4 Effective Strategies for Successful Event Management
Events are powerful resources for your organization. They can be used to raise money, steward members or donors, and encourage public engagement with your mission. With so many potential high-value outcomes, it’s important to ensure that you can manage your event as efficiently and effectively as possible.
No matter what type of event your organization plans, creating a comprehensive strategy will allow you to get the greatest outcome from the opportunity.
When planning an event, your organization should:
Establish and communicate your most important goals.
Create a concrete plan in order to meet those goals.
Decide on a marketing strategy that appeals to your audience.
Collect and analyze event metrics.
Successful event management starts with a plan that focuses on the engagement of attendees. Doubleknot’s museum event planning guide discusses the importance of incorporating effective attendee engagement strategies from start to finish.
1. Establish and communicate your most important goals.
To create a plan that delivers your organization’s most vital event objectives, you first need to define those goals. Why is your organization hosting an event? What are your ideal outcomes?
Identifying your desired outcomes will help your organization develop effective strategies that address your most pressing priorities.
Focus on ensuring the goals are SMART: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
Sometimes organizations host events without clear, tangible goals guiding their efforts. The first step to reaching your goals is to define them at the start of event planning to ensure that they’re incorporated throughout every aspect of your event.
2. Create a concrete plan to meet those goals.
Once your organization has defined the goals and gathered stakeholder support, you can better decide specific actions that will help you reach them. A concrete plan will keep everyone on track as you organize your event.
Strategic planning throughout the event lifecycle will help you reach your goals. If your organization’s priorities include strengthening relationships in the local business community as well as raising funds, your event might include an auction of local goods and services donated by local businesses (perhaps as corporate event sponsors).
Other factors to consider include the venue, your overall budget, and your marketing communication platforms.
The venue can have a big impact on whether you reach your organization’s event goals. If your goal is to attract attention to your services for the community, it may make sense to host an event at your organization itself.
For instance, a museum calling attention to its many services and programming options would want to host at the actual museum so attendees can develop greater engagement.
If your organization sells admission tickets, be sure to investigate whether you can sell event tickets using the same ticketing software. This creates consistency for your attendees and helps promote opportunities for online engagement and promotion. For example, a museum could benefit from using integrated museum management software to sell tickets for the event.
However, if your organization does not have the capacity to host your event at headquarters, you can look into hosting your event at a local partnering organization or, depending on the season and type of the event, a public park may be an appropriate venue. In any case, be sure to determine whether existing ticketing software will meet your needs.
While your event budget may be tighter than you’d prefer, there are always ways you can make the most of it.
First, create a list of all the possible expenses for your event. Then, prioritize them in order of importance and then in order of cost. After allocating room in the budget for the top-priority must-have items, you can assign the remaining funds to the less-critical items in a way that creates “the biggest bang for the buck.”
Keep an eye out for other opportunities to save money throughout the planning process. For instance, in-kind donations are a great way to encourage supporters to get involved while finding the goods and services you need to make your budget go further.
3. Create a marketing strategy that appeals to your audience.
As event planners are aware, a major element of event planning is deciding how to market the event to your target audience of attendees.
A few important marketing issues are discussed below.
Most organizations will have attendance goals for their events. To successfully encourage people to attend, ensure that your marketing appeals to different segments and focuses on how their attendance will help promote your shared values and mission.
It’s important to keep in mind that the medium is as important as the actual message. Consider the information in your organization’s CRM system:
- Does it track the communication preferences of your past event attendees?
- Do your emails have a high click-through rate?
- Do you know who attended last year and whether they’re also donors to your organization?
- What messages and strategies have proven successful in the past?
- How can you extend these messages and strategies to build support and excitement around your upcoming event?
It all depends on what the different segments of your audience prefer.
Many event management software solutions and CRM solutions offer built-in communications platforms. Be sure to see what types of features are included in the software you already have. Or, check out referrals like this page of top event management solutions by Double the Donation to see if your event will be better served by a different communications tool.
Different Messages for Different Audiences
When you’re crafting the message for your marketing materials, consider the platform you’ve chosen; for example, the content and focus of direct mail are likely to be different than the content and focus of your tweets.
Think about what your supporters want to know about the event, including how their attendance will help. What will entice them to come?
4. Collect and analyze event metrics.
Before an event, analyzing event metrics can help you ensure that your event marketing and goals are on track; afterward, event metrics can help you analyze the event’s overall success as well as your results for specific goals.
Event metrics that may be helpful to track include:
- Tickets or registrations sold. This will help you better understand who was enticed by your event. Compare this metric to the number of attendees to see the attendance rate for your latest event.
- Percentage of the attendees who are members and/or donors. When your event software integrates with your organization’s management software, it’s easy to collect metrics about your members or past supporters who attended the event.
- Budget data. Compare your actual expenses to your budgeted funds. In addition to helping you create more accurate budgets in the future, highly granular data may make it possible to map the results of specific expenses (such as advertising) with your overall event goals.
Ideally, you can draw conclusions from event metrics and create meaningful segments of supporters in your CRM to ensure that even more of your audience is engaged with your cause.
For most nonprofits, events are a crucial element of building community support and delivering your mission. Following the high-level event management strategies in this article will help your organization minimize costs and maximize benefits.
Special thanks to David Ellis from DoubleKnot for sharing his expertise. David Ellis is a passionate advocate for nonprofit organizations who has spent his career helping cultural organizations operate more efficiently and effectively. At Doubleknot, David helps cultural organizations, visitor attractions and scout councils identify innovative data-based strategies to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Throughout his career, David has worked with organizations like Adler Planetarium, Museum of Modern Art, U.S. Botanic Garden, Rothko Chapel, and many Boy Scout and Girl Scout councils. In addition to positions at Tessitura, TicketMaster and AudienceView, David served as Vice President of Ticketing and Customer Service at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and regularly speaks at industry conferences and other events.