Event Planning: Defining Event Goals and Objectives

No one likes to spin their wheels or leave money on the table, which is why the first step in planning an event is defining your event goals and objectives.

When you add up all the events our users host using The Events Calendar and Events Calendar PRO each year, the numbers reach well into the millions. The most successful ones we see (and the ones that sell the most tickets) all have the same thing in common – they’re very clear on their event goals and objectives.

Good event planning means you know up front what you’re trying to accomplish. Otherwise, why have the event in the first place? Clearly defined goals and objectives help keep you on target throughout the event planning process. They also help you avoid wasting resources, since every decision involving time and money for your event can be related back to your guiding purpose.

Event Goals & Objectives

Think of your goals as your event’s purpose. Your purpose is the big picture reason your event exists – where you want to be vs where you are now. Event goals are the reason your event exists – to inform, to include, to celebrate, to persuade, etc… If your company is a university with the goal of wooing new incoming freshman to apply, your event purpose might be to educate potential applicants about your program offerings and campus vibe.

Your objectives are the roadmap to achieving those goal(s). Objectives should be written in detail, defining the narrow, measurable, and tangible results your event will produce.

What’s *Not* a Good Event Objective?

Goodwill is a term that gets thrown around a lot when it comes to event goals & objectives. Why are you hosting this big party? To create goodwill with our clients, of course!

Nope. Don’t do that. That’s taking the easy route and it won’t help you plan a great event. Does creating goodwill with clients relate to your company’s goals? Maybe. But we’re going to go out on a limb that your real goal is something along the lines of increasing sales or customer retention.

Another example is giving back to the community. That’s a fantastic idea, but you still need to figure out how that relates to your organization’s goals. Once you know your purpose and how it relates to your company’s goals, you can begin to develop consistent messaging related to the event.

SMART Objectives Are, Well…Smart

You’ve probably heard of SMART goals before. For the purpose of event planning, we’re going to talk about SMART objectives instead of SMART goals. Remember, our event goals are our “pie in the sky” purpose for hosting the event. Our objectives are how we get there.

Event goals should be:

S – Specific: What outcome, by when. For example, enrolling 30% of visiting high school students for the 2016 semester by July 15th.

M – Measurable: How much – the hard numbers we can measure, such as 100 students visited our campus and 30 of them enrolled in fall classes.

A – Achievable: Not only is the objective achievable, we’re also relatively likely to accomplish it. This isn’t a stretch incentive on Kickstarter, after all. This is an objective we’re confident telling our boss we can achieve.

R – Relevant: The objective relates back to our company’s goals. If it doesn’t, it isn’t our objective anymore.

T – Time-bound: Timebound means we can create a timeline that defines the beginning and the end of the period in which we are measuring. There’s a start and stop point, and we can measure the change between the two.

Smart objectives that relate back to your organization’s goals will stick with you throughout your entire event planning process. Once you have buy-in from the top down, these event goals and objectives will guide your entire process from venue selection through your post-event survey questions.

When you have well-defined goals and objectives for your event, planning, promoting, and sticking to your budget all become much easier. Messaging aligned with those goals comes through loud and clear, increasing attendee interest, RSVPs, and ticket sales.

A WordPress calendar full of events like this? That’s a beautiful thing.