I was talking to an advisor about the rather large marketing budget for his smaller firm, and he said the biggest spend was event marketing. I asked about his return on investment, and he explained, “I have great events -- my mother-in-law is a party planner. She has a ton of creative ideas!” Poor guy -- that is a no-win situation. In fact, marketing events should not be confused with parties. If you are trying to grow profitably, a big event can be a terrific strategy or a money pit that takes a lot of time and funds away from other profitable endeavors.

Here are my top five ideas for successful (and fun) event marketing:

1. Have a rock solid plan
OK, that sounds boring, but it will make the difference. Your plan should clarify who is your target audience, what is the offer and define the call to action -- and don’t forget to determine how you’ll measure success. That’s your event strategy.

Now you’re ready to plan the event details. There are four planning phases for a good event -- each one deserving a checklist with assigned duties.
• The event plan and budget (location, food, costs, speakers and flow)
• Invitations (the list, your invite, your follow-up plan to confirm)
• The day of the event (on-site logistics, roles of team members, any speaking points)
• Event follow-up (thank you notes, appointments and evaluating your results)