When it comes to branding events, it’s a fine line between creating an experience and making your guests feel like they walked into an unexpected sales pitch for a time share in Boca Raton. You want to show off what you can do to potential clients, but you don’t want to push them back out the perfectly draped door they just entered.
Here are five ways Pike Productions‘ Tie One On DC event, the second installment of which took place on August 31 at Maurice Electric at Union Market, can serve as your playbook for making your next marketing event a success:
1. Be true to your brand.
Tie One On DC was born out of the company’s CEO and namesake Bruce Pike’s love of bow ties and the DC-area event industry. With National Bow Tie Day happening in late August each year, Pike saw an opportunity to combine both into a late-summer cocktail party—and branding opportunity. The second annual event combined bow ties, high-quality entertainment and A/V displays, silly puns, ample logo placements, and a big focus on fun—all of which are traits the production company is known for in the industry.
2. Find good partners.
While the Pike Productions team has the A/V, video and DJ on lock down, they turned to a variety of expert vendors to bring the vision for the 2017 event to life. That translated into decor from Fabrication Events, linens and glassware from Party Rental Ltd.; experiential activations from Snap Entertainment, The Bow Tie Guy and Nail Saloon; video coverage from In Depth Photo & Video; custom signage from Charlie Chalk and Magnolia Mill Paper Company; and additional staffing by Enventu.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it can also take that to feed a 400-person cocktail party. Well Dunn Catering setup multiple food stations with everything from charcuterie and specialty salads to heartier fare like the bibimbap station with your choice of rice, protein, and sautéed vegetables topped with a fried egg and one of three mild-to-spicy sauces.
Good partnerships are key, but asking to much of a single company can spoil the relationship. Pike Productions navigated this water by having Buffalo & Bergen and Cordial Craft Wine, Beer and Spirits handle the bars and speciality cocktails including the classic Mint Julep and three types of “crushes”. Additionally, Fluffy Thoughts Cakes served bow tie-branded cake pops to supplement the desserts from Well Dunn and Westray’s Finest Ice Cream served its frozen treats from its ice cream truck to guests as they departed.
3. Keep the talking points short and direct.
This is a marketing event after all so not taking a few minutes to address your guests (i.e. current and potential clients) would be a missed opportunity. The key is to keep the speeches to less than five minutes each and get to the point. Nothing kills a party like boring speeches or rambling. Have a communications or PR consultant assist with getting the message right so you can deliver it efficiently, effectively, and let your guests get back to enjoying the experience you’ve spent weeks (usually) creating for them.
4. Utilize social media to increase RSVPs and your event’s reach.
Creating a pre-event social media campaign that teases what will happen on-site can give your followers and invited guests an incentive to attend. Yes you’ll probably still have a 20% drop off rate as free events tend to go, but showing bits of what they can expect if they do attend will help bring in those RSVPs so you can better plan your catering, security, seating arrangements, etc.
This is also a great way to thank your partners for their contribution. A little PR goes a long way in keeping those relationships tight and mutually beneficial.
Don’t let the campaign fall off once the event starts though. As the host, you’ll be running around schmoozing (see next tip) so make sure to designate someone on your team or a contractor to handle all social media for the night. This should include creating Instagram posts, stories, “like”-ing posts with the event hashtag and responding to comments in real-time. The more you can continue to engage with, and LISTEN, to your audience, the more positive PR you can generate from the event.
5. Make sure to mingle!
It’s easy for employees to get locked into talking to each other when there’s a fun after-hours event. Don’t let that happen! Be sure to spread your team around and not just say hello, but actually TALK to your guests. The whole reason you created this event is to build and foster relationships with your current and past clients. This requires mingling. No matter how beautiful the decor, delicious the food or awesome the entertainment, making a decision to work with or hire a company comes down to the people. People want to work with people they like so get to know the ones you invited and remind your existing clients how much you love knowing them (not just working with them.)
What exactly did all of this translate to at Tie One On DC 2017? Check out the gallery courtesy of photography sponsor, Stephen Gosling.