I don’t expect you to be a nutter like me, but this is what works for me in Manchester, and this simple strategy in whole or in part might just work for you as well. So brace yourself, as there’s a lot of work at the micro-level.
So let’s pick up the Techcelerate Coffees Manchester Episode 22 I ran on 12th Feb 2020.
1. Event Planning and Promotion
Our events are simple and follow the same structure most of the time. They are branded as Techcelerate Coffees xxx yyy, where xxx is the city where it’s held and yyy is the Episode in that city. We have no speakers (we do sometimes turn these into pitch practices). We hold these in coffee shops without letting the venue know. We suggest attendees pay for their coffees. We do not earn a commission from their spending.
All our events are capped at 25 and last 2 hours. A small manageable number. Enough time for everyone to get to know each other in 2 hours.
In Manchester, we hold them at XYZ Social (I’m trying to secure them as a Partner, but so far, I have not been successful), as I believe that is the best venue. Unfortunately, they separated an area for us yesterday, which actually helped. Perhaps I should have let them do this from the beginning (I’m stubborn sometimes).
- Publish the event on Eventbrite. Create a subdomain for your company. In our case, this is https://techcelerate.eventbrite.com, so we can always promote this link instead of promoting individual event links.
- Use your normal channels to tell people about the event, i.e. emails, newsletters, social media, WhatsApp groups, Slack, etc.
- When there are only a few tickets to go, use your channels again. Be truthful.
- Just a day or so before, write to the attendee list requesting them to cancel the tickets if they cannot attend. Most of them do, some simply don’t give a toss. I issue yellow and red cards for regular offenders. You simply should not associate with people who do not respect your efforts.
- Configure the Eventbrite to show the attendees at the bottom of the event page. Also, activate the Waiting List feature. It’s not great as you have to manually release the tickets.
2. During the Event
- Speak to everyone. Don’t spend all the time speaking to a few people. That’s just rude, given you are the organiser.
- Get others to move around and not be stuck in one or two conversations for the whole 2 hours.
- If you know the need of one and there is someone among the attendees who could satisfy that need, make the introduction. This is a valuable lesson I learnt from Paul Treloar at Sci-Tech Daresbury. I’ve connected Myrto and Colin yesterday. One has the capital and the other needs a capital injection. Outside these events, I do not make any free introductions anymore. These events are part of Techcelerate Free offer. The other is Deal News Teaser. We are a 100% commercial organisation.
- Make the time available after the event if some of them want to speak with you, as I’ve done with Myrto yesterday.
3. Post-Event Analysis and Engagement
- Write to everyone individually who did not show up. Ask what happened. I get emotionally upset as these individuals took away the opportunity from others, but try to be civil as much as possible.
- I use XMind to analyse and group all participants, i.e. attendees, cancellations and no-shows. Actions against each one are captured and then added to CapsuleCRM for following up.
- On the same day (don’t delay), write to everyone where there is a likelihood of conversion. In our case, either into a Tech Company Member or Partner.
- Then follow up. Don’t let them go cold.
- But before you get to (3), and as soon as possible, post an event report on Linkedin. Use comments to reach out to each participant, i.e. both attendees and cancellations. I’ve refrained from naming and shaming no shows there. Have a look at the Linkedin post. See the level of engagement.
- You could start the dialogue on Linkedin prior to the event by posting about the event and then adding ticket holders to the event. I’ve done this sometime for Techcelerate Coffees which were held outside Manchester.
I’ve had events where we had 100% attendance. And this is the benchmark I always go for. Yesterday was a huge disappointment. Here are the stats:
- Capped at 25
- Attended 20 (80% success rate)
- Cancellations 7
- No shows 2
- Waiting list 1 – the ticket did not release automatically
Any suggestions for me to improve what I do even better?