What you don’t want: boring events that look and feel the same year after year. What you do want: hot new ideas, unexpected twists, and a forward-looking vibe that gets your guests talking. Instead of being able to predict what appetizers you’ll be serving based on what you’ve served since 1996, your guests should be wondering with eager anticipation: what will they think of next?
Trends: Get ahead, Stay on Top
Whether you’re a member of the jet set or a basement-dwelling troll, you need to present your organization in the best possible light and stay ahead of the curve by keeping up with emerging trends. Unless you know your supporters are coming for a retro feel and a nostalgic atmosphere, consider how you can utilize trends in music, food, drink, and decorations to add an air of excitement to the evening. Don’t know much about what’s hot and what’s not? Let the Internet guide you.
- Twitter keeps your finger on the pulse of new trends and even points out top trends in a tag cloud on their homepage. Use tweetcloud.com to view tag clouds on any subject, find trendsetters, and learn more about who and what people are talking about.
- TrendWatching.com offers free monthly briefings on global trends. Reporting on trends in 170 countries, TrendWatching.com offers you a cosmopolitan and timely overview of consumer interests.
- Springwise.com offers reports from 8000 spotters around the world. While this service focuses on business trends, you can sift through the information to learn more about current trends in style, design, marketing, food, and entertainment.
- Tastingtable.com is a “free daily email that delivers the best of food and drink culture to adventurous eaters everywhere.” Read this report and stay up to the minute on the most popular dining culture to ensure that everything you offer your guests is served à la mode.
- Touchey.com offers a wealth of inspiration for your design aspirations. Whether you want to create the coolest Posters to promote your event, or set the most decorative table, Touchey is sure to have some ideas for you.
- The Color Association helps your organization show its true colors. Their Color Education Program provides you with the knowledge and skills to select popular and eye-catching colors for any occasion. They also offer customized seasonal color trend information 20 months in advance of the season.
- Google Trends has always been a great tool for comparing the popularity of topics over time. Want to know what’s hot right now? Check out Today’s Hot Trends right on their homepage.
Whatever you choose, choose something new. You don’t need to let fashion dictate your choices, any more than you should rely on outdated modes of expression, but learning about current trends can help you set your own agenda. Build on popular ideas, or start your own styles. Let your creativity shine!
The Power of Public Opinion
The most powerful event marketing tool is word of mouth. If your event is spectacular in every way, people will talk about it for the next twelve months, and attendance will increase exponentially at next year’s event. If something goes spectacularly wrong, people may talk about that too, with the opposite effect. Whatever happens, stay on top of the situation. Take control of the problem and find some way to direct everyone’s attention to the best you have to offer.
You can’t control everything, but you can take steps to make your event as close to flawless as possible. Do your best to direct the night’s memorable moments by planning well in advance so you are in charge of the buzz. Hire dedicated professional and make sure every task associated with the event is delegated to someone who knows how to take responsibility.
Brand Your Event
When you take the steps to craft a unique and memorable evening, you are actually creating an event brand. Your brand reflects the hundreds of individual decisions you make as a planner. When you do it right, you create a recognizable whole. As with successful businesses, great brands are not spawned from thin air. They require hard work, creativity, and sometimes a lot of luck. However, by incorporating a few of the ideas below, you can guide others to see your event as a brand.
- Name Recognition – Naming your event may be the most crucial part of your branding efforts. As with a business, a great name can practically make a brand. Your event needs a descriptive, memorable title. It should be short, compelling, and easy to remember, while creating a sense of excitement. Coming up with a great name is simply a creative process that takes time. Brainstorm by playing with language, generating lists of words and phrases associated with your group and your mission. Allow colleagues who love puns, double-meanings, and your native tongue to offer up their best ideas.
- Create a Tagline – A tagline is another great way to communicate your brand’s identity. Again, play with keywords and meanings to think up an expression that complements your name, communicates your organization’s values, and sticks in the minds of event attendees.
- Create a Logo – Your logo is an instant expression of your brand, allowing for immediate visual recognition. You can’t brand anything without a logo, so give this the same attention as your name and tagline. The best logos are simple, distinctive, and, unless your industry is a somber one, playful. Again, you may need to find a supporter or colleague with some skill in graphic design. Large organizations will want to hire a professional. The better your name, logo, and tagline work together, the greater the impact.
- Consistent Messaging – Every element of your event should scream, “We are a brand!” Add your name, tagline, and logo to all your marketing materials, including Posters, Tickets, Invitations, Drink Tickets, Event Wristbands, and anything else you have printed. Not only are you branding your event, you’re creating sought-after souvenirs! Ensure decorations, table settings, music, speakers, and even the venue complement each other. All these details help create an all-encompassing experience. Remember, it is possible to inject meaning into everything. You can brand any and every detail of your event. Placing your logo in unexpected places such as glasses, napkins, or bathroom towels not only surprises and impresses your guests, but also adds to the memorable tenor of the event.
- Consider Your Target Audience – Every choice you make as an event planner should reflect your audience’s taste. Consider the age and personality type of your average attendee. Some over-the-top ideas may not appeal to a group of retired accountants. The same concepts might be perfect for a group of 20 to 30 year olds in the entertainment business. Attempt to step into the minds of your attendees and visualize the experience they want. Then construct something that builds on their expectations.
These are all basic tools for those who desire to host a truly epic event. By staying on top of trends, generating positive word of mouth, and exploring event branding, you can attract new and exciting guests, donors, volunteers, and entertainers. You might even find yourself welcoming a celebrity or two. The boring event everyone forgot about last year can be the talk of town this year. All you need is a few ideas, a little creativity, and a lot of work.