In the modern business world, events and conferences have become an increasingly common way to promote companies, launch products and connect with clients. Huge corporations like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft have made an art out of keynote speeches and conferences with their slick promotional functions announcing new products. Indeed, Apple has become so good at conferences that Apple Events (for all intents and purposes, the company coined the term ‘event’), send the tech community into a fervour every year.
Corporate presentations can change entire markets
The effectiveness of these keynotes should not be underestimated. When Steve Jobs took to the stage at the Macworld Conference on January 9, 2007, his address about the iPhone proved so successful it would end up changing mobile phones forever – and propel Jobs to almost rock-star status. Apple and Jobs would go on to achieve a double success the following year with the announcement of the iPad – yet another industry-defining milestone.
If planned and executed correctly, business conferences and presentations can be a hugely valuable tool in your company’s promotional arsenal.
Determine the point of your event – and let that dictate everything else
Before planning an event, first work out exactly what you hope to achieve. Perhaps you’re launching a product – or maybe you just want to thank your clients or show them the full range of your services. Whatever the aim, having a clear idea from the outset of what you want the event to achieve will help you make decisions on everything else.
Work out your budget – and stick to it
It’s very easy to get carried away with event-planning so determine a budget early in the process and stick to it closely. As a rule of thumb, you should include a 20% contingency fund to cover unexpected problems or extra costs. Keeping a close eye on your budget will allow you to achieve maximum effect at minimum cost, but you should still be prepared for inevitable over-runs.
Choose a suitable venue
Depending on the size and scale of your function, you will most likely choose to host it somewhere other than your business premises. Popular choices include conference halls, exhibition centres or presentation rooms in hotels. Search online for unique conference venues suited to your particular type of exhibition or display – bearing in mind the anticipated size of your audience and any technology requirements (e.g. large screens, projectors or space for equipment demonstrations).
Compile a list of guests to invite
Work out a guest list of industry movers and shakers. The point of your event is to promote your company and drum-up business so be sure to invite influencers and decision-makers. Also, don’t forget to contact industry press and local journalists. You should use your function to maximise your company’s exposure by reaching as many people as possible – including those not directly attending.
Think about how you’re going to present
Try to work out exactly how your function is going to work – who’s going to do the presenting, the tools or technology you might need plus any decorations, hired help or catering services. For presenting, try to use in-house staff as much as possible – both to reduce costs and also keep the event personal to the company.
Consider advertising and marketing fees
If your event is purely invite-only, you’ll only need to consider the costs of printing and sending tickets - or perhaps you could cut that too by emailing invitations. However, if your function is open to the public, you’ll need to factor in the extra costs of advertising and marketing to entice an audience to attend.