. This requires prioritizing. If the dinner is the focal point of the event, splurge there, but don’t also choose the priciest venue.
On the other hand, setting a ridiculously low budget can backfire, too. People will know if you’ve cut corners to save a buck. A low-budget dinner or weak entertainment will overshadow your other wins and drag the entire event down.
5. Lose sight of your target audience
Take the time to clearly define your audience before the event, and make sure that every decision is made with them in mind. An event for teenagers in the community is going to look much different than a dinner for military officers.
Do your research so that you think like a member of your target audience. That will help you use the right platforms to promote your event as well as the right lingo, graphics, etc. Choose your food, venue and entertainment with the target audience in mind. Leverage relationships with members of that target audience. They can give you valuable input and help you with promotion.
After the event, solicit feedback from your audience as appropriate and meet with your team to discuss what went well and what fell short. Keep a record of that feedback to guide future event planning.
6. Neglect the purpose of the event
Before you start planning, drill down to the purpose of the event. Is it to raise funds? Gain investors? Reward staff? Encourage relationships? Or simply to celebrate a beautiful occasion? Ask yourself:
“Why am I holding this event?”
“What feelings do I want attendees to have after the event?”
“What action do I want them to take because of this event?”
Plan your event with the answers to these questions in mind. Aesthetics, theme, and branding should all point toward your desired end. If you can’t define it from the beginning, you’re likely to end up with an incohesive event that misses important priorities, fails to get results, and leaves attendees with a poor impression—or no real impression at all.
7. Just do it!
This works well for Nike shoes, but not for events. As excited as you are to hit the go button, don’t skip the practice. Scheduling conflicts happen, technology fails, vendors flake out. Walk through every detail in advance to prevent potential mishaps.
When the big day arrives, make sure you have hard copies of the master schedule, maps or table assignments, and a contacts list. And be sure to give your team access to their own copies. That way when the time comes to put contingencies in place, everything is already where it needs to be.
Event planning can feel overwhelming, but a good team, a good plan, and practice, practice, practice can help you nail it down.
Need help with a corporate or social event or wedding planning? Contact Andrew Roby Events. With 10 years of event planning and thousands of happy customers, we have the expertise to create an unforgettable event catered to your exact needs and preferences while you sit back and enjoy the results.