Event planning is hard work. There are so many details involved that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But as anyone who’s ever coordinated an event can attest, dropping the ball is not an option if you want guests to leave with a positive impression of your brand.
Before you start planning an event, it’s helpful to have a rubric for both the minor details and the bigger picture that you’ll need to consider if you want the event to be a success. If you’re looking to provide your guests with an unforgettable experience, make sure the following ducks are all in a row.
Clarify your purpose
Before you start planning a theme, decorations, catering, and so on, get clear about the intended purpose of your event. Then, make sure all the decisions you make during the planning process are in service to that mission. Not only will this ensure your event is successful according to the goals you set, but it will also guarantee that every aspect of the event feels cohesive.
Guests will remember events that feel hodge-podge or randomly cobbled together—and not in a good way. In contrast, a clear-cut vision will ensure event design that feels well thought out and put together. And that will greatly enhance the participants’ experience.
Start the experience before people arrive
Don’t wait to “wow” guests until they walk through the event’s doors. Instead, start providing a stellar experience before guests even arrive. The event website, invitation, registration process, social media presence, and email reminders should all be well-designed and cohesively branded and provide a stellar user experience. If you only do one thing, make sure participants can RSVP on the web—one survey from the Direct Marketing Association found 50 percent of event invitees want to be able to register online.
Don’t skimp on food, drinks, and ambiance
This might seem pretty basic. But if your event messes up the basics, it’s not going to be remembered well. Aim to create a multi-sensory experience that tantalizes guests with impressive visual displays, quality food and drink, pleasing background music or live entertainment, and hands-on, interactive experiences.
Above all, make sure the event makes a stellar first impression on guests. Provide friendly staff services and/or valet parking before guests even enter the event room, and make sure the aesthetics of the event “wow” guests as they walk through the door.
Make it personal
People remember events when they feel seen and valued. So one of the best ways to design a memorable event experience is to personalize it for each guest. This doesn’t need to be fancy. You could do something as simple as asking guests to share their favorite type of candy when they register for the event. Then, make sure each guest has their preferred candy sitting at their place setting when they arrive. (It doesn’t have to be candy; swap in whatever item is relevant to the event you’re throwing.) This might seem like a small thing, but put yourself in these imaginary guests’ shoes: Wouldn’t you remember it if the event organizers took the time to ask about and supply something that appeals to your own personal tastes?
Put thought into the takeaways
It’s customary to provide guests with takeaways at the end of an event. While it’s easy to turn to generic pens and keychains, don’t overlook this opportunity to leave a lasting impression. Take the time to think up creative takeaways that say something unique about your brand and will get guests talking. Above all, make sure the takeaways provide actual value to the recipients. You don’t want to hand out gifts that immediately end up in the trash.
If this is an annual event, be sure to mix things up
If you host the same event every year, it’s imperative that you change up the theme, event design, and maybe even the location on an annual basis. Your event won’t be remarkable if it’s the same every year. Designing unique and creative settings and themes year after year, on the other hand, will ensure your guests keep coming back for more.
Just as the event experience should start before guests arrive at the venue, it shouldn’t end when guests leave. The day after the event, take the opportunity to reach out to attendees. You can use this touch point for a number of purposes: You might thank them for attending, ask them to complete a survey so you can improve on next year’s event, and/or share a call to action inspiring guests to engage with your products or services. Establishing a presence in your guests’ lives even after they leave the event will help ensure you’re not forgotten.
Investing equally in the little details and the bigger picture will ensure your ability to create a cohesively branded event that guests will remember for years to come.
Dan Scalco is the founder and marketing director at Digitalux, a digital marketing agency located in Hoboken, New Jersey. Throughout his career, he has helped hundreds of businesses save time, increase leads and maximize sales. Follow him on Twitter.