Marketing your conference or event is a lot like marketing a business. The essential ingredients of any event planning checklist include:
- having clearly defined goals and objectives
- setting a course of action to achieve them
- creating a timeline
- establishing a budget
Creating an initial marketing plan gives you a blueprint for how to accomplish your conference objectives and gives you a way to measure your progress. You should create the marketing plan as early as possible in the planning stage. It is never too early to start.
10-Question Event Planning Checklist
Here are some key questions that are essential to your marketing communications and should be addressed in your marketing plan:
- Who is your target audience? What percentage of students/ job hunters/ recruiters/ business professionals / journalists do you hope will attend?
- How can you best reach your target audience? Which mediums are most effective to reach them? (e.g. many corporations now have elaborate spam filters – will your pdf attachment or HTML email reach them? Should you send them a physical postcard or mailer instead?) How much will you budget for reaching each?
- For each target audience, what are the 3 key benefits of attending your conference? (e.g. Students have different needs than business professionals – how does your marketing message answer “what’s in it for them?” Why should they attend your conference over a competing time commitment?)
- What is your conference/event’s purpose? It’s theme? What does it mean to you?
- What types of images and photos come to mind in regards to your theme? What types of messages should your marketing communications present?
- Are there any special considerations or limitations? (For example, if something related to your topic might be offensive or stereotypical to attendees – colors, specific imagery, cultural differences, etc)
- Do you have a budget to incorporate stock photos or photography?
- What are your objectives for your marketing communications? (ie to get $X in sponsorship, for X number of business professionals to register, to remind those registered of the time/place of the conference, etc)
- How will you obtain sponsorship for your conference? How much do you hope to raise? What is your break even point? What will you do if you receive more money than anticipated? Less money?
- Who is in charge of which task? What is your critical path?