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Event Planning Checklist
August 29, 2023
Woman marking event notes on calendar
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Event planning can be overwhelming. It takes both a strong vision of the desired outcome and a detail-oriented project manager to coordinate logistics. Not only do you need to strategize on how an event can help your business’s bottom line, but you also need to plan a fun function that guests will enjoy. It’s no wonder, Forbes named event coordinator as one of the top ten most stressful jobs.

With the right resources and a plan in place, you can coordinate and execute a successful event that drives branding, customers, and long-time friends of the business.

The key is having an event-planning checklist. This list will keep you on track and ensure no detail goes overlooked.

Along with your checklist, these five simple steps will help you become an event planning master, even if this is your first time stepping into this role.

Step 1: Determine Goals and Target Audience

What is the main purpose of your event? Are you launching your business? Do you want to increase awareness of a new product or service? Are you looking for more new clients or leads? Knowing your objective will ensure each step aligns with the desired outcome.

In addition to setting goals, you need to dial in on your target audience to ensure you hit them. Knowing this ahead of time will also help you make aligned choices for marketing and messaging. For example, as a B2B service business looking to attract local business owners, you might want to aim for a networking environment that gets them acquainted with your brand while also benefiting them.

Step 2: Devise a Schedule and Budget 

For first-time event planners, our 16-week event checklist lays out the perfect timeline for your planning schedule. Knowing when to complete certain tasks, such as ordering print materials, or launching digital marketing campaigns, is critical to making sure you get everything done ahead of time to avoid last-minute scrambling.

Another crucial step is determining your budget. Knowing what your business can afford helps you find the right venue, caterers, and help. It also helps you forecast what you need to bring in from sponsorships or new customers, to see ROI from the event. A budget will also help you decide if you need to charge for tickets or ask for donations. From vendors and marketing to supplies and decorations, everything stems from the budget, so make this your first step.

Step 3: Get Creative

The steps for establishing your budget, event purpose, and target audience are the difficult ones. Once that’s out of the way, you can get creative with marketing and messaging. With so many DIY graphic design tools available, business owners don’t have to be artistic to put together an on-brand, attractive campaign for an event.

Use free tools to make your life easier with plug-and-play templates. Just choose a format you love, update with your colors, logo, and messaging, and download or print. What’s more, having a template makes it easy to create a main event design and then translate it into all needed collateral, like a website header, social media graphic, digital or printed invites, flyers, and signs.

Check the event checklist to figure out when you should design and print your materials.

Step 4: Execute Your Plan

Once you have all the essential steps out of the way, you can start checking boxes. Our event planning checklist will ensure that you complete all the necessary in the right time frame while providing you with helpful hints along the way. It can be easy to miss small logistical steps as you get closer to the event, so don’t let the details slide.

Step 5: Review ROI and Send Thank Yous

When the event is over, you still have a little more work to do. Now it’s time to review the event and determine what ROI you saw, if any. This is when you turn back to your goals—which metrics would represent this event as a success? Leads earned? Emails captured? Conversations had?

Consider what could have been better, where you could use more help, or what details need to stay exactly the same for your next event. This data ensures that you’re always making strategic decisions on events, which can be expensive and time-consuming.

Finally, take the time to thank everyone who helped with the event, in addition to anyone who you connected with. If you’re simply planning the event, this may be a task you have account managers or sales reps handle, but it’s not one to be missed. An event can go from great to poor if the right people don’t send follow-ups in the days that follow.

Enjoy Your Event and Move on to the Next!

Events can be used as a strategic tool for reaching out to the community, promoting your business, and networking with prospects. Don’t let the hard work scare you away or prevent your business from planning an event that could yield great results. Instead, get organized, set your goals, execute your plan, and review the results when it’s all over. The good news is, with each event, it gets easier and easier, so download the checklist and get started today.

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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.

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