by Ellen Melko Moore, founder of Bitch Slap of Truth, Supertight Brand, and partner in Think Global Creative
Dear Mission Minded Entrepreneur,
The title says it all: please do not plan, nor attempt to plan, nor contemplate attempting to plan, your own events, be they promotional, community-oriented, speaker-generated, theatrical – what have you. This is not a good avenue for the “imperfect action,” “just-do-it” philosophy. This is, instead, a great place in your business to stick with Nancy Reagan’s 1980’s anti-drug campaign slogan, “Just Say No.” And with a lot more success than Nancy had.
As you can see, I feel pretty strongly about this. Let me explain by briefly centralizing the horrors of my experience in this realm. I am a brand specialization consultant for intentional or “mission minded” entrepreneurs (people who start businesses around products or services designed to make the world a better place).
Many of my clients are in service oriented fields: teachers, coaches, healers, therapists, performers, community builders, sustainable business experts, etc., but what they have in common with my product-producing clients (food/drink/hospitality/retail) is their passionate commitment to serve the planet by giving their clients or customers something truly valuable, something of real quality, something that changes lives in a significant and moving way.
I’ve been working with these kinds of visionaries for almost a decade, helping many of them create a more unique offer (something “Super Tight”) that winds up owning a certain sector of the marketplace. And what I’ve learned about business visionaries is that most of them are truly awesome at coming up with multiple great ideas. As business founders they are charismatic, easily attracting loyal followers and brand advocates to help them put their ideas into action. And, in general, there’s an inverse relationship between the quantity of their good ideas and good people and their ability to buckle down and GSD (Get Sh*t Done) when it comes to planning a truly profitable event.
I include myself in this category. After watching several clients try to put together events that will build their brand, business, or bottom line, I have seen a lot of effort, a lot of sweat and tears, and a lot of great energy get sucked into an infinite vortex of escalating disappointment. We founders tend to falter in two major areas: we fail to define a single purpose for our events and thus we get murky about its goals. Secondly, creating a great event is a business endeavor all on its own, and we don’t have the time or attention to devote to all the details when we still have our everyday transactions to conduct.
Typical end result: we run around like crazy people for a few weeks, coerce our friends into supporting our event, neglect our families and regular clients, and wind up in the financial red, having not really converted many people to our brand’s awesomeness, seeing as so much of our event was designed out of scarcity and on the fly.
Do yourself a favor. Unless your event is something quite small and local, unless you feel confident that you’ve got the people in your organization who can handle something small and local without tarnishing your brand reputation, hire a freaking professional. If you care enough to go to all the trouble of an event, then you’ve got to care enough about the welfare of the people attending the event. They must get something of incredible value in order to advocate for your brand. Our good ideas and good intentions will not be enough.
On a final note, let me tell you what happened when we hired Erin Rist of Gather to organize and promote our first event for Bitch Slap of Truth (this is a speaker’s event, like TED Talks, except with more cursing and comedy). We got over 300 people to our first-ever speakers night and made money while giving hundreds of people a great first impression of the brand. There is absolutely no way that would have happened without Erin.
You may or may not have the opportunity to hire Erin for your intentional event, but here’s what to look for:
1)Someone who is, actually, intentional, who can help you get your purpose and your goals down solid; someone who shows you a plan for their achievement.
2) Someone who understands an event as part of a brand, and knows what to do in terms of brand alignment, promotion, and most of all, building and growth.
3) Someone who will make you feel safe even as the final days loom, knowing that no important detail will be overlooked even if you do, in fact, have an aneurysm from the stress.
Thank you for your consideration and your service to the planet.