Event basics: discovery

EventsSo how do people find out about your amazing event?

In some cases, this answer is pretty straightforward. Perhaps you’re just emailing friends or creating a private event on Facebook. If you’re an established brand with multiple outreach channels – maybe a newsletter (or two or three) and social media handles – you may already have some idea of who you can connect with.

In terms of event design, here are some considerations.

Who do you foresee coming to your event?

Consider the type of audience you want. Do you want corporate executives to attend? Change makers in the city? Under 30 rising talent? Artists? Real estate agents? Frame the event in a way that will be appealing to them. For executives, it might be the chance to interact with other executives and talk about tough business challenges. For change makers, it might be the chance to interact with local business leaders, politicians or funders. And remember: if you’re targeting two groups — say, both venture capitalists and entrepreneurs at the same event — you need to consider carefully how you approach both audiences and the unique things that might appeal to each.

Where are they looking for something similar?

Where would your target audience expect to receive notification of a similar event? In the case of the organization I work for, most of our community regularly expects announcements about conferences and other events in their email inboxes. We even have a dedicated newsletter for people excited about our events. And, of course, we notify and remind people via social media regularly. For a large-scale event, the ability for people to share their excitement about participating is critical to getting the word out. If it’s a more intimate, private event, people might expect both a mailing and a digital reminder directing them to your wedding site.

If you aren’t sure how people might find out about your event, it might be worth reaching out directly to a couple of organized groups. Facebook or Meetup may have groups dedicated to your topic, so you might reach out to the organizers to ask if they’d be interested. If they don’t respond or you really don’t want to do that level of direct outreach, at least consider what would be compelling to organizers of groups.

State your purpose clearly

This might sound obvious, but I see a lot of groups get this wrong. One of the tricks to making an event work is to quickly and clearly state what the event is and why someone should attend. In the case of a wedding or a dinner party, this will be pretty obvious. But what if your event is an experiential art installation? What if it’s a new format your organization has never tried before? The most common issues I see with event titles is that they are either too clever, which might make the purpose of the event confusing, or not specific enough. Is your “whiskey tasting” for amateurs who might be coming to their first tasting, or pros who might be willing to pay a higher fee to taste something rare?

Consider your primary audience … and then a second and then a third

Obviously, you’ll want to spend most of your time targeting your primary audience. But often, events are appealing to more than one group. Take some time to think carefully about who else might want to come. Our previous example of a meetup between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs is a great example of two different audiences. Who else might want to attend such an event? Maybe foundation staff, who wouldn’t mind putting in a bit of money to an interesting project to help it get moving. Or perhaps others in start-up labs or co-working spaces who might be able to offer advice to people just starting up a business. If you take time to build out a more robust community, your event will be more diverse and people often will be excited to meet a few folks outside of the usual faces they see.


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