Planning a conference is one of the most rewarding things you can do. The sense of satisfaction that comes with watching throngs of attendees interact with what you worked so hard and long to create keeps us coming back for more, despite the sometimes-crazy hours, stress and hard work. But, as we all know, planning a conference is also a huge project not to be taken lightly. To help you in your journey, we’ve created a quick and dirty high-level guide on how to plan a successful conference. This guide provides a solid foundation for those who are new to conference planning, and veteran planners should find a few new tips and ideas, too.
Marketing and registration are closely tied, and they provide the major time constraint on your event. The more attendees you expect, the more time you’ll want to leave yourself to promote it.
You want to launch registration early enough so that you have a buzz around your event, but late enough that you have information that’s compelling enough to make people want to register.
Content is the No. 1 driver of registrations, so you want to make sure that information is as visible as possible. If you don’t, be sure to make your event’s value proposition very clear; who are the keynote speakers, what are the tracks, and other things you should know from your goals and objectives document.
Also keep in mind that most companies work on an annual budget basis. You’ll want them to be aware of the event early, so it can make it into the appropriate year’s budget for both sponsorship opportunities and attendees as part of their annual training.
A “Save the Date” can be helpful here. You also want to have a strong website in place early in your efforts. If it’s an existing event, this means updating last year’s website with the relevant information. If it’s a new event, you’ll want that website live as early as possible (9-12 months out).
Well-executed event marketing will ensure a high turnout for your event. But event marketing is not just about registration results. Events are also a great way to connect with prospects. In fact, a typical event can provide from 10 to 15 opportunities to connect with your audience. If a prospect clicks on just two social media posts or emails in your event marketing campaign, that’s a lead you didn’t have before that’s now in your marketing funnel
For a more deep dive into conference marketing, check out The Fundamentals of Event Marketing.