EASY ADVICE #1 Best Practice Tips For A Successful Eventing Brand
Love what you are selling
It is very important to be your product’s biggest fan. Love what you are selling, be proud of what you are selling and believe in what you are selling! People feed off the love you have for what you do and they'll want to associate themselves with events and brands that are successful and proud.
Fun level vs attendance
A successful event is not an event that had an attendance of 12 000 people. A successful event is an event that was fun to organise and fun to attend. It is very important to focus on the customer experience of an event. From entrance, to toilets, to bar services and beyond. Yes, sometimes it’s a hit and a miss and you get slammed on social media by the fun police but all you do then, is to pick up your head, deal with your ego boundaries, learn and fix the problem at your next event.
The promoter trap
There will always be that guy who tells you that eventing is easy and that it can make you rich. This is the guy who hosts an event, loses money, hosts another event to make back that money, loses the money again and finally owes everyone money and never pays… this is what I call the promoter trap.
Never count your chickens before they hatch. It is easy to think you will make money on an event. The reality is that eventing is a high-risk game, and anything can happen. Bad weather can happen, a last minute clash with another event can happen, heck, even a pandemic can happen!
Start small, grow slow, grow strong
Remember, one event doesn’t make you, but it can break you! Rather start small and grow slow. Build up your reserves and then take the next risk by growing slowly and learning fast. Before you even know it, your event is sold out every year and your brand is strong enough to survive any obstacle in its path.
The snowball effect
Marketing is a process that involves time, effort and consistency. Social media is only one (very small) part in a campaign for an event. I prefer not to launch all my marketing in week 1. I spread it out over months where I launch a new marketing stream every week e.g. Facebook event in week 1, poster campaign in week 2, artist campaign in week 3, flyer campaign in week 4, street pole adds in week 5, ticket competitions in week 6, and so on...
Every new format adds to the ball, and every week the ball is getting bigger and bigger, rolling faster and faster. By the time you reach event week your campaign is so big and strong that the masses commit and your ticket sales boom.
Watch out for the roof
There is always a point where your event reaches its peak, where you hit the roof and you
don’t know where to go after that. Do I sell out and go commercial? Do I write a song about braai’ing? This is a very critical stage in your event because in this decision you can lose your core audience and destroy a perfectly healthy eventing brand. Rather start a new brand from scratch and test the waters out in this new scenario. I'm not saying going commercial is bad, what I am saying is if your brand is Pearl Jam I am pretty sure Nickelback wont lift the roof.
Your brand should be the headliner... not the band… not an international act
Booking the most popular band in South Africa, or flying in an international band does not fill your seats for the next 10 years. It takes one year where people are unhappy with your international act and then the fun police come again and tear you apart! Rather focus on building an event that people want to attend because they fall in love with the event.
Plan for the long term
Don’t shoot all your fireworks in year one. Rather keep some bullets in the barrel for year two and onwards. It's very easy to want to go too big or too impressive initially, and then your audience expect the same level or higher every year until you reach a point where you just can't deliver this level without a serious ticket price increase.
Don’t be jealous… don’t be angry… become hungry!
People will always use your ideas or duplicate your tactics. Sometimes, they'll even do it better than you did. Don’t be angry and don’t be jealous. This is good because they are forcing you to do better and to not be lazy. Always be different. Don’t look at what your competitors are doing. Live your passion, your vision and your dream. A successful eventing brand tells people what they want.
Grow with your age and your audience
This is a lesson that has treated me well over the years. Grow with your audience. Your core audience starts to settle and have families, but that does not mean that they don’t want to have fun and do things that they enjoy anymore. Adapt and grow with them. I’m not saying don’t innovate and attract a younger audience, yes this is also important, but don’t forget about your core.
Even though you try your best to follow advice from industry experts or stick to best practice principles, there will be learning curves along the way. Sure, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes but I’ve also learnt some of my best lessons from them. Hence, you are more than welcome to contact me for a chat if you need more information or a talk about your journey in this complex environment of entertainment.
About the author:
Johan Auriacombe graduated from University of Pretoria in 2008 with a BCom Marketing and Business Management degree. Since 2008 he has successfully founded and managed successful eventing brands like Grietfest, Park Acoustics, Capital Craft Beer Festival, Lentedag Festival, Tshwanefontein and more. Johan is a founding director of Easy Agency.