We are constantly searching for ways to improve what we do and the events we work on are always being put under the microscope in an effort to create the best experience. Here's what we learned in 2019 about creating experiences.
#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?
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