In-person events are making a huge comeback. Whether it’s pent-up demand following the COVID-19 lockdown or simply an effort by companies to leverage every possible opportunity to find and engage with prospects and customers, we’ve seen a significant uptick in requests for event assistance.
Unfortunately, many businesses are challenged to find the resources needed to support this growing demand. Budgets—and therefore headcounts—are stagnant if not shrinking. Even if budget is available, finding qualified people remains difficult.
With more than 20 years’ experience in the marketing fulfillment industry, including event planning and production, OnFulfillment can be a virtual extension of your team, providing qualified assistance without adding staff. By outsourcing time-consuming tasks to us, you’re free to focus on branding, messaging, and driving attendance—critical contributors to greater revenue.
Thanks to our decades of experience, we are also uniquely equipped to offer unique insights into event planning and management that will help you gain a competitive advantage over your peers. Following are seven “tricks of the trade”—things we’ve learned that will help you plan and stage a successful in-person event. Not only will these tips simplify overall preparation and execution, they’ll also help you avoid the unpleasant surprises or “gotchas” that plague the less well-prepared.
Ready? Here we go.
1. Centralize the planning process
Events have lots of moving parts. Therefore, the first thing you must do is create a central location for managing these activities—a window that lets you see what’s in the works, understand their current status, and determine what still needs to be done. There are different ways to accomplish this; OnFulfillment offers its partners a centralized web-based portal that any member of the event team can access. This portal not only offers you a real-time view into your current event material inventory, it also allows you to store images of your items and signage, save and manage freight quotes, store necessary forms and paperwork, and track milestones and deadlines—all in one place.
2. Establish a reporting system
A comprehensive reporting system is critical for tracking activity and understanding where your event materials are in the supply chain. At a glance, you can quickly determine what’s been ordered and whether it’s in inventory, in transit to the event, at the event, on its way back, and whether it has been received, inspected and returned to inventory. If the item has been sent out for repair or dry cleaning, the system should report that as well. If the item is past due and still in the field, the reports will let you know who has it and where you can find it.
The OnFulfillment web portal includes an integrated reporting system that provides the visibility you need to closely track where your materials are so nothing slips through the cracks.
#3. Procure needed materials in a timely manner
Anyone planning an event knows they need to secure logo giveaways—something to give visitors that reflects the corporate image and message. But that’s not all you need. What about table throws? Signage or banners? Backdrops? Monitors? Pens, tape, hand sanitizer? You’ll need a lot of things to fully equip your event property. Make sure you order these items early and add them to the delivery list.
With the OnFulfillment portal, you can see what items are currently and inventory and reserve them for your event so you aren’t left scrambling at the last minute. If you need branded giveaways that aren’t already in stock, OnFulfillment has relationships with hundreds of vendors who can produce high-quality branded products to meet every budget.
4. Anticipate and produce the product-related materials you’ll need
While most visitors will be happy to visit your company website to learn more about your products, serious prospects will want something they can read immediately and take with them. Printed items like datasheets, case studies and product brochures should be available for these occasions. Do some calculations and determine how many of each you’ll probably need.
With OnFulfillment, our print-on-demand service allows you to produce just the quantities you’ll need and have them delivered straight to the show. Not only does this reduce waste, it also saves on shipping costs by eliminating the need to return items to inventory.
5. Prepare for after the event
Most teams spend the bulk of their time preparing for the event and don’t give a much thought to what happens once it’s over. Keep in mind that anything you shipped out—or a lot of it—need to be shipped back. To ensure an efficient exit, think about how you’ll manage the tear down and wrap up.
OnFulfillment includes this preparation in the overall event planning process. Once shipping has been scheduled, the system automatically produces return labels and includes them with the original freight. That means when the show ends, you’re all ready to go—simply box everything up, apply the pre-printed labels, and walk away.
6. Plan for the next event
Once your event is over and everything has been shipped back, your work is done. But what about the next one? Events happen all year round, and they often recycle many of the same materials. That means, even if you’re not involved, you are responsible for ensuring that these materials are inspected, repaired if necessary, and returned to inventory for the next team and next event.
OnFulfillment builds this into the entire process. Once items are returned to the storage facility, the OnFulfillment team inspects them to ensure they are clean, intact, and in proper working order. If repairs are needed, they will handle them. If an item needs cleaning, it will be sent out for dry cleaning before being returned to inventory. Using the real-time reporting system, the next team can track these materials, reserve them for their event, and start the entire planning process over again.
7. Take advantage of a dedicated team
Even with the best of planning, things can slip through the cracks. That’s where a dedicated sales rep comes in handy—someone who can run last-minute interference and help you with the details you might have missed.
Obviously, this is a bit of a luxury—unless you are an OnFulfillment partner. Every one of our customers has a dedicated CSR who knows them, their company, and their products, and are available to help with last minute requests or disposition of items returning from a show. They are your safety net, and just part of our basic service.
OnFulfillment can be your event planning partner—and more. If you’d like to hear more about how we can help, whether it’s with your event planning of your other marketing fulfillment activities, please visit our Contact Us page and schedule a meeting. We’ll be happy to share our expertise with you.