A Thanksgiving Guide To Event Planning

We are officially in the holiday season.  I know most stores have Christmas stuff up before Halloween candy is on the shelves, but I always think the start of the holidays begins with Thanksgiving week.  There is a lot of planning and logistics for Thanksgiving - much like a marketing event - so this post will take a Thanksgiving-themed view of event marketing.

Event marketing is one of the cores of the marketing mix.  The Pilgrims certainly staged a whopper of an event when they asked the Native Americans over for dinner in 1621, and marketers have been responsible for events that showcased brands and were significant in aligning companies with customers forever.  These events are generally high profile because they are either public, expensive or both, so it's important to set yourself and your firm up for success.

Whether it's an online or offline event there are a few essential elements in making every marketing event successful:

  1. Begin with the end in mind - what do you want to accomplish and what does success look like to your organization?  Everyone has to be on the same page and know what they are bringing to the table.  Otherwise you may end up with a bunch of turkeys and none of the other good stuff you need to pull off your event.   This is especially true with measurement - you need to know what kind of return (soft or hard dollar) your company expects to get.
  2. Know you guest list - you want to have the right mix and level of attendees at your event, and that comes down to targeting and making sure that the value of your event is compelling to that audience.   It may not mean having an adult and a kid table, but placing the right people together can make sure everyone feels important and excited about being at your event.
  3. Have the right ingredients - every marketing event needs to have value.  It may not be all  business related, but networking, relationship building and unique experiences all have their place in the right event.  The best ones bring all of these together and are often the events that customers want to return to over and over.  Getting that mix perfect - like my Mom's mac and cheese - is critical.
  4. Expect the unexpected - contingency planning is the real difference between putting on events and mastering them.  If you think you've run an event when nothing's gone wrong, you've never really run one.  The good event managers (like my wife) know this and work frantically behind the scenes to make the stuff that happens that's not supposed to seemed normal to attendees and executives.  If you don't plan for the unexpected you may end up with a big pumpkin pie in the face.
  5. Leave them full and happy - you want to make sure that your attendees leave you event with a positive view of the company and their partnership with you.  Effective logistics and planning go a long way to making sure that happens, but as Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."  Make sure your customer feel good about your event - that is the true value that matters.

I hope your Thanksgiving plans goes off without a hitch!