#01 Know when to go big and when to scale back
It’s easy to add more to your plate after every successful event. Adding more stages & more speakers seems like the obvious thing to do. When we started 2x2Fest, it was a surprise to see 75 submissions in the inbox for people wanting to perform. Fast-forward a few years and we’re seeing 200 and 300+ submissions each year. Adding more stages and booking more acts was a comment that we heard all the time. You might try to grow too quickly and if you do, you'll see the crowds in front of those stages and people seated in speaker sessions will start to shrink. This year, we really stepped back to think about our audience and make sure that our speakers/performers had just as great of an experience as the attendees.
#02 Timing is key
Timing quickly becomes an important piece of the puzzle. It isn’t just about what date you select to have your event, it’s timing for everything. From when you start marketing to when you book your talent, to how you schedule out the day of the event itself. Everything has to be timed out properly. You can’t expect to bring out a huge crowd with only a week of promoting.
*If you’re planning a series of events, make sure you’re spacing them out enough to give your target audience a break as well as giving yourself enough time to plan and promote each of them to their fullest potential.
*Working on a weekend-long festival? Consider starting your event pages and sending out your first run of press releases several months in advance. Be sure to stay on top of your marketing plan so that your event doesn’t fall through the cracks.
Your day-of schedule is just as important as the timing of your planning pieces leading up to the event. Be sure to think about that customer journey and how your attendee will be experiencing the event. When you have a lot of moving parts, you want to keep that attendee in mind for when to schedule certain talks, performances, and activities.
#03 Know your audience
Are you crafting an experience before figuring out what type of audience will want to be a part of it? Having a great idea for an event before thinking about the type of audience happens all the time, but eventually you’ll start to learn about what your audience wants and needs in an event to keep coming back. A good way to start planning an event is to think about what the goal of the event is and who it’s for. Once you know what your goals are and who your audience is, you’ll be able to plan out entertainment, activities, and how to set everything up.
#04 Don’t hold back on your marketing. When in doubt, double down.
There’s a huge difference between doing an event for two hundred people and doing one for thousands. Not only do you need to know the difference logistically, but you need to understand that the promotion is a completely different level with those larger events. After I started throwing small events on OSU campus, I started to hate the phrase “if you build it they will come.” Why? Because if nobody knows what you’ve built then they won’t know when and where to go or that there’s anything to even go to. This is why marketing is so important. When it comes to music festivals and events where your goal is to attract as many people as you can, you have to invest in your marketing. Just booked the biggest band your city has ever seen? Don’t count on everybody to spread the word for you and definitely don’t assume that the band you just booked is going to shout out your event every day for 3 months. Everybody has to be on the same page when it comes to marketing. You need to have all of your performers/speakers letting their followers know about your event and everybody else who is involved in the event should be telling their networks as well. Think you’re going to bring 5,000 people out on just word of mouth? Think again..You have to plan out your marketing strategy months in advance and make sure that you’re hitting your target audience from every direction. Social media ads and organic posts, print ads, radio, billboard, etc. This is where knowing your audience is huge.
As your event grows so should your team. Putting together an all day event or weekend long festival is a lot of work. If you’re planning an event for a couple hundred people with a few moving parts, then you might be able to do it yourself. For those larger events and more than a handful of things happening, building a strong team will be vital to having a successful outcome. You need to think about what parts of the planning process you really enjoy and what parts can be delegated to a team member who can do well with those responsibilities and enjoys them as much as you enjoy yours. With our festivals, we’re starting to look at our teams and where we can add new people or shift folks around to ensure everything is being executed properly and that everybody is invested in playing their part.
It’s been an exciting year for Matchbox. We worked with some new clients and did some new stuff with our current clients. We saw some amazing growth with our events and learned a ton along the way. It’s important that we always look back to see where we failed and where we succeeded so that every year is bigger and better than the last.
What’s a big thing that you learned from organizing your last event?
There are 2 ways to sponsor a festival- the wrong way or the right way, clever I know ;)
Businesses that sponsor festivals should see a return on their sponsorship dollars. Sponsoring should include an engaging activation, brand awareness, and brand ambassadors at the event spreading the word about how amazing your brand is. Most of the time, we see a company pay thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars just to have their logo on a banner or printed in a brochure. The banner gets ignored and the brochures ultimately end up in the trash.
Here’s a few things to think about when your company is weighing the options of sponsoring a festival or event of any kind.
#01 Do you share the same target audience?
When it comes to sponsoring and having a presence at an event, the first question you have to ask is does it make sense? Are the people that we want to attract going to be at this shindig? That could be in the form of potential customers, future employees, etc. Does your business plan on attracting potential customers from this sponsorship or maybe you’re looking to support an event from a community standpoint? Do your values line up with the event’s mission and goals?
#02 Are there any direct competitors already sponsoring the event?
You never really see Coke and Pepsi sponsor the same event. You need to think about that when you are sponsor or going after sponsors for festivals and events.
If you are a sponsor you want to make sure you are getting all the spotlight- you did pay for it after all. Same principle goes for event organizers. You want to make sure your sponsors are happy and getting what they want out of their sponsorship so you can build long lasting supporting relationships.
#03 What are the marketing goals for the business?
Set goals for this piece of your marketing budget. If your goal is to get 500 new customers to download your app then you need to think about how you’re going to achieve that. Work with the event organizers or a sponsorship team to ensure they know what your goals are so they can assist in getting you there as well.
If you are an event organizer, it is crucial that you ask your sponsors what they expect to gain from the sponsorship and then help them. If they need 500 downloads you should brainstorm ways to make that happen. If you want returning sponsors for events- businesses need to see the value in sponsoring your event.
#04 How can we be a part of the experience?
Those 500 attendees aren’t going to download your app just because they saw your logo on a banner with “download the app” next to it. The best way to get engagement at an event is to be a part of the experience. Think about the audience that will be attending this event. What are their interests and how can you connect with them in a way that’s going to add to their overall experience? That doesn’t mean you have to throw your own mini-festival inside a bigger one. Just put yourself in the attendee’s shoes. Why are they attending this event and what can you do to give them an even better reason to remember their time spent there?
Examples: Contests leading up to the event, a fun game that families can participate in while at a community festival, or a branded section of the festival that includes product samples and an awesome experience.
#05 Do we have the resources to pull it off?
Say you have a great opportunity and would love to be a part of an event, but you just don’t have the time or the funds to really do something great. While having a budget of some kind is important for getting the most out of your event sponsorship, you don’t have to have 10 team members and $200,000 to be a part of the experience. Think about what you can do with the resources you have or consider working with a company like us to come up with a concept that fits within your budget while achieving your goals.
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