We will leave unsaid when the world’s first event was held. But what we call event marketing today can be traced back to, among other things, when Coca Cola started handing out drink coupons to promote its product in 1886. In 1893, the first World Fairs were held in Chicago. Around 1970, American breweries began physically activating themselves to attract different demographic groups.
However, I would argue that today’s event marketing was born with the launch of the 1984 Olympic Games in LA. These were the first Games to create an economic success for the organisers and this was partly because sponsors were allowed to activate themselves in a more visible way and hence both the Games and their partners could benefit from this moment.
I have done a lot of events since the day I activated my own car sponsor via my own snowboard invitational in Bydalen in 1992, UMI, Ulf Mård Invitational. For me, it’s a natural way of working and I think there will be room for more events in the future as the physical meeting is a must for a real chemistry to develop between different people, brands and employees.
To not be all talk, I’ll give you some handy tips on how to think when organising an event, or for that matter commissioning an event.
- Always make sure you have enough resources so you don’t have to do everything yourself
- An event is often front-loaded, i.e. most of the energy and planning takes place initially in the project. This must be taken into account in your project planning and also in budgeting. Many customers and operators who are not aware of this are often late in making changes, sometimes too late.
- I hate Post it notes, but when I’m planning an event, I get everyone in the steering group and do a little creative exercise. Everyone gets a Post it pad, then we each write down the milestones we come up with. When everyone feels ready, we simply stick the Post it notes in turn on a wall, then we can move them back and forth until we’ve agreed on a good order.
- There are always details that come up in the project in this way, which are not milestones, but we can just stick them on every milestone and take them into the project when it comes to detail planning.
- Now it’s time to put this into some kind of digital format. Trello, Monday or other preferred project management tool. When it comes to budget, I’m old-fashioned, I still run Excell. Once the plan is set, I first check that all the programming in the document is correct. Then I run the entire project plan from the end to the beginning, so it’s easier for me to figure out which elements I may have forgotten to include. I want to avoid those potholes.
- Don’t forget points in your plan like the environment, waste sorting and climate positive action: these are hygiene points today.
- Once the budget and project plan are set, communication in the project is everything for success! How do you make all the details of the project visible to your stakeholders? Who does what and how do you report it to a steering group?
- Make sure to get clear sign offs from your client. Many have fallen for this, when many think and think and you as a supplier are very eager to make a good delivery, it is easy to interpret when someone thinks something that it is an order. Always get back to your customer by email to verify that it should be considered as an order. If it makes a difference in the budget, tell us immediately.
- Now you are most likely up and running with your project. Everything looks good, the budget is in place, the project plan is on target, the client is happy. This is where it all happens. A project is never a straight line between two points, rather a navigation between pitfalls, dead ends, rules, new project members and more. This is the part that I think is so cool about an event, that it’s a living format that usually has so many details to go over and so many people want to be involved. Your ability to never lose momentum will now be put to the test, if you get stuck you will have to find a new way forward to delivery. When something happens, never panic, you will solve it with some tactful work.
- Say you’ve survived all of the above, then it’s almost time for D day. Make sure you have gotten a good night’s sleep, exercised and eated right so that you are full of energy. If you can, don’t fall into the temptation to pre-party with the participants who may have already arrived for the event. IF you have to go out and represent, drink non-alcoholic, it looks professional. If you live in a culture where you have to party, take a beer bottle and fill it with water, then you can keep up even if you have to be on your toes the next day.
- D Day. This is it, everything must fall into place. Make sure that everyone who will be involved is well informed about where, when and how. There are many technical aids, alternatively run with printed formats. I like to have super professional comradios, then you can communicate with everyone in your group without having to move/disturb anything that’s going on.
- Whatever kind of event you’re delivering, it’s when you’re standing there with the visitors that everything should go smoothly. The food has to be at its best, the sound has to work, the screens have to be in sync, etc. This is the moment you create magic.
- If you have now succeeded in creating magic, you will feel immortal. It’s a great feeling. Make sure you don’t just stand there gawping at your performance schedule, lift your gaze and create everlasting bonds with your audience. Because I promise you, the next day another agency will be standing on your client’s doorstep with a bunch of arguments about how they can do this, better, smarter, better and more cost-effectively.
- The day after, now comes the hard part of working with events, first everything has to be rigged down, cleaned up, sorted and so on. But, what’s even more interesting is that your brain is smarter than you think. When you’ve been charging so hard for a long time for this magical moment, your brain is wired to tell your body to rest. It does this by blocking the supply of dopamines in the brain, i.e. you feel no joy, you may even start thinking thoughts like you’re the worst person in the world. Then think back to all that magic you did, and the smiles will still turn upwards. But it’s important to understand that this is just a normal reaction, the same goes for an artist going on stage, there’s always a dip.
- So, now it’s time to sum up the project. Do it in as tactful a way as you started it. Meetings, interviews, etc. that lead to learning how you and your event can be even better. In your project you have most likely photographed and filmed, use that material in a stylish and clever way to surprise your client once again
Good luck! If you need help along the way, we’re here!
Hugs from Ulf Mård and Team Louder Family.