Our job can be a lot of fun sometimes. For instance, a little over a week we had the pleasure of helping a great software as a service company called Wiggio.com host publicity stunts on 50+ college campuses across the United States. Called the Wiggio.com Nearly Naked Group Run (yes, really) the “fun run” invited students to strip down to their underwear, donate their clothes to charity and burn off some energy with a 1 mile run around their campus.
You can see some photos from the Wiggio.com Nearly Naked Group Run at the end of this post, but leading the project reminded me how effective a well-crafted event can be in building brand awareness and generating customer action. Whether you have events already in the planning stages or are considering taking the plunge, below are 6 tips and tricks that we’ve learned over the years for making sure your events not only go well, but also positively impact the bottom line.
As the saying goes, “begin with the end in mind.” You’re investing real money in an event because you want something specific as a result. For Wiggio, the goal was to increase brand awareness and generate user account registrations, but it could really be anything. Onsite sales, media coverage, an increase in positive consumer sentiment, social media mentions, etc. Challenge yourself to meet or exceed a measurable standard rather than do an event simply because your companies does one every year.
The media at large (not mention your target audience) are busy people and if you want them to take time out of their day to spend it with your brand you better give them a good reason. The most compelling events that draw the widest attention end up that way because the concept is sticky and differentiated. For Wiggio, we seared attention from students and the media with a mix of fun and a good cause – but you could do it with an interesting speaker, live performance or product demo. As long as its big in concept, engaging in practice, preferably entertaining and relatable to what you’re selling then you very likely have a winner on your hands.
Every great event I’ve ever been involved with has resulted in at least one incredible photograph or video segment that played well to the media and to customers. When you’re creating your event concept envision what you want that picture to be. Is it a group photo of attendees? The performer looking incredible on stage? Or how about your CEO smiling and having a good time? Whatever it is, craft every aspect of the event to increase the likelihood that you can capture that image. Your PR department will thank you for it later.
Everyone who touches any aspect of the event should have a voice in the production – the brand manager, public relations department, sales team, social media folks, the event production team, etc. You’ll need to make sure you address everyone’s concerns and needs, of course, but the real value is to get ideas and input from a diverse crowd. The PR department can help you understand what will interest the media. Your sales team can give you insight into the questions they’re fielding from prospects (which could impact the programming of your event). The list goes on. Moral of the story – bring together key stakeholders early in the planning process and keep them engaged throughout the production. If you do, you’ll end up with a better and more effective event in the end.
The experience for attendees, your broader target audience and the media begins from the moment you announce the event to well beyond the actual day-of. Be sure to create compelling content before, during and after the event to drive opportunities for engagement with your brand. For instance, for Wiggio we utilized social media to spark excitement and conversation with students, engaged the campus newspaper to showcase pictures from the event and continue to drive dialogue after-the-event through social media discussion from attendees and video of the run. Events are rich sources of content, so use it to its fullest.
Like all good lead generation initiatives, make sure that you’re asking for some type of action from the target audience – before, during and after the event. Get your attendees to RSVP (with their email address, preferably) or share event details with friends on social networks. Ask the media to voice their thoughts on the event and your brand. How about the customer’s feedback? The more action and conversation you can drive the higher value the experience will be for attendees, the community as a whole and your company.
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