If you’re relatively successful in the events business, chances are you’re at least a little smart. But are you being purposely SMART in how you organize your events?

If you’re not familiar with this particular acronym, it’s becoming more popular in the fields of business, system management, and goal setting.

More and more event professionals are applying SMART principles to seek ways to do business better and improve general and specific facets of their lives. Naturally, looking for ways to be SMART is never a bad idea in the events community, where we’re all about seeking improvements, evaluating our processes and trying to be more organized and efficient overall, especially with repeat events.

Utilizing these principles can guide us in setting up a framework as we pursue our relationships with clients or with individual events such as putting together a conference this season.

So what do the letters mean? Being SMART means basing your planning efforts on:

Specific

what’s the goal or the project to be accomplished, and what actions do you need to take to pull this off? The more well-defined, the better.

Measurable

How can you measure success? In this business, our goals often include ticket sales, attendance, revenue, contracts or relationships.

Achievable

Can you get to your goal with your current resources?

Realistic

Though it’s always nice to be optimistic and expect every event to sell out all the time, this also can be tempered by accurate estimates of profits and headcount.

Timely

Long-term dreams are great and important for the big picture of your business, but there’s also something said for putting energy into putting all the pieces together to get your next event off the ground successfully.

Planning ahead

Incorporating SMART principles into your conference planning efforts can help put the focus on more vital areas of the conference experience, rather than getting lost in the small stuff which is so easy to do. Trying to keep these goals in better focus also can help you with deciding what smaller details you can delegate to staff or volunteers.  Some efforts can include:

Pre-event efforts

Ticket pre-sales are a good indicator of general interest in an event, but it’s still often a guessing game until the last minute who is going to show up/buy.

As a way to evaluate how achievable your plans are, consider conducting a pre-event survey. This can include members of your mailing list who have attended past events and people who have received invitations to this one.

Asking them whether or not they’ll attend can also provide some guidance for you as well as serve as a reminder to others to confirm their attendance.  This can also provide some hard numbers on what size of rooms to book or amount of food.

Launch your app early

Conference planners suggest not waiting until an event starts to tell guests that there’s a handy mobile event app.

If you’re organizing a new event, attendees will likely enjoy trying it out and planning head. Since you’re working on setting realistic goals, set a specific date for its launch and work to get there. Hearing this specific announcement of a date will be exciting to people planning to attend, rather than “we’ll launch it whenever it’s ready.”

Super scheduling

The structure is important at conferences. Though people are there to have fun, they also like knowing that there’s always something going on every moment.

Although a little downtime is useful for those who need to pause and catch their breath sometimes, you can make it a goal to offer something in every time slot, such as optional break-out sessions or one-on-one appointments. If you plan big, you can also leave it up to conference guests if they want to do everything or take a break now and then.

Post-event planning

Let SMART principles be your guide to wrap everything up. Just like you made a tight timeline before and during your event, continue this process afterward by setting specific tasks for specific days, including “send out post-event surveys,” “send out thank-yous,” take care of invoices, and place a hold on your venue for next year (you can always change.) Though it’s natural to want to catch your breath and think about your next event, there are still some important pieces that need to be finalized.

One of the good things about SMART thinking is that it can work for any size goal or project, and also adapted to plans that already in motion. It can also provide a good sense of direction and improve everyone’s organization. It also gets easy the more you do it! Let us know how we can help