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Event orchestration | 21 November 2017

How to Plan a Successful Event: Advice from 7 Experts

Brandon Rafalson

We asked leading event experts about how they plan successful events. This is what they had to say.

There’s a fine line between events that succeed and those that do not. For The Event Success Formula, we poured over data from over 400 senior marketers to determine what separates successful event marketing campaigns from those that are, well, not so successful.  

We discovered that marketers who plan successful events allocate more of their budget to organizing live events, invest more in variety of technology (including event management software) and exhibit event strategy alignment across every level of their organizational hierarchy.

For the full report, click the button below.

But data is one thing and specific event planning strategies, tactics, tips and wisdom are something entirely else. That’s why we reached out to leading event experts from organizations that are planning successful events to hear how they are tackling their event strategies.

Get ready to hear advice from premier brands including Invision, Looker, Event Tech Live and more!

Michaela AlexanderMichaela Alexander, Strategic Field Marketing Manager, Invision

I would say there are really two main strategies that have kept this particular series successful.

1. Every detail matters and it all needs to connect. When thinking about the event it has to be a holistic approach. Every detail, down to the appetizers you serve needs to feel on event brand. If you hire an agency to help producers, make sure they truly get the vibe you are going for so the event stays true to its DNA.

2. Never lose sight of the purpose of the program. Sometimes when I have a lot on my plate it is easy to go into “execution mode” and get the boxes checked off. I often have to stoop myself and remember that although there are a million things to do – if the event is about creating connection I need to slow down and prioritize that. For example, I tend to be the one who has the most face time with the panelists who are at the event for us, therefore stopping and making sure they meet their account executives would be a great use of my time verse worrying about a task item that can get done later.

David Steffano, Director of Partnership and Event Marketing, Evenergy

We’re event marketers at heart. Before we begin designing an event for a client, we first immerse ourselves in their brand and identity to get a complete understanding of their sales and marketing objectives. We also explore their industry and the consumers or event audience. This deep exploration is the foundation for everything we do, and it allows us to produce the best one-on-one event experiences.

Cari GoodrichCari Goodrich, Senior Director of Global Marketing Programs, Looker

The most important strategy the Looker team has done with regards to our events is simple: Marketing has complete alignment with the sales force. We create shared reg goals so we are all working towards the same finish line. This results in one team not worried about driving registration. Instead, we focus our collective efforts around creating exclusive and intimate experiences for a perfectly curated audience.

Discover more amazing event marketing tips from Cari in the Live Event Lead Generation Guide! 

Erin HobsonErin Hobson, Manager of Meetings and Trade Shows, ICPI

Holding and attending live events is not going by the wayside like old technology. Here at ICPI we find that our live educational events, conferences and trade shows give our members the means to connect, network, and build their professional contacts. You can’t underestimate the power of meeting someone face to face which builds stronger relationships and in turn leads to an increase in sales from members purchasing from other members.

We view our membership base as one big family. The relationships and lasting memories built at our events and throughout the year are priceless. It says a lot when behind the scenes our industry competitors are actually very loyal friends. ICPI prides itself on values and personal bonds that are established between staff and its members on a daily basis. These connections are what allow now only our events to be a great success, but also our organization as a whole.

Louisa DouglasLouisa Douglas, Events Manager, WireHive

For me, I find the attendee relationship key. I spend a lot of time networking and regularly meeting with the guests who attend our events so I can truly understand what they hope to achieve when attending events and what they enjoy most, so that I may incorporate this into all of the events that we do.

In addition, after each event we gather feedback from the attendees to see what they liked and what would have made it a better event for them – this allows us to stay agile, continually improving and remaining relevant to the industry. The proof of this for me is in the pudding, each year our survey results have fewer and fewer constructive comments and our NPS improves meaning we must be doing something right.

Bill CushardBill Cushard, Director of Marketing, ServiceRocket

When events have been successful for us, it is because we take a “helping sells” approach. First, we focus on education. We design the program much like an instructional designer creates a course, with an audience outcome in mind. Second, we take a brandscaping approach and select guest speakers who are doing great things in our market ecosystem related to audience’s job to be done. If we help people do their jobs better, we believe they will become customers. Many do.

Adam ParryAdam Parry, Director, Event Tech Live

Measure twice, cut once! We are super time poor as an industry, lots of deadlines and moving parts, so at times its very convenient to “scan” over an email, a document or plans and think that its all ok. I have learnt that the strategy of checking things twice pays dividends. That being said there is technology out there that can help, Grammarly is a great example of a tool that can help check the wording on speaker slides, event website copy, show books the list goes on. This does a lot of the hard work for you.


Looking for more leading event professionals? Check out the Top Event Marketers to Watch in 2018.  (Featuring several event marketers from this round-up!)

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