The Ultimate Event Roadshow Planning Guide » Small Business Bonfire

By Tim Cook

One of the major event trends recently has been the event roadshow. This event style has become increasingly popular as a solution that has the potential to take a businesses event strategy to the next level. This is why this roadshow planning guide will be useful to you.

Planning an event means spinning numerous plates at once, but the logistical nature of event roadshows means that there are even more plates to keep an eye on. Pairing your roadshow with a holistic marketing approach can give you the edge when creating content, attracting the right consumer and delivering an ROI. However, such an approach does require a long run-up when it comes to planning and deliverables.

In this piece, I’ve put together an in-depth event roadshow planning guide, to ensure you can deliver a focused event marketing strategy.

What Is a Roadshow Event?

A roadshow event consists of a number of events, which usually take place across a whole day, in multiple locations, with the end goal of reaching a key demographic in various towns or cities. Many of these events will include speakers, panels, product demos, interactive experiences and opportunities to network.

The value of this kind of event is that it provides a unique opportunity to get in front of those you’re looking to do business with and find out more about how their experiences may differ from location to location.

Laying the Foundation

Before you even think about hitting the road, you and your team must be completely clear on the game-plan; there’s absolutely no way you can be over-prepared in this department. This is where a roadshow planning guide like this will come in handy.

During the process of using this roadshow planning guide, it’s essential to be clear on why this course of action is important and what you’re looking to achieve. Although this can be a little frustrating, everything from location research to team discussions must take place.

For example, you may be looking to take your event to four cities across the world – for argument’s sake, we’ll say London, Chicago, Berlin and Tokyo – but there must be a clear strategy and a reasonable justification for doing so.

Ask yourself:

  • Do we need to go international, could we visit four cities in one country?
  • How will these specific cities support our targets?
  • Why does our company need a roadshow event in the first place?

The more succinctly you can answer these questions, the more successful the end product will be.

Using Data to Formulate Your Strategy

What can’t speak, can’t lie, and once you arm yourself with the right data, you’ll be able to convince anyone that this step is the right one for the business.

The most common questions that will be put to you are:

  • Who is the target audience for this event?
  • How would the target audience benefit from attending the event?
  • What themes, content and topics would speak to them?
  • What locations would attract the right kind of people?
  • How does this event roadshow achieve overarching company goals?

In order to get the answers to these questions, you may wish to explore some of the following insights.

1. Investigate Historic Event Data

To find out if your key demographics are interested in what you’re offering, take a look at what has gone before. After all, as the old saying goes, ‘Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past’.

On a less philosophical level, this means you need to go back and investigate data, which you’ve collected from attendees at previous events.

This should give you a far clearer picture of the types of people that have been attending your events; giving you an insight as to which of your key demographics may be interested in what you have planned.

Your data must be able to answer the following questions:

  • Did your past event attendees correlate to your target personas?
  • Where were your attendees located?
  • What activities attracted the most attendee engagement?
  • What feedback were you given previously?

Although there are a lot of questions to ask, answering them will give you all the information you need to decide how you shape your events and where they will be located.

2. R&D

If you have the time and resource, it’s well worth taking the time to visit the locations you intend to visit to gauge interest levels.

As well as this, you’ll be able to see how your event might be executed, what local laws are in place, and how your strategy might need to differ depending on the location. Seeing something in person takes away the guesswork.

3. Set Overarching Objectives

Once you’ve justified your position that a roadshow event is the way forward, the next critical step is to define your overall objectives. Every event has a slightly different end goal, and once you define these, you can mould your entire strategy around them.

For example:

  • Are you looking to take your brand to a new territory?
  • Perhaps you’re looking to launch a brand-new product?
  • Are you looking to solidify current demographic relationships, while cultivating previously untapped markets?

Pinpoint several objectives that must be achieved and make sure that they lead everything you do.

Having said that, the goals you are setting must be achievable. You can do this, by following the S.M.A.R.T acronym, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

Having specific goals in place from the outset is just as important as your ability to achieve them.

Confirming Locations

Now that your event has been agreed and goals are in place, the next stage of this roadshow planning guide begins. Confirming your roadshow locations are just as crucial as they sound, since a good deal of strategical planning must take place to ensure your events are successful.

As we previously touched on, historic event data will have much of the information you require, when looking to select locations.

Perhaps a significant portion of your key customers resides in mainland Europe, for example, in which case you may wish to select three or four big cities across Europe to increase your chances of a successful event.

Preparing Roadshow Content

Now the foundations are in place; it’s time to flesh out the specifics. The awkward part of preparing messages and content for a roadshow is trying to create something that not only speaks to audiences within a specific area but also maintains a consistent message.

This is why it’s so important to devote as much as time as possible to this pursuit, to ensure you’re speaking to current and new customers alike, no matter where you are.

Creating Interactive Experiences

One big advantage of a roadshow over a one-off event is that it allows the team room to be more flexible in exploring interactive opportunities due to the less formal nature of a roadshow.

It’s worth bearing in mind though, that experiential campaigns are usually stand-alone events, used to bring direct value to attendees through product demonstrations and experiential set pieces. This means it’s very easy to distract your attendees from what you’re really trying to achieve if you’re relying on flashy gimmicks.

However, that’s not to say that a carefully chosen experiential marketing campaign can’t inspire an emotional connection to your brand when done appropriately.

Factoring in Promotion

Now your goals, logistics, locations, content and set pieces are all in place; it’s time to tell people about it. With a campaign like this, you’ll need to make sure you’ve crossed all your T’s and dotted all your I’s.

In other words, utilize every channel possible to let people know that you’ll be visiting a city near them.

To do this, you might consider the following methods.

1. Content Series

Use the build-up to the roadshow as an opportunity to create a buzz that gets people excited about what you’re putting out there.

This could be a series of videos, galleries, blogs or whatever is most appropriate, detailing how you planned the event, what’s going on, and any behind-the-scenes insights.

No matter what you choose to do, it’s important to remember that you’re trying to generate momentum, that not only informs, but excites too.

2. Social Channels

Leveraging your social media channels to promote your event is an important factor, and may well spell the difference between a successful event and a not-so-successful event.

You may also want to consider creating some sponsored content for maximum exposure. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram are all perfect vehicles in which to do this.

Social media’s strength lies in its shareability, so ensure that you’re creating content that is for easy to consume and share. While this may require a little extra effort on your part, it will make all the difference.

3. Localized Content

When you take your event on the road and into different countries and cities, you must ensure your message fits a particular location.

For example, if you’re travelling to a foreign country, you may wish to have your content translated or have what your speakers are saying interpreted to the local language to suit your audience.

If you’re travelling to a location that speaks the same language as you, in this case, you may wish to explore some local customs. For instance, if you’re serving food at the event, find out what some of the local dishes are.

Measuring the Success of the Event

So, you promoted your roadshow, everything went off without a hitch, and your events were well attended. But, how do you know if you have achieved all that you set out to?

Your success will depend on what your goal was from the outset; you will need to use unique metrics to measure each of these goals. For example:

  • Want to expand your brand? Look at ticket sales, social media and local press activity around the event.
  • Trying to increase revenue? Perhaps sponsorship and ticket sales may be your primary metrics.
  • If your goal was to increase buzz around a new product, look at email alert signups.

Of course, sometimes, depending on your goal, you may not have a clear picture of your success until a few months after the fact.

Takeaways

As with anything in business, it’s important to focus on the ‘why’. The why behind your event will help to determine your audience, content and measurable metrics.

Everything you need to plan and strategize your event is already in front of you, and it’s just a case of looking at the right data. Hopefully. this roadshow planning guide will get you started in he right track.

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Tim Cook is an events and marketing expert and the managing director of UK based events company versatilevenues.co.uk.

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