Written by NWES guest blogger: David Doxtater of The Workshop
Live events exist in a unique bubble in the marketing space. You’re not producing digital-only creative. Live events are a blend of creativity that touches both the physical and digital world (often referred to as “experiential marketing.”) So, we often get customers who want to know exactly what live event planning is — and why it’s valuable. After all, most customers see two things — the plan and the end product.
But, behind every delectable bite of finger food and every stunning electrical display, there is thought, creativity, and ingenuity happening on the back end to pull it all together.
At The Workshop, we create “live events.” But what is a live event? And what goes into making a great one that makes everybody talk?
It Started With A Whisper (The Start)
Here’s a secret — live events are stories. They’re a way to deliver a brand experience to customers that’s personal, exciting, fun, and ultimately brand-friendly. What does this mean? No two live events are alike!
There are millions of variables that go into a successful live event. The location, brand, customers, message, story, and activities all come together to create what will ultimately be the “live event.”
So, every brand will have a one-of-a-kind event that’s hyper-targeted and incredibly on-brand. This means combining two layers — creative and production. The creative layer is all about developing the brand story, and the production side is about the technical aspects of making that happen.
And Then She Made My Lips Hurt (The Creatives)
The beginning of the creative side starts with a client meeting. At The Workshop, we use this meeting to carefully listen to the client’s needs, goals, and story. What do they want out of the event? What kind of event is on-brand for them? And, how do they want to use this live event as a lever to accomplish internal goals?
These goals differ for every business. Often times, the networking and connections of a live event are the primary goal. 75% of businesses think that live events should form real-life connections — which can be difficult to do outside of events, especially in our current digital-first ecosystem. So, each brand has a unique blend of goals they need to capture to be able to confirm, internally, that the event created these relationships.
After the meeting, we get busy. I always lean on my team to capture the creativity of a brand. You can’t do this alone! Brands are complex, intricate organisms that are comprised of many working parts. You need your entire team to come together for this part.
We love to get theatrical. An OK live event will share the story of a brand. An AMAZING live event will invigorate attendees, create an atmosphere of fun, AND tell a brand’s story in a way that’s imaginative and thoughtful. There’s power in a brand’s story. Not only does Walker predict that branding will outpace both price and product as THE key differentiator between brands, but 70% of attendees will become customers if you create a compelling live event.
I like to start with an interesting story arc. This is what makes the brand tick. It’s the part of the live event that invites people to change and experience the brand for themselves. And, of course, you need a little theatrical twist to make it exciting and interesting. A great brand story presented through live events is only compelling if the audience is interested.
After we’ve burned our brains out creating this story, we present it to the client. If they think “It could be better,” we jump right back into that boardroom and spin up the idea generator again. We also try to ensure that they can clearly present each draft to the decision-makers in their company in a way that makes sense. After all, everybody has to check yes, or the event doesn’t happen.
I Can Hear The Chit Chat (The Production)
Once the client says, “That’s the one!“, we start the production side. The easiest way to think about the production side is that it’s all of the things that your guests can feel, hear, taste, smell, and see. It’s the enactment of that incredible creative. This is when we start thinking about the workflow, plan, and budget.
It’s time to put your scientist hat on. We want to create this compelling event in the most productive, cost-effective way imaginable. This means ensuring that each cog in the event machine is well oiled.
Questions like, “Does this work?” or “How can we make this better” start to come into play.
You also have to think about risk. This isn’t an ad popping up on social media. These are events that will have tons of people, lots of dynamic elements, and some inevitable risk factors. That’s the beauty of live events. There’s a reason that 75% of marketers think that events are the single best marketing tool; they create in-person relationships in an increasingly digital world.
But, with any real-time, in-person event, You NEED contingency plans. If plan A fails, you need to be able to fall back on plan B. And, if plan B fails, you should have plan C up your sleeve and ready-to-go.
Production is all about ensuring that the creative happens. And, that they happen without a hitch.
This includes thinking about:
I won’t go into all of the complexities baked into forming vendor deals, dynamic budgeting, etc. But, I will say that this entire business relies on forging in-person relationships — both for the client and for the live event marketers.
Everybody Talks (The Event)
Now it’s time for the fun. You want to build the production, write some scripts, hire amazing talent, and rehearse the show. Our goal is to let the client live the event before it happens. This way, they’re prepped for the show, and ready to nail any of the goals they have during the event.
Then, it’s time to run it live! Wooo! For brands, this is where you get to see the value of your event live and in-person. People will be meeting, your brand will shine, and you’ll see the power of event marketing with your own eyes.
In the end, everybody will be talking about your brand and the spectacular event they just attended. Pat yourself on the back. — you just created a live event.
Specializing in the production and design of brand enhancing events for local businesses and nonprofits, The Workshop provide clients with the ability to achieve their goals through strategic live experiences. We design and develop event concepts, and oversee show, production, and technical management. Our goal is to design event experiences that create impact and help clients achieve their objectives through the most powerful communication tool available: events.