Thoughts on EventTech

Edith YeungEventTech was a conference held on June 25th to inform people on the basics of events.  For someone who’s completely new to the event industry, EventTech was an extremely informative conference.  I tuned in for Dave McClure, Charles Hudson, and Edith Yeung, who each covered the basics of event planning.  I realized that everyone in the Silicon Valley startup industry must participate in the event scene, as the planners are the people who know who and what is hot first, and how to reach it. Here’s the breakdown on how to become an event planner on their level:

1. Do events because you love it, not for money.

The first thing is to be selfish: do events because you want to.  Either way you probably won’t make any money even if you tried.  Also events are tough to produce/manage, so make sure it’s something that you would work your ass off for.

2. Know your event’s audience.

Before planning an event, know if you are reaching a horizontal group or vertical by answering the question “Who am I targeting?”  If you don’t know, then you have not planned your event thoroughly enough.  This question will help your event be streamlined; otherwise you will waste effort marketing inappropriately and will have a harder time selling to both sponsors and attendees.  A vertical audience is a single targeted group: developers on Facebook games or companies which use cloud computing.  A horizontal is a broader less-targeted group: small-business owners, teenagers, moms, etc…  Horizontal events can attract a larger group of people and have long-term branding, but vertical events are easier to sell.

3. Make sure your event stands out.

It would be stupid to throw an event that everyone else is doing, because then you’re just a rip-off.  Brainstorm ideas for events until you get the one you want and love.  The easiest way to brainstorm for me is to just clean out my brain of all my ideas and put them onto post-its.  Even if the ideas are stupid now, they can be developed and be great ones later, so write ALL of them down.  Also, focus on core themes to make sure you don’t go all over the place.

4. Find engaging AND smart speakers

Your speakers should have an equal mix of geeks and Jerry Maguires.  You want the extremely smart people to balance off the entertaining speakers, so people don’t get bored but also learn something.  If you happen to find speakers that are smart as hell and are very engaging, get them on board!

5. Recruit attendees who are VIPs, connectors, influencers, and passionate volunteers

You should have VIP’s, the people who are the best in their fields or influential people, there to attract more people. Connectors are also must-haves at events since they are the hubs of social networks.  Go to Meetup, Plancast, StartupDigest, and Twitter and see who brings people together for your specific topic In addition, you want a core group that will always be there for you: groupies.  These people come about when you have something that they can passionate about.  Groupies are hard to get, so if you have the luck to score some of these guys, DON’T LOSE THEM!  They will: give you feedback, forgive you for throwing some of the crappiest events in history, and have your back.

6.Use social media to market.

Usually the best and cheapest way to market is to use social media.  For distributing tickets, Eventbrite would be the best.  Email is the best tool because it allows you to be more personal to a small group of people; however, SlideShare, Twitter, Plancast, blogs, videos, and photos are all still great tools to spread the word as well.   Also while using social media, make sure to especially publicize your VIP’s. For example, if you have Guy Kawasaki talking about evangelism or if you have the Woz at your “Inside the iPhone convention”, market it!  It will bring more people in to learn from some of the best in the world.

All three had a lot to say about events and really gave me a clear picture of what to expect as a newcomer in this industry.  For me, the major takeaway from all of this was that events are works of love and it takes immense skill to develop produce, and manage one, no matter how small or large.  Overall EventTech was a great conference from what I’ve heard about the rest of the day and I’m really looking forward to the next one.

[This post is by Cass’s summer intern, Ashna Ashok.  Ashna is currently a high school junior who is very interested in the startup world.  She is currently working on some crazy business ideas with her partner-in-crime.]

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