10 Actionable Tips For Following Up After Your Event
Chapter Five: How To Follow Up After An Event
This is it - the “final” stage of our event management cycle. (The quotation marks are there because the cycle is never quite finished. You’ll soon be planning your next event, right?).
- Planning the event: From idea to action plan.
- Organising the event: From action plan to execution.
- Promoting the event: Spreading the word and selling tickets.
- Hosting the event: Making sure things run smoothly on the day.
- After the event: Thank yous and follow ups.
We’ve learned a lot over the course of the past four chapters. You should now have an idea about how to plan an event, how to organise it, how to promote the event, and what to do on the day of the event.
Now let’s conclude with what you can do after the doors have closed and the last guest has left.
The art of the follow-up
So your event was a smashing success. All that careful preparation, creative promotion, and your professionalism during the event itself have paid off. Your guests left with smiles on their faces and your performers had a blast. Go you!
But just because the event is over, doesn’t mean there’s nothing left for you to do. This is the perfect opportunity to follow up with everyone involved to thank them, get their feedback, and maybe even gather visual material to help promote your next event.
10 things you can do right now
Let’s have a look at how you can follow up after your event is finished.
1. Thank everyone involved
Remember: Your event wouldn’t amount to much if it wasn’t for the people behind making it happen and---of course---all the guests who bought tickets and showed up. Your first order of business is to reach out and thank them all.
Let’s start with the guests. Understandably, you won’t be contacting each of them individually. But that’s no excuse. Your best bet is to make a “Thank you for attending” post on the social media channels you’ve used for your event.
You can also consider sending out an email. If you do that, see if you can bundle it together with other useful info; ---perhaps an announcement of upcoming events or a link to a photo / video gallery of the event. (We’ll get to that in a moment.) You don’t want to be spamming your attendees with too many separate emails, do you?
Then come your speakers and performers. If you think it’s manageable, you should always strive to send out an individual “Thank you” card for a bit of a personal touch. Sure, it takes more effort than sending out a generic email, but a physical thank you card will leave a more memorable impression. People like being appreciated.
The same goes for your sponsors and vendors, especially if the latter have done a phenomenal job. You’re very likely to require their services again in the future, so taking the time to send them a personal thanks goes a long way toward building a long-lasting relationship.
As for your core team and volunteers---well---we’d say nothing short of an in-person thanks will do. These people have likely been involved from the very early stages and have gone through all the roadblocks, stress, and frustrations along the way.
In fact, in addition to simply thanking them, you might want to...
2. Have a post-event review
Sit down with your team for a debrief session where you discuss how the event went. Consider inviting at least some of the volunteers. First, these volunteers are bound to have valuable input. Second, you’ll likely want to ask them for help in the future.
The main purpose of this meeting is to talk about how things went and what could be improved. Your three main goals are to:
- Evaluate whether the event was a success according to whatever goals you’ve set.
- Have an open discussion about what worked well and what could be done better the next time around. If things worked - why did they work and what made them a success? If something failed - what was the main reason behind that and how can it be fixed? What would you have done differently if you had the chance?
- Leave everyone full of ideas and pumped for your next event.
Even if you’re not happy with how your event went, this review meeting can give you and your team renewed energy and a lot of new ideas to test out in the future.
3. Ask for feedback
While the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind, get their feedback about it. This will give you a treasure trove of information about what worked and how you can plan even better events.
Even if you don’t intend to organise similar events in the near future, knowing exactly what your guests and participants think will let you better evaluate whether it succeeded. (In fact, customer satisfaction may well be one of your explicitly stated goals.)
Don’t be afraid of asking, by the way. Most attendees will be more than thrilled give their feedback and input. After all, they’d like to attend better events, so why not help you improve the ones you organise?
One of the most straightforward ways to collect input is to send out an email link to a survey that people can fill out online. There are tons of free, handy tools that let you create online surveys. Pick the one you like. If you can, add an incentive (free tickets to your next events, chance to win a gift card, and the like.).
Having everyone fill out the same survey makes it easy to compare their input and spot trends and areas that need improvement. Your questions can include a rating of different aspects of the event, so you can even quantify these. (See the “Want more?” links at the bottom of this article.)
You may also consider getting feedback from your sponsors and speakers in a similar manner, especially if they’re likely to be a part of your future events.
While a formalised survey may be the best way to structure feedback, there’s always room for getting some “soft” feedback in a more informal manner.
Speaking of which...
4. Follow up on social media
Online chatter about your event won’t immediately quiet down after the event is over. People will be discussing the event and sharing their impressions for days to come. If you’ve encouraged people to ask questions and participate using your hashtags during the event, take some time to check the hashtag and discover what’s being discussed and shared.
Follow the conversation and jump in where it make sense to chip in with your input, thank the guests, or answer questions. If you have a social media competition going, make sure to pick winners and distribute prizes as promised. If you notice some especially positive feedback, reach out to these guests to request a more formal testimonial or endorsement. These could be a great marketing tool for future events, as they come from real people who’ve experienced the event for themselves.
Engaging in post-event social media chatter and keeping the buzz going will also help you build audience for your next event. Not to mention that it could be an invaluable source of marketing material - real-life photos, videos, and even catchy phrases that people use to describe your event.
And this brings us to...
5. Collect marketing & media material
There’s bound to be a whole lot of visual material related to your event floating around the web. First off, you may have had official photographers and videographers capturing the event. Second, you may have had competitions or photo booths that encouraged people to snap pictures. Finally, there are of course the many selfies and other pictures attendees have taken on their own.
Put all of these together into a common gallery, so you have a pool of material to pick from for all your marketing needs. Share the most flattering photos and videos on your social media profiles and official event websites or pages. (Make sure that you ask people for permission to use their materials, unless you’re using the ones made by official photographers.)
Attendees tend to enjoy finding themselves in the pictures and videos, so it’s a great way to generate more buzz.
In the case of conferences and events that rely on speakers and presentations, you may want to distribute the speakers’ slides using sites like SlideShare.
Once you have all material in a single place, it may be time to...
6. Create a highlight reel
Having a ton of material is only the first step. To turn it into an effective marketing tool, you’ll want to sift through the raw footage to pick out the best photos, videos, and other highlights of the event.
Mind you, there’s rarely a need to do this on your own. The same professional videographer may be able to edit their own footage into a post-event montage. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to spend a week or so after the event going through everything you’ve collected and putting together a highlight reel that showcases the event’s best moments.
Your volunteers can also curate the photo and video content during the event itself and sort it into categories based on “highlight reel” potential. This should speed up the post-event process of finding the best parts to use.
While it takes time and skill to turn a mishmash of photos and videos into a coherent piece that captures the event’s highlights, it’ll prove invaluable in promoting future events.
7. Arrange an after-party
An after-party is a great way to help your team, volunteers, and other service providers feel appreciated and celebrate the conclusion of a successful event.
“Wait. You want me to plan another event after I’d just wrapped one up?”
We hear you. But note that an after-party doesn’t require anywhere near the same amount of effort and advance planning. You can invite people to a restaurant, book a party venue, or buy a preset package with activities, food, and drinks included. The after-party event is someone else’s headache, not yours.
If it makes sense and you’re feeling up to it, you can even consider extending the invitation to your event attendees and inviting them to a post-event meetup in a public space, like a park. Here, they can hang out and network. An after-party doesn’t have to a be a “party” in the strictest sense of the word.
An after-party is yet another opportunity to strengthen your brand, network, and nurture your relationships with those who might be helping you in the future.
8. Close the books
Granted, this isn’t the most thrilling part of organising events. It’s not very fun to deal with payments, receipts, and numbers in your budget. But it has to be done, right?
So unless you’ve got a person taking care of finances and settling accounts, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take care of closing the books. This will include:
- Tallying up income from ticket proceeds, food & drink vouchers, merchandise sales, and so on.
- Paying your vendors, speakers, performers, and other service providers of e.g. tech equipment.
- Comparing your final revenue and costs to those in your initial budget.
- Sharing the financial figures with your sponsors and other stakeholders (if any).
Once you’ve balanced the books, you’ll finally be able to tell whether you turned a profit or broke even on your investment of money and time. Even if your event wasn’t about making money, it’s great to have the full picture of your profit or loss.
Having this overview lets you pinpoint what went well and what needs adjusting. Did you spend too much on food? Can you afford to buy better audio equipment for your future events? Will you need more sponsors if you’re to make your events profitable?
By answering these types of questions, you’ll be better prepared when putting together the budget for your next event.
9. Adjust your “ideal guest” profile
Hey, remember that “Ideal guest” persona you’ve put together when you were planning your event? Back then, it probably involved a degree of guesswork on your part.
Guess what? You now know a lot more about who’s actually showing up to your events.
You’ve seen and maybe met many of your guests. You know whether they’re mostly men or women, young or elderly, and so on. In addition to that, your feedback survey may have included some explicit demographic questions.
In addition to that, if you’ve been good about collecting feedback during and after your event, you have a wealth of information about your guests’ interests, their likes and dislikes, and expectations for future events.
With all of that information at your fingertips, you can now make a much more accurate “ideal guest” profile and reap the benefits of a more targeted marketing strategy when planning your next event.
And about that...
10. Start planning your next event
You have now come full circle in the event management cycle.
Hopefully, the experience left you with new insights, better understanding of what works, more knowledge about your attendees, and great ideas about what to do next.
Start putting all of that to good use and begin jotting down ideas for your next fantastic event. You can fix what was broken, do more of what worked well, finetune your promotional efforts, and try out new things.
Send out a teaser to your past attendees to hint at the future event. This will help you gauge the mood and test your new marketing messages.
It’s time to do it all over again. And isn’t that what makes events so exciting?
- More tips on what to do after the event is over: “5 Tips for Harnessing the Post-Event Hype”
- On event goals and measuring these: “How to measure event success.”
- For what to ask on your feedback survey: “5 Questions to Include in Your Post-Event Survey”
- On demographic questions: “Asking Demographic Questions in Post-Event Surveys”
- Using your guest list to announce future events: “5 Ways to Use Your Existing Guest List”
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