With the fall event season upon us, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to take your events to the next level.

The result of a great event is never coincidental; it’s based on creating and executing a sound strategy.

To help gather your thoughts, maximize the potential of your upcoming event(s), and set the stage for a great experience, be sure you consider “The Five Ws.”


The first and most important question you need to ask yourself is, Why are you hosting an event? Are you looking to create greater awareness of your business or organization? Display your expertise on a topic? Maybe you’re trying to raise money for your organization or another cause? Or maybe you just want to establish a more meaningful relationship with your existing customers, clients, members, donors, and constituents? Ask yourself, “What will I accomplish by hosting this event, and how it will benefit my audience?” You should be able to articulate the goal of your event in a single sentence.

And consider what success will look like when your event is over. What is the ROE (return on event)? It could simply be doubling last year’s attendance, raising a certain amount of money, 100% of the attendees passing an accreditation test, or maybe simply increasing word of mouth activity within your social networks.


What type of event will engage your audience and help you achieve your goal? It could be a class, a party, a food or beverage tasting, a presentation, an auction, or another type of gathering. Align your goal with the type of event that will help you achieve it.


Does your event have a target audience? Is it based on demographics? This might be age, gender, or geography. Or is it based on interest for a particular product, service, or cause? Is there something that motivates your audience? And what might catch their attention? This is where list segmentation becomes really important. List segmentation means dividing a larger contact list into a few smaller, more targeted lists based on interest and need.

For event planners, list segmentation can be critical. You want to have people at your event who genuinely want to be there. This is especially important if you’re a nonprofit and you’re hosting a fundraising event. If you segment your list, you can invite only those who’ve given to your organization in the past or who have expressed an interest in getting more involved.

Of course, maybe you don’t have a target audience, and one goal for your event is simply to get as many people there as possible. How will you reach this audience? Regardless of who you’re inviting, use a tool like Constant Contact to collect registrations and learn about attendees. And if you want as large an attendee list as possible, use social media to expand your reach and get the word out.

Where and When

Date, time, and location can be the biggest challenges to overcome when planning an event — especially at busy times like the end of the calendar year. Our studies show that over 60% of declined RSVPs are due to an inconvenient date, time, and location. One way to solve this problem is to send a pre-event survey to your audience. The survey could consist of just one question with a few choices of different dates and locations, or you could add a couple other questions depending on how much you want to know. Let the results of the survey guide your decisions.

Face-to-face meetings are an effective way to build stronger relationships and trust with your customers, members, donors, and other constituents. It’s that sense of community when everyone is in the same room. It’s the many intangibles when interacting directly with your audience face-to-face. Events should be an important component of your marketing strategy. Considering the 5 Ws will help you be more successful.

Till next time…

What other things do you consider when preparing for your events? Tell us in the comments below.