In a lot of ways, event planning can feel subjective. There are very few concrete timelines for corporate event planning. You can find a timeline of to dos for a wedding with a few clicks of the keyboard. But clearly, a corporate event needs to be promoted very differently from your average wedding.
There’s so much to do when planning a corporate event. Where do you start? This timeline should give you a clear idea of what to do when.
Keep in mind that this is tailored towards medium to medium large corporate events of at least 100 people, that isn’t a membership-based event. Events that are hosted by an organization for their members typically don’t require as much promotion due to the intrinsic engagement in their members- after all, they became members because they’re interested in the organization. An event that isn’t calling on members will require more promotion, to first spark interest and then convert.
(If you’re hosting a smaller event, your timeline will be much shorter, although we recommend starting at least two months ahead.)
6 Months Out
Start early! You think you’re starting early enough? You can always start earlier. For a large corporate event of at least 100 people, you’d do well to start at least 6 months out. This gives you plenty of time to find a venue and get started on your marketing.
Define Your Goals
You can’t start marketing your event until you define your goals. Are you trying to make money, spread awareness, or just celebrate a company anniversary? Once you define your goals, be sure to define who your target audience is. Not everyone will be interested in your goals or your event. For example, if you’re hosting a company anniversary, your audience will be inherently smaller (stakeholders and personal connections) than a B2C event with the only goal of entertaining (think Coachella).
Choose a Venue
As anyone who’s planned a large corporate event knows, your options are often limited. Dates fill up fast, especially if you’re competing with Frederick, MD weddings for space. When it comes to corporate event planning, you often don’t need as much flair as a wedding venue needs. Yes, it should look presentable, and reflect your company culture/event goals, but at the end of the day you can hold it at a local hotel if you absolutely have to. Luckily when you’re corporate event planning in Frederick, MD there are a lot of unique and amazing venues to choose from, from McClintock Distillery to Ceresville Mansion.
Choose a Caterer
You can’t choose a caterer until you’ve chosen a venue. Oftentimes venues will require you to work with a particular caterer. On the other hand, your venue can often greatly impact the date of your event. Their availability can change everything. Once you nail down your venue and your date, then you can pick a caterer who also has the same date available. This is why it’s crucial to start early. The earlier you start the easier it will be to coordinate both the caterer and the venue.
Start Planting the Seeds
Don’t underestimate the impact of starting to plant the seeds early. Mention the event at networking events you (should!) attend. Post some behind the scenes photos and updates. Tell your social platform about how excited you are about the venue and caterer. Tag them to help your posts spread. Don’t overwhelm your audience with too many posts this far out but start whispering about it. Add it your website.
3 Months Out
Extend Personal Invitations
Now’s the time when you can reach out to your connections to invite them to the event. Don’t waste your invitations on just anyone- then you’re just making work for yourself and annoying your connections. Reach out to people who you feel will get the most out of the event.
Promote Via Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to reach a new audience. However, they can take their time to circulate. Use podcasts as a way to promote your company, your story, and outreach you’re doing and mention the event. When you’re corporate event planning in Frederick, MD, check out Frederick Advice Givers and Fredtechbyte. We’ve loved working with Eric and Andres in the past. The Frederick News Post also has a great podcast, Frederick Uncut.
Start Promoting on Social
Now’s the time to ramp up your social approach a bit. You can start a small paid social campaign, but I would recommend promoting it at least once a week on all of your channels as well.
Add It to Local Calendars
Check your local tourism organizations and newspapers. Add your event to as many local calendars as possible. For corporate event planning in Frederick MD, the Frederick News Post has a calendar, as does Visit Frederick, and WDVM.
Write a Blog Post or Two
Every website should have a blog: now’s the time to put it to good use. Write a blog post or two about your upcoming event. These can focus on your goals for the event, your experience planning it, benefits of attending, a guide to the event, etc. Whatever you write, it should be emotionally-engaging, educational, or entertaining for your customers.
1 Month Out
Start a Paid Social Campaign
You’re one month out. It’s crunch time. Up the number of posts you’re putting out to at least three times a week. Start a paid social campaign to spread the word. I’ve had good success with using broad targeting to spread awareness throughout the local geographic region. Make sure you’re using your event hashtag in every post (Yes, you need one of these!).
Write a Press Release
It’s time for the press release! This should be written and sent out at the very start of the month, if not the month before. If all your press release does is sell, you’re wasting your time. You’re selling a story about your event that’s interesting to the general public. Is there a charitable aspect to it? An inspiring entrepreneur? What makes your event entertaining or educational? Find that and focus in on it.
Ramp Up Your Email Marketing
Start ramping up your email marketing. Make sure at least four emails go out about the event in the lead up. But two should be in the last month or month and a half. Email is a great way to reach people directly and get some good traffic to your page. We’ve gotten most of our sign ups through email- that’s how powerful it is.
Shoot Some LinkedIn Videos
Remember how you’re ramping up your social campaign this month? It’s a great idea to include some LinkedIn videos. LinkedIn has had a huge proliferation of “talking heads” lately, which is great for industry experts who are trying to find an audience. Use the trend to your advantage when corporate event planning by talking about the event and how it can benefit your audience. If you have a scenic venue (hopefully you do!) in Frederick MD try and film at the venue to offer a behind the scenes tease of why your viewers should sign up.
Have you ever looked at a website and clicked out, only to suddenly be followed by ads for products you were looking at across the internet? Creepy, isn’t it? Well now it’s your turn to be the one doing the creeping. Remarketing campaigns are a big help when it comes to corporate event planning in Frederick MD. You can set up a remarketing campaign to follow a user with ads after viewing an event page. It’s a great way to keep your event front of mind for people who have already shown interest.
And You’re Off to the Races!
Congratulations! It’s event day. While there’s a LOT more to do on the day of and in the aftermath of an event, your lead up timeline is now complete. Did you do enough? When it comes to corporate event planning in Frederick MD, you can always do more. Gauge how successful you were this time by taking a look at your RSVPs. Did you sell out? How many no-shows did you have?
If you’re ready to do even more, but aren’t sure what’s next, give New North a call. We’re happy to help.
Veronica is a University of Maryland graduate and passionate equestrian. She focuses on creating audiences on social media and on maximizing the value of public relations to make New North clients famous.