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Key Ingredients for Event Success – Part 1: Defining the “Why”

Key Ingredients for Event Success – Part 1: Defining the “Why”

Pre-Event Strategy Blog at Key Ingredients for Event Success - Part 1: Defining the

Pre-Event Strategy

Ok event holders (clients) and do-ers (planners) – it’s time to get real.  Whether you’re internal to an organization, independent, or part of an event agency, you know the critical part of the event process is defining the “why” of the event on the front-end and the second is taking the time to do a thorough debrief on the back-end.

So why don’t clients and planners always do it?  For some psychological insight to that answer I would suggest reading Decide by Steve McClatchy.  For simple event insight – keep reading here.

The answer is (drumroll please)……..planners and clients alike often perceive defining the “why” as one or some of the below:

  • Hard
  • Time consuming
  • Assume everyone knows the answers already
  • Unsure what questions to ask
  • Don’t have answers to the questions
  • Don’t think it’s necessary

I am here to share with you that it isn’t hard or time consuming once you have a framework that will yield a result.  Planners, remember your definition of success may differ from your client’s so make sure you know what theirs is by getting answers to these questions.  Clients, embrace the inquiry from planners, it is this exercise that will get you the results you want.

In addition to securing a successful outcome and well worth everyone’s time and commitment, the residual benefit is that it will turn a planner from a simple manager to a trusted advisor – a coveted situation for both clients and planners.  A blog and book suggestions on this topic later. For those interested in learning even more, this topic among many others is covered in the Event and Meeting Management Fundamentals course I am teaching this year through the Event Leadership Institute. They have some great online courses as well.

An event is as successful as its goals are defined.  Event goals are defined by assessing the following:

  • Why is the event taking place? What is the events purpose?
  • Who will the event serve? Who is the target audience? Who are the stakeholders? This is a tricky one as there may be internal stakeholders like someone’s boss just as likely as the board chairs, audience and online community.
  • How will success be measured? What does success look like? Feasibility of success?
  • How are your brand goals aligned to the event?
  • What action do you want your audience to take?
  • What’s the budget or budget range?

While the above likely seems obvious, the strategic inquiry is easy to forgo for both client and planner when the event date is looming and there is pressure to deliver.  And frankly it is sometimes easier to delve straight into the details, as it is familiar territory for planners.

As events transform from parties to strategic investments for organizations, defining event goals is not only worthwhile but critical to your success.  At Linder we have an internal project kickoff for all new and repeat business to share research, reveal new thinking, and present new ideas, formulating our questions to solidify our role as trusted adviser and, ultimately, to guarantee success.  While everyone’s questions and process may differ it is essential to define the “why” of every event.


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