Tag Archives: event

Hosting A Better Event

23 January

No matter what kind of business your in, chances are you’ve had to host an event. Or will at some point.

Most of us like the actual event more than the stuff leading up to it, myself included. After hosting at least 20 workshops, here are some high and low tech ideas we’ve learned to make hosting your next event less painful.

Put event information everywhere.
For our last workshop, we created a Facebook event on our business Facebook page, put a snippet on the ‘Events’ page of our website, sent out a press release, emailed the local Chambers of Commerce to promote it, tweeted out the registration link a few times, and sent out notice of it in our last two email newsletters. (We still got messages about people not hearing about it, and you will too. You can’t win them all!) But put all the information for the event in every place you chose to advertise it you can so that people can note the day, time, location, etc. from wherever they first find the information. Because while it doesn’t make your life easy, it makes theirs easier.

Send an information email to who is going before the event.
People like having a lot of information, myself included. Sending an email (blind copy all the recipients) with directions, the internet password at the venue, etc. will save you at least a dozen emails or phone calls to answer. Bonus is the people in the know can forward it on or tell the people who don’t know, meaning you won’t have to have those conversations either.

If you want people to show up and pay, let them pay online.
You know what’s not fun? Managing 100 checks, trying to note who paid and who didn’t while you try to set up for your event. Having online payment/registration means less day of event headaches and gives you a fairly firm head count. We use Eventbrite and even though they take 3% of ticket sales, the lack of hassle is well worth it.

Create a hashtag for your event.
If you are at an event with social media types, at the beginning let everyone know they can use a specific hashtag so you can follow Twitter, Instagram, and other event related shares. For example, at the Joomla World Conference, we all used #jwc12 so we were able to follow what was going on with different speakers, when lunch was being served, and other important information. Even if the conference isn’t big, hashtags can let you follow the conversation and questions during the event.

If your event participants aren’t social media savvy, consider text messaging.
The makers of Mailchimp have a mass texting app called Gather. (Thanks to Matt at Svaha LLC for that find!) Attendees of your event can get text alerts related to your event (sudden location change or weather cancellations for example) at a very low cost to you.

Cohost the event.
Having an event cohost means you get double the exposure while doing the same amount of work. Find an event partner that makes sense. For the last workshop for example, we partnered with the Maine Crafts Guild who promoted the workshop to their email newsletter recipients and Facebook fans. We were then able to gear the workshop towards artists, so it was a win-win. We got a full room and they got a workshop specifically for them.

Don’t overlook the little things.
Nametags help shy people talk to each other. Coffee and treats make people happy. Good background music as people come in can set a tone. Comfy chairs mean people will sit a little happier for two hours. Think about the little things that don’t cost a lot that you can provide to make your attendees have a bit more fun.

So while we aren’t the perfect event hosts, a mixture of internet and in person efforts, you can fearlessly host your next event.

What are your favorite event hosting tricks?

Marketing Monday: 13 Ways To Promote An Event

21 March

I have three workshops coming up in the next three weeks. Add to that two speaking engagements and a regular workload and you’ll see why I’ve been forgetting to do my usual checklist of event promotions. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Have online registration. If people can order and pay for the tickets online, they are much more likely to register. I use Eventbrite for my stuff and I see that in using this software, I can take electronic payments as well as offer directions and get my event autoposted to multiple websites like whofish.org.

2. Create a Facebook event. You can invite people that are your friends on Facebook or you can invite people via email.

3. Use your press list. Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of an old fashioned press release.

4. Tease your event on Twitter… and don’t forget to link to your registration page!

5. Partner with another business. Then you can take advantage of their email contacts, Facebook fans, etc.

6. Email your list. If you have an email newsletter, let people know about upcoming events. Make sure your email newsletter is CAN-SPAM compliant though!

7. Have a page on your website where people can learn about events. www.breakingeveninc.com/events for example has all my event information.

8. Post flyers at high traffic locations. In Maine, bulletin boards are alive and well. I once got a lead from posting something I posted at the Bar Harbor Launromat!

9. Give a bit of lip service to upcoming events at speaking engagements. The way I figure it, if I talk to your group for 30 minutes, I can spend 1 minute or so telling people what’s coming up as long as a) I have an otherwise great presentation and b) I am not rude/ridiculous about the promotion.

10. Use business organizations you are a part of. Chambers, Rotary Clubs, and other local groups you are a part of likely have websites, email lists, and more. They are also more than happy to promote your event.

11. Post your event on online community calendars, including news organizations and general community websites. They’re free and people clearly use them if these businesses and organizations have dedicated staff time to keep them up-to-date.

12. Take out a pay per click ad on Facebook or Google Adwords. By targeting your ideal customer, you’ll have more success.

13. Create a short video clip to ‘tease’ the event. It can be on Youtube (or other social media site) and/or on your website. People might not read a mound of text but most people I know will watch a short video about most anything.

In other words, I get most of the word out online but do a couple old school things too. The combination works well in Maine which is home to both internet cafes and rural general stores. But I could also use some new ideas!

How do you promote events, online and off?

Marketing Monday: QR Codes

12 October

First of all, I was MIA last week because I was sick in a way I still can’t quite believe. After sleeping 14 hours a day and being supermedicated the rest of the time, I’m finally feeling better. In other words, the blog is back on! Thanks for those of you who called or wrote to see where I was. Nice to know someone reads these!

Every Monday, Breaking Even talks about a business, website, or non-profit doing something cool to market themselves.

I first heard a lot about PR codes from this link from Hall Web shared by Marc Pitman.

I had seen one in a magazine a few months ago for a free music or short movie download but I didn’t know how it worked.

A QR (Quick Response) code is a sort of bar code that can hold information like a web address or contact information. It can be read with any smartphone (after downloading a QR reader application). It looks like this (scanning this will take you to the Downeast Learning website):

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

A QR Code I generated in about five seconds online. Have you seen one of these before?

It has a lot of applications for print media/advertising. Many print companies like GreenerPrinter will generate them for you as part of their services but you can also find many free online QR  generators online. That’s how I made the one, stage left.

Some ideas I’ve read for QR codes are on temporary tattoos at an event, on business cards (holding the person’s contact information), and on flyers/ads to hold additional information that can’t fit on the printed page.

To read more articles about QR codes, check out any of the articles linked above, this Fast Company article, and this Mashable article.

Now if only I can get a client to try this out!

Marketing Monday: Meatless Monday

10 August

Every Monday, the Breaking Even blog takes on a business, non-profit, or website with a good marketing idea. Have one? Send it in!

This morning, I was listening to NPR (on the Maine Public Broadcasting Network) and heard about former marketer now turned non-profit marketer Sid Lerner talking about the Meatless Monday concept him and his firm started as a way to get people to eat healthier one day a week. According to the story, 20% of the American population was aware of the term. Personally, I’ve heard about it on a few blogs I read (I do like food) and I was surprised the recognition of the phrase was that low.

Not just a campaign but a website providing useful information and incentives to step out of their comfort zone one night a week.

Meanwhile, it turns out some college campuses have also bought in to the concept but most younger generation folks aren’t going meatless for cholesterol but for the environment. (Which is a big reason why I eat meat only a couple times a week myself. Holy grain acres, Batman!(As a complete aside, you can read a whole nerdy though somewhat slanted article about grain acres here with neato diagram if you are interested.)

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Marketing Monday: Can-Am International Dog Sled Race

09 March
Every Monday, the Breaking Even blog looks at a individual, business, or website promoting itself in interesting ways online. Have an idea? Do tell!
Most years, I try to make it to my hometown of Fort Kent Maine for the annual Can-Am International Dog Sled Race. It’s been happening for seventeen years and the total purse is up to $40,000.
Usually taking place the first weekend of March, Main Street is covered with snow and racers tackling the 30 mile, 60 mile, or 250 races all start off with cheering crowds around them. The 250 mile race qualifies races for the Iditarod, and a few say this race is even tougher than that.
The event is well organized and well staffed with volunteers, and I think thanks at least in part to social media, this year’s crowd was among the largest ever.
The YouTube video clip from a documentary film flew around YouTube.
A few filmmakers made a Can-Am film last year and put the preview clip on Youtube as pretty much the only thing on this user’s Youtube channel. As the event approached, I noticed several of my Facebook friends posted it. It was so well done, I posted it.
As one of the commenters wrote, “My third year as a Can Am vet is about to happen, and I thank you for the video reminder of why I do it!” It’s no doubt that a well told story will get more people interested in a cause, and it’s no doubt this film will draw new spectators for years to come. (If you want, you can buy the video off the Can-Am website… well, sort of anyway.)

The race website is very up-to-date with content.
My friend Sarah’s father is one of the people who maintains the Can-Am website. While the design is very basic, throughout the weekend it was updated multiple times an hour with times, places, and other information about all three races. There is even a map where each individual musher’s location was tracked through time. (To see the dots on the map, click this link and then the ‘Track!’ button. You can click on different dots to see a headshot of the racer and track their individual progress in relation to other mushers.)

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Weekly Online Twitter Chat: BudgetPulse, Breaking Even, and You

23 December
Friend and blogger Craig started a weekly personal finance chat on Twitter with BudgetPulse last week. He was looking for cohosts and since I like Craig and talking about money, I offered to be a part of it.
Each week, the topic is different with the undercurrent of money (sound familiar?). Tonight on the Weekly Personal Finance Chat, we’re talking about dating.
What does personal finance have to do with dating. More than you’d think: Who pays? Is it more expensive to be single or in a relationship? Basically all things love and money will be all over Twitter tonight, and if you have a Twitter account, you can be a part of it!

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