7 mistakes that successful companies avoid when they use events to growth hack

When a company decides that they want to use events as a strategy to increase their user engagement, they usually jump head first into thinking about the silo aspects of an event planning; cost, date, venue, attracting attendees, and food.

While enthusiasm for creating an event can be infectious, this isolated approach to events can lead to many pitfalls that can lead to the failure of the event even before it has had a chance to see the light of day.

Successfully planning and executing events can be a powerful growth tool since it provides real time opportunities to actually see, hear, and interact with your community.

So if you are exploring using events to growth hack, here are 7 pitfalls you have to avoid:

Proceeding without purpose

Great, you want to organize an event! But what is your purpose for wanting to do this? Do you have a clear understanding of where your event as a product fits in the business development cycle for your company?

These are questions you have to find answers to before proceeding with the planning of the event itself. Becoming focused on the cost of event If you spend too much time in the beginning wondering about the cost of production or the nitty-gritty details of event planning, instead of working out your strategic plan – take a step back- and go back to the start. Get back to the first step of letting your business strategy drive decisions. Doing events is not just about the dollar amount. Once you have settled on your strategic direction, then go ahead with your critical cost benefit analysis of the event.

Taking too long to plan & execute

The general rule of thumb is not to have an event planned more than 12 weeks beforehand. Of course, this can vary depending on how large or small your event is, and the type of event you intend to host. Planning too far in advance has two main drawbacks: (1) your event may not fit the business strategy by the time it’s closer to the date, and (2) plan too ahead and you risk losing momentum.

Failure to measure success of event

Companies who fail to understand how to measure if their event has been successful at achieving their goal of growing their community, usually ends up axing their event strategy. So how do you measure the success of your event?

Before you proceed with your event, you need to start by setting exact goals for the event. For example, you could set the goal of onboarding 100 new paying customers into your sales cycle. By identifying your end goal, you will be able to work out the metrics you will require to measure it during the event. Post-event, calculate if you have achieved your goal and if the cost per acquisition was worth it.

Lack of operational plan

In order for an event to run smoothly, everyone involved in the event needs to know what they need to do, what everyone else on the team is doing, and what the game plan is onsite. A well-detailed operational plan should be part of the event planning right from the start.

This plan will brief anyone involved in the project about the mission of the event, the target audience, roles of everyone involved, timelines, and layout of the venue. A clear communication right from the start will enable your team to perform to their best without becoming confused or relaying wrong information to attendees.

Taking on the “we can do it ourselves” attitude

This might be your event, but if event planning isn’t your forte and the event that you are producing is huge then it would be best to consider outsourcing the execution to experts. As a company, remind yourself what is the purpose and goal of your team at this event?

Hiring an experienced production company to sweat the details, like finalizing the layout of tables and setting up the stage, can free up your team to focus on the more important aspects of the event. You can use this time to have meaningful conversations with the attendees and collect useful data to truly make an event a successful user engagement opportunity.

Lack of post-event strategic plan

Now that your event is over and you have collected data during the event, what do you do next? As we discussed earlier, you should use the data collected to determine if you have achieved your KPIs. You should also conduct a post-event brief with your team to discuss if it fits into your overall engagement strategy and if it has added value to your top line goals.

Let your strategy drive your event; always go back to the purpose of why you are doing this event in the first place to make decisions. And if you are not measuring what you are doing, then there will be no way to quantify your results.

In the next article in this series, we will discuss some of the best practices I have observed, learned, and implemented in my own events.

This is a guest post by Sandra Persing, Senior Events Manager at Mozilla for all things developer relations. She also serves as Evangelist for the Women Who Code: Seattle, and has successfully created the first sold out women in tech careers conference in Seattle in 2015. Follow her on Twitter @SandraPersing.