THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PLANNING A PROFITABLE LIVE EVENT

 All photography provided by  @faithdaniellephoto

All photography provided by @faithdaniellephoto

It’s the day of. You’re armed with plenty of coffee, your favorite heels that make you feel like a badass, motivation that won’t quit, and a drive to see the day through without a hitch. What am I talking about?

Oh, just your first live event. No biggie. (Really. You can do it!) 

Putting on a profitable live event might seem super intimidating, but it can actually be broken down into five steps and I have also created an easy-to-follow live event planning checklist for you! The best part: those five steps are all you need to know to get your live event up and running, and smoothly at that. 

I know you’re searching for that incredible “I fucking did it! I pulled it off!” feeling. Let’s make sure you get to relish that moment. Read on for your essentials on how to plan your first profitable live event (and then download your free live event planning checklist PDF from the free resource library to get started!).

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What Is a Live Event?

Before we dive into details, let’s first define exactly what sort of live event we’re referring to. Here’s a working live event definition for the kinds of events we’re talking about: an in-person event put on by your business to connect with your audience, demonstrate your brand’s value IRL, make some money, and create long-lasting, loyal clients.

Notice how making money is just one of the key factors in this definition. Profitable events happen because you’ve poured your heart and soul into your event for the right reasons. If you know me, I’m all about that healthy money mindset, and this is a big part of live events. Your live event will make you money if you make it valuable and juicy AF, simple as that. 

The Importance of Passion

Take Gal Getaway: The Conference, an event we worked on with our client Kahlea Nicole, for instance. It started with Kahlea merely hiring us to create a video of the event. We sat down for coffee to talk about her vision for the video. Once she opened her mouth, sheer passion and willpower came pouring out. This girl had big dreams, but small plans to back them up. 

You know I love a passion-fueled woman, so I opened my big mouth and got to talking about 150 ways she could take her first conference to the next level + SELL IT OUT. She realized she couldn’t do it alone, which leads me to the first step on your live event checklist: hiring an expert

Hire An Expert

Here’s the thing about dreamers and doers: they’re hungry. They want to do it all. They’re perfectly fine with staying up all night working on their passion project, fueled by bottomless coffee and sheer willpower. In fact, they live for that shit. I know, because I’m prone to the big dreaming, get-that-shit-done lifestyle myself. ;)

What this means, though, is that you might not be asking for help when you need it. And trust me on this one: when it comes to live events, you need it. Throwing live events is big, wild, and has high stakes, but can be so rewarding if you do it right. 

In the digital ecology we live in today, it’s so easy feel like you can do everything yourself: everything you need to know is just a Google search away, right? If you’re like a lot creative entrepreneurs, you’ve probably done your own branding, your own website, and manage your own marketing, too (which is a full-time job in itself). That shit can lead to 15 hour days that frequently end in emotional breakdowns, asking yourself why you chose this path in the first place. Sound familiar? 

Ask. For. Help. Experience is key to planning a profitable live event, and you probably don’t have enough. You need to find someone who’s been there, done that to get on your team. It’s too hard to pull it together on top of everything else in your day-to-day. Even if you could pull it off, you’re probably not maximizing your event’s potential, marketing it well enough, or making it as juicy and valuable as it should be. 

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Make a Social Media Plan

If your audience hangs out on Instagram, you know how important it is to show up there every day. Social media has taken the marketing world by storm, and it’s not going anywhere any time soon. If you’re already harnessing the power of social media for your business’ marketing, you’ll need to create a social media plan for your live event marketing, too.

Why? Because social media will drive your organic ticket sales. Simply posting about your event a few times isn’t going to cut it. You need consistent traffic leading to your sales page, ideally for about two months preceding your event. 

When it came to Gal Getaway: The Conference, implementing an Instagram marketing campaign was crucial for ticket sales. Almost 100% of tickets sold came from Instagram marketing-- that number speaks for itself, obviously. Oh, and did we mention she had her first 10k in the timeframe we were implementing her social strategy? 

That’s all from Kahlea showing up in her Instagram campaign on the daily. She even wrote an entire blog post about how to pitch to your boss the value of attending her event after her audience spoke up about not being able to take off work. This multi-level marketing plan solved her audience’s pain points, sold tickets, and brought new traffic to her site. 

In your event marketing campaign, make sure to highlight the following key points about your event:

  • How awesome the location is
  • What sort of food + drinks they’ll get to enjoy
  • The value it’ll bring to attendees’ lives
  • Swag they’ll get to take home
  • Long-term benefits of attending 
  • Why it’s worth the cost

Attending a live event is an investment for your audience, both of their time and money. They want to know whether or not it’s worth both.

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Secure Your Sponsors

You know how you pay more for a pair of Jimmy Choos than a pair of heels from a random store in the mall? Why do you think that is? Sure, it’s about quality, but let’s get real: it’s really about that red bottom. 

People pay more for well-known brands, simple as that. Your live event production is no different. Bringing in sponsors can help take your event to the next level by association. Landing sponsorships with big brands (hey, even small brands!) shows your audience that you’re not messing around with this event. 

I know what you’re thinking: how the hell do I get a brand to sponsor my event?! The reality is that it’s easier than you think. Tons of brands and corporations are actively looking for events just like yours to help them spread their brand message.

First, think about the demographic that you expect will be at that event. Which local (or national!) brand has the most to gain from one-on-one interactions with that demographic? Those are the brands you should be asking to sponsor your event. 

You should only be partnering with brands that align with your mission and vision. Don’t accept any partnership; unaligned brand collaborations are confusing for your audience, and won’t support either of your brand messaging! What brands does your ideal client love? What brands do you use on a regular basis? Start there. 

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At Gal Getaway: The Conference, First Watch, a local, healthy breakfast spot, sponsored the event for the local exposure to their restaurant (along with a whole slew of others, like Made Coffee, PDQ, and Jeni’s Ice Cream). Just like hosting the live event is organic marketing for you, so is sponsoring it for them. For regional companies, that kind of exposure is gold. Here’s how badly they want to work with you: a few of Kahlea’s sponsors were landed the week before the event was going to go down. This is where having a great team comes in handy.

Having a team member like Maria, from PR on the Gal Getaway team, helped land amazing goody bag sponsors like Bioderma, PiperWai, and Thread Wallets, which allowed us to divide and conquer. She filled the goody bags while our PR team focused on locking in the venue and food sponsors. By bringing in experts you can save yourself the fear of having to call off your event thanks to not landing enough resources. They know exactly how to navigate these conversations.

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Here’s the complete list of all the Gal Getaway: The Conference sponsors. A list like this wouldn’t have been possible without a great team + expert knowledge on how to talk to them about your event.

  • First Watch
  • PDQ
  • Made Coffee
  • Jeni’s Ice Cream
  • Ocean Hawk Rentals
  • Noah’s Event Venue
  • In Bloom Florist
  • SUJA Juice
  • NY Limerence
  • Daniel Wellington
  • Nisolo
  • Bioderma
  • Purely Elizabeth
  • Thread Wallets
  • Roaring Springs Paper Products
  • Phlur
  • Natulique
  • PiperWai
  • Photo Booth Rocks
  • Station House
  • Coola Organic Suncare
  • Our DJ RockS

The first step is to get pitchin’! 

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Focus on Value

Nothing sucks more than feeling duped. Maybe your monthly beauty box subscription contains only the lamest samples in history, or the gorgeous jute rug you ordered online for the cost of two weeks of your salary came all tattered, with the stitching already coming out on the sides. You work your ass off, and want to spend your money and time on things that are worth it

Your audience is no different. That’s why your live event needs to knock their socks off. You want your attendees to leave feeling like they got more value than they bargained for-- more, even, than the cost of their ticket.

Ask yourself these questions to figure out where you can add more value:

  • How can I make this event worth every penny?
  • What bonuses can I offer attendees?
  • What effect will my event have on attendee’s lives afterwards?
  • Will my event benefit all aspects of their lives (work, home, and play)? If not, how can I make it so?
  • How valuable are my giveaways/swag? Can I add anything to beef it up?
  • Will my event solve any of my audience’s pain points? 
  • Will my event help attendees grow? 

You want your attendees to rave to their friends and others in their industry about how much they felt they took from your event. Once you’ve figured out how to make that happen, make sure to include all these juicy details as teasers in your social media marketing campaign.

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Have Fun!

I’m going to assume you put this event together for a reason, right? What’s that reason? Don’t miss out on that in the rush of the day-of details.

Putting a live event together is hard work, and you deserve to enjoy it. Your audience also deserves to connect with you-- after all, that’s likely part of the reason they bought a ticket. Make sure you stay calm, cool, and collected day-of so you can be 100% present, not just for your sake but for your attendees, too. 

This is another *huge* benefit of hiring an expert to help you with your event. Having someone to manage daily details will free you up to actually host your event and enjoy yourself. The best event marketing experts will be there day-of to support you, so you won’t need to hire a random assistant who’s not in the know about the details of your event.

At the end of the event, take a moment of solitude to bask in that “I fucking did it! I pulled it off!” moment. Because you deserve it, girl. A moment of meditation on that will feel so glorious & reinforce your power after a long day.

Ready to Plan Your Live Event?

Now that you’ve read up on everything you need to know about planning a live event, are you ready to dive into yours?! It’s a ton of hard work, but we’re here to help. Get in touch to talk about how we can take your event from 0 to 60 in just a few weeks, like we did for Gal Getaway: The Conference! 

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To help you out, I made you a live event planning checklist PDF so you can be sure to have all your ducks in a row beforehand! Download it for free to get your event started today! 

I believe in you, girl. Get out there and get started. Your audience needs your message, and they’re itching to meet you.