The warm, sunny weather is upon us and with the great weather comes all the fun outdoor events, reunions, company picnics, camps and sports. By nature, people like to be outdoors and many people want to participate in community and family events and get their child involved in camps or sports. Bottom line is that hosting an event is a great way to gain engagement, boost company or community morale or just create an opportunity for people to come together.
If putting on an event were easy, everyone would do it. The basic fact is that hosting an event, at any capacity, is a large undertaking of planning, implementing and most importantly gaining participants. As a leading provider of custom apparel, signage, awards and promotional products, Silkworm has been able to help groups and organizations plan events and increase participation.
Make it easy to participate. As you plan your event, you become deeply involved and knowledgeable about how things should flow. In fact, you will become so familiar with things that everything seems like a “no-brainer” to you. Before you get to the end of your planning stage you should have a plan for easy participation so that you look at it from the same perspective as your audience.
- The registration process must be simple and quick. Eliminate the non-essentials. Yes, it’s nice to have pictures of participants and accounts set up for communications but a simple best point of contact field will be enough to allow communications. Allow options for profile building to encourage further participation and the opportunity to gather more information.
- Be crystal clear in the language you use for registration. A simple contact us may be too broad to really hit home. We recommend language that is very specific to what action you need the viewer to perform. Click here to Register, Click for Event Details, Join the Conversation, etc.
- If you have registration fees be prepared to take multiple forms of payment. Keep in mind that people have preferences in payment methods and what is the easiest for your team isn’t what’s always easiest for the user and in the end user preference is more important. Credit cards, Paypal, checking account and even a mail in option should be made available. As you plan your event be sure you keep in mind the administrative aspect of registration.
- Have multiple points of entry. This rule applies to, not only, the location of the event, but also the online community. Physically, multiple access points should be taken into consideration for distance from parking, handicap entrances, capacity, view, etc. Have you ever seen an event going on and thought about stopping in to check it out but drive away because you couldn’t find a parking space, the crowd was a nightmare or you didn’t immediately see an entrance? More than likely, yes. Online you should make sure all of your links have a very clear registration button and other sites are linking to your page.
Interact with the community. Getting your event noticed and shared requires actively pushing your event information through multiple channels. The process of reaching out across multi-platforms is much easier with community connections.
- Get Businesses or other community groups involved. Other organizations have connections that can encourage their members to be involved or even better, help you get the word out via social media, email blasts or newsletters. You may even get a sponsorship that will not only help the budget but provide a little extra clout and credibility for marketing efforts.
- Cozy up with community leaders. That’s right, it’s time to rub some elbows. If you aren’t a community leader yourself, it is absolutely essential to get some leaders in your corner. Community leaders are liked and trusted and have the ability to help spread the word more effectively than a paid advertisement. Did I mention that community leader support is free?
- Support other events that are related to your cause. You can’t expect people to help you if you have bypassed the chance to help them.
Create an online community. You don’t need a website to create an online community, though you will need one if you intend to have online registration. Social media is free, but requires more manpower to be successful. Keep in mind that all forums and social media need to be monitored and you must be interactive not only with the page but also the members. Whatever online platform you choose make sure all the vital information is clear and easy to find.
- Create a forum. People like to interact and the best way to increase participation is to create hype. Allowing participants and interested users to communicate in an environment created specifically to your event can create it’s own sense of community.
- Social Media Pages. If you intend on using social media you need to know who you plan on targeting with your social media efforts. You also need to know how each channel works with your overall strategy. Twitter is great to reach thousands of people quickly, however it is very fast paced and changes incredibly quickly so you will need to post several times per day. If you are targeting a specific geographical area or interests and need a more relaxed platform Facebook is a great solution. Start your campaign early and do weekly contests for those that register. If you have the budget buy some custom promotional items for giveaways or ask local businesses for items to gain attention.
- Encourage User contributed content. Ask registered participants to share relevant materials for other participants to read and converse about.
- Runs/Walks can have separate entries as either a walker or a runner, timed or not, and different winner categories to encourage participation by those who aren’t avid runners. Some events even have kid runs before the actual run and stroller runs. Be sure to evaluate the risks involved.
- Camps and Bible Schools encourage new participants and open the registration to those that may not be part of your organization. Many parents look to enroll their child in camps and bible schools that are not active members in the congregation. Use this opportunity to promote your organization as well as participation for the camp.
- Sports Yes, there is a required level of skill for certain sport organizations and camps but allowing kids the chance to develop the skills needed or creating a development program to coincide with the main camp can increase participation and increases repeated participation in your event and other events you may host.
- Encourage Newbies Most people like to know what to expect when trying something for the first time. This can be as simple as a FAQ page, links to resources or as advanced as training courses.
Provide Awesome Giveaways. You want to give your participants something to remember their experience at your event. Participant gifts give the participant a sense of pride when sporting the apparel or using the promotional item and they act as an advertisement for your organization and event. Be sure to give away items related to your event that everyone will use or wear. If you are collecting a registration fee be sure to require a size if you choose to provide apparel. If you are giving shirts away as part of the event, not the registration, you can choose most popular sizes.
- Registration Gifts. Thank paid registrants for attending your event with a custom gift or a bag of goodies. Many organizers choose a custom event T-shirt and a couple of custom promotional items along with business giveaways.
- Event Giveaways. If you are having an open event, it is always best to provide door prizes or random giveaways. People are more likely to participate in events that they have an opportunity to win something.
- Awards. Most people like to participate in events that they have the opportunity to receive recognition or see someone be recognized. If your event is a sporting event you will need awards for special achievements or participant medals.
Sell Customized Event items. Set up a store at the event or contact Silkworm to set up an online store to sell custom event items before and after your event. Not only will you be selling the merchandise but anything with your logo or event name serves as long lasting advertisement.
“We have been gearing up for several races, big and small,” says Account Executive Kimmee Needham “depending on the budget, we’ve been doing a lot of T-shirts to performance tees, tanks, and water bottles.”
“We provide a lot of uniforms for Spring and Summer leagues,” says Account Executive Lucas Olson “we have been doing everything from simple tees to full on embroidered uniforms.”
“Many events are now giving away and selling smaller, fun custom items,” says Account Executive Mike Bergman “silicone bracelets, headbands, sunglasses and bandanas have been really popular.”
“We have a lot of corporate relationships that host company picnics and events during the Spring and Summer months” says V.P. Sales and Marketing Cheryl Endres “insulated tumblers, tailgate blankets, backpack coolers and apparel are most popular right now.”