Planning a SMART Event to Get Better Results

Evan Sullivan
July 10, 2023
Planning a SMART Event to Get Better Results

If a party without cake is just a meeting then an event without goals is just a waste of money. 

Using events to grow your pipeline and network can be a lot of fun, but one common mistake is not setting goals and measuring results for your events. Many people think deciding on the TYPE of an event to host (cocktail party, appreciation party, panel luncheon) also defines their goals for the event. There is more to it than that – but what? And how?   

You can start mapping out what needs to happen for the event to succeed. Goals are not new, but when planning an event, they are overlooked and overshone by the glitz and excitement of event planning. In business and marketing, SMART goals keep your team and business organized, but did you know that you can also apply SMART goals to event planning? 

SMART goals are:

S - Specific 

M - Measurable

A - Attainable

R - Relevant

T - Time-bound

When setting goals and objectives for your event, ask yourself what is the event's purpose and what you hope to achieve? What would be a good return on the effort and expense you are about to undergo? What will attract people to the event and set you apart? 

Whenever planning an event you have to make decisions on identifying key attendees, setting a budget, determining the event format and timeline, crafting an agenda, and inviting speakers or special guests. With your goals defined, the answers to hundreds of these questions fall into place and stay connected to the main purpose. 

SMART goals also help you stick with your timeline, understand what still needs to happen, and enable you to intentionally plant tools to help you track and measure success as you are planning. With "measurable” and “time-bound" being the M and the T, these concepts are constantly top of mind. And sticking close to your goals will help you make choices that affect your budget. Does spending extra on a DJ or swag really help you accomplish your goal? Can you afford it? What will be the return? 

Here is an example: You want to throw a networking event. Here are the questions to ask to build your goals. 

S - Specific: What are you trying to accomplish?

M - Measurable: Are you keeping track of headcount or leads?

A - Attainable: How many people do you need to invite to make that attainable?

R - Relevant: Do you have the right network? Who else do you need to bring in?

T - Time-bound: How much time do you need to accomplish this?

Now your event looks very different from “I want to host a networking program.”

Your final SMART goal would look like this:

I want to expand my client base through hosting a networking reception where I can interact with 100 attendees, generate 10 new business leads, and have 3-5 new prospects in my pipeline by the end of Q3 sales. 

Evaluating your success

Clearly defined goals and objectives are helpful when evaluating your event's success. You can measure how well you achieved your goal by looking at things like attendance, ticket sales, and customer feedback. Knowing what to measure helps you determine if the event was successful and how to improve future events.

Setting SMART goals provides a focus for the planning process, helps measure success, and unifies everyone involved in the event. If you need help with the process, reach out and we can discuss how to LVL-Up your events.

Evan Sullivan
LVL-Up Strategies