Corporate events are an excellent way to engage with the business community and are often a welcome challenge to produce something spectacular. Most corporate events employ a specific theme that usually aligns with the goal of the event--thus, a fundraising gala would likely be designed in a different manner than a customer-appreciation event.
When it comes down to it, it depends on the client’s wishes and their needs. The overall success of any event is how well you listen to your clients and can capture their vision. With corporate events in particular, it can be challenging to adhere to everyone’s preferences. It can feel like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, so you need to be decisive and open-minded to ensure the satisfaction of all parties involved.
Despite the challenges, corporate work is highly beneficial, as businesses tend to be a great source of return business. Most engaged couples only get married once, and there are only so many retirements or milestone birthdays in a family. However, companies typically host events on an annual (or even quarterly) basis, so a successful production will likely lead to regular work.
Here are several tips that will lead you towards both a cohesive theme and a seamless planning process:
1. Seek inspiration.
While it seems that wedding inspiration is everywhere, it can be trickier to nail down a particular style for a corporate event. Each company brings its branding and core values to the table, so there is always going to be a uniqueness to the design.
My team gets inspired by immersing themselves within our clients’ ideas and views. Brainstorming is a big part of our planning process, but we do not limit it to one session. Instead, we take a few days to let ideas evolve and transform before bringing it back to the production table.
2. Trends can help.
Just as with weddings and social celebrations, corporate events have their trends that can help support production and ensure that the design is elevated and unique. Lately, we have noticed a significant theme among clients with a move towards family values and the feeling of home. These concepts are being incorporated into today’s corporate events to instill a sense of comfort and hospitality.
3. Consider the guest experience.
Special events are no longer just about fancy centerpieces and gourmet food. Today, event entertainment is at a premium, and everyone is looking for fresh and innovative ways to enhance the guest experience.
The growth of technology supports this shift and will play a role in all future events, from video-mapping to virtual reality. On-site artists, unplugged artisan groups, roaming musicians, and live entertainers (think acrobats and aerial dancers) are all popular choices for bringing more life to the party.
4. Trust your network.
You are never planning an event alone, so you should be leaning on your network for support. Ensure that your internal team is one you can trust, but also look to your industry peers as well. Other vendors and creative partners will also play a role in the production of this event, so work with those who have a history of being reliable and productive. A successful event is the result of a combined effort, so keep your team close as you navigate your client’s needs.
5. Prepare to present.
In many cases, especially with larger companies, events are overseen by a committee where everyone has their own opinion. It is always best to listen to everyone involved and consider all perspectives throughout the planning process.
When you present your ideas, tailor your pitch to all members of the committee. Educate yourself on your client’s expected audience and back up your ideas with statistics from that target group. Speak to what today’s attendees expect, as well as what their competition has done—and how they can be different.
6. Exude confidence.
Selling an idea is just like selling a product or service--the most important thing is to go in with confidence. Know your plan is the best option out there and present it as such. If you are uncomfortable pitching an idea, you likely need more time to flesh it out, or you may not be working with the right client.
As a creative, remember that you do not need to take on all the clients who approach you. Pass on the ones who are not a fit and move on to the next one.
Working with corporate clients is highly rewarding and provides countless new opportunities to break out of the mold and explore new design themes. Get creative and immerse yourself in the corporate culture of your client. What do they hold dear?
By keeping an open mind, leaning on your team, and owning your skill, you are sure to find yourself on the right side of success.
Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, Calif., that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers.