Event planning: know the purpose of your event

Earlier this summer the news came that Lodestar music festival was cancelled due to poor ticket sales. I have never been to Lodestar but I have met owner Doug, one of the nicest guys out there. He once accommodated my colleague and me and 60 event management students when we used his festival grounds as a campsite. He spoke to the students passionately about Lodestar festival.

Lodestar isn’t the only event that got cancelled this year. Some events, and festivals, struggle to attract attention. So why is it that neither potential visitors nor sponsors can find these events?

I’ve once organised a festival that wanted to cater for everyone. It had a little bit of this and a little bit of that. And when you want to cater for everyone, problems arise. One of the problems was that no one could identify with the event concept. It taught me an expensive lesson: know the purpose of your event.

4 questions event planners should ask themselves

I’m sure you’ve watched the TV-show Dragon’s Den. On that show you sometimes see business owners who think they have the best idea or product ever! After some tough, and sometimes not so tough, questioning by the Dragons their business idea lies shattered on the floor in front of them. Sometimes event planners should go through the same tough questioning.

Some of the questions they should ask themselves are:

What am I actually organising?

Sounds like a simple question but it is important that you, of all people, know what kind of event you are planning to organise. Try explaining your event ideas in 30 seconds to someone else. Do those ideas make sense? Explain it to someone who you think would not come to your event. Ask them after 10 minutes to explain your event idea to you. Did they understand it? What did they take away from your presentation?

What is the purpose of my event?

You need to know what it is you want to achieve with your event. Perhaps you want to raise money for a local charity, promote a specific music genre, or organise the best event ever! Okay, that last one is useless. Every event planner’s aim is to organise the best event ever. It is therefore not the purpose of your event.

I don't understand the meaning of  bathtub boots  but there's a market for it...apparently

I don't understand the meaning of bathtub boots but there's a market for it...apparently

You need to be able to sum up in one sentence what the purpose of your event is. Than ask yourself why. Why is that the purpose? And follow that up with another why, to whatever the answer to that question is.

I know this seems tedious but it will make you think about what you actually want to organise. Your potential audience is also wondering why you want to organise an event. “Should we go to this or not?”

Who am I organising it for?

Know your audience. Make the effort to identify with your (potential) visitors and fans. Once you know whom you organise your event for you can start your communication process. Not only with your audience but also with potential sponsors. The location will have a huge influence on who will come to your event.

Once you have chosen the location for your event you can figure out what the capacity is. The capacity will have an influence on what you can ask from your sponsors. Asking for £5,000 in sponsorship when only 50 people are expected to turn up seems a bit off. Be realistic.

Is there a need for my event?

Just because you want your event to happen, doesn’t mean everybody else is equally enthusiastic about it. Research the market as much as you can. Are there similar events happening elsewhere? Are they successful? What kind of audience do they attract? How do they communicate with their fans? Are visitors prepared to travel for this kind of event? What do visitors want to get out of it?

Before you start planning your event and before you start pouring money into it, ask yourself some serious questions. The questions I’ve just mentioned are only the beginning. Planning an event is great fun but it can also give you a (financial) headache. So plan carefully and do your homework!

For more information about event planning visit my website where you can find out more my online workshops. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.