Project Planning and the Company Holiday Party - Access Marketing Company

Project Planning and the Company Holiday Party

The winter holiday season is in full swing! When I was asked to plan our company party, I realized I was approaching it the same way we approach developing marketing campaigns. Project planning and marketing strategy tend to share the same “roadmap”. So how can you apply the lessons learned from planning an awesome holiday party into your next marketing throw-down?

Here are some basic tips, regardless of the size (or type) of your project.

Start with Strategy

  • Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute. The process takes time. Waiting until the last minute means your venue is already booked – or your campaign can’t launch because there’s not time to complete all the steps. Plan out your scheduled timeline avoid problems and delays.
  • Plan for Your Budget. You shouldn’t be making plans to advertise during the Super Bowl if your budget can barely afford PPC. It’s like trying to book a ballroom and The Rolling Stones on a chip & dip/peanuts/record player budget (don’t judge me). Also, be sure you budget for some unexpected issues – they always happen.
  • Consider Your Audience. Current clients, or prospects? What are the demographics of your audience? Are you inviting only staff members to the party, or giving them the “plus one” option and hoping they don’t bring Crazy Uncle Harry?
  • Evaluate Goals and Metrics. Goals are simple for party-planning. How many people attended? Did they have a good time? Did the boss twerk it at the water cooler? With marketing, your metrics depend on the type of campaign you’re launching, and any evaluation should include a review of the aforementioned points.

Project Planning

The basic foundation has been decided. Is it more complex or time-consuming than you anticipated, potentially outside your ability and schedule to manage? Consider getting yourself specialized help. Why? Because they know what works, what you can get for your budget, and they can guide you through the process. They can also direct you to anyone else you may need to contact (do you want a band, a DJ, or the venue’s piped-in music?) or who else needs to be involved (does your CEO always want to put their thoughts in at the beginning? Does your sales manager have great ideas? Who needs to approve the campaign – it’s likely they’ll want input!). If you’re not already working with a marketing professional, factor in the time to find one you’re comfortable with into your timeline.
The proposal is in, and approved; now it’s time to put your project deposit money down, and push forward.


Collaboration is the name of the game for the next phase: Implementation.

  • Ensure “audience” equals “content”. Are the words, the phrases and the idioms appropriate?  It’s just like party planning – Does your age 20-30 office staff really want a formal dinner and ballroom dancing, or do they prefer music, finger food and mingling?
  • Obtain the Data. Old-fashioned RSVP’s are the party version of a marketing inbound data streams. You need to know who’s engaged to plan the best party.
  • Have Consistent Tone. Do your designed assets fit well with your copy? Do your invitations promise a dance party although the event hours are set in the afternoon?

Follow Up

The program launches. You see preliminary results (everyone mingling and laughing). Your sales manager is cautiously optimistic (the food’s a hit, the music is perfect), and everything appears to be well (you made good choices and planned intelligently; the guests and venue staff are all happy).
Did you reach the goals you set at the beginning? With a party, it’s easy. You can see everyone laughing, and if your boss says it was the best party ever, you can go home pretty satisfied with the result.

With your marketing campaign, you have to do a little more analysis. Did you hit or exceed your goals? When the reports come in, you have to check the numbers against your objectives. If the response to the campaign has been more than what you expected, you can do a little jig, then prepare for the second round.
With the right amount of project planning and sticking with a clear process, you can have fun with all your colleagues at the holiday bash. As with any project, you’ll experience some bumps in the road, naysayers and detours. Stick with your plan where it makes sense, and make adjustments where you need to. Hard work and perseverance go a long way in any project!

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