Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Special Event Planning - Develop Your Master Plan

By Heidi Richards Mooney

Photo from: inc.com

"The master plan is the plan you create to ensure you have covered your bases when planning your event. Doing so will increase your chances of having a wildly successful outcome, leading to more referrals, happy clients and more sales." Heidi Richards Mooney

Want to have a kick-butt event that people will remember and talk about to their friends? All you need is a plan and people committed to following it! I have hosted and co-hosted hundreds of events for my business and nonprofits alike. The ones that were the biggest success followed a few simple principles each and every time.

Here they are:

Create your checklist. A checklist provides an organized roadmap to executing your event. What resources will you need, donations, people, money? -- A sample checklist is included below.

Create a Timeline! This should be a part of the checklist and is perhaps the most important component of the document that will ensure the success of your event. The timeline should include items such as when programs are printed, when invitations/brochures should be printed and mailed, when to start the media or publicity campaign, when to order decorations. It includes registration deadlines. If it has not already been determined, the timeline also includes the location of the event.

Create your budget. This should include all revenue opportunities (registration sales, tickets, donations, sponsorship, concessions). It should also include expenses for printing, lodging, food, supplies, security, speakers, permits, insurance, postage and miscellaneous items yet to be determined.

Think about logistics. They include the size of space needed for the event, setup (tables, chairs, parking, signs, port-a-potty's, tents), cleanup, emergency plans, transportation and the services that are provided by police and fire departments.

Promote the event. What is the major objective of the publicity? Is it to raise awareness or attendance? Is it to build good community relations? If you do not have a media list, it is never too soon to start creating one.

Whom do you know who works for local print, radio and television? Whom do you know who knows someone who does? If it is a local event, drawing on the local community, find out if a local Media Guide or directory is published.

Many newspapers have these resources, and so do many libraries. If it is a national event, look for national media directories for assistance. There are several to choose from. Some of the ones I use are: Gebbie Press All-in-One Directory (1.845.255.7560), Bacon's Media Catalog (1.800.621.0561) and Bradley Communications (1.800.989.1400). These directories are available on disk or books.

Here's a step-by-step checklist to help you organize your event.
___ Select members of the planning team. Include leaders of specific events to be completed by (date).
___ Develop the master plan by (date). This may include the theme, location, etc.
___ Choose the date for the event by (date).
___ Select secondary team leaders (subcommittee chairs) for logistics by (date).
___ Recruit or hire team members for logistics by (date).
___ Create your publicity/media campaign. Alert the media of photo and interview opportunities by (date).
___ Prepare the "copy" for print materials including program, registration forms, tickets, registration/identification badges, ribbons, awards, etc. by (date).
___ Plan the decorations by (date).
___ Develop the schedule of events. Distribute to each person on the team. Review assignments.
___ Determine how registration will be handled and by whom.
___ Create an Emergency Plan in case the event has to be cancelled or postponed.
___ Have a "dress rehearsal" of the event with all responsible parties to review roles and responsibilities of entire team the day before.
___ Have the Event!
___ Mail a copy of the program and thank you letter to sponsors and supporters of the event as soon as possible after the event.
___ Send hand-written thank you notes to your host (employer) and the team you worked with. If possible, include photos.
___ Evaluate the Event.

Want more ideas for having a successful event? Read 21 TIPS for Hosting a Special Event

Heidi Richards Mooney is a Professional Speaker, Business Coach and the Author of 7 books including "Rose Marketing on a Daisy Budget ~ How to Grow Your Business Without Spending a Fortune." She is also the publisher of WE Magazine for Women. Stop by www.speakingwithspirit.com to get a FREE copy of YOUR Marketing Calendar today! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Have a Happy Marriage

Photo from: lighthousemetch.com

Marriage can be difficult at times for all couples, no matter how much in love you are.  Fortunately, you can enjoy a fantastic and fulfilled marriage by simply working at it as a team. Here are a few tips to help you have a happy marriage:

  1. Change you instead of trying to change something about your spouse. Many times, people marry thinking they can just change the person they married, shaping him or her into the "perfect" mate. Instead, you should accept your spouse for the person he or she is. And if there is a behavior that needs to be changed, give him or her your support and encouragement.
  2. Remember that communication is key. This means talking through issues instead of holding them inside or yelling. By showing each other respect, you can work together like a couple should. Also, by talking, you two can understand each other's sides better.
  3. Maintain intimacy. Keep in mind that this person is the one you love and the one you want to share your life with, and that means letting go of inhibitions. Being intimate is a great way to stay close and does wonders for any marriage. 
  4. Accept your spouse's flaws. Of course, nobody is perfect, so you should learn to appreciate the differences you and your mate have. 

For six more tips, check out Ten Tips for a Happy Marriage.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

What to Do With the Kids at Your Wedding

Photo from: blogs.babble.com

Here are a few tips to include the little ones in your wedding day with some kid-friendly fun. These ideas will keep the kids happy, and you calm, cool and collected.

  1. Hire a professional. Think about hiring a clown, comedian, caricature artist, magician, mime, story teller, ventriloquist, etc. It's a simple way to keep the children happy and entertained and the adults "off the hook." Research local entertainment vendors and party-planning companies to find the perfect entertainer for your young audience.
  2. Create a sports center. Have active children attending? Consider transforming the play space into a sports palace. You can rent or borrow Ping-Pong tables, air hockey, a basketball, hula hoops, Twister and a putt-putt machine. And if you're having your reception at a hotel or country-club, you might be able to find the necessary equipment you need on the grounds.
  3. Make a craft room. For kids who are younger, turn one room into an arts-and-crafts center. Some ideas: Have a coloring contest with prizes for the most colorful drawings; provide beads for necklaces they can take home; or set up a table for sand art. To do sand art, you'll need different color sand (or kids can create their own with white salt and colored chalk), plastic spoons and clear plastic containers or jars for the kids to fill.
  4. Make them superstars. Use a room as "production headquarters" for a video the kids create and star in. (Ask your videographer to bring an extra staff person to assist the kids, or get a tech-savvy friend to help). Bring some old clothes and jewelry, a portable tape or CD player and some background music along with movie prop paraphernalia. The adult helping can assist the kids in coming up with a simple story (a mystery wedding or a music video, for example) and choose actors. The kids will dress up, practice their roles, then act for the camera. You can even show the video at the end of the reception. 

For 11 more tips, check out Wedding Guests: What to Do With Kids.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 Ways to Make More Money From Your Event

Photo from: mylot.com

In these rough economic times, it's smart for event holders to look for other ways to make more money with their events; selling your tickets is just the beginning. Here are three ways to earn more income from your event.

  1. Sell sponsorships. This is the most popular method event holders use for additional income. However, they are also often carried out wrong. Event holders usually go wrong with sponsorships because they don't give prospective sponsors enough detail, in advance, about how they can properly evaluate their results after the event is over. Although it can be difficult for an event sponsor to pinpoint their ROI, whatever method the event holder provides them to measure results will be appreciated. And that can help a sponsor determine if he or she wants to return next year. With that said, it's important for you to describe the benefits of sponsorship when it comes to the visibility sponsors will receive (aka CPM). For example, if you believe that a banner in a venue will be seen by 30 thousand people, let prospective sponsors know that. 
  2. Place ads on your event website. A lot of your event promotion will probably be online, and events can create a lot of online traffic. One good reason to create a website for your event is so you can monetize the traffic you may receive before, during and after the event. Obviously, the main point of your event website is to support the event itself, give the necessary information to potential attendees, to give event details, etc. But, you can also easily turn the site into a source of revenue with a few well-placed and carefully-chosen ads; best of all, you'll have little interference to your primary goal. Be sure to work with companies who have products or services to provide that are relevant to your event and likely to be of interest to attendees. You could also put together "online-only" sponsorship packages, which are put together like ad buys and allow you to engage businesses as advertisers who may not have been interested in being sponsors. Don't have energy or time to sell ad space on your event website? Consider contextual advertising like Google Adsense; that makes it simple to show and monetize relevant ads. 
  3. Sell merchandise. People love coming home from events with different items. But, a lot of times, those items end up in the trash. A better way to benefit from this desire is to sell before and during the event; this method works particularly well if your event supports a business that already sells items. You can use your event as an opportunity to give prospective customers a better idea of what you offer and encourage them to buy on the spot with discounts or special deals available only at the event. 

Need more tips? Check out 5 ways to make extra money from your event

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

5 Reasons to Create a Logo for Your Event

Creating an experience no one forgets is often a main concern for people who plan events. One of the quickest ways to capture the attention of attendees is through a core-branding image. So, if you want to develop a long-lasting memory, the quickest way to do so is with a quality event logo.

Whether you use a simple combo of initials in an appealing font or get more creative with a logo that has high quality art, creating a professional logo that embodies your event's spirit will promote an organized, unique tone and even simplify many tasks associated with planning.

Five of the best reasons to consider a logo for your next event are:

  1. Differentiation.
  2. Identity.
  3. Unification.
  4. Sticky visual image.
  5. Perfect for take-aways. 

Read more about these reasons here!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

7 Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Next Business Networking Event

Photo from: wearethecity.com
Many job seekers will see plenty of invitations to business conferences and professional networking events. A live event can be invaluable, providing opportunities to learn new skills and develop new contacts who can advance your career or job search. And if you're thinking about changing your corporate hat for an entrepreneurial one, an event can offer inspiration for a new business idea and connect you with the right people to start your journey.

Whether out-of-town or local, events are an investment in yourself and your career -- one that you can easily offset with new contacts and skills to land that job interview. To get the most from your next live event, consider these tips:

1. Start with the end in mind. If you're attending these events for the connections, make a note of the type of people you want to meet. For most job seekers, you're ideally looking to meet high-level executives in companies within your specific industry -- especially those who may be hiring. If you're attending a seminar to gain skills and inspiration, make a note of what your personal objectives are for the event. If you're thinking of launching your own business, you could be seeking to discover possible clients, referral resources or vendors.
2. Research topics, speakers and panelists. Check the website's agenda for the event, and know who will be speaking and what the topics are. If there are breakout sessions, tentatively decide which ones address your needs the most. By doing your homework, you'll be better informed and be able to understand the training at a deeper level.
3. Know your strengths and gaps. Let's say that you know you excel at your area of expertise and are a top-notch project manager. You also want to be aware of the areas where you need improvement -- for example, your technical skills and sales skills. Just writing these thoughts down before the event will help you stay aware of opportunities presented at the event -- such as unexpected conversations.
4. Know some of your key contributions. In the event you meet a hiring manager or a high-level executive, you may want to have a few relevant examples of how you've contributed to your past positions. Keep a cheat sheet handy with your sales numbers, internal improvements you've initiated, the number of team members you oversee or money saved by your cost-cutting suggestions. (Get tips on creating a personal-branding tagling and a winning "elevator speech," in "Build Your Brand.")
5. Connect with attendees. Seek out Facebook event pages or forums that have been created for your event. It's a great way to virtually meet conference attendees before the event, so when you do meet in person, you'll be fast friends. Keep an eye out for Tweetups -- impromptu gatherings of Twitter users -- or, better yet, organize one yourself.
6. Plan your travel well. If possible, arrive at your event destination a day or two early to relax, get acclimated, get on the same time zone, and get accustomed to your surroundings. Stay at the hotel where the conference is held to save time going from your room to the event, save money on car rental or cab fare and increase your potential for connecting with other event attendees. (Your room is also a great place to get a little privacy and get a breather, so it's nice to have close by).
7. Come prepared. Of course you'll want to bring a stack of business cards, but also consider a thoughtful take-away item that sets you apart, such as a pocket-sized calendar with your professional contact information. Be clever and memorable.

You're just about ready, but here are a few more must-haves: an empty water bottle for being green while you travel, a few of your favorite power bars or snacks and a method for jotting down lots of notes and your all-important follow-up list of action items when you get back home.

Now get out there, and get to work!

Entrepreneur mentor and success coach Ali Brown teaches women how to start and grow profitable businesses and create careers that make a positive impact. Learn more at www.AliBrown.com

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

6 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

Photo from mlive.com

The most money you'll spend for your wedding reception is on the food, so you want to be sure you're working with a top professional. With that said, here are six questions you should ask potential caterers before hiring them for your wedding:

  1. Does the caterer specialize in particular types of food or service? Your caterer should provide you with sample menus to look over.
  2. What is the average price range? Are fees itemized based on the foods you choose, or is there an all-inclusive flat rate? What would the flat rate include (tax, linens and gratuity)? Does he or she have printed price sheets for food selections?
  3. Will the caterer supply chairs, tables, plates, linens, silverware, etc.? Ask to see the items provided to be sure they're in acceptable condition. Do you need to rent tables, place settings and other items, or will the caterer arrange for the rentals?
  4. Will he or she be willing to include a recipe from you, such as a special family dish or an appetizer with sentimental significance? Can they fix vegetarian, kosher, kids or halal meals for only a few of your guests?
  5. Where will the food be prepared? Are there facilities on-site, or do you, the caterer and the site manager need to make other arrangements? If the caterer has to bring his or her own equipment, is there an added fee?
  6. Does the caterer have a license? (This means his or her business has met health department standards and has liability insurance; also, be sure this includes a liquor license as well if you're having a bar).

For more questions to ask your caterer, visit 17 Questions to Ask Your Wedding Caterer

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Planning Special Events - Six Strategies for Success

Photo from: odesk.com
Whether you are in the event planning business, planning an event for a local nonprofit or planning an event to promote your business, the strategies needed to make your event memorable and profitable are extremely important. They require a certain amount of planning and a whole lot of commitment to achieve the ultimate goal: Having a Great Event people will remember and talk about long after the celebration has passed. And of course with the perfect number of guests in attendance!

Your ultimate goal is to host an event that leads to even more success, referrals, more business, and most likely, more people committed to the project in the future.

A special event is an event with a specific purpose such as a special occasion (celebration of a milestone, conference, party, awards ceremonies, fairs). Special events are different from ongoing programs in that they may be single, one-time productions or even once a year celebrations that people anticipate and plan for.

Here are my SIX Strategies for Success:

  1. If a company or host has hired you, they have already determined that the purpose of the event is important enough to warrant the expense and time necessary to put it on. If you are a volunteer leader, this must be the first step in determining whether or not to pursue the idea.
  2. Do you need a team of volunteers/paid staff to execute a successful event? Involve your team in the planning. This core group will help develop the theme, select the location and determine who else should be involved.
  3. Determine the purpose of the event. Is it to make money? Is it to increase awareness of the product, company or organization? Is it to celebrate a success or a milestone? It might be a combination of all three. Once you know the purpose, you can plan accordingly. 
  4. Who is the target market? If you are an event planner, you may not be involved in that part of the planning. Your job may be just to stage an extraordinary event. The company or organization may be responsible for attendance. However, you will have input and connections. Be sure you offer feedback and share those connections with the "powers that be."
  5. How will you measure the success of the event? By the number of attendees, by the amount of money raised, by the number of people interested in helping out with future events?
  6. If this event has been hosted in the past, talk with others who have worked on it before. Get their advice and support. Seeking the opinions and advice of others will help to elicit support for future success of the event. Find out what went right, what went wrong and how they measured success in the past. What are/were their expectations of this event? Were those expectations met or exceeded? If not, what would they have done differently?

Heidi Richards Mooney is a Professional Speaker, Business Coach and the Author of 7 books including "Rose Marketing on a Daisy Budget ~ How to Grow Your Business Without Spending a Fortune." She is also the Publisher of WE Magazine for Women. Stop by www.speakingwithspirit.com to get a FREE copy of YOUR Marketing Calendar today!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

8 Date Night Ideas for Newlyweds

Photo from: everydayhealth.com

One way to keep the spice and romance alive after you're married is to continue dating your spouse. Since you may be tired of going out to dinner every week, here are a few other ideas to try:

  1. Head to the grocery store, and pick up some ingredients for an amazing meal. Return home, and cook together.
  2. Perform a duet at a karaoke bar. Even if you can't sing, it'll be fun. 
  3. Visit the zoo or museum. Check out the exhibits and chat about what you see and learn. 
  4. Fill a picnic basket with some goodies like wine, bread, cheese and fruit. Head to the park, and share your feast. Bring along your picnic blanket, too.
  5. Pretend that you're tourists in your own town. Visit one of the major sites, take pictures, and act like it's the first time you've seen the place.
  6. Watch the sun rise or set from a beautiful place. 
  7. Volunteer together, whether it's visiting a nursing home, organizing a fundraiser for a nonprofit or working at an animal shelter. Not only will you be spending time with each other, but you'll be making a difference as well.
  8. Take a ride on a hot air balloon.

Want more tips? Check out 50 Great Date Night Ideas.