How to create a simple strategic plan for your events business

Coming from a marketing background, it is shocking to me how many businesses in the events industry operate without an annual strategic plan. In an industry where there is so much competition and high operating costs, a strategic plan can not only help you make more money but it can also help you save money in the long term. Developing an annual strategic plan does take time and is not everyone’s cup of tea! If you don’t have the time or resources to undertake developing a detailed strategy for the year, here is a list of items to consider. Write a simple sentence for each.

Sales

  • How are you tracking to budget for this financial year? How are you placed in comparison to previous years?
  • What is selling? Why?
  • What is not selling? Why?

Marketing

  • Where are your enquiries coming from? Identify what marketing items are driving strong leads. This type of analysis will clarify what you need to keep spending your budget on, what needs tweaking and what is not effective.
  • Are you using social media marketing to your advantage? Identify what social media platforms are driving leads, web traffic and reach.
  • Where does your web traffic come from?
  • What does your brand stand for? What style of language does your brand speak? Is this in line with who your customers are and where you position yourself in the market? 
  • Are you full utilising your directory listings and memberships by sending through specials, promotions and updates and ensuring that your listings are regularly updated with new content?

Customers

  • Who are your customers? Where are they coming from and what incentivising them to buy from you? 
  • Who are your top customers? You may be surprised! Keep this list up to date at all times so that you can account manage them appropriately.
  • Who are your top customers versus your top customers from previous years? Some of your clients may have decreased their spend or dropped off completely. Time to pick up the phone to find out why.

Competitors and Industry

  • Identify who your competitors are – you can do this by recording who you seem to be losing business to regularly. You need to know your competitors inside and out!
  • Where do you position yourself in the market? 
  • What trends will prevail this year and beyond? Take time to review industry trends in order to update your product/service offering as necessary.
  • Are there any political, legal or economic factors to consider? 

Resources

  • Who does what in your team?
  • What is your team’s conversion rate and/or level of lost business? If anything stands out here, you need to understand the reasons behind it (for example – a sales team member may be great on the phones but lacking in confidence to negotiate a contract, hence some budget towards training may solve this issue and increase your sales).

SWOT

  • Complete a simple SWOT analysis of your internal operation. A SWOT aims to identify your Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Example SWOT Chart

STENGTHS WEAKNESS

Capabilities
Resources, assets, people
Financial position
Innovative aspects
Processes

e.g. Great news of the Yarra River
 
Cashflow
Processes and systems
Seasonal business
No brand visibility
Management

 
OPPORTUNITIES
THREATS
Competitors vulnerabilities
Technology development
Niche target markets
Partnerships
Trends

e.g. Use launch of new venues to increase wedding sales                                           

Political, ecomonic or legal effects
Competitors
New technologies, services
Loss of key staff
Seasonal business

e.g. More clients having meetings inhousemay see a reduction in venue hire requirements
 

Price

  • How are your prices in comparison to where you are positioned in the market? 
  • What is your profit margin? What is your cost of goods sold? By answering these two questions, you can be strategically through your sales – focus your energies on the highest yield products/services.

Summary 

You should be able to take your answers to all of these questions and develop strategies to counteract any negative issues and to exploit your strengths. Putting pen to paper to identify your aims, weaknesses, what is happening in the industry and what is happening in your own sales office will ultimately aim to give you back a sense of control and the ability to be clever with your budget and your marketing. All of these pieces fit together to help you formulate your best course of action to get to max capacity this year. 

Want to get started? We've created a great template to help you put pen to paper - download it here.
 

 

Guest post by Lauren Lacava | Black & White Marketing

Lauren Lacava has over 18 years’ experience in sales, marketing and management and is the Fearless Leader of Black & White Marketing, a Melbourne-based consultancy and marketing agency that provides real advice and effective marketing solutions to help events businesses grow.