I’ve been doing lots of events recently and quite honestly with varying success, and as a start-up you’re always learning about EVERYTHING the hard way. I’ve had unexpected successes, and absolutely miserable failures. Success itself isn’t just profit mind. Brand awareness, instant (and sometimes brutal) customer feedback, and of course driving future sales into outlets happen too.
So with that in mind I thought I would share the aspects that determine event success (in a hope to improve future events). They are in priority order with the largest impact first.
Without doubt external factors have the largest impact on an event, with number one being weather. Bad weather can destroy foot fall in a moment and this instantly limits success of the event, regardless of all other aspects. I’ve attended events this year that have had rain or clashed with the world cup. The impact was MASSIVE.
I can’t control the weather or when other events occur. All I can do is be aware and take appropriate action (ideally before the event).
I’ve been to several events this season where the advertising, either volume or message, didn’t match with the event. The result is either not enough visitors, visitors with the wrong expectation, or not being your target audience.
This is a hard one and I need to ask more about advertising and the event message before signing up. Also be extremely cautious if this is the first event as there is no track record on success!
In part this is defined by the event advertising, but also the venue itself, the name of the event, and the branding all contribute to an expectation from the visitor. I’ve been to two events this year at both ends of the spectrum, one a beer festival and one a food festival, and I had the wrong offering at the event. The harsh reality was that I hadn’t identified what the expectation, and likely behaviour, of visitors was going to be and as a result my offering didn’t match.
When signing up I need to ask about the previous track record, how many of my target audience is really going to be there? Who attended last year and what was their offering? Think like my visitor!
THE LAYOUT OF THE SITE
This year I’ve been in the centre of the action and on the edge. Near fellow food and drink producers, and out on a dog leg. Strangely the times that have been best have been when I was near the toilets. Particularly for “on sales” (consumers buying beer to drink then), walking past with a full bladder, and returning with an empty one presents opportunity!
So location is key and this is quite hard as you may not have much influence over where you go. I guess either being in the centre of everything at least gives you foot fall. Being next to public amenities ensures passing foot fall. Out in a cul-de-sac is bad news!
Some stall holders talk about their “competition” being here today, and sure I’ve been to a few events with other breweries present. These guys aren’t “my competition”, they really aren’t. I’ve used the opportunity to introduce myself and network (and I know they read this blog too :)).
Deep down I just do my own thing. Focus on my USPs and believe in my products. Be passionate in what I do and leave the visitor to decide.
The appeal of your stand makes a difference and you have to have impact. The good news is that Devitera is quite rustic and I don’t have the budget for shiny signage and banners. So I have to make do with what can be made (thanks Lucy and Tony). This reinforces the branding and makes Devitera stand out.
I will NEVER have shiny professionally printed Devitera banners. Why do EXACTLY what everyone else is doing? This IS Devitera.
Strange that this is last but I was thinking that with the other aspects being positive, you can overcome the economic factors (mostly). I’ve attended events where they ask for a very high pitch fee, and events that ask for a percentage, typically 10% of your takings. A large pitch fee moves the risk of a bad event onto me and as a small producer I’m not really in a position to shoulder poor performing events.
If the pitch fee is low great, otherwise a percentage shares the risk of all the other aspects with the event organiser. If they don’t advertise properly or place me in a bad location they are impacted too!
So aim for small pitch fees or a share of the takings. Stay clear of high pitch fees unless there is sufficient strategic benefit (for example a really high profile event).