Most events are geared towards a specific audience. The key then is to host an event that caters to your demographic. That is, it should contain elements that resonate with their age group, interests, etc.
Ultimately, attendees are looking for an experience, and it’s your duty as the planner to provide an experience that’s memorable and worthy of subsequent attendance.
Know Your Buyer Persona
You need to research your demographic as much as possible. You should have a fairly solid idea of their behavioural patterns. This includes but not limited to:
- Promotional offers they best respond to
- What they value most in a product (e.g. function, convenience, value, aesthetics)
- Age range, gender, and geographical location
- Social economic background
- What you offer that makes them gravitate towards your company vs the competitors
In the same vein, you can also create a negative buyer persona, which consists of the patterns and traits opposite of your key audience. Knowing who your demographic isn’t helps you establish who they are. If you’re selling an automation software geared towards the laymen, for example, then a negative buyer persona may be people with an IT background.
Knowing the buyer persona will help you come up with a suitable event theme, many of which are described below.
1. Charity Night
Is “charitable” a term that defines your audience? If so, what kind of cause are they specifically interested in? If there’s a particular noble cause you can identify, then your event can double as a charity fundraiser.
An excellent example of this came from a collaboration by the companies BAM Marketing and 93.7 The Bull. The two organised a charity event where the proceeds went towards Beverly Farms, an organisation that provided equine therapy. The event sold out, plenty of money came in, and both companies also connected with potential new consumers.
2. Foodie Night
The food, even if they’re limited to refreshments, is a major part of the event. Guests will mark their satisfaction rate up or down depending on the quality of the food served. With that in mind, why not heavily market your event around the food served? This is especially a useful tactic if millennials make up your core audience. One survey indicated that 80% of millennials had attended three or more food-based events in the past year.
You can market the variety of finger foods that will be served. The theme can be food in general or geared towards a specific food or beverage, such as desserts, wine, coffee, etc. If you’re hosting a networking event for freelance writers, for example, then perhaps you can organise a café night, since freelancers are known for staying up late at night to complete that manuscript, novel, or ghostwritten assignment.
3. Throwback Night
Perhaps your demographic makes up of an older audience, such as generation Xers. If so, then make your conference a throwback event that pays homage to a decade past. Generation Xers, for instance, would have come of age during the 19080s.
With that in mind, why not throw an 80s event complete with 80s nostalgia. You can play New Kids on the Block songs and have staffers dress up in 80s attire like high-tops and neon-colored windbreakers. If you’re an IT company, then the event can also showcase technology prominent of the era, such as bulky cell phones.
A throwback event is especially a good idea considering that #ThrowbackThursday is a popular social media trend.
4. Date Night
Yes, most married couples still go on a date night. This is a good idea even if only one half of the couple makes up your core demographic. Perhaps the other partner will become a long-term consumer as well after the event. You can still host your event the way you normally would.
That is, with a planner speaker, workshops, and everything. The only modifications are that tables will be set up for parties of two, and fancier food will be served. Likewise, swag items can also include items for couples, such as a pair of “I’m with him/her” T-shirts.
Also keep in mind that date night doesn’t necessarily have to gear towards romantic couples. It could also be other relationships, such as between mother and son, or father and daughter. Chick-Fil-A actually did the former by hosting Date Knight at one of its Washington D.C. restaurants. This was basically a medieval theme geared towards mother and son.
5. Create an Event Series
If you can fit it into your budget, then host events on a much more frequent basis, perhaps even monthly. This is especially beneficial because it gives attendees multiple dates, so there’s always the next one if they can’t attend the upcoming one. Newcomers will also have more opportunities to attend, and returning guests will have a recurring event to consistently look forward to.
If you go this route, then be sure to provide enough novelty, so repeat attendees don’t get bored attending the same event every time. Multiple events also give you opportunities to experiment with multiple themes like the ones described above.
A theme helps the event fit the audience. Gusts can attach the event to a theme, which is far more memorable than just a generic event designed to push your brand. Just focus on the theme and providing a positive experience. As long as you do that, the branding will take care of itself.
This is a guest post by Dan McCarthy, Event Manager at JD Parties, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has five years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.