Hosting Your First Event

What We Learned Hosting Our First Event

I wish this image was a representation of our event— large turn out, comfy sofas, slide projector, pizza. We did a smaller version, it was in the morning so we did a switch out for doughnuts (which literally no one ate, except for me; yes I had 3 and didn’t feel too hot afterwards.)

Our event didn’t look too different. It was definitely a lot smaller. But the presentation itself was full of solid information for getting started with video. We had 8 registers and 4 show up. We held the event from 8am-9am. At first we scheduled two events, one for the morning and the other for the evening, in hopes that we could generate enough interest for both or at least see which one brought more registers.

This is what we learned:

  • Expect a few people not to show up
  • Expect someone to show up late or get lost
  • Provide value, not a sales pitch
  • Set aside plenty of time for networking and questions
  • Send a follow-up email outlining the presentation and asking for feedback
  • Don’t buy the extra box of doughnuts you can always send for more if needed (maybe try a healthier snack)
  • Coffee, just coffee

Our first event was a seminar titled, “Learn How to Market Your Business with Video.” You can find the event page here. The goal was to provide anyone interested with tools and resources to begin dipping their toes into video production and marketing. I’m talking expected costs, DIY vs professional, case studies, metrics, what to expect for results, real ROI stats, how long it takes, how to create video that connects, and pretty much anything else you can think of to get started. Pretty good idea huh? We thought so. We wanted to be very clear that this was not a sales pitch— I think this is very important. No one likes to be sold to when they aren’t looking to be sold to. If they were they would reach out to us. This seminar was purely about educating.

It’s okay to talk about DIY. I think businesses get scared of DIY. If someone can easily produce the same product or service you are offering at the same level of quality and convenience then heck yeah, maybe I’d be scared too. For many, making a video through us just isn’t in the books right now. Let’s say you are a small business and you want to learn more about sign making because it is a bit too expensive to buy at the moment. You might want to get information from a local sign maker, if you can provide them this information – something you know a lot about – you can not only help them but they will remember the interaction and hopefully spread good WOM and possibly buy from you later down the road.

Share your knowledge. I always tell Max, “I wish I could do this (photoshop/illustrator/inDesign)  I wish I could do that (web design/coding)” and he always says “Why? You don’t want to be halfway good at a lot of things, you want to be an expert at a few things (social media/ marketing.)” Max has been making films for a very long time and started Hand Crank back in ’03. He knows video. Everything about it! Making this presentation took very little time because he already had the examples, numbers, ideas, experience in his head. If you are making a seminar about something, make sure you are not just spewing out information that anyone can get off of Google or using it as a sales pitch. Someone took time out of their day to come listen to you, make it worth their time. You don’t want to create a negative image of yourself or brand.

These things always run over. We thought that starting at 8am would be good for those that work during the day and spend evenings with families or cats. Make sure that you leave plenty of time for networking, discussion, and questions. For us, we were letting people in right at 8 and didn’t get started until 8:10, then we had no time for questions at the end (we still did a question period but it ran past 9.) I think it would have been smart to invite guests to arrive ten minutes early to get settled, grab coffee and a doughnut, and mingle. Then start punctually at the allotted start time.

Lastly, follow-up follow-up follow-up! This is your chance to learn, to connect with those that attended right in their inbox. Take the time after the presentation to send a personal message to those that attended and even to those that registered and did not attend. We sent an email out a couple of hours after the seminar ended, we included a PDF copy of the slide show to all 8 registered and thanked those that came and those that missed for their interest. We also asked for feedback from anyone that had time, we got some pleasant responses:

“First off, let me thank you and Max for holding this seminar. In starting my first business, I am looking for as much information as I can and the seminar was helpful in that regard. I also want to commend you for not doing a hard sell or “call to action”.  I’ve sat through a couple of webinars in the last couple of weeks expecting information, not a sales a pitch, but got little information and people claiming they can make me a ton of money if only I fork over my the entirety of my very small shoestring budget.  Your approach is a great trust builder on your part and although I currently don’t have a need for your services, if that changes in the future, you will be my first call. Additionally, given the trust you built this morning, I will certainly be recommending you.” – Micheal

“Thank you again for that stellar presentation, totally relevant to our quickly changing marketplace. I was also really impressed with what seems to be HCFmedia’s authenticity, holding true to your vision for your products. It seemed like a super high end presentation which I won’t soon forget and I am inspired to think of my own vision and how I might partner with you in the future.” – Catherine

It’s the small things. It was great to hear that people felt we were being authentic because that is what every seminar should exude— authenticity. Although we had a low turn out, the first event went successfully. Moving forward we are going to try hosting a webinar to appeal to those that have work restrictions or live in other cities.

Author: Jaclyn Parton

Write with intention. I appreciate positivity, an honest voice, and the occasional dad joke. Oh and I’m pretty savvy on video marketing.