When you plan your marketing strategy, you may find that an event (or major campaign) is a valuable feature.  This could be a fundraiser, a launch, a networking event, an appreciation event, a contest.  There are many possible formats, and there is no limit to the creativity and the payoff you can get with a complex marketing project like an event.  However, to get to that payoff, it is going to be a LOT of work.  Let’s talk about why it is important to pace yourself – and a few things you can look out for to help you pace yourself.

With marketing, the biggest reward comes from the most layered approach. This means that an event could be the best thing that you’ve ever done to get your brand out there.  However, with the complexity comes a harsh reality:  Events take a lot of time.

With marketing, the biggest reward comes from the most layered approach. #events #eventprofs #marketing #business #smallbusiness Click To Tweet

The more you put into your event, the more you will get back.  The more outreach you do beforehand, the more allies you find for cross promotion, the more nuance you add to the programming, the more impact you stand to create.  I’d also like to point out that the more post-event follow up you do, the further reaching your impact will be.  Read all about this here!

So many people go into planning an event because they believe it would be a great idea for their business without understanding what they are getting themselves into.  Of course, events be expensive if you aren’t careful in mapping out your budget. Also, events have a scope creep and a demand on your time that you might not predict if you are new to events.  Let’s unmask that now so you know what to expect.

Events have a scope creep and a demand on your time that you might not predict. #events #business #eventprofs #marketing #smallbusiness Click To Tweet

The deceptive part about events is that the strain on your time is not something you feel until the later stages.  The further out you start your planning, the better organized and more effective you can be.  You might start just a few months out for a small event for your team, 6-12 months out for a bigger community event or fundraiser, or many years out for a huge event like an Olympic Games.

You will find that those first months of planning start at a slow pace.  You are planning at a high level.  Your deadlines are spaced out.  There isn’t much urgency to your decisions.  You aren’t getting a lot of outreach about your event, because there are very few people thinking about it.  You’re thinking big picture, big detail, big concept.

At some point, you will start to feel a shift.  The workload will begin to increase, although it will still be manageable.  You will have to make more decisions, and they will be more detailed.  You will see the bigger tasks split into more specific action items, and you will get a clear sense of more of the deadlines ahead.

And then it hits.  The final stages of pre-planning.  Depending on the size of your event, this could be the last few weeks, the last couple months, but you will know when you are there.  You will have deadlines every day, sometimes multiple deadlines each day.  The scope of your daily to do list creeps to a point that seems unmanageable.  Other people start to pay attention to your event and ping you with emails and phone calls, some of which don’t feel as urgent as the deadlines you have in front of you.

No matter how well organized you are, this ramp up of pace happens.  You can make it easier to deal with, but it isn’t entirely avoidable, because there are many time sensitive details that can’t be done until closer to the event.

Coupled with the urgency of the planning, you will likely also start to feel that stress in your body and mind at this stage.  It becomes harder to spend time taking care of yourself, because you don’t have much spare time to give.  You will work longer hours.  You will be forced to make quicker decisions.  Operating under stress could reveal an aspect of your personality that you didn’t know was there.  It could be an aspect that makes you either more focused and clear-headed or far less productive!

The event itself isn’t the final stage.  The final stage is the post-event wrap up and follow up!  After all of this, it is the post-event outreach and marketing that potentially has the biggest impact for us.  However, you have to have the energy reserves to draw from when your adrenaline level crashes so you can do the incredibly important work that can result in the best payoffs for your brand.

Why do I outline all this?  Why is it all so bleak?  I say this because event marketing and major campaigns are something that a lot of people go into blindly and a bit too flippantly.  Events can be part of the greatest, most successful marketing strategy for your business, but only if you go in knowing what to expect and how to prepare for those later stages.  Being aware of the way the time commitment expands allows you to be ready and to take care of yourself while you take care of business.

So, what are some simple things you can do to pace yourself?

First, create a schedule for the planning.  This is the first task I do for any big event or campaign.  Work backwards from the date of your event and start by plotting out the hard deadlines you need to hit for any major elements of your planning.  Then take them one element at a time and figure out the lead-up deadlines you need to set between now and then to stay on track.  Checking in with this frequently will help fight overwhelm, because you already know what it is you need to do.

Second, enlist extra support in the later stages when your time will be crunched.  And PLAN FOR THE TRAINING YOU NEED TO DO to onboard those people.  Don’t forget about that part, because it will take time at a point when you don’t think you have time to give.  Thinking about getting volunteers to assist?  Read this tip!

Third, assume that you are going to take short cuts in your self-care, sleep, eating habits, social calendar as the event nears.  The short cuts will happen somewhere, and it’s up to you to guess where and find ways to simplify.  Plan simple ways to take care of yourself as a component of your event planning. Freeze extra meals that can be heated up so you don’t have to cook or get healthy snacks.  Ask for support with babysitting or rides for your kids.  Plan a time to meditate or go for a walk to give yourself a quick break.  Stretch before you go to bed to shake off the thoughts of the event that will be hard to quiet.  Get creative and find ways to maintain your health in the areas that you think you might let go.

Plan simple ways to take care of yourself as a component of your event planning. #events #eventprofs #business #smallbusiness Click To Tweet

It is far too easy to burn out as we get closer to events and crash after the event concludes, and the more you know how to plan for this, the better off you will be!  Pacing yourself can go a long way not only for a productive event, but for your health!

Not sure where to start?  Not sure what is ahead?  If you have an event coming up, check out my Components of a Successful Fundraising Event checklist, which is a useful starting point for events both fundraiser and otherwise!