Have you ever planned an event just because it was routinely scheduled, rather than being held for a specific reason? You’re not alone. An event’s ‘why’ is often overlooked in event planning, according to a survey that was recently conducted. The ‘why’ is the reason or purpose for the event, and also includes the intended outcome for both the brand and the attendees. In essence, it’s what you want event goers to experience.

To further explain, we’re going to break down:

How to think about your event’s ‘why’

Why authenticity matters in marketing a purpose-driven event

How to use the event’s purpose to fuel the structure

How to enhance attendees’ connection with the purpose

Why you need to track audience engagement with your event’s ‘why’

The challenges of planning events with a firm ‘why’

Benefits of planning a purpose-driven event

And the key takeaway for planning events with purpose

Planning events with purpose: the real meaning

So, you can see we’re all for planning events with purpose. But let’s zero in on what ‘purpose’ actually means in the context of event planning. The purpose of your event isn’t just the client’s goal, which could look something like:

Increased sales

Building customer loyalty

Or improving product knowledge at a launch

This is the just the foundation of the purpose or, according to Beast Slayer Events, the effects of the purpose. The real heart of the purpose actually equates to the brand’s mission or their ‘why’. If you have just started planning your event, check out our for tips and tricks that will help you focus on you “why”. 

Finding the ‘why’

You may have heard a term like ‘finding the why’ thrown around for the past few years. And this, of course, stems from Simon Sinek – well-known for his TedTalks and his book Start with Why. Simon’s premise is that great leaders inspire action because people are drawn to why those leaders do something, not what they do.

So, we understand Simon’s principles stem from a place of leadership. In fact, he often cites Steve Jobs in his role as CEO of Apple as an example. Now, in the event world, think of the brand you’re planning an event for as the Steve Jobs in this scenario. Your goal, as an event prof is to market to and attract, indeed inspire, the people who hold the same value as the brand you represent. And of course, the event itself will be an extension of that.

As we dive into this article, you’ll notice that we mention sustainability quite a bit. We’ve chosen this value as a way to give you concrete examples of how to project an event’s ‘why’. But remember, this can be used for any value, whether it’s a worldwide concern like sustainability or social equality, a localized passion, or even more broad, like a spirit of generosity or innovation. Once you’ve drilled down to your event’s ‘why’, the same ideas apply.

Marketing in line with the ‘why’

Like most aspects of your event planning journey, attendee profiles provide the foundation for success. You should turn to these personas to inform your marketing approach when planning events with purpose. Look for connections between the values you know your personas to have, and the purpose of your event. Above all, when you start planning events with purpose, you must ask yourself ‘what’s in it for them?’ This simple question gives you the direction you need to make sure you’re not only meeting the needs of your client but that you’re also meeting the needs and expectations of your audience. Determining what’s in it for event goers is key to a remarkable event.

Authenticity is a vital component of forming that connection and getting prospects excited about the event. In fact, the need for authenticity is only growing in our increasingly conscious society. That’s where brands that don’t just stand for profit, but for social good have an advantage. For instance, a brand with a strong thread of sustainability running through everything they do will be able to form an intimate connection with prospects who believe it’s time we started looking after the environment.

Our increasingly conscious society is owed in part, to millennials. You see, millennials are inspired more by experiences than material products. Luckily the event industry is all about creating magical, impactful experiences for attendees. Be sure to highlight this in marketing campaigns and capitalize on the inherently experiential nature of events.

So, why are experiences so important to attendees? Well, the impact of experience is lasting. A great experience is a platform for forming new or deeper personal connections and fostering a sense of community. It’s also a way of injecting meaning into our lives and providing learning opportunities for personal growth.

Why should you be so concerned with what millennials think? If you aren’t already aware, millennials are a huge part of the population already but are actually on the cusp of overtaking the Baby Boomer generation in Sri Lanka. This is why it’s just so important that you know your audience. In fact, “a survey found that 75 percent of millennials believe businesses are too focused on their own agendas”. Make sure the event itself and the marketing makes clear that you’re providing 10x value which aligns with prospective attendees’ beliefs and interests.

Create a purpose-focused event structure

All the different aspects of your event’s structure should communicate the purpose of the event. This ranges from the topics covered, to the format of your event and even event downtime. Let’s take a closer look:

Choice of appropriate conference topics

Choosing the right conference theme or even the topics covered is perhaps the most obvious way to incorporate your event’s purpose. Although event themes are often reinvented from one year to the next, you still need to make sure the theme you decide on resonates with the core values of the client. And of course, plan for topics that are relevant to brand values and interesting to attendees.

Challenges of event planning with your ‘why’ firmly in mind

There are a couple of challenges to keep in mind when planning events with purpose. Specifically, not deviating from the ‘why’. It’s easy to get carried away and widen the event to a bigger audience who may not connect with the ‘why’. But, even though this may bring about greater ticket sales, we all know this isn’t the only way to measure event success. Similarly, you need to make sure you don’t include speakers who aren’t a fit with the values or purpose, even if you’re tempted because they’ve been making a big name for themselves.

Round-up of the benefits of getting clear on your events ‘why’

Planning events with purpose come with a surprising amount of benefits when done right. Take a look:

Produces more qualified leads when clearly communicating the “why” through marketing

Strengthens the brand’s following

Results in finding new brand ambassadors

Creates a robust network of like-minded vendors

Facilitates connections with sponsors that have shared values

Means event goers will already be lining up to attend the brand’s next event

Improves chances for brand longevity because of increased sales

Helps you and your client gain a better understanding of the target audience

Overall: event success for you, the client and the event goers

Key takeaway: Be authentic

In our world of information overload, people are becoming more adept at spotting inauthenticity. The most important thing to remember when planning events with purpose is that it can’t be faked. Attendees will notice it; there’s no doubt. And for future events you prepare for the same client – you’ll need to be able to reproduce that sense of purpose. Not easy to do, if it’s inauthentic!

Not every event has to be or can be about effecting social change on a large scale. But, if you can tie the immediate reason for holding the event in with core elements of the brand values that speak to attendees own values and interests, and communicate that to them, the event will be more successful and memorable.

Good luck! And let us know what your favorite thing is about planning events with purpose. Just drop us a comment below.