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To ensure the success and health of your event, one of the most crucial relationships to nurture is your repeat participant. These are the people who come back year after year and typically bring new friends along with them. They are team builders and fundraisers and inspire others to act as well. Because of this, it is essential to give them the VIP treatment. They may not ask for it, but everyone feels good being recognized for their efforts, and loyal participants should receive the royal treatment.
VIP participants come from a variety of backgrounds. A cookie cutter approach to ask your VIP’s in helping to grow the event may sound like a good idea, but your participants are all unique individuals. If you take the time to identify who these people are, what makes them participate year after year, and what makes them choose your event over others, you’ll find that your participants will recognize and appreciate your efforts. Whether it is team building or fundraising, outlining clear goals will be key to a successful relationship with your VIP.
It’s not always about swag. Participants are looking for your support for their efforts and recognition. People are drawn in by small touches such as personalized recognition; a fast pass to the head of the line or a simple registration discount will encourage continued participation. Additionally, this will make your participant feel as if they have some of ownership over the event. Making yourself available to answer questions about training, fundraising, and team building will make your participants feel like they are getting one on one attention. A great way to provide recognition would be to host a fundraising coffee chat or “meet a team night.” Invite your VIP participants to present at these events to encourage team building, training, shared knowledge and fundraising ideas.
First time participants find it encouraging interacting with repeat participants. During a coffee chat or team night, act as the initial facilitator but find opportunities to leverage your VIP participants. The participant perspective will encourage and inspire new participants to show up to the event.
Acknowledgement will get you far with VIPs and first timers. The first timers want to achieve a VIP status and will continue to support your event to obtain that star power, and the VIPs will value their status and work to maintain it. When determining how to acknowledge this unique group, keep logistics, cost, and time in mind. At the beginning of the recruitment cycle, offer a specialized discount code for early bird registration to ensure they will keep coming back and encourage others to follow suit. Mid-way through the cycle, consider holding a VIP reception. The focus should be on getting your VIPs fired up about the event and encouraging growth. Again, keep in mind to outline clear goals so that everyone knows the desired outcome. On the event offer them a piece of swag or head of the pack at the starting line. They won’t ask for much, if anything at all, but giving them these privileges will show that you appreciate them. People will return if they know they are appreciated.
The great thing about events is that it brings people together organically. Their backgrounds may begin at opposite ends of the spectrum, but when brought together for a common purpose, the synergy is unmatched and indescribable. The heart pounding enthusiasm and charitable adrenaline running through their veins will launch them into being one of your best advocates if treated properly. Leveraging your VIPs simply means recognizing their strengths, addressing their needs, building on their passion, supporting their efforts, and showing thanks.
As event marketing professionals, we are constantly evaluating and reevaluating the who, where, why, what, and when of our events. On this quick journey through our event marketing funnel, we’ll explore the best ways to target, locate, reach, inspire, and convert listeners into participants.
Last year, the 2013 Boston MuckFest MS was held one week after the 2013 Boston Marathon. Following the tragedy of the Boston Marathon, we carefully reviewed all of our security measures – questioning what we could do to ensure the safety of our participants, volunteer and staff. Our event site (Fort Devens) coincidentally was where the suspect had been relocated to the night before our event. This relocation also created last minute security measures that needed to be addressed.
After all of the hard work your organization puts into the planning and publicizing of your event, don’t let errors in communication undermine your credibility and your message. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes give the impression that you don’t pay attention to details. Broken or misdirected links are frustrating and an incorrect date or address could even cause someone to miss your event altogether.
One of the best parts of our job is creating amazing experiences for our participants. However, it’s not always possible to please everyone. Mix in the emotions that come with participating in a cause-related event and the activity people are completing, and you’ve got the perfect recipe to see participants take their frustrations to a new level. It’s kind of like a wedding where you get to see people at their best and, unfortunately, at their worst. Everyone in the event business knows who we’re talking about: the unruly participant.
Next up in our blog series, Event 360 Explores, we hear from Robin Shapiro who just finished the Phoenix Half Marathon.
The spirit of our last API discussion was, essentially, “don’t believe the hype”. (Did I just drop in some Chuck D? Yes, yes I did.) In this installment we’ll talk about some of the groovy things you can do with APIs, as well as some thoughts on the future.
If you are involved in the technical side of event fundraising, you’ve probably come across the term ‘API’. It’s often used in the same sentence with “open”, “standards-based”, “custom”, or “integration”. It is touted as a way to attain new levels of efficiency and interoperability by letting different systems communicate with each other. While no one comes right out and says it, it is portrayed as an “Easy Button”.
Schools are vital players to each community. As such, we understand that when a school holds a special event, the community should be there in full force. However, with today’s busy schedule, how do you effectively pack your event with parents and members of the community? As event managers and parents, we recently had to use all of our skills when planning an event for our kid’s schools.
Last week, we attended the Peer to Peer Professional Forum (formerly known as the Run Walk Ride Conference) in Atlanta. We enjoyed hearing from organizations and companies in the Peer-to-Peer space about new trends, successes, and lessons learned over the past year. Mostly, we loved meeting great people from all over the country who passionately represent events, large and small, that raise funds for important causes.