Event Planning 101: Best Practices for Marketing Agencies

Planning a special event can be overwhelming if you’re not sure where to start. Green Apple Strategy has more than a decade of experience solving problems through a variety of strategies and tactics—including event planning. From conceptualization to day-of logistics for in-person or virtual events, our team has learned many valuable lessons along the way. Here are our pro tips to make the most out of your next event!  


First Things First

When planning an event, it’s tempting to jump straight to fun stuff like decorations, color schemes, and signature cocktails. But in the words of Stephen Covey, let’s put first things first. 


Before contacting venues and vendors, the date, time, approximate guest count, and budget need to be locked down. Now is a good time to start a spreadsheet to track invoices and payments from the very beginning. Next, create a timeline to help everyone involved stay on track throughout the planning process. Finally, think through items that will need to be designed. This may include save-the-dates, invitations, event logos, menus, branded items and décor, programs, handouts, signage, name tags, and other print or digital materials.


Pro Tip: Always get approval from your client before you design or book anything.


Planning Your Event

Once the date, time, budget, and guest count are determined, it’s time to move on to the details. Begin by asking your client to create the guest list and, if needed, offer your suggestions of people who should be included. If the event should be pitched to the media, you can include them on the invitation list as well.


Select a venue and determine food and beverage options. It can be helpful to ask the venue if they have any preferred vendors, as well as what chairs, tables, and linens they already have available. You also want to consider your venue when choosing entertainment, or vice versa. Consider music, photo booths, videos, and speeches. Each has different AV requirements to consider for making your event a success.


Now that your key decisions are made you can begin communicating with invitees via a  platform that makes sense for your event. You may need one with just RSVP capabilities, or you may need to sell merch and tickets, too. Plan on sending invitations at least 30 days before the event. Follow up with a reminder email two to three days before the RSVP deadline, a second reminder email two weeks out from the event, and a final reminder email the day before or the day of the event.


Finally, it’s time to add extra details that help make your event one of a kind. Consider creative décor and meaningful gifts for guests. Photography and videography can also surprise and delight if used correctly, such as part of live social media feeds, as complimentary takeaways, or in post-event videos.


Pro Tip: Check on requirements for event insurance, security, and any necessary permits or licenses. 


Begin Marketing Launch 

Now is the time to begin planning your PR strategy, so you’ll need to determine what press releases will go out, when they’ll go out, and what venues they’ll be featured in. Social media strategy is also a key part of event promotion. Create a content calendar to begin attracting attention well before the event is scheduled. And don’t forget about short videos! These can be used on several platforms to increase anticipation and serve as a sneak peek of the event. Finally, an email marketing strategy should be planned, designed, and deployed to pique the interest of your client’s email list. Don’t be afraid to provide multiple reminder emails with key pieces of information that attendees will need.    


Day-Of Logistics

Before the big day arrives, think through key logistics. Planning a couple of walk-throughs well in advance will help you mentally plan out the space before crunch time, including check–in and parking. You’ll need to plan where guests will enter and what they will do immediately upon arrival. Will they need wristbands, tickets, or an ID? Do you need a scanner, a cash box, or additional supplies for a smooth process?


Regarding parking, consider whether self-parking or valet will work best for your event—and let guests know ahead of time. You can even station event staff in the parking lot to assist if needed.


Pro Tip: Always give yourself extra time the day-of to set up and ensure everything is in order.


Post-Event Follow-Up

As part of your post-event follow-up, take to social media to recap the event. Plan out and schedule content, photos, and captions to build engagement with attendees and spread awareness for next time. It’s also a great practice to send thank you notes to everyone you worked closely with, including colleagues, clients, and vendors.


Pro Tip: Schedule a debrief session as soon as possible to make notes on what worked well and what can be improved upon while everything is still top-of-mind.


Canceling or Postponing Your Event

Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. Even the best-laid plans can be subject to bad weather, health concerns, or scheduling conflicts. If the decision is made to cancel or postpone the event, there are steps you can take to mitigate confusion and keep your audience informed.


Let Green Apple Plan Your Next Event

Special events are a powerful tool that can be used to enhance your marketing goals. If you’re ready to build connections while increasing brand awareness, reach out to us for a consultation. 

6 Guidelines for Planning a Virtual Event

zoom meeting on a laptop
At this point in time, half of all businesses conduct virtual sessions 20 to 30 times a year. Virtual events are low friction, with fewer barriers to attendance. (No more driving in the snow or paying for parking.) They can also extend the reach of your event far beyond your local circle while having almost no overhead costs. Online events are also recordable, which is incredibly valuable from a marketing collateral perspective. Key moments from an event can be repurposed and used on social media channels to bring additional attention to your brand. If you want to optimize the events you’re already holding, or dive into the virtual space for the first time, we have a few tips for planning a virtual event.

1. Promote Your Virtual Event

In marketing, a multi-pronged approach is always best. Make use of your active email list by sending out an engaging email explaining the value proposition of the event. Advertise the virtual event on social media channels, and consider providing an incentive to attend. (Gift cards are perfect for this since they’re easy to send and easy for participants to use!) Ideally, you should build a separate landing page on your website with a sign-up functionality so that you can point potential attendees to it. Drop the link into any promotions you do so that guests can RSVP easily. This will not only give you an accurate headcount for the event, but it will also help you make the event more secure by tying invites directly to RSVPs

2. Set an Agenda

Even if you’re a freewheeling type, virtual meetings aren’t the right time to indulge your spontaneous side. If participants have a sense that you don’t have a game plan, you may lose out on their attention and their buy-in. You can even send an agenda out to attendees to keep them informed about how the event will progress. One tip: keep your timestamps loose unless you’ve had several dry runs. A simple order of events is enough to serve as a guideline. 

3. Prep Your Audience

While you may be busy with administrative preparation and planning, priming your audience or participants for the event can really pay off. This pre-involvement can be comprised of sending out a poll in advance of the event, collecting comments they may want to share, or gathering questions for a Q and A. If you’re really feeling ambitious, consider sending out swag or small branded gifts to increase both event buy-in and attendance rates.

4. Check Your Tech

Running a tech rehearsal of your event can help you prevent long silences, pixelated images, weak connections, or other online event woes. The apparent ease of a virtual event can trick some event coordinators into scaling back their planning. (Don’t I just open up my laptop and go?) In reality, because of all that can go awry in a virtual event, meticulous planning becomes even more essential. When you’re doing a dry run of the event, double-check the functionality of technology for all the hosts, including mics, lighting, and sound. You’ll also want to check the permissions of the platform you’re using. Decide if you want to auto-mute participants or require video. For presentation elements, check screen sharing and hosting capacities. Finally, check your event link to make sure it directs to the correct location. While it may feel tedious, a technology dry run is the best way to ensure a professional, streamlined virtual event.

5. Secure Your Event

Incidences of Zoombombing have dropped since online event platforms have beefed up security. However, unwanted or unexpected intrusions are the type of occurrence that can completely derail an otherwise successful event. To help prevent this, set a password for every single event you host. You can also limit screen sharing to administrators and auto-mute participants so they can only unmute with administrative permission. If you do use the auto-mute function, you should assign a specific team member to unmute participants as necessary. This job will require their full attention, so it should be their sole task during a virtual event. 

6. Send Out Your Event Link!

When you’re ready to launch the event, it’s time to send out the event to link to participants. While there are several schools of thought on when to send an event link out, we don’t advise sending it out too far in advance. Email links sent out too early will get buried in the crunch of an already full email inbox. Participants may have difficulty locating the link when they’re ready to attend the event. Links can also be forwarded to anyone via email. If you want to add another layer of security to your event, sending out a link no more than 30 minutes to an hour before the event can help you keep your guest list exclusive. Sending out a link right before an event can also serve as a gentle reminder to those who have push notifications turned on. 

Green Apple Strategy: Innovative Marketing In Every Industry

Our clients have used virtual events to connect to their customers and promote their brands. It’s one tool of many that can be used to enhance your marketing goals. If you’re ready to enhance your marketing goals, connect to your audience more efficiently, and increase your brand awareness, contact Green Apple Strategy. We can help you build an innovative marketing strategy to attract and retain qualified leads. Reach out to us today for a consultation.