A Planning Formula For All Event Professionals: S.O.U.P.

By Timo Kiuru, April 19, 2019

1. Set goals

First things first, define the business objectives of the meeting, incentive program or event. In order to create something beautiful and meaningful, the first phase of the planning process needs to be business-driven. Be obsessed with what you actually want to achieve with the campaign. Do your best and define how everyone involved ultimately can benefit as much as possible. Defining criteria will ultimately make your creative ideas better. Responsibility is an often-forgotten component of creativity.

2. Orchestrate emotions

Continue by starting to think about how you want the attendees of the meeting, incentive program or event to feel after the spectacle. This is a crucial thing to specify—never start by selecting the venue. I love working with all kinds of venues, but if your goals and what the venue represent don’t match, it will be a very difficult and possibly a very costly equation to solve.

The next thing you need to consider: Do you want the people to feel inspired, impressed, happy, energized, productive, puzzled, disappointed or something else when they walk out of the venue? Build a holistic arc of feelings, emotions and key moments that you want people to experience and go through during the meeting, incentive program or event. People will forget what you said but remember how you made them feel. Silence or taking a break is the single most powerful tool you can use to retain attention. Don’t be afraid to use it. Emotions, feelings and moods affect our thinking, not only by changing the way people think, but it’s possible to change the way people want to behave and thus make lasting impact happen.

3. Umbrella

After you’ve identified what kind of feelings and emotions need to be felt, then you should come up with a concept. A concept can be described as a motif: a meaningful theme or an imaginative thread that runs through the campaign. A concept is like an umbrella under which all the ideas, details and experiences go. The perception of quality is mostly born out of attention to detail, the more prestige you want the experience to feel, the more relentlessly you need to pay attention to detail. Creativity isn’t copying, creativity is about making better things.

4. Play with it

Start playing with different ideas, words and designs. You’ve already selected how you want people to feel and have come up with an umbrella of communication. Now all you need to do is generate several ideas and make them concrete, easy to understand, sensational and holistic. The only way to exceed expectations is to get people out of autopilot and surprise them. Take a risk; create something unique—something the world hasn’t seen before.


Author bio: Timo Kiuru is a global creative director and the founder of an experiential design studio The Unthinkable. He has written a free interactive book on experience marketing, and travels the world speaking to professional audiences.

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