As it turns out, creating an event blueprint is pretty simple – at least in theory. These are the key components:
You need to have an idea and that idea has to be better than what already exists. It must be smarter, more exciting, have better participants, or a new model that suits the current time and/or place. Most new events mimic what already exists, so invest the time to ensure that your event will be different and that the difference is meaningful, can be marketed and you can make money doing it!
Once you have the idea, you must write up a one-pager that answers the following questions:
- What is the event?
- Where and when does the event take place?
- How many attendees/exhibitors are expected?
- Why it is compelling?
- Who is it for?
- What benefits an exhibitor will get by participating?
- What are the benefits that attendees will receive?
You’ll also need to have an idea about the fees for attendees and exhibitors.
Now that you’ve persuaded yourself, you need to get 3 or 4 others (whose judgment you respect) to agree that the event you’ve conjured up is worth doing. That agreement should confirm the opportunity cost (which could be huge), the financial risk, and the amount of you are likely to make within the initial 1 to 3 years.
Once you’ve picked a prospective date, make it real by getting a sense of the venue options available, given your event’s ‘footprint’ in terms of the number of sessions and the projected number of attendees and exhibitors. What is the required financial commitment necessary to secure that venue, inclusive of the room blocks?
Given the time and effort of above, you should be able to estimate the expenses in terms of conference room rental, A/V support, food, exhibit area, staff hotel rooms, airfares, related T&E, etc. Put those costs into a spreadsheet, together with expected revenues, to determine whether 1) you can afford to do the event, 2) what your expected profits would be, and 3) the investment and cash flow assumptions in producing it.
With the information compiled in your Event Resume, you’ll want to test the viability of your event with prospects in your database to confirm that your assumptions. You’ll want to have a call-to-action, such as ‘to get more information when it’s available, click here.’ To ensure the responses are actionable, you should target a 15% open rate and a 2% click-through rate.
Can you raise the exhibitor revenue that is part of your assumptions? Pick the top 20 most relevant exhibitor prospects and have your best sales person set up calls or meetings with each decision maker. Get feedback to confirm whether they would support the event financially. Compile the results to see whether your revenue expectations are real or a pipe dream.
Refine Event Resume and Budget, Based on Feedback
Perhaps the preceding steps have suggested that you must tweak the concept for your event or you’ve discovered that initial revenue projections are overly optimistic. Redo the numbers. Then look in the mirror and confirm that you want to do this event.
If all the above testing has left you as confident as when you started, then it’s clearer that you should launch. But if the results are only neutral or something less than that, consider delaying the initiative until you come up with a better approach. Or perhaps you should shelve the idea altogether.
If all of the above sounds like a hassle, imagine how you would feel if you chose to launch without doing your homework. Be brave! But be smart! You have the unique position of being able to see the future, so let that be a guide in building something great.