The Process of Planning and Building Results-Driven Events

You don’t need a degree in marketing to understand how to apply a marketing plan to an event. You do need a solid event plan and to boost your bottom line results, you have to follow through with the plan.
Ingrid E. Lundquist, CSEP

In the event industry, it is common knowledge that the presentation of the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles was a pivotal milestone in the world of events. The defining word was sponsorship. Positioning a product with the activity of its audience would cause rise to a brand-new industry that directly linked the product to the end user, using an event as the common ground.

The concept was simple. Let’s say I sell running shoes; if I sponsor a marathon the attendees will see my logo and connect with my brand. If I have a tent where the attendees gather and they can try on the shoes, better still. I don’t have to advertise to the general population because most of those people won’t buy my product – I just need to market to the people who are likely to purchase my product. I have to figure out where my buyers will be and be there too. We know this as target marketing: using event sponsorships as the vehicle to get you so close to your audience you can actually touch them.

In a short period of time, connecting product marketing to events through sponsorships positioned events as a viable marketing tool. Events continue to be a mainstay of today’s marketing mix, and planners who capitalize on applying this time-tested marketing methodology to their event design can count on success.

Like any good recipe, it may take some tweaking to fine-tune the ingredients, but the basic elements of a marketing plan provide the base structure required to begin developing your event plan. Since the expected outcome of a marketing plan is results, it makes sense to refer to the application of the marketing plan to the event design as a results-driven event plan.

Creating a marketing plan for a party, get-together, or mixer simply sounds lightweight. Let the folks planning those events bake and frost cupcakes; we have business to attend to. We need a plan for our results-driven event
To that end, we start with the basic elements of a marketing plan and weave them into an event plan. Every entry on your event plan will find its proper place within the structure of an event.

From the event perspective, you’re familiar with the words invitation, music, food, and parking, and from the marketing side you’ve heard the words goal, objective, strategy, and tactic. In the following pages you’ll find more words and terms specific to the marketing and event industries, which will be helpful as you build your plan for a results-driven event.

I coined the term results-driven events because it means what it says and is more likely to receive corporate recognition than an agenda item about party-planning. However, you’ll find that while this information is directed toward business events, the concept and process applies effectively to church socials, family reunions, non-profit fundraisers, and just about any gathering of people.

When you think about the elements of any event, they are similar whether the event is corporate or social.

The primary elements of an event include:

  • Communicating with the guests in the form of an invitation or announcement
  • Food and beverage (and restrooms)
  • Entertainment and activities
  • Safety and security
  • Permits and insurance
  • Venue and parking