Navigating the Event Planning Process

April 19, 2018

By Dax Callner

What to Assess, Determine, and Develop for a Successful Event Program


Effective event marketing thoughtfully ties event strategies to business objectives, while artfully connecting on-site experiences to audience and brand insights. This intermingling of business strategy and artistry is the result of a solid event planning process. With decades upon decades of experience, GES Events has perfected a process that helps to align stakeholders and get buy-in, informs and inspires high-value experience creation, and drives business outcomes. Here are four things you should consider to help plan and implement high-impact event marketing programs.


Collect Information

Event marketing sits at the intersection of branding, sales, PR, and HR. One might say that the event planner is a diplomat, continuously negotiating between stakeholders to build an effective plan that meets (or at least tries to meet) a broad array of objectives and needs. This is no easy task. The first step is to gather relevant information, which can be sorted into three categories:

  1. Business information: The event planner needs to understand the priorities and challenges of the business. Talk to stakeholders in the C-suite and leadership across the company to get a sense of what is most important to them from business, sales, and marketing perspectives. This will help you align event strategies to the needs of the business.
  2. Event information: Look at any credible data you can get your hands on about past events. Ask stakeholders about their perceptions of your events and the role they play in the business. If possible, assess competitive and/or best-practice events in your industry.
  3. Attendee information: It's critical to understand the needs and "care-abouts" of your targeted attendees. Talk to them. Get their insights about the industry, your company, and their experiences at events.

The key to effectively collecting information is knowing which questions to ask.


Determine Event Metrics

While you need to establish objectives and metrics specific to your events, GES believes there are four key "outcome-oriented" metrics to use as a framework.

  1. Pipeline impact
    • Changes in likelihood of attendees to purchase your products/services (surveys)
    • Anticipated revenue based on analysis of leads
      Lead analysis formula:
      Number of qualified leads x Potential revenue per lead based upon product/service of interest
  2. Brand impact
    • Changes in brand awareness and perception across key brand dimensions (customized to your brand attributes)
  3. Customer retention
    • Changes in likelihood of an existing customer to remain a customer as a result of the event
    • Net Promoter Score*
      [*Established customer satisfaction metric:]
  4. Perceived value of event
    • Attendee perception of event value, based on key dimensions (customized to event experiences offered)
Summarize Findings

The Event Cheat Sheet will help you summarize your findings and share what you know, what works, what needs to evolve, and the metrics for success. This summary is also important for setting expectations by providing a realistic view of the current program and requirements to improve results, an indication of the level of resources and required investments, and ballpark estimates of expected performance results.


Complete Essential Checklists

With a summary in hand, you should secure executive support of your plans. The Event Strategy and Attendee Experience checklists will help you develop your execution plan by addressing key facets of event success.


Dax Callner is the chief strategy officer at GES Events. You can reach him here.


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