Create the perfect event from the invitations to audience engagement and post-event follow up. Will Broome, CEO of Londonlaunch.com, shares his industry secrets.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect event. With so many options and so many variables, the ‘success’ of an event is actually quite a tricky thing to establish. And then, of course, you have to take into account the fact that nobody’s perfect. But then who want’s to be nobody? There are ways and means, tricks and tips which one can apply to ensure your events are as close to perfection as humanly possible.
Events are powerful things and they are therefore a golden opportunity to deliver a message. So directly, it’s almost intra-venous. Whilst I’m not seriously suggesting mainlining your brand messages directly into the hearts of your target audience, I am using the metaphor to make a serious point. You have everyone in one room. All at once. And they’re all armed with a device which, itself, gives them direct access to an average of over 150 personal connections via the social networks and 150 x 150 beyond.. That’s a potential audience of at least 22,500. Per delegate. Do we have your attention now? What’s more, being in the events and marketing trade, this average is almost certainly low-balled. Putting it simply, people will remember how you made them feel long after they forget what you told them and, as Jeff Bezos said, “If you give people a good experience, people will tell other people about that”
So, there you have it. Make your event convenient, desirable, accessible, exciting, enticing, visual, content rich and inspirational and you’re half way there! (as Jon Bon Jovi might say!)
With all this in mind, here are 10 simple tips and guidelines to consider. Stick to these and you’ll have the basics covered!
1. Establish who your audience is
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But you’d be surprised at how often organisers get this wrong. When planning an event, it’s imperative to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Are they predominantly female? (I hosted the PA Awards recently and jokes that were hilarious to me were only just funny to the guests!).
Are they ‘un-shockable’? Are they expecting to be ‘entertained’? Are they likely to need waking-up? To be Inspired? Convinced? Cajoled? Nurtured? Bribed? (just kidding!).
Are they adventurous? Would they really enjoy White Water Rafting or would they prefer a nice lunch? All these things need to be carefully considered before you jump to any conclusions based on personal preference.
2. Choose the right venue
There are so many amazing venues in London. But which one is right for you? Yes, there are obvious criteria such as capacity and location, but what about the theme? The Style? Is it conducive to presentations? Will it require a huge production? Will it really reflect your brand?
There are loads of amazing warehouses - some have in-house production, others need a huge amount of additional production, heating, lighting, amenities, preparation kitchens, furniture etc etc and this can be expensive!
Hotels are back too, as are private dining rooms in top restaurants so if service and cuisine are at the top of your agenda, they’re worth considering.
3. Don’t skimp on catering
When it comes to evening events, your guests (rightly or wrongly) will expect supper. Even if the invitation clearly states that it’s ‘drinks and canapés’, you have to understand that your guests will be coming straight from work. And they’ll be hungry and thirsty. To put them all in a good mood, feed them and water them early on. That way you’ll keep them on side and engaged. Not to mention, on site, not enraged!
Don’t lose your audience. Especially not to McDonalds by 8pm!
4. Get the right staff
Your staff, and particularly your front of house staff, are more crucial than even you are. That’s because they have instantly become your brand ambassadors. Your front line.
We recently staged an event at a venue where some of our guests complained about a ‘rude’ bartender. It may not have been our fault, but it was definitely our problem! Invest in your staff.
If you think good staff members are expensive, try having crap ones and see how expensive that turns out..!
5. Choose dynamic content
There’s no point having a great looking space with no dynamic content to engage your audience and send them off with the right brand messages.
Even if it’s a Christmas Party, you want your guests to go away with renewed energy and a great affinity with your brand as well as with their own colleagues. If your guests can walk away with something useful and tangible – like a new skill such as effective networking or digital marketing, then your guests will be engaged with you far beyond the realms of the event itself.
A great keynote many not be cheap but your delegates will be talking about them for years. Don’t get me started on the Space Shuttle Commander I saw in Chicago – that was four years ago and I’m still banging on about it…
6. Get the environment just right
There are so many events in everyone’s calendars these days – breakfast presentations, lunch meetings, product launches, evening receptions – so you not only have to stand out and grab their attention, but you also need to ensure that your guests are comfortable and relaxed when they get there.
That’s why the best form of networking is so often, not working! Provide a fun atmosphere, which encourages people to interact and engage with your brand and each other. This is where relationships will be built and you’ll be the catalyst at the heart of it all. If your audience can meet people and learn something, you’ll benefit in the short, medium and long terms.
7. Make sure your guests turn up
Another obvious one but an important one. Obviously. On average more people turn up to an event with a ticket price, because they’ve paid for it and therefore take the event seriously – and they don’t want to waste their money.
If your event is an invitation-only free event, you’ll experience a drop out which could be as much as 50%! So, you need to do something about this.
A great venue that your guests perhaps haven’t been to before, a well-worded invitation, laid-on transport, a secret destination, the promise of great content, an exclusive ‘top tips’ guide, even the threat of having to pay if you ‘don’t’ turn up, all combine to make your event a ‘must attend occasion’. As do your other guests, of course.
Remember, nothing attracts a cool crowd like…erm…a cool crowd! This is where social media comes in to play and, in particular, a well-promoted hashtag. If you can create a buzz before (and after) your event, you’ll win!
8. It’s not just about footfall
That’s ‘footfall’, not ‘football’, although it’s not just about that either! Microsoft famously declared that they no longer worry too much about physical footfall at their events.
They squarely realise that it’s the ‘reach’ that defines the success of an event – especially when it’s a product launch or a brand amplification exercise…!
Great ‘tweetable’ content as well as a well conceived social marketing strategy will enhance the reach of your event exponentially. Even better, how about a native event app to facilitate the whole thing!?
9. Don’t forget the photographer (or videographer!)
This is a classic afterthought. At my own wedding I left it late. And it cost me dearly. I ended up having to hire an (amazing) yet, very expensive sports photographer because all the wedding specialists were booked up two years in advance!
Whilst you want your delegates to be snapping away for social purposes, you really do need a pro to capture the ‘essence’ of your event because these will be the official shots for your follow-ups and official social channels. Sometimes Joe ‘from accounts’ who has a ‘great camera’ doesn’t cut it!
10. Three things to do after the event
Follow up, follow up and follow up!
This too is surprisingly often overlooked, mainly because of the inherent ‘relief’ after all the hard work has come to fruition and you’re basking in the glory of another successful event…STOP! This is where the work begins because measurement and ROI are what it’s all about!
There are so many measurement tools out there these days, there’s simply no excuse not to follow-up fastidiously and measure meticulously. A great event should live on in a social environment for several weeks and sometimes months – give your delegates a damn good reason to stay engaged with your brand beyond the event. One idea is to use the hashtag and tweet facts and figures (or even the answers to delegate questions) to engaged ‘social medi-orites™’ (just made that phrase up! #proud).
And last, but not least…
11. Get the wording right on your invitation
This is a bonus at number 11, but it’s one of my favourites. I’m a big fan of enticing and inviting collateral, designed to draw your audience in, swirl around their buzzing minds for a few days and drag them kicking and screaming with anticipation across town to your event. You’ve got to make your event sound more exciting than anyone else’s because, on any given day, there are several competing events vying for your guests’ attention....
Use carefully crafted wording and a tantalising image to hypnotise your delegates.
And, never forget. Events are all about fun, engagement, stimulation and inspiration…
Will Broome CEO