As their title implies, event planners spend a lot of their time planning for upcoming events: selecting and booking the ideal venue, developing a theme, setting strategic goals, scheduling sessions, booking speakers, etc..
There are number of excellent checklists and guides available to help with the planning process, such as this one from Toronto conference and event venue Chateau Je Jardin, which details the process month-by-month, from reviewing the prior year's event through finalizing the menu, decor, and logistics.
When the event arrives, planners spend long, intense days overseeing all aspects of the event, making sure that everything from guest check in to AV to WiFi to afternoon coffee and cookies are hiccup-free.
But what about after the event? Well quite possibly a couple glasses of wine followed by 12 hours of sleep, but—after that?
The activities in the weeks following an event can have a huge impact both on maximizing the impact of the event that has just wrapped up and planning effectively for the next such event.
The infographic below, created by event producers Agency EA, details 20 steps to take after your B2B corporate event. But here briefly are the six big things to do after your event wraps up.
Thank Everyone Involved
It takes a village to produce an event: vendors, speakers, venue staff, possibly an independent planner / agency, on-site tech support, sponsors, channel partners, entertainers, your own team...everyone appreciates being appreciated. Don't forget to thank your attendees as well in your follow-up email!
Debrief Your Team to Identify Lessons Learned
Take a page from the U.S. military and the aviation industry: do a thorough debrief (or an after-action review—AAR—in Army parlance) with your team/agency after the event to get a full understanding of what worked well and what could have been done better.
Give everyone involved the opportunity to speak freely about any aspect of the event: the venue, processes, content, vendor performance, etc.. Also review adherence to budget (were there any areas of unanticipated savings, or any aspects of the event that went unexpectedly over budget?) and how well all components of your event technology worked.
Analyze Your Data
If you've taken advantage of all the opportunities to collect valuable event data, it all started before the event with the information collected from email opens and clicks and on event registration forms.
Data collection continued throughout the event, using surveys and polls, social media monitoring, and attendee journey mapping (Which sessions had the most attendees? Which attendees went to which sessions? Were there any sessions people were leaving early? Which activities were most popular?).
You may also collect post-event feedback using an email survey of attendees.
After the event, it's time to bring all of this data together for analysis. Use the information collected to draw conclusions in three key areas:
- Operational (How did we do? What could we have done better? What should do more of / less of / differently next time?);
- Soft Benefits (What was the effect on brand awareness / image? What was the breakdown—positive, negative, neutral—of event-related social media updates? How did the event move the needle, if at all, on our brand NPS?); and
- Financial Metrics (How did we perform against budget? What was the direct financial return, if any, from direct event revenue? How many add-on sales were generated?).
Implement Your Post-Event Content Marketing Plan
Live events involve a great deal of content creation, from pre-event session synopses and promotional outreach to event session content.
After the event, continue content marketing efforts through blog posts and ebooks based on session content, event video, photos, and "in case you missed it" summaries for non-attendees (or attendees who couldn't make it to every session of interest).
Share event content on social media. Consider follow-up content such as webinars that expand upon live presentations from the event, to keep attendees engaged online.
Follow Up on Opportunities and Track Sales Results
Corporate events can be very effective at creating opportunities for renewals, upselling, and cross-selling—but these transactions generally don't happen at the event.
Instead, keep track of interest expressed or opportunities that emerge at the event, and have sales reps follow up on these post-event. Keep track of results and sales revenue attributable to event engagement.
Mine social media and attendee journey mapping for additional sales opportunities. For example, if several attendees from one company attended the same new product demonstration, have your sales team follow up to gauge interest and purchase intent.
Start Cleaning Your List for Next Year
Contact list hygiene should be an ongoing activity of course, but immediately following an event is a great time to gain and apply new insights.
Among those who were invited but didn't attend the event—did they miss it just because they didn't come, or did they change roles? Or companies? Among those who did attend, were there changes in title or other information? Were there new names added to your list, and if so, what do you know about them? How can you fill in missing details?
With the list cleaned, you're ready to send a "save the date" for next year's event, getting a jump on planning to make it even bigger and better.
Planning and execution are huge parts of an event professional's job. But as this infographic from Agency EA makes clear, what gets done after the event plays a vital role in its success as well.