I've been sharing with you one of my missions this year - to bring people together through the arts. That Ben Silberman quote keeps running through my head: "surround yourself with people who inspire". And what better way to do that than host offline events.
You dream up an event - maybe it's meeting at a local gallery or coffee place. Perhaps getting together to make some crafts. Find a venue. Find a date. Order the food and drink. Check, check, check.
But what about the attendees? Who are you going to invite? You have an idea about the ideal person that you'd like to attend, but where are you going to find them? How will you know who they are? How will you attract them to your event?
There are four parts to getting the right attendees to your offline event. You need to care a little less, savvy branding, smart networking AND you need effective contact logistics.
caring less + savvy branding + networking + effective contact logistics = great attendees
1. Caring less where it matters
I've told you already how I've spent time with Kathleen and Tara from Braid Creative taking their trio of branding classes. I was in the middle of one of the classes when I asked Kathleen "how do I find people to come to my salon when I know hardly anyone in my city?" What she told me knocked me flat with it's clarity and wisdom and yes, savviness:
It's an attitude of being cool with people NOT wanting to come to your event when you are networking (and hoping) because you want to make sure the right-fit crowd is coming anyway. This kind of flies in the face of so many of us who are so eager to please, wanting to INSPIRE!!! others, and wanting them to be as equally excited as in return.
When I started networking I WAS that eager person - wanting to win over and convince people to attend. I thought that I had to do the hard sell. Get 'em in the chute and close 'em. Inspire, inspire, inspire.
Reading her response was SO freeing - I could THEN focus on attracting the RIGHT people rather than trying to convince everyone that this was the RIGHT event for them.
I could care LESS if people weren't interested. Sounds crazy, right? In fact, I was HAPPY when someone wasn't interested because that told me that I had effectively branded my Salon.
2. Savvy branding
So how did I describe the Salon? I tried to be as descriptive as possible:
small creative gatherings introducing you to cool artists and interesting people in a social and informative setting. Think musical performances, dance, play-readings, magic, lectures - whatever I find that I KNOW will inspire, challenge, and entertain.
And what I didn't have written down I explained - that these salons are for creatives and makers who enjoy intimate gatherings with good conversation and banter about all sorts of topics. That most people who attend are surprised at the different people they meet and the collaborations that often result. That their favourite part is the conversations before, during and after the event. And that if you enjoy attending Creative Mornings but wish you could also have the intimacy of a smaller gathering, you will love my Salon evenings.
I want smart, creative makers and lovers of artsy things who enjoy good conversation and banter. They are positive go-getters who make things happen (no negative nancies here!), engaged in their lives and see the world as having more than enough success to go around.
You probably won't find anyone who started as close to zero contacts as I did. I moved here a little over a year ago after being away for ten years and knew no one in the creative/design field. Not a soul. I had no where to go but up!
Let's see. I kinda knew of Gabriel. Barely. He was kind enough to meet for coffee and give me some names of people that he thought would be interested in a Salon. And I had heard of some local design bloggers whom I contacted directly via email. Described the Salon and asked them for names of people whom they knew who might be interested. And my list grew. Person by person. Not a huge list but a list.
4. Effective logistics
So I had this list. And I had a logo designed by Elan at Ninjamatics. I sent out a group email to my list that I jazzed up with said logo.
I filed the responses in a separate tab in my email program but kept having to hunt through threaded responses to find out who had responded and who hadn't. Who had I sent it to? Did this person get the first email or both the first AND the second?
Neither the design nor the filing system were particularly professional and this was with a fairly small email list - I could only imagine what would fall through the cracks once it grew larger.
This is where MailChimp came in. I hadn't used any email marketing before and was a little skeptical - did I REALLY have the time to add one.more thing to learn?
I'm sold, my friends, I am sold. It's intuitive for the most part. And what isn't intuitive is supported by clear, brief tutorials. They take you through the process step by step. You can create your own template with drag and drop or use one of theirs. You can send it to your entire list or part of the list - you define the criteria. As my girl would say, "easy peasy lemon squeezy".
Here's a screen shot of part of the last newsletter before last week's Salon:
Not bad for a first try, eh? Especially since I'm not a designer. Best of all, it's free for the first 2,000 on your list.
Don't even THINK about trying to manage an email list or newsletters on your own through your email. If you are like me you'll think you are saving time at the beginning but you'll just be making a bigger mess to fix later on.
So there you have it: care less about winning everyone over, use savvy branding to focus on your ideal attendee, build your network one by one, and use an email marketing service for the contact logistics. THEN you will have THE perfect attendees for your offroad blogging event.
Let me know how it goes, okay?
This post is sponsored by MailChimp. All opinions are my own.