A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Where to begin.

Establish your goal and be realistic. If you’re launching a new product it’s unlikely you’ll sell a 100,000 units at your first trade show, just as Wembley Stadium is probably a bit too big for your debut event. You could just plough on and see what happens, but without having a clearly defined goal you’ll be less inclined to assign success or failure to the outcome.

Assess any threats to achieving your goal.

There are always going to be obstacles to overcome. The challenge is working around them and having the confidence to adjust your expectations if necessary. This is difficult, I mean who doesn’t want the moon on a stick, with the exception of a business who’s market are of the man/wolf shapeshifting kind. If you can’t do this no matter how hard you try you’ll never achieve the desired results.   The two most common difficulties are - not enough time and/or not enough budget? The advantage with these particular hurdles is that you will know in advance of setting you goal just how high, or low they are.

Every minute spent organising, is an hour earned for implementing.

If a deadline has been set by you it’s often easy to keep pushing it back. If this happens remember there will be a cost associated. For every day that goes by where your product is not on the market, potential sales or at the very least invaluable awareness is being lost. This applies equally to promoting an event, the less time you leave to advertise it to the world the less of the world will see it. Think of the riddle ‘what is always coming but never arrives?’ and try not to keep rescheduling things to tomorrow.   Time is an area where front to back planning is key. Set milestones and establish the timescales required to meet them. Unless you’re the human equivalent of a Swiss Army Knife you’re going to need supply partners. Get honest and accurate lead times and quotes on any services/outputs you require, and try and stick to them. If a job is going take a week don’t try and squeeze it into 3 days, the results will more often than not be a diluted version of what you were looking for. Alternatively expect to pay a premium, which you’ll need to account for in your budget plan. So good organisation is imperative.

Get more bang for your buck.

The key to budget planning if you have a limited spend, is to spend it in the right areas. Much of how you do this will depend on your goal. To illustrate let’s imagine you are putting on a student fashion event to promote a paid discount card at featured retailers. If you require an attendance of 200 with 30% signing up, how do you achieve this?   To reach as many of the target audience as possible research where and how is the best way to engage with them. In this case it’s extremely likely that advertising in the local press will be a costly and less successful use of funds than say, an advert on social media. Handing out flyers at university and college sites will generate more interest and be more direct than a door to door mail drop. These are just two example but you get the picture.

Speak their language.

All of this is of little consequence if you don’t first get the messaging right. If promotion is misleading as to the nature of the event or creative output isn’t appropriate it won’t resonate with its intended group and will be ignored.   Don’t let personal taste get in the way always keep the end goal in mind. Ensure any output is first and foremost applicable to the demographic you want to attract. I often use the analogy that a 50 year old careers advisor might not necessarily be the best person to advise on what creative direction would encourage a 16 year old pupil to attend a careers workshop. There’s no doubt though that when the 16 year olds pile in, they’ll be the best person to give them helpful advice.

Make it happen.

Admittedly this paints rather a black and white picture, the key to any successful supply chain is good communication. Most suppliers will be happy to work to a budget, within a given time frame and will use their expertise to outline what is realistically achievable. Along with creative alternatives to stretch even the tightest purse strings. Don’t blow your print budget on gold leaf embossed book marks when branded sticky notes are a fraction of the cost and will be more appealing to you customers.  And once it’s all over, measure how successful it all was, but this is another story.  

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