Thinking of hosting a GEW event? Here’s what you need to know before you register.
1. Know your audience
Who are you organizing the event for? This question should be the jumping-off point for any successful event. Do you want to target potential new customers, source young talent, or simply give back to the community which has supported the growth of your business? You should build your event around your audience, and what will work best for them. If it’s students you want to attract an online webinar might work best, or if you’re looking to talk to self-starters with big ideas, why not organize a speed mentoring session? Other options include workshops, networking events, lunch and learn sessions, and guest speakers.
2. Create a theme
Don’t forget to have a clear theme for the day too – something which is precise, and easy for the audience to understand and connect with. GEW offers you a helping hand here: the 2015 theme is ‘make it happen’, which encourages this year’s cohort to take the plunge, and do what it takes to make their business ideas materialise. You might then want to narrow your focus to female, or secondary school entrepreneurship, or community outreach.
3. Location, location, location
Choosing the venue is the next decision to be made. Shops, restaurants, galleries, and other customer-friendly spaces provide the perfect opportunity to showcase your business while helping you save on some costs! Conference rooms can also work, particularly if you are hosting smaller mentoring sessions. Aside from that, try to look for venues close to your target audience – people can be lazy, so incentivize action by making the location convenient. Don’t forget to also check out the details, such as food and refreshments, parking, transportation, disability access, and sound and lighting. Try to also pick a location that allows a certain flexibility in last minute changes to audience numbers.
4. Partners and sponsors
Speaking of venues, don’t forget the old saying: ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Check with the owners of the venue if they are interested in partnering with you, or even sponsoring your event. Partners don’t have to necessarily make a monetary contribution — working in partnership can also mean pooling knowledge and expertise, or simply growing your audience. Think about joining up with a local university, school, or county council.
Create an expense budget, and highlight the areas where you think your sponsors or partners can help. Events invariably end up costing more than originally expected, so try to be as realistic as possible with your numbers, and expect some overspend. If budget is really limited, consider charging for entrance, or offering special VIP packages. Also set a minimum number of RSVPs — most of your costs are fixed costs, and you won’t get them back even if nobody shows up!
Promoting your event can be tricky. Between organizing the event, location, and speaker, you may end up forgetting about your guests. The first and most important step for your GEW event promotion is to register it! This way you become a partner, and your event will be listed on the official events calendar, which is viewed by hundreds of people on a daily basis. GEW also gives out High Impact Badge of Honour to event organizers every year. The criteria necessary to be awarded the badge includes providing practical support whilst promoting the fact you are a part of the global initiative, among others. Last year, 1,877 events were awarded the High Impact Badge of Honour.
There are many easy ways to promote your event – sending out an email to your network, posting an article to LinkedIn, or simply writing a Tweet. GEW has also released a host guide, that contains specific PR and media advice in promoting your event. It includes tips on how to champion social media, and writing and distributing press releases.
If you are feeling more ‘traditional’, why not try flyers in local spots of interest such as libraries, universities or busy local cafes? There are a number of helpful resources online: pre-made press releases, printable posters downloadable posters and logos, tweets, and other templates that can be easily tweaked to create effective, localized campaigns.
7. Getting a return on your investment
Making the event count for you is an important step when finishing up. Track who attended, and who didn’t. Send a follow-up communication summarizing the event. Take photos during the event and post them online – the selfie is a great little tool for self-promotion, particularly if you have a high profile guest speaker. Even better than the selfie is the handshake selfie, GEW’s more business-friendly alternative! Try to get names of attendees, and tag people in pictures. And most importantly, ask for feedback. See what people liked and what they didn’t like – that way you can already start planning bigger and better for GEW 2015!