Organizing a sales or digital marketing conference is a highly demanding task and one that requires at least six to twelve months to plan. Many conferences are often run by first-time organizers and this often means they can be especially stressful.
But what if you had a blueprint for planning a sales or digital marketing conference? Let’s take a look at the necessary steps that can help you prepare a successful event be it an entrepreneur’s conference, a blockchain or crypto event, or a tech function among other types of events:
This guide will talk about the steps to prepare for a conference:
- Saving the Date
- Choosing a theme for the conference
- Delegating tasks and roles
- Preparing the budget
- Think about potential sponsors
- Having good time management
- Booking the venue
- Catering for the conference
- Picking the right speakers
- Creating the conference schedule
- Preparing and hosting the event
1. Saving the Date
Pick a date that doesn’t conflict with other major events like festivals. Also, keep in mind that city-based events make booking flights more expensive and generally hinder transportation to and from the conference. Besides, you don’t want your conference to compete for attention with big events.
Avoid summer and winter holiday periods when people tend to go on vacation. It’s best to aim for a date between the middle of March and end of June or from early September to late November.
Never plan a conference during the weekend. Your audience would rather spend their weekends at home resting, walking their dogs while or chatting with family than attend a conference. For most participants, attending a conference is a part of their job, so schedule it during the workweek.
Try to aim for the end of the week, so that traveling attendees get the chance to stay behind and sightsee during their time off. The best days for a conference are Thursday and Friday. Setting a date will give you a fixed point to count back from to better plan your preparations.
2. Choosing A Theme for the Conference
First of all, you will need to know what kind of takeaway you would like the attendees to have from the conference. In other words, there should be an overall theme and underlying message.
Needless to say, this theme will have a great impact on who the speakers will be and more importantly, what these speakers will talk about. As a rule, it’s always best to seek an emotional response and choose a message that will unify those in attendance.
Just keep in mind that you should not make any announcements or create promotional material until you have decided on this theme. After all, this theme needs to be reflected in the underlying message that you want to communicate.
3. Delegating Tasks and Roles
Delegating responsibilities is one of the most important aspects of planning a sales or digital marketing conference. Without delegation, there is simply too much to do and what’s more, there is little chance of getting everything done right.
Here’s an example of what the split for delegation should look like:
- Planning – Venue, accommodation, food.
- Admin – Budget, tickets and customer service
- Marketing – Media, promotions and social media
- Sponsorship – Sponsors and fundraising
- Ground Staff – Helping with D-Day activities ticketing, directions, or even manning the wardrobe.
As the organizer, it will be your job to coordinate this team, delegate tasks and keep everyone moving toward their objective.
4. Preparing the Budget
Cash flow is crucial and should always be considered when planning a sales or digital marketing conference. Even with a lot of funding or big sponsors, this budget needs to be watertight and every last expense should be accounted for without exception. Some of the most common expenses include accommodation, venue, food, activities, promotion, speaker fees and transportation.
Setting a realistic budget will also help determine the price of tickets for the event.
5. About Potential Sponsors
You might be lucky enough to have sponsors for the sales or digital marketing conference but if not, this is definitely something that will benefit the conference. With this in mind, you should seek sponsors who can relate to the theme of the conference or at least benefit from being associated with the event.
One way to find such sponsors would be to look at similar events during the year and see what organizations have been sponsoring these events. That being said, one must be careful when it comes to establishing guidelines with a sponsor. After all, they might be expecting a certain level of promotion or presence that you cannot afford to offer them.
6. Time Management
Running out of time is one thing but running over time is also a common problem for events. That is to say, you need to set very specific time frames for the event and make sure that these times are upheld in every instance. For example, if two speakers run over time with their talks and it means that the final speaker doesn’t even make it on stage, there could be complaints from attendees. For conferences with more than 250 attendees, you will need at least two full days.
7. Booking the Venue
Given that we are currently in the middle of a pandemic, hosting a conference in a physical venue might be challenging, not to mention anxiety-inducing. For this reason, you might want to consider hosting your conference online. This would be more convenient and less stressful for your audience, since people can attend the conference from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Be that as it may, you might still have reason to believe that a physical conference will be beneficial to you and your audience. If this is the case, then you need to be mindful about the number of attendees you’re expecting as well as the size of venue you’ll be using. This information will allow you to plan for social distancing, thus easing the anxiety among conference attendees. Likewise, it’s important to be aware of current restrictions on physical gatherings where you are.
When you decide on specific dates and have a better idea about the budget, you can start checking out the options for the venue. Universities can be a nice option for a conference and certainly more affordable than a hotel. Having said that, with the superior facilities and added bonus of accommodation, nothing can beat a hotel. On the other hand, there is usual another venue available such as a sports club or a community centre of some kind.
Here’s what you need to consider when choosing a venue:
- Location – Is the venue easily accessible for most of the attendees?
- Venue Size – The venue should be big enough so as not to seem overcrowded. However, you do not want what looks like an empty room so try to find the right balance between the two.
- Theme – Does the venue suit the theme of the conference? For example, if the purpose is to attract investment, the last thing you want to do is choose a cheap, tacky venue.
- Accommodation – If the venue is not a hotel, is there at least some accommodation nearby? The absence of affordable accommodation is likely to dissuade people from attending.
- Wi-Fi – As you know, Wi-Fi is a pretty big deal nowadays and you absolutely must have this at the venue. Besides, you want people sharing and broadcasting content on the big deal so you need to make sure that lack of Wi-Fi is not something that stops this from happening.
8. Catering for the Conference
If you’ve decided to host an in-person conference, then you will obviously need to make sure there is enough food and drinks on the day. Quite often, the hotel or conference centre can provide this catering but there is sometimes a need to have a professional company take care of the matter.
Aside from the numbers, you will need to specify what type of food you want for the conference. For example, if there be regular snacks or full meals provided on the day.
9. Pick Out Respected Speakers
The speakers at a sales or digital marketing conference will usually make or break the event. In other words, if you have good speakers, this is likely to result in a memorable event but obviously the opposite is possible in the case of there being lackluster speakers. As a rule, try to secure at least one high profile speaker who can deliver the goods and give credibility to the conference.
10. Creating the Conference Agenda
As already mentioned, timing is key when planning a sales or digital marketing conference and the same can be said about the big day itself. Here’s an example of what an itinerary might look like for one day at a conference:
10am: Keynote speech from event organizer
1030am Speaker #1
1115am 15-minute break
1130am Speaker #2
2pm – Speaker #3
3pm – 15 minute break
315pm – Networking and Team Building Games
5pm – End and “thank you” from event organizer
11. Registration Website & Promotion
You should have a fully functional website with full details of the conference. This should outline the speakers, the location and a full itinerary. Also, there should be an option on the site to purchase tickets or at the very least, there should be a link for where these tickets can be bought.
After that, the primary focus should be on promoting and marketing the event. You can do this using a good social media outreach strategy.
12. Preparation and Hosting the Event
As if all of the above was not enough, now you will need to make sure that the venue is prepared and everything is set to run smoothly on the big day. The truth is, this can be quite an overwhelming part of the process but here’s some of the most important factors to keep in mind:
Entry – Organise a team to check tickets and take care of wardrobe duties.
Catering – Make sure the catering team is fully equipped and ready to go.
Exhibitions – Ensure the exhibition room is ready for event sponsors or relevant vendors.
Phone calls – Communicate with all speakers and make sure they can all attend.
Introductions – Welcome the attendees and introduce each speaker.
Managing Time – Ensure each speaker keeps to the time allotted for their talk.
Networking – Move around the venue and check that attendees are satisfied.
Feedback – Gather contact information from attendees for the purpose of feedback.
For many first time organizers, planning a sales or digital marketing conference can be more than just a little daunting. However, the key to this process is organization and following the above steps one at a time.
In conclusion, stay confident and try to remind yourself that the attendees are present in hope that the event will be a huge success and with the right preparation, you can make this happen.
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