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The event planning basics: What makes for a memorable event

3 min read
Oct 17, 2022

There’s a lot that goes into planning an event. It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting a small gathering or a major conference with hundreds of vendors — events aren’t easy!

Between figuring out logistics and advertising, there’s a lot that needs to get done before your guests arrive at the venue. The planning process requires several components that must be completed before event day rolls around. 

Every event (be it in-person or remote) has its own unique audience, goals, and budget. However, there are a few components that nearly every event needs. To make the process as stress-free as possible, consider how you’ll maximize your event’s success. Here are three components any memorable in-person or virtual event needs:

  1. A great guest experience
  2. Effective branding
  3. Event merchandise

1. A great guest experience

It doesn’t matter if you’re hosting an auction, a walk-a-thon, or another event. Your attendees are paying to support your organization, and they deserve to have a great time while doing so. Your event team needs to put themselves in your guests’ shoes and think about what they’d expect from your event.

A few elements that play into your guest experience include:

  • The right entertainment. Are you hosting a conference that needs a speaker lineup? Or a festival that needs some talented musicians? Your entertainment sets the atmosphere and should reflect the purpose of your event.
  • Catering that fits the atmosphere you’re going for. What kind of food and refreshments do you need? Your annual gala needs upscale refreshments, while a fundraising race might only need snacks.
  • An enthusiastic staff. Volunteers will be the face of your event. They’ll interact with guests every step of the way, from checking them in to answering any questions they have, so make sure they are just as excited as you!

Events are a reliable fundraising initiative, especially if you take steps to ensure your guests are enjoying their time. Maybe you’ll even inspire people to stick around and form lasting relationships with your organization.

2. Effective branding

Your event branding is what will ultimately stick with guests after the event is over. Your branding should communicate what’s so unique about your event. While it can incorporate elements of your organization’s brand, you should make sure that it is altogether unique to the actual experience.

Strong event branding helps to meet the rising expectations that supporters have. They interact with your event’s branding starting with the very first event invite all the way to the event itself and then in post-event follow-up afterward.

There are plenty of elements that play into your brand. InitLive’s event branding guide dives into several factors that make up your event’s DNA, including the:

  • Logo
  • Slogan
  • Colors
  • Graphics
  • Fonts

You should take these elements and infuse them into all event materials, including your marketing, signage, and merchandise. Once you solidify your branding strategy, stick to it. Cohesive event branding across all channels can boost revenue and result in a much more memorable experience for guests.

3. Event merchandise

How will your guests be reminded of the great time they had thanks to your organization? With event merchandise, of course!

Branded merchandise is a great investment for your events. You can promote your event, strengthen your brand identity, unify your supporters, and raise extra money for your cause.

T-shirts, hats, mugs, and water bottles are all great memorabilia for your guests. When supporters use them out in public, it’s an endorsement for your cause and communicates to others that they care about your work. 

For your merchandise to be a hit, you need to create something that attendees will actually want to buy. Here are a few keys to keep in mind as you get started:

  • Remember that you’re not designing for yourself. Look at what’s historically sold well or ask supporters what they’d like to see. If you’re selling apparel, you should know how they like to dress and what they value about your organization. Choose the colors, styles, and designs that reflect that.
  • Infuse your event branding. The purpose of your merchandise is to remind people of your event after it’s over. Incorporate any elements that represent the event, like its name, colors, and relevant imagery.
  • Consider how you’ll sell your merchandise. Creating and selling custom merchandise for an event takes some careful coordination. You could have everyone place their orders ahead of time, then set up a booth where people can pick theirs up. You might even have an extra batch for last-minute buyers. Alternatively, everyone could place their orders at the event, then receive them later.

When you create merchandise that captures your cause and the event itself, you can even use it in your marketing. Post high-quality pictures of someone holding or using the merchandise, kickstarting sales and boosting excitement for your event.

Before your event date gets too close, think about how you’ll provide the best guest experience, develop a memorable brand, and create merchandise that supporters buy to commemorate the great time they had. You’ll leave supporters excited to attend your next big event!

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