The art of a kick ass startup event.
Some rules to live by:
1. Think customer centric
Do not steal the show or make it a huge advertising campaign for your brand. There is a reason why people use the fast forward button during commercials. They just don’t give a fuck. I'm not saying that your brand shouldn't be present, it's your event after all but try to wrap up your brand as a huge value package. Aka what's in it for them?
Think about the value you can add for your visitors. What topics are they interested in? Which people do they look up to? And why not try this crazy thing called asking and stop assuming? Why would they choose to come to your event if there are a million other events to choose from? Try to stand out from the crowd. Have a brainstorming session with your event team and validate your ideas afterwards by talking to your potential visitors. Also get those ideas in Trello. Most brainstorming sessions end up in being a waste of time since nobody follows up on the ideas afterwards. With Trello you can let people take ownership and follow up on the status of each assigned task.
2. Use your network
Do not claim the throne, even kings/queens need some help once and a while. I strongly believe in the power of joined forces.
I shouldn’t have to point out the importance of a good network but do try to get as many relevant communication partners on board. Preferably organisations who have a direct connection to your target audience. Give them something in return such as acknowledgment in your communication campaign, free tickets or share their upcoming event communications in return. Make them your ambassadors and stay in touch during the entire promotion period.
Offer awesome networking opportunities. Get some top-notch and hard to reach experts to your event and offer the opportunity to book meetings with them. Speakersbase or Speakerhub are great sources to identify specific experts in a certain domain.
Let your speakers and experts promote your event as well.
Schedule enough networking slots into your programme. Making valuable connections is one of the main reasons for a startup to join your event.
Pro tip: Always provide a promotion kit with sample text and visuals. You want to make the effort of sharing your materials as small as possible.
3. Cash is king
Unless you have loads of cash, don't think you can pull it off without sponsors. Events tend to have some unforseen costs.
Do not let your sponors determine the content of your event. You are organising a startup event. Not a corporate event.
Yes, you will need hard dollars if you want to create a kick ass event. Prepare a slide deck to convince your potential sponsors and include the following info:
Creative tagline: avoid clichés. Tip: read this blogpost from hubspot and check the most common clichés.
A few lines of compelling and clear text (remember less is more and decision makers are keen on their time) These lines should contain a clear value proposition and address the fear of missing out at the same time.
Numbers: decision makers just love numbers, start drilling into your data.
Sponsor package: diversify your packages in pricing and benefits. Be certain that the highest pricing has a clearer added value then the lower pricings.
Call to action: You want to literally let your potential sponsors know what the next steps are.
Obviously you'll start contacting potential sponsors asap. Don't wait untill the last moment otherwise you might end up with a financial hangover.
Want to dig deeper into this topic? Download the E-book from Eventbrite "New rules of event sponsorships"
Do not shoot blanks. Know who your audience is and tailore your message accordingly.
Use your data and segment your emails according to your target audience.
Same goes for the ads you're planning. Facebook offers great segmentation options but don't forget to adjust your message as well. You do not want to run random payed advertisements. Also install your Facebook pixel. Obviously you want to know if your advertisements are paying off.
Use Google Analytics (GA) Set up a goal in your GA account e.g. Tickets sold (Track hits for the /confirmation/ page)
Make all your outgoing campaigns measureable. Set up campaign URL's with the Google URL builder and track the according conversions in GA
Integrate GA with your Mailchimp account.
If you use Eventbrite then either choose option a or b;
a) Redirect people who made a purchase to a "thank you" page on your website (Go to Edit Order Confirmations, and enter the URL in the "Customize order confirmation webpage" box at the bottom of the page. Add the URL only. It will not work if you add additional text.)
b) Create a new GA property for your Eventbrite page and integrate your Tracking id in Eventbrite. Here's how Set up a goal in GA as mentioned above.
Provide your communication partners a unique link to promote your event so you can track how many conversions came through there communication efforts.
Keep a seperate spreadsheet with all your tracking links.
4. Content is king as well
Do not randomly schedule social updates. You will have to keep the buzz alive at all times.
Don't forget to send a pre -and post press release.
A good communication plan always contains the below information:
Target audience: who do you want to reach
Goal: what do you want to achieve and how are you going to measure it?
Message: customized and clear message
Channels: Facebook, Linkedin, e-mail, payed advertisments etc..
Organisation: who is doing what?
Budget: what is the cost?
Monitoring: what is working and what isn't. Always have a plan A, plan B and even a plan C. Remember the alphabet has 26 letters.
Evaluation: Learn from your mistakes and successes.
Never purspone the practical details untill the last minute. Get it done asap, I promise you will sleep much better afterwards.
Make a checklist
Technicals: lightning, electronics etc
Designer for you visual materials. Brief your designer way in advance about what you need and by when.
Promotional materials such as roll up banners, beachflags, nametags, keycords etc. Always check the date of delivery beforehand so you know for certain when to order your materials at the latest.
Networking tool. Check out conversation starter, great product and great guys :)
Badging. Check out EventPulse, they have an awesome solution for your ticketing challenges and even offer a cashless payment solution. And yes, they are also really cool guys ;)
Reception: Always keep a volunteer list and invite them to help out in advance or if you have enough cash go for professional event hostesses.
Photographer and someone to shoot your aftermovie
6. Make a script for the day of the event and enjoy the day!
Do not forget to block your team members agenda for the day of the event.
Give all your team members a copy of your script, include timing, tasks and responsibles and brief them well.
7. Post event duties
Send a thank you e-mail to all attendees and let them take a survey (remember less is more, keep the survey short but at the same time get all the critical info you need) Pro tip: If you want to have a high respons rate only ask for a NPS score.
Prepare a facts&figures presentation. 1 for your team to evaluate the event internally and 1 to present to your event sponsors and partners.
Send out a post event press release.
Publish your event pictures, aftermovie and write a post event blogpost.
8. Sit back and relax!
Are you a startup? Let me know what you're missing in todays startup events and how we can make your experience better.
Are you an event organizer? Feel free to add other tips&tricks in the below comments.