11 Easy (and Mostly Free) Tips for Running a Successful Event

May 12, 2016 Dan Nedelko

Event Planning

We’re a digital marketing agency, and we love events.

Sounds strange, right?

Digital marketers are often thought of as existing only on the interwebs, lurking behind landing pages and tracking codes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We not only manage events for charities and clients, but we also love running them for our community and ourselves.

It gives us a chance to meet people face-to-face, and in the information age that’s a rare and increasingly important thing.

Bridging the Gap: Online Marketing to Live Events

Working in digital marketing has a way of de-humanizing what is a very personal and connected experience.

We know that statement has a certain sense of irony. How can something be both personal and de-humanizing?

When someone searches on Google or Bing, they are in fact often searching for what they are thinking, feeling, or wanting at that specific moment in time.

As modern marketers, it’s our job to provide that connected response which will begin a relationship, and eventually, lead to some form of a business relationship.

That is a very human connection.

As digital marketers—heads down in new technologies, platforms, and campaigns—it’s often easy to forget that it all begins with a simple relationship.

So we run events… lots of events.

Casual, fun, (hopefully) informative, practical events filled with real people making real connections. For example, this past Wednesday, May 4th, we ran an event at our Kitchener office in the Tannery District, right beside Communitech.

Not only was it a lot of fun, but it also gave us a chance get out from behind our screens and connect with 30 fine folks we normally would never have met face-to-face, including some of our own clients!

The relationship building can begin online or in-person, but using a combination of the two tactics (and a variety of channels) produces the strongest results.

Running a Successful Live Event

Events are fun to host and attend. That being said, events are also hard to execute due to the amount of work they require.

But if you’re committed to a fully integrated approach to developing your business relationships, then events are something you can and should regularly do.

Even if you’re not a pro or have limited resources, you can use seasoned tips like the ones I’m about to share with you.

These event planning tips will help you pull off your own stellar event on even the most modest of budgets.

Let’s dive in:

1. Partner Up

Finding a partner can only legitimize and align you with a much larger brand. It can help spread out resources and provide you with an extended team of support.

In our specific case, Honeypot is a proud partner of Google.

They’ve been able to support us with promotions, swag, and most importantly, the alignment of Honeypot Marketing with Google. It’s an invaluable relationship to our business, and one we value very highly.

Working on events together helps to strengthen and nurture that relationship.

2. Keep it Casual

Quite often, event organizers are far too rigid, which creates all sorts of unnecessary tension for organizers and participants alike.

Structure is good; however, rigidity is the opposite of good. Use words and phrases like “drop in, drop out”, “casual”, “informal & fun”.

It will convey that attendees are welcome to show up anytime (always good for the event vibe and for attendance).

A casual tone will always make people want to attend your event during their busy workweek.

3. Use an Event Platform

We use Splash to collect RSVPs and provide very clear benefits for our potential attendees.

Event platforms are very different animals than normal landing pages.

That’s because we want to be able to collect RSVP and guest information, ensuring the event is easily shared and mobile first.

You’ll find these platforms make it quick, easy, and convenient for your attendees to register, and you can see immediate, tangible results.

4. Provide Downloads and Takeaways

No one wants to attend an event that doesn’t provide value.

After all, time is money, and they are sacrificing some of their busy schedules for your great event. Conveying that you will be providing useful worksheets and valuable information before the event will make your RSVP list want to show up.

It will generate excitement before the event and prep your visitors to think about questions and interaction during the event.

PDF worksheets and resources are relatively inexpensive and easy to assemble before the event.

Show your crowd that you know your stuff and you want them to learn!

5. Feed Them

Everyone loves food.

Putting together a healthy, tasty meal for your event will make it memorable. It will also ensure that your audience walks away telling their colleagues and friends about your event.

It spreads the word and instills a positive vibe, and we all know how valuable word of mouth can be in event marketing.

6. Be Consistent

Run events, not just an event.

If you know me, you know I’m big on consistency. Events are a marathon, not a sprint. Too often, marketers, especially in the start-up space, work in spurts of activity.

Spurts of activity are confusing. No one knows what to expect next and when to expect it.

Put together a modest schedule you can handle, and then stick to it at all costs. You’ll see incredible results with just 3 or 4 events.

7. Never Stop

No Matter What.

What if no one shows up to your first event? You can always ensure you’ve got your team, close associates, and friends in attendance.

No matter what, do not cancel.

Giving up and giving in at the first sign of a challenge is the start-up and small business devil. Drive on, even if it’s only your team there.

Take photos, post to social, live stream the event, and keep on cheerleading. People will take notice, and everyone wants to be a part of something special.

Still nervous? Use phrases like “intimate & interactive” and “one-on-one opportunities” to make your small event special and enticing.

8. Collect a Lead List

This is critical in every area of business and extremely important as you build out your event program. Chances are the majority of attendees cannot be there.

It’s a sad truth of life, schedules, and work.

By providing a way for those who cannot attend to receive the worksheets, reader notes from the event, and (if possible) a video of event highlights, you’ve got a way to extend your event reach and provide ongoing value.

You could even turn this into a topic related event summary page on your website.

It’s a great way to show the world that you’re a thought leader, and you know your stuff (that is after all why we’re doing a live event, isn’t it?)

9. Send Personal Emails

Once the event is done, give it some time (let’s say a week) then send a personal follow-up email to everyone who attended.

It’s going to show your attendees that you really care about them. Also, waiting a week does something else. It displays to the world you are also busy, and you’re also confident enough to give your subject matter time to absorb.

Reflective moments are just as important as teachable and learnable moments. Do your best to take notes about each individual during the event and tie in your response to what was discussed.

10. Reinforce Casual, Welcome Interruptions

I know, I know, I said keep it casual way up there, right? Well, I’m purposely saying it again. Reinforce that you are holding a casual, informal event with a “suggested” schedule.

Why? It makes it easier on us. We can, quite frankly, screw up and make mistakes - and that’s OK.

If we think about it for a moment, by having a rigid schedule, we are introducing more complexity and adding pressure on ourselves to adhere to some notional schedule.

What happens if the projector goes down?

What if the Internet fails?

What if the food is late?

On a rigid schedule, we have a problem. With a “suggested”, casual schedule, we have turned a potential problem into a benefit. Imagine turning a negative into a positive like: “Fantastic, the food isn’t here yet, that gives us time to dig into this a bit further...”

11. Let The Audience Dictate The Schedule

Sounds crazy, right? Maybe, but it isn’t at all.

By repeating this mantra over and over before, during and after the event, you will welcome input from the audience. This gives them ownership of the event agenda and let’s them take the subject matter wherever they want it to go.

What does that do for us? Everything!

When those in attendance feel like they’ve guided the direction of the topics, they will feel ownership. And everyone likes that feeling. It will create a fantastic, casual and positive vibe at your event, instead of the feeling of listening to a lecture.

The end sum: you’ll have a fun, and educational event.

People like attending fun events that have direct value and their buzz will build your next event’s attendance list.

These tips apply both for a one-person show, or a large organization hosting an elaborate event. No matter how small your operation, live events need to be a cornerstone of your business growth strategy.

Events truly do work, when done consistently.

Good luck hosting your next event, and be sure to send me an email invitation.  

I’ll do my best to attend!

 

This blog post is brought to you by Dan Nedelko, the Founder of Honeypot Marketing, a Marketing Agency that connects digital marketing & communications to your sales funnel. Honeypot Marketing will ensure that video, social & content marketing make sense and work for your business.

About the Author

Dan Nedelko

Dan is the Founder of Honeypot Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Waterloo, Kitchener, Toronto, New York City and San Jose, Costa Rica. Learn more about Dan on Honeypot Marketing's website or connect with him on Linkedin.

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