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Next up in our blog series, Event 360 Explores, we hear from Katie Zupancic who just finished the St. Jude Country Music Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.
Last week Erin talked about what do to when wrong information goes out on your event’s website or via group email to your participant base. This week, I’m picking up the baton to talk about what to do when wrong information goes out during 1:1 phone and/or email conversations between your event staff and participants.
Last week we talked about “How to Leverage your VIPs”. And shortly after we published that, we heard from our friend Natalia, who just started Peer to Peer Nation (more on that at the end of this post), and wanted to share her recent thoughts on this same topic.
We’d like to introduce you to our new series “What do you do when…?” Over the course of the next four weeks, we’ll share insider information you can learn from when things don’t go exactly according to plan and how you can make corrections that set you and your event up in the best light possible. We all know that mistakes can- and will- happen. But there’s a way to recover and earn (back) your participants’ trust in the process.
Erin Kirchhoff kicks us off with this week’s topic: What do you do when incorrect information goes out on your website or group email?
The goal of any event is to create an experience that participants will want to have again and again. No event planner wants their participants crossing the finish line and thinking, “Phfew! Glad I never have to do that again!” So once you meet the challenge of getting those coveted past participants to return, the next step is to make them glad they did. Here are four tips to help you get there:
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.