When preparing for a new marketing event such as a sales pitch, convention, seminar, trade show or demonstration, it is always a good idea to pause about three-quarters of the way through (when you still have time to make significant changes) and reevaluate your ideas. You’ve already brainstormed once, when you chose to attend your event and began planning your marketing strategies. However, once you’ve begun plotting your presentation and ordering materials, it’s important to take a step back and ensure that you’re staying on target to meet goals along the way. The worst thing you can possibly do is invest your time, effort and money in an event, only to find out on the last day that you’ve managed to lose sight of your entire marketing agenda.
When building a plan of attack over the course of several weeks or months, it’s easy to exhaust your perspective. As you progress, the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of your initial concept might be compromised, edited or even discarded. In fact, you may even lose your most valuable strategizing tool: objectivity. Suddenly, ideas that would have seemed laughable last month have found their way into your opening lines!
The way to avoid this potential catastrophe is to workshop your event. This means gathering together a group of team members who have been tasked with preparing for your event in addition to those who will be staffing it. Then, you’ll also want to invite outsiders who have nothing to do with your project. Respected industry professionals may offer valid insight, as may organizers or fellow participants of the event you’re planning to attend. Acting as a comprehensive survey group, these contributors should all take part in assessing your current status as well as your ultimate plans. You’ll want to show ideas or samples of your displays, giveaways and other promotional materials.
One good way to test your strategy is to compose a blind presentation; this is also a good time for staffers to practice speaking. Afterward, you should interview your workshop attendees to see what they would guess for your key messaging, intended outcome and prospective audience. If these assessments aren’t matching up with your goals, you’ll want to discuss how changes can be made to better present your business. Transparency is vital when attending an event for the first time; now is not your window to be clever or coy about what you have to offer.
Once everyone is on the same page, now is the time to invite your workshop to assess the outstanding weaknesses in your event presentation. That’s right; as hard as it may be to shoulder, now is the time to hear all of your potential vulnerabilities from a myriad of critics. The harder they are on you, the better. No matter what they say, it will be easier to suffer brutal honesty at this stage than to wait until you’re up in front of a panel or crowd, with your business on the line.
Don’t be scared of your workshop outcomes. Remember: everything at this point is constructive. There’s still time to tweak your presentation and discover new solutions. You’re not expected to start all over again, but conducting a workshop will give you the fresh perspective and honest analysis you need to succeed at your upcoming event.