Companies spend a great deal of time clarifying their customer value propositions to ensure their product offers clear benefits that match a consumer need.
The equivalent for event planners is the event value proposition. It puts you in the shoes of your attendees so that you can design the event to their wants, interests, and needs. Whether you’re organizing corporate events, international conferences, or fundraising galas, a clear event value proposition is essential to successful events.
Follow these 5 steps to build an event value proposition that boosts your event’s drawing power, enhances your attendee experience, and improves your event ROI.
Learn the Event Value Proposition Essentials
Step 1: Boil down your event goals and objectives
The first step focuses on the needs of the company, organization, or individuals throwing the event. Your event goals and objectives will serve as guidelines for successful events—signposts that keep you on track.
People often have a general idea of their event goals. Guests chatting happily, attendees leaving more knowledgeable than they arrived, glowing articles about launched products.
But it’s helpful to get hyper-specific with your goals. Here are some examples of events with clear goals and objectives:
- Art studio crawl – Introduce artists to the local community and raise money for an artists’ collective.
- CEO employee wellness conference – Ideas for improved employee wellness initiatives and a date set to reconvene in six months.
- Historical Society fundraiser – Raise $200,000 and get 200 new sustaining donors.
- Barn wedding – A joyful, laid-back vibe.
- Complementary medicine conference – Knowledge sharing and the creation of a LinkedIn networking group for attendees.
- Music festival closing-night party – VIP treatment for performers, and a social media engagement boost to drum up buzz for next year’s festival.
- Global sales team meeting – Introduce sales team to new product offerings and team building.
With your event goals in mind, you can begin working on your event value proposition.
Step 2: Craft event attendee profiles
This is another tactic borrowed from the business world, where companies spend time and resources identifying customer profiles. You need to understand who your guests and attendees are to build an event they’ll benefit from and enjoy.
Some events will have one ‘typical’ guest profile; others will have multiple guest profiles to keep in mind. For some events, the audience for the event will be self-evident; for others, you’ll have to work with your clients to identify the exact audience.
Let’s take a look at possible attendee profiles for the above examples:
Art studio crawl – The target audience will depend on the location of the studios and whether it’s a ticketed or open-door event. A ticketed event in Brooklyn, NY might have an audience of hedge fund managers looking to invest in original artwork. In a hip neighborhood of a mid-sized mid-western city, the audience might be suburban parents looking for a unique outing.
CEO insight conference – Business leaders eager to think outside of the box. To bring more innovation to the table, prioritize diversity among invited executives.
Historical Society fundraiser – Possible target guests include wealthy community members, suburban families, and regional educators.
Barn wedding – Of course, guests for this event are the family and friends of the happy couple. But it’s helpful to break down guest profiles further for food and beverage offerings, music suggestions, and event decor. Are members of the grooms extended family flying in from India? You may require specialty catering. Are kids attending? You may suggest a children’s activity corner to keep the pint-sized crowd happy.
Complementary medicine conference – Doctors, nurses, and researchers of complementary medicine, as well as hospital administrators with experience managing the specialty.
Music festival closing-night party – Local or worldwide fans of the festival’s style of music (Country, R&B, Folk, Rap, etc.) and the performers on the lineup.
Global sales team meeting – Sales team members and sales managers.
Step 3: Understand the expectations and motivations of your attendees
Once you know who the event is targeting, the next step is to determine what motivates and inspires them. What will get music festival-goers excited for the closing-night party? What will draw your target audience to your studio crawl? How can you get forward-thinking CEOs to RSVP “yes” to your innovation conference?
For the wedding and the global sales team examples, the focus is slightly different because the motivation is social or business-based. In the case of the wedding, research what will help ALL the guests have a blast during the event. (Ask the happy couple about the age range and temperaments of their guests.) For the sales meeting, the goal is learning what will raise engagement levels among attendees. (Speak with a sales manager about activities and seminars they’ve responded to in the past.)
Examples of guest and attendee motivations and expectations:
Art studio crawl – For the hedge fund managers who want to invest in artwork, chances are they are interested in purchasing new art, or at least learning about up and coming artists. They may or may not have knowledge of the art world, but they’ll expect a high-touch experience because of the possibility they’ll spend big. Another probable expectation is one-on-one conversations with the artists.
For the midwestern studio crawl, attendee motivations are a fun evening that’s different from the usual dinner and a movie. They may be inspired to buy artwork during the event, but they also may simply enjoy the wine and cheese offered at each studio.
CEO employee wellness conference – These executives are motivated by a sincere interest in employee wellness innovations. They’ll expect to learn from workplace wellness experts in the industry and to brainstorm ideas in an engaging environment. Getting down to business and making headway is vital with this crowd.
Historical Society fundraiser – Guests (and potential donors) from community leaders to parents with young kids are motivated to support an exciting organization that benefits the area. For the event itself, the motivation for parents may be getting their kids away from their iPads for an afternoon. So, they’ll appreciate activities and crafts inspired by history.
The motivation for community leaders could be curiosity and interest in learning something new. If they donated a specific amount during event sign-up, it might be the installation of a plaque in their honor during the event. Educators may be exploring a possible field trip, or local history to bring back to the classroom.
Barn wedding – Love for the couple typically motivates guests of a wedding, along with the expectation that they’ll have a blast. Special attention should be paid to those guests who may have unique concerns. Give older guests the opportunity to cut a rug to a classic song or two. Refrain from grouping single guests at the same table in the hopes of sparking romance. Make it an introvert-friendly event by sending appetizer trays to the lounge area, where the introverted guests may convene.
Complementary medicine conference – Medical professionals are motivated by knowledge-building and networking. They may expect presentations on the latest research, or working sessions tackling the problem of misinformation about alternative therapies.
Music festival after-party – Festival-goers will be motivated to attend the after-party if it extends the fun. They may expect VIP attendance and a performance from a headliner.
Global sales team meeting – For this meeting, the motivation for attendees is getting to know their products more deeply so they can sell effectively. They may also be motivated to build relationships with other team members. Some attendees may expect to be bored. Knowing this may inspire you to surprise them with fun ice-breaker activities and a banquet with an acoustic band at the end of a long day of seminars.
Step 4: Write down your event value proposition
Describe in a sentence or two what attendees and clients can expect from the event.
Here are some guidelines for writing event value propositions:
- Use simple, descriptive language
- Focus on the event’s benefit for the attendees
- Use action verbs
Below is a possible event value proposition for each of our examples:
Art studio crawl – An evening of fine art, interesting people, and exceptional cuisine where guests discuss original works with the artists. Guests enjoy an insider’s perspective on the artists, their inspiration, and their craft.
CEO employee wellness conference – Business leaders learn, listen, and brainstorm to move the conversation of employee wellness beyond gym memberships. Executives challenge long-standing ideas and inspire each other to push the envelope.
Historical Society fundraiser – Guests learn surprising facts about their community and the Historical Society while enjoying an exclusive preview of a new exhibit. Connections with the Historical Society deepen with a behind-the-scenes tour and conversation with the director and docents.
Barn wedding – Lori and Hunter, along with their guests, have a foot-stomping good time at a wedding that treats every attendee like a VIP.
Complementary medicine conference – Attendees learn about the latest exciting research in complementary medicine from professional peers, and develop the skills to become effective ambassadors for alternative therapies.
Music festival after-party – VIP guests dance the weekend to a close in high style with an exclusive party featuring performers from the festival and luxe swag.
Global sales team meeting – Sales team members learn about a new product so they can describe it with authority to potential customers and improve sales outcomes. They’ll have the opportunity to use or view the product and ask questions in an engaging, low-pressure environment.
Step 5: Share the event value proposition
Combine the event value proposition with a striking image that captures the goal of the meeting, gala, or conference. Send the EVP in an email to your clients and your planning team. Print it out and keep it near your desk, or as the wallpaper on your iPad during site visits with the client.
The point is to keep the event value proposition top of mind as you make decisions about the venue, service providers, and entertainment. A shared understanding of the value proposition will ensure these choices align with the primary goals of the event.
For example, the EVP for the meeting of CEOs will highlight the importance of a morning meet and greet. The chance to get to know each other will foster camaraderie and improved brainstorming sessions later.
For the global sales team meeting, the EVP suggests the importance of slowing things down so attendees can better absorb important information. You might suggest team members arrive the night before scheduled learning sessions to enjoy a laid-back dinner catered by a local eatery.
When you get fast at creating EVPs, you can also include them as part of your client pitches. Send an event value proposition along with a sample event floor plan rendered in 3D to demonstrate your understanding of their event goals. Then when you’re hired—you’ll already be ahead of the planning curve.