10 Steps to Take Your Corporate Event From Good to Great

March 25, 2024

How do you take your corporate event from good to great? The first step is understanding your audience, advised Senior Event Marketing Leader Kimberly Kee — who has managed event programs for MCI, Hughes, Boeing, Arrow and TeamViewer — during a session at EXHIBITORLIVE 2024

“Be prepared to ask a lot of questions to find out where you need to focus your planning priorities,” she said. “Understand both objective and subjective data by using online survey tools combined with more personal tactics.”

Here’s an overview of nine more steps for planning a great corporate event.

1. Event branding. “A strong brand can lend a lot of value to your event and support your one big idea — especially if you’re on a mission to improve something from the past that carries a poor or mediocre reputation,” Kee said. For example, for the Hughes User Group (HUG), Kee worked with the internal team and the client’s attendees to determine what each group wanted from the event. “We found the similarities and developed a brand identity: Talk. Listen. Learn.”

2. Seeking and getting buy in. “Create internal and external fan clubs to help you sell your idea — and your event,” she recommended. “Work from the top down, asking senior delegates to support your efforts.” Keep in mind: You might have to appeal to ego and be prepared to back up your idea with data.

Senior Event Marketing Leader Kimberly Kee

3. Promote it relentlessly. “Understand your audience, how to reach them and create a systematic approach to promotion,” Kee advised. Beyond email and social campaigns, she recommended paper postcards and brochures, as well as a C-level phone campaign to prospects.

4. Content is king. “Great marketing and promotion will get attendees to the event, but in order to grow your audience year-over-year, you have to provide valuable content,” she explained. “Be meticulous about providing relevant topics, prepared speakers and delivering on your promises.”

5. Selecting the right venue. “Venue selection can be a highly influential factor in driving event attendance,” she said. Keep in mind: “The nicest venue isn’t always the best venue for your audience.” Tip: Ask for free stuff. Target services and amenities, such as room upgrades, airport transfers and health club access, that have high value to you but don’t cost the venue much, if anything.

6. Being accountable. “Support the process of accountability to your attendees by giving delegates the tool they need to follow up,” Kee said. Tip: Pre-match delegates with attendees and prepare delegates with attendee information. Make it invisible to attendees, but make sure everyone gets attention.

7. Using networking. “Add some structure to your networking and use those opportunities to support personal and professional objectives for both attendees and delegates,” she advised. For example, adding a hot topic to a lunch table where people who share a common interest can sit together.

To promote your corporate event, don't forget to include the event dates and location in email footers, Kee told attendees during a session at EXHIBITORLIVE 2024.

8. Everyone is a VIP. “Think about what will make your attendees feel welcome and comfortable, then offer services and amenities to meet their needs before they happen,” Kee said. For example, she recommended ponchos for rainy days, sunblock and visors for outdoor activities, lip balm in arid climates and bags or backpacks to carry materials. Tip: Brand everything.

9. The measure of success. “The process of post-event evaluation should be as detailed and thoughtful as your initial planning, as it will serve as valuable intelligence for your next event,” she recommended. For one event, Kee required attendees to complete an event survey to access handouts, session recordings and photo galleries.

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