Creative Virtual Events

As a result of Covid-19, virtual events have become exponentially more popular than ever before. Now that many areas in PA are moving into the green phase, we can expect to see small in-person events again. Even so, my prediction is that we will continue to see virtual events thrive, or even events that are a combination of in-person and virtual for quite some time. 

Here are some things to consider when planning a virtual event:

Fun 

Tired of the same old Zoom events? So is everyone else. Put some thought into how you can make your virtual event more fun. Can you add a game like Pictionary or trivia to break the ice? If a quick game isn’t a fit, then what about a contest for the most creative Zoom background? Even something small will show your attendees that you are making an effort to liven things up a bit. 

Networking

One of the biggest reasons that people attend events is to meet other people. How can you incorporate networking into your next virtual event? Can you ask everyone to drop their contact information into the chat, or use breakout rooms so that people can virtually meet each other? Maybe you can create a Facebook group where people can continue the conversations later.

Physical

Especially if they’re not used to being in front of a computer all the time for virtual meetings, your attendees will appreciate a little movement in the event. Try to incorporate a yoga class or a guided stretch break in between sessions.

Swag

Many in-person events offer some sort of swag. Why can’t virtual events do the same? Collect the mailing addresses of your attendees as they register and make it clear that you will be sending them something for the event, so you don’t send something to an office when they are working from home. Mail out the ingredients for a themed cocktail, a branded hand sanitizer, or even a t-shirt for your virtual race. The ideas are endless, and there are plenty of local small businesses that can help with these swag items and packaging. Mailing something like this will show your attendees that you value them, it will make your event stand out from other virtual events, and it might help to encourage social media conversations.

Sponsorship

Just because your event isn’t in-person, doesn’t mean that sponsors won’t be interested. Virtual events tend to cost less than in-person events, but analytics and data collection can be more seamless, as well. Sponsors can be recognized not just on slides between presenters, but in pre and post event emails, in the event’s social media presence, or with branded items mailed to attendees. As with in-person event sponsorship, sponsors should be able to tailor their collateral to their goals and needs. 

Wondering what in-person events will look like moving forward? Check out Appleseed’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages where I’ll be showcasing some ideas and considerations for the future of in-person events. 

Budget items often overlooked

Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, a networking event, a conference, or a grand opening, budgeting is a big part of the planning process. No matter what your budget is, you should have a budget outline for initial planning, a working budget where you update income and expenses throughout the planning, and then a budget with actual numbers, so you know where you landed.

Here are some expenses that are often missed:

  • Catering Costs: I’m not suggesting that you would forget the food expense, but did you account for tax and gratuity? Did you account for any service charges for servers or setup? 
  • Printing: Many invitations are now sent out electronically for events, but what about the signage for on-site or the program booklets, if you’re not using a digital app?
  • Graphic Design: My planning packages often include graphic design, but if you’re doing an event yourself, be sure to budget for design so that you can present professional-looking marketing for your event.
  • Credit Card Fees. While many of your sponsors may prefer to pay with check, chances are you are still going to have quite a few attendees who would like to register with credit card. If you’re not having registrants pay their own fees, make sure you budget for these costs. 
  • Volunteer Hospitality: Make sure you count your volunteers in the final count for food and swag items at the event. If you have a planning committee, it’s nice to have a wrap-up meeting to show your appreciation and gather feedback. Budget for food for this meeting.

Need someone to help you manage your budget and all of your event details? I’d love to help, and am now booking events for this winter.

More Profitable Events

How do I make my next event more profitable?

You’ll have to come to tomorrow’s Lunchbox Session to learn the majority of this content, but here are a few quick tips to make your next event more profitable.   

  1. Consider your goals. Are you trying to make more money from an event itself, or are you using your event as a marketing tool or an entry to a sales funnel? Events can be helpful for both of these things, but be sure that you have your goals clearly defined before you move forward in planning.
  2. Fix your pricing. Tiered pricing can be very effective, but don’t just do early registration discounts because that’s what you see everyone else doing. For example, one trend in events right now is a VIP ticket option with some additional benefits. Your ticket price reflects the commitment level, so with a free event there’s a good chance you’ll have no-shows. Think through your pricing and registration strategy early and often in the planning process.
  3. Hire some help. Of course I’m going to say this! It may seem counterintuitive to spend money in order to increase profits, but oftentimes by hiring someone it can cost you less. What is your time worth, and do you have extra? A professional can help you to become more efficient with your budget.

Event Swag

‘Tis the season for community days, festivals and fairs!  What better time to consider event swag? 

SWAG = “stuff we all get”

Event swag can be a great sponsor benefit.  It can be a great way to build your business’ brand and good will with the community.  If someone gives you something that you like and you see their name often, don’t you think they’ll be more likely to do business with you?  It’s a hard thing to measure, and sometimes it is difficult to think of just the right item.

Keep the event’s purpose and theme in mind.  For example, some of the Moraine State Park Regatta’s sponsors have taken advantage of the opportunity to provide branded swag to our attendees, but they have kept it on theme.  One is giving out wildflower seeds, one is giving out chapstick, and one is giving out notebooks and pens at the education tent.  

Consider something useful.  For example, although everyone has multiple of them, I think you can never have too many reusable grocery bags.  They are useful at conferences, trade shows, and vendor shows, and they are useful after the fact for just everyday use. 

Try to get creative.  How many branded coffee mugs do you have, and how many do you actually use?  Consider something slightly different, like a branded reusable straw, a water bottle that can be condensed when empty, or a branded cookie to snack on later. 

What’s your favorite event swag item?  What kinds of things do you love to get, and which things go right to the trash?

Employee Engagement through Events

Did you know that an estimated 70% of employees are disengaged, costing your business thousands of dollars a year?*

Events can be a fantastic way to engage with employees.  Whether that event is planned by the company, the employees, or a community organization, there are many ways to further engage employees and it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are some ideas for employee engagement events:

  • Volunteer service day
  • Workplace Jeopardy
  • Axe throwing outing
  • Mini golf or soccer golf tournament
  • Cocktail making class
  • Family picnic

A few considerations:

  • Ask employees for ideas, or give them an opportunity to play a leadership role in the planning efforts.
  • Be sure to clearly communicate attendance expectations as well as details like end time, dress code, transportation, etc.
  • Do your best to find an activity in which all of your employees can participate, regardless of age or physical fitness level.

*Reference: causecast.com