Imagine how powerful your message could be if you had all your ducks in a row.
With so many events to choose from throughout the year, those who are planning the event spend a lot of time on the “what” elements of their events. That’s the stuff that includes selecting the right food and beverage menu, creating the perfect general session, and designing an expo hall that attracts both exhibitors and attendees, and creating a one-of-a-kind experience.
While discounting those critical pieces would have event planners steaming, a report from American Express Meetings & Events reasons that concentrating on the “why” of an event is one of the most important—and often overlooked—principles of event design.
In “Focus on the Why: How Branding Principles Can Guide Your Event Design,” the company says the first step for any event should be establishing the desired outcomes for both the organization and attendees.
“Most simply, why are you having this event?” the report says. “Defining your event’s why—the ‘one thing’ that it should accomplish and how it should make your attendees feel—will serve as your guide post through every aspect of the event-planning process.”
The report goes on to outline three important steps to “identify and apply the ‘why’ of your event to ensure the experience is focused, meaningful, and consistently delivered across all event touch points.”
Here’s a closer look at each:
Step one: Identify your goals and desired outcomes. Before you even start thinking about menus and room setup, you need to have a conversation about what the event should accomplish. In as few words as possible, describe the measurable goals as well as the intangible goals of the event. Then, choose the top one or two that will be priority, such as building customer loyalty or increasing sales by 30 percent.
Step two: Get to know attendees. “Just as brands need to understand the needs and wants of their target audiences, event designers should consider all their constituents, from participants to sponsors/exhibitors to media,” the report says. It recommends a few exercises that can help define and visualize the emotional attributes of an event, such as identifying attendee personas and conducting pre-event surveys.
Step three: Choose the purposeful attributes. In this final step, circle back to focus on delivering the “why” in ways that meet attendees’ needs. “The functional aspects of your event—from invitation to registration to on-site experience—are the elements that will deliver a transformational experience that will exceed attendee expectations,” the report says.
It may seem obvious that you need to consider the “why” (and a lot of you are probably doing so already), but go back and consider how many times you held an event or meeting because it’s one that you’ve always had or because it’s already on the calendar—even if it’s not bringing as much revenue as you’d like and attendee satisfaction or excitement is dwindling.
We’re living in a time where there is a lot of competition within the real estate space, then consider the huge corporate, for-profit brands, even governmental agencies in the event space. That’s why it’s crucial that you carve out the “why?” for attendees. As the report concludes, doing so “will yield a better experience for your participants and better outcomes for your business.”