Designing Your Brand’s Success: Marketing Event Planning Guide



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12 min


10 April, 2024

Marketing event planning is key to the success of your next event.

Without having a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and the strategy in place to make sure this happens, it’s a hefty use of time and resources for no reason.

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Marketing events are designed to increase your brand exposure so that ultimately, you win more clients.

However, this doesn’t just ‘happen’, otherwise every company in the world would just attend an event and have done with it.

They’d save a lot of time and money on other marketing strategies that’s for sure!

But the difference between attending a marketing event and falling flat, or attending a marketing event and generating new, quality leads, lies in marketing event planning.

In this blog, we’re taking you through this process step-by-step ensuring your next event is a success.

infographic showing questions to ask when deciding on target audience

Understand Your Audience

Before running any type of marketing event, you need to have a solid understanding of your audience.

In order to achieve your marketing objectives, whether that’s increasing brand awareness, launching a new product, or expanding your customer reach, you need to know who you’re trying to attract.

With this in mind, you can start planning your event around those people.

This extends to every single part of your marketing event from:

  • Designing your exhibition graphics
  • Crafting compelling messaging
  • Deciding on the best types of marketing collateral
  • Understanding how to engage and follow up with attendees
  • Thinking of giveaways or freebies to capture their attention

It all starts and ends with your audience as these are the people you want to buy your product/ service.

For example, let’s say you’re a cybersecurity company who helps businesses protect their privacy online. If you identify your audience as being operation managers who don’t really understand the technicalities of cybersecurity but rather just want to know the benefits, you can craft your exhibition messaging with this in mind.

Instead of using tech-heavy language on your graphics and losing the interest of your audience, you’d pull out 3 key benefits that you know would appeal to their practical needs.

This would also have a knock-on effect on your marketing collateral and how you communicate with your audience through these channels, which is why identifying your audience is always step 1 of marketing event planning.

Set Clear Objectives and KPIs

When planning your marketing event, you need to get clear on what you’re trying to achieve otherwise you could be spending a lot of money and resources for no reason.

You’ll also be taking people out of the office to attend or run the event, so it needs to be a worthwhile investment of their time.

As we’ve mentioned above, there’s lots of different marketing event objectives.
To recap, you might want to:

  • Increase brand awareness: Boost visibility and awareness of the brand among a wider audience or a specific target market.
  • Generate more leads: Collect leads through registrations, sign-ups, or interactions with the aim of converting these into potential customers.
  • Boost customer engagement: Deepen relationships with existing customers by providing value and encouraging interaction with the brand.
  • Launch a new product: To introduce a new product/ service, creating excitement and a buzz around the launch.
  • Expand networking opportunities: Connect with professionals within the industry as this can lead to partnerships or new business opportunities.
  • Build a community: Create a sense of community among customers, strengthening their connection to the brand and to each other.

Whatever the reason, you need to be clear on what you’re setting out to do from the get-go.

Be sure to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) objectives for your event so that you can track your progress and measure success against your marketing goals.

This focus will guide your marketing event planning, ensuring your resources are spent in the right places.

You also need to consider Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as:

  • Attendee engagement: This can be measured through session attendance rates, participation in polls and surveys, and social media interaction. High engagement levels often indicate a successful event that resonated well with your audience.
  • Lead generation: The number of leads collected through registrations, contests, or networking sessions. This KPI is particularly relevant for B2B events where ROI is closely tied to the quality and quantity of leads generated.
  • Conversion rate: The percentage of attendees who take a desired action, such as signing up for a trial, making a purchase, or downloading content. This metric helps assess the effectiveness of your event in driving tangible outcomes.
  • Attendee satisfaction: Through post-event surveys, you can gauge what attendees thought about the event overall, specific sessions, and their likelihood to recommend or attend future events. High satisfaction levels are indicative of value delivery and positive experiences.
  • ROI: Calculating the return on investment by comparing the revenue generated or value created against the costs involved in hosting the event. While more challenging to measure, especially for brand awareness objectives, ROI provides a clear picture of financial efficacy.

illustrations of coins and a checklist

Allocate Your Budget and Resources

Identifying your audience and knowing what you want to achieve are of course key, but they’re both pointless without realising your actual budget.
Knowing how much money you can afford to allocate on areas such as exhibition graphics, marketing collateral, brand merchandise, any speaker fees, advertising, and technology are crucial.

Furthermore, you need to factor in potential costs for travel and accommodation for staff and any unforeseen expenses that may arise.

When it comes to creating your budget, you need to be realistic.

We’ve put together the following tips to help you create an effective event budget:

  • Plan ahead: Start planning your budget as early as possible as this gives you a better idea of the costs involved and more time to adjust your plans to fit your budget.
  • Carry out research: Do your research and get estimates for each line item in your budget.
  • Prioritise your expenses: Identify which parts of your marketing event are non-negotiable and allocate your budget accordingly. Understand what’s important as this means you can make cuts in less critical areas if needed.
  • Build in a contingency: Always include a contingency amount in your budget, typically around 10-20% to cover unexpected costs.
  • Track your spending: Keep a record of all expenses and compare them against your budget. This will help you stay on track and make tweaks where necessary.
  • Leverage sponsorships: Look for opportunities to offset costs through sponsorships. Partnerships with other relevant brands can cover some expenses in exchange for exposure or other benefits.
  • Review costs post-event: After the event, review your budget against actual spend to identify areas for improvement. This will help you plan more accurately in the future.

The role of sponsorship in marketing event planning

Sponsors can provide financial backing, allowing you to improve the size and quality of the event.

Aside from this, sponsorship often comes with added value in terms of marketing reach and brand association as you can both leverage each other’s customer base.

For companies, associating their brand with an event can also open up new opportunities as they can access a targeted audience, helping them boost their engagement.

Moreover, having high-quality sponsors can make the event seem more credible, which attracts more people and creates excitement among potential attendees.

When choosing a relevant sponsorship, make sure you:

  • Consider brand alignment: Find a partner whose brand story and values are in harmony with yours. This connection ensures the partnership feels genuine to your audience.
  • Identify any audience overlap: Dive into the demographics and interests of their audience. You want a partner whose customers are likely to become your fans too.
  • Understand the mutual benefits: Aim for a partnership where both sides win. Look for opportunities where your brand can shine, but also bring something valuable to the table for them.

illustration showing money, flag, and LinkedIn icon

Choose Your Marketing Event Channels

There’s no point running a marketing event if you’re not going to tell people about it.

You need to get the world out there and make sure people know key information such as the location, the time and the date.

You also don’t want to leave this until the last minute as people need to plan, otherwise they’re less likely to attend. This applies to both the B2B and B2C sector as people have busy schedules and you don’t want to drop it on them at the eleventh hour.

Aside from this, you also need to communicate the value of your event to give people a compelling reason to attend. You need to clearly tell them why they should give up their precious to come to the event and to visit your stand.

Perhaps you’ve got a new product to launch or you’re offering a free 1-to-1 consultation? Whatever the case there needs to be a value add.

When it comes to marketing your event, use these strategies below to get the word out about it:

  • Social media: Use social media platforms to create a hype around your event. Create event
    pages on Facebook, use hashtags on Twitter, and post engaging content related to the event on Instagram and LinkedIn.
  • Email marketing: Send out email invites to your existing customer base and potential attendees. Segment your audience for more tailored messaging, and remember to highlight the unique value proposition of your event.
  • Partnerships and influencers: Partner with industry influencers and other brands that share a similar audience. They can help elevate your message through their networks and vice versa.
  • Content marketing: Write blogs or create videos that tie into the theme of your event, offering attendees a glimpse of what they can expect. Share these across your platforms such as social media and email to build interest and anticipation.
  • Engage with your community: Use online forums, groups, and platforms where your target audience hangs out. Engage in conversations and share valuable content without being salesy.
  • Use SEO: Ensure your event website or landing page is optimised for search engines. Use relevant keywords, meta descriptions, and tags to improve visibility.

Engaging Your Audience Before, During, and After the Event

Your audience are your most important people when planning a marketing event.

That’s why you need to keep them engaged, before the event, during the event, and after the event has taken place, ensuring your company stays top of mind.

It’s very easy for people to forget about you, even if you have a compelling value proposition.

As we’ve said above, everyone leads busy lives and for companies to be successful they need to stay in touch with their audience. Whether this is via social media, email, or other interactive tools, sustaining audience engagement is key to your marketing event planning.

We’re breaking this down into the 3 key stages below.

Marketing Event Planning: Pre-Event

Building anticipation and engagement before your event starts is a great way of ensuring a strong turnout and an excited audience.

Start by teasing highlights and exclusive content on your social media channels, sparking curiosity and conversation. A few simple ideas are a countdown on your Instagram story, behind the scenes content, interactive polls, and exclusive promotions.

You could also launch an early bird registration or a contest for free tickets to incentivise quick sign-ups. Email marketing is also very useful here as you can share sneak peeks and interviews, making your audience feel part of the event before it even starts.

Marketing Event Planning: During the Event

Once the event is underway, keeping your audience engaged needs to be your top priority.

Incorporate interactive elements such as live polls, Q&A sessions, and real-time social media feeds displayed around the venue to foster a sense of participation.

You can also use event apps to push notifications about upcoming sessions or last-minute changes, ensuring attendees always feel involved. Providing spaces for networking and relaxation can also improve the attendee experience, making the event more enjoyable.

A happy and engaged attendee is more likely to share their positive experience with others, maximising the reach of your marketing event.

Marketing Event Planning: Post-Event

The conversation shouldn’t end when the event does.

Effective post-event engagement is key to maintaining the momentum and setting the stage for future events.

When it comes to your follow up, email marketing is your best friend!

Start with a thank-you email that includes a survey for feedback as this not only shows appreciation but also gives you invaluable insights into attendee experience.

You could also share highlights, photos, and videos from the event on social media and your website to keep the buzz alive. A follow-up webinar is also a great way to delve deeper into topics of interest identified during the event and shows attendees that you were listening to their feedback.

two cartoon people talking and holding magnifying glass

Analysing the Outcome and Learning for the Future

Analysing the outcome of your event and drawing insights for the future is a key part of marketing event planning.

You need to understand how the event contributed to the goals you set in the beginning as you want to know it’s a worthwhile use of your time.

To effectively collect and analyse data, start by reviewing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you set such as attendee numbers, engagement rates, and social media engagement.

You can use tools such as post-event surveys, social media analytics, and event management software as these provide a comprehensive view of your event’s performance.

The importance of gathering feedback cannot be overstated as this provides a window into your attendees’ experiences, preferences, and expectations. Through post-event surveys, direct emails, and social media, make sure you encourage feedback by asking open-ended questions that allow people to respond more freely.

This is gold dust for finding out what can be improved in the future.

For example:

Did your keynote speaker engage the audience as expected?

Was the networking session effective for attendees?

Did the technology used for the event improve the experience or hinder it?

Applying these lessons to future marketing events allows you to tweak your strategy to better meet your audience’s needs.

Designing Your Brand’s Success: The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Event Planning

Marketing event planning is a complex process that requires the key elements listed above.

It’s not about just finding an event, setting up your exhibition stand, and hoping you get leads.

You need a clear plan that accounts for your marketing objectives, the needs of your target audience, the promotional channels you’re going to use for engagement, and the event-follow-up strategy ensuring attendees not only have a good experience, but convert after the event has taken place.

Exhibiting at any marketing event is a hefty use of time, resources, and money so you want to make sure this is an effective part of your broader marketing strategy.

If you’re not getting any return on your investment, this budget could be better spent elsewhere such as paid advertising or social media.

At Canny, we have experience running and hosting our own marketing events so we know what it takes to make them a success. Get in touch with our team for an informal chat about your marketing event planning needs!

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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