How To Organize a Successful Conference [A Step-By-Step Guide]

August 28, 2019 / Rick Bannerman

A photo of Rick Bannerman

Empty chairs, people checking their phones, and a dead silence that fills the room when technical difficulties are taking way too long to sort out.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Whether you were organizing a conference or just an attendee, you’ve probably seen your fair share of failed events in your career.

The main issue with having events that perform poorly like in the scenario above is that your marketing efforts end up doing more harm than good and actually damaging your reputation in the industry.

So, how would you like to never have another bad conference experience again (at least not when you’re the one in charge of organizing it)?

Today we want to share with you a detailed, step-by-step guide to make your next conference a huge success.

But before we get into it, let’s find out why creating a unique conference experience for your prospects is something you might want to invest time and effort into, and why this could be the key to promoting your business. 👇

7 ways that conference marketing boosts business growth

Companies have started to believe more and more in the power of live events. It’s obvious.

While traditional marketing now accounts for only 6% of the B2B marketing budget (and digital marketing takes up about 13%), event marketing now makes up for 24% of what companies spend their marketing dollars on.

Moreover, 63% of marketers plan on investing even more in live events over the next few years both in terms of budget and of the number of events they organize or attend.

So why is it important to ensure that these large-scale events are properly planned and work out smoothly?

In short, here’s what a well-organized conference can do for your business:

  1. Draw in the right prospects and fuel lead nurturing
  2. Help you build stronger relationships with your customers
  3. Boost brand awareness, sales, and profit
  4. Create an impactful and long-lasting reputation for you on the market
  5. Engage, inspire and turn prospects into loyal customers
  6. Keep consumers updated about your product or service
  7. Connect directly with stakeholders who want to invest in your vision

If this sounds like something you’d want more of in your own business, then keep on reading to find out how you can plan, design and deliver a high-quality conference experience for your audience.

Simple steps to help you organize a successful conference

Brainstorming over paper

Conferences are typically either B2B (business between companies) or B2C (where the customer is the final consumer). Their schedule usually involves workshops, coaching, interactive presentations with engaging speakers, and networking sessions.

If you want to have a successful conference that drives relevant leads to your business and increases profit, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

  • Know your audience

Not researching your audience before planning a conference is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. How could you design a powerful event that attracts the right leads if you don’t even know what those prospects look like?

Therefore, it’s crucial to look into who your potential clients are, what they like, what they’re interested in, what they want and need. Only once you’ve got a clear understanding of that can you begin to tailor an event specifically for them, one that brings value to them and even turns them into loyal customers or partners.

Here are some other questions you might find useful:

  • Who is your audience at this conference?
  • What is the core message that you want to share with them?
  • What are your marketing goals for this conference?
  • What do you want your attendees to get out of your event?
  • Send targeted emails

Did you know that 78% of event planners say that email marketing is their most effective marketing tactic? In fact, 45% of their ticket sales are a direct result of their email strategy.

However, instead of doing what a lot of organizers do and bomb your email list with spammy-looking messages that bug people with (and often put them off) checking out your event, it’s wiser and much more effective to personalize your emails and send targeted content for each demographic.

In fact, it’s useful to segment your email contacts into groups of people, like this:

  • People who have never attended any of your events
  • People who have attended an event of yours last year
  • People who have signed up for the event but not yet attended
  • People who have shown interest in attending but haven’t signed up yet
  • Choose the right date

Make sure you don’t just decide on a random date for your conference (unless you want to deal with those dreaded empty chairs we mentioned in the beginning).

Instead, choose a date that doesn’t overlap with other major professional or big city events as that would mean flights cost more, transportation is slow, and you would be competing with festivals, workshops or other popular social gatherings.

Also, try to avoid holiday periods and weekends since for a lot of people, attending these events is part of their job.

  • Decide on a venue

Finding the right venue for your conference can turn into an overwhelming task real quick. Especially because you’ve got so many key-elements to consider like size, location, mood, catering, transportation access, IT equipment, room style, and nearby accommodations.

If you need a little extra help with making a final decision, we’ve put together a handy evaluation template to help you compare venues and find out which one is the best possible choice for your conference. You can find out more about it here.

  • Assess how much you’re able to pay your speakers (and let them know as well)

Paying conference speakers for their time and effort is good practice. However, in some cases, especially when there are a lot of speakers invited to attend, it’s simply not feasible.

If you can’t afford to pay your speakers without significantly raising ticket costs, then make sure you at least cover all of their expenses (including hotel, dinners, and transportation). Another great option is to share a percentage of the profit you make off of the event with them.

After all, they contributed to your conference’s success as well.

Lastly, make sure you let them know what you can and can’t do for them from the beginning. This shows that you’re transparent, that you respect your speakers and appreciate their work. Word of mouth travels fast and your little investment will easily play out in your favor in the long run.

  • Don’t even attempt to go into it without a clear checklist

This last piece of advice alone will save you so many hours, mishaps, and regrets.

Use a checklist for organizing your conference.

Either make a spreadsheet yourself from scratch or choose a detailed planning template to help you out. Going into this without a checklist is a recipe for disaster that is bound to lead to bad outcomes, accidents that could have easily been avoided, and a lot of time lost.

So save yourself the trouble and make sure you use a spreadsheet. 😉

We know planning a conference is a ton of work, that’s why we want to give you a headstart.

If you don’t have the time to make your own list, but you also don’t want to overlook any important details, we’ve created a highly customizable checklist for you with over 140 tasks and items to help keep you on track.

Take a look at it here and make your conference planning easier, faster and more effective. 💪

About the Author

Rick Bannerman

Rick Bannerman is a marketing specialist with a broad range of experience in web design, inbound marketing, and marketing analytics. As a digital marketing consultant, Rick handles marketing strategy and planning, project management, and the optimization of interactive marketing channels.

2 thoughts on “How To Organize a Successful Conference [A Step-By-Step Guide]”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *