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How to Measure Event Success

by Nicole Vulcan

For a business to succeed, its leaders need to constantly be looking for ways to make it run more efficiently -- and that goes for day-to-day operations as well as special events. Whether you're planning the company picnic or a grand gala to attract investors to your company, you should be tracking your event's success to find ways to make the next one run even smoother.

Set a clear goal for the event. Generally, there's a purpose for each event -- even if that purpose is for people just to have fun and get to know one another. Whatever it is, define it clearly so that all event planners are on the same page and know what they're aiming for.

Track how you're getting the word out, so you can use it later to compare to your marketing for other events. For example, count how many Facebook updates or tweets you send out and the number of online responses. These online platforms have easy-to-use metrics that allow you to see how many people viewed your posting and the ways they engaged with it. Also keep track of the non-electronic methods of marketing you used, such as how many posters you printed and the types and numbers of other marketing materials you used.

Set a goal for the number of people you want to attend, and then have a mechanism in place to count the numbers. If it's a sit-down event, you may find out by hearing from the caterers how many dinners you served, or you may simply have someone with a "clicker" at the door counting heads. After the event, compare your goal with the number of actual attendees. If your event is a fundraiser, you may also measure its success by the numbers; set a fundraising goal and then compare that projection with the amount you actually raised.

Ask participants to share their thoughts about the event. Make it easy for as many people to participate as possible by creating a short survey that contains multiple-choice or written responses. Place the surveys in a place where everyone will see it and take the time to fill it out. Make a public announcement several times during the event, asking people to complete the survey. You may get more responses by offering a reward for completing the survey; for example, when a participant enters the survey, he receives a ticket for a free drink or is entered into a prize drawing.

Track how many leads you got from the event. This is going to vary from event to event; some are geared toward getting people to attend and enjoy themselves, while other events are meant to help gain new volunteers, staffers or long-term contributors to a project. If your goal is to get new people involved, set up a way for them to sign up during the event, and then count the number of new leads so you can compare it to other events and programming in the future.

Have a post-event meeting with the planners to discuss everyone's thoughts on what worked well and what didn't, so you can use that information to plan your next event.

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