From Party Planner to Event Strategist
By Christy Lamagna CMM, CSM, CTSM
How do you get a seat at the executive table? Demonstrate your value as an event strategist with these five steps
Recently at a networking event, the topic of what I do for a living came up. In between bites of soggy cracker, I replied, ”I’m an event strategist. I help companies all over the world achieve their goals by creating experiences for their target audience.”
My new acquaintance looked puzzled for a moment. Then his face lit up. “Oh, cool.” he said.”You’re a party planner!”
He went on tell me that my job was “the greatest as I get to “travel the world, see fantastic places and go to parties for a living.”
My challenge is twofold. First, as anyone in this industry knows, we rarely eat while at events; often the only sights we see are airports and ballrooms; and as anyone who has stayed up until 4 a.m. solving a crisis, only to be at the team meeting at 5 a.m. will tell you, this is not a field for glamour-seekers.
My second challenge, and a problem we face as an industry, is the pervasive misconception of what we do for a living and the value we bring our clients, be it as independents or full-time employees.
Consider this: Events are a three dimensional embodiment of a company’s marketing message. When produced correctly, they are experiences -experiences that affect a person and remain with them. For example, think of the happiest day of your life. Think about what you were wearing, who you were with, where you were, what the day sounded like and how you felt in that moment.
Now think of your 8th birthday.
Can you? It’s fair to say you were at both, but most likely, only one comes readily to mind. That’s because the happiest day of your life was an experience. Your 8th birthday was an event.
A planner who is committed to creating experiences and understands that events can bring a company’s marketing message to life is someone who deserves a seat at the table.
So how do you get there? Show your company or clients how much unharnessed potential lies within the events department. Here’s how to earn that seat as an event strategist.
- Always start with the end in mind. What are the event’s goals? Are they SMART- Strategic, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely?
- Once the goal is understood, make sure everything you do brings you closer to achieving it -and I mean everything. For instance, if the event’s goal is to build camaraderie among members of an organization, plan for some of your meals to be buffets, which encourage socializing, or bring in a chocolate fountain so folks are in a relaxed setting, having fun, sharing an experience and more likely to start a conversation.
- Team up with other departments in your organization. Do you know the head of procurement? How about corporate travel? Connect with the people who can help champion your cause and align with them to further theirs. Find out who your company’s largest suppliers are and see if there are ways to leverage your corporate spend against what you need for your event.For example, does your company cafeteria’s foodservice vendor serve the venue you’re using and could it offer a discount? Which hotels does your corporate travel team use to put your sales team up at when they’re on sales calls? Next time you choose a location, target that hotel chain and leverage the corporate spend against your event to negotiate discounts.
- Write it all down. Document strategic decisions you’ve made and cost savings you’ve captured, and provide a post-event report to key players in your organization, including the friends you’ve made in procurement, travel, marketing, etc. Also include metrics on data you have collected on the event meeting, its goals and its ROI.
- Market your success. Once it is understood that you are a vehicle to furthering the company’s goals, that you are leveraging spend and returning dollars to the budget, congratulate yourself. You are no longer a party planner; you’re a valued member of the team.
So the next time someone asks if you’re a party planner, take a moment to explain the value you bring to your organization as an event strategist. We’ll all be better for it.
Tags: From Party Planner to Event Strategist, Event Strategist, Strategic Planner, Strategic Planners, Strategic Events, Event Planning, Corporate Meetings, Corporate Events, Strategic Events, Event Solutions, Event Strategist