Like growing orchids, growing event attendance is tough—it takes a careful balance of creativity, consistency, community, and customer retention. In a competitive market such as craft brewing, most may be tempted to isolate events from the competition, but building a cooperative events community benefits everyone and may even boost event attendance. When you work together, you can share resources and attendees and even recommend each other’s events.
Here are 9 ways grow event attendance by forming a cooperative events community:
1. Research events in your area
Create a calendar of all events in your area and in your niche. This will ensure that you aren’t having a similar one around the same day as your peers. Knowing what the rest of your events community is doing will help you adjust your strategy. You can then change your event’s date, time, pricing, and theme to make it more appealing to your attendees.
2. Be present at event industry happenings
Introduce yourself to the other business-owners in your area who have similar events. Letting people know who you are and what you do is a great way to get the ball rolling. Compliment their projects and offer to share resources. Half of the effort is just being present and available for conversation. Who knows? You might make some great new friends along the way.
3. Invite and include relentlessly
Reach out to other event organizers in your market and invite them to third party events, functions, happy hour, or even to your own event. Offer your event discount or comp the tickets if possible. It may take you some time and effort before you get a taker, and then again it may not. Either way, extend the olive branch and make it apparent that you have good intentions. You have nothing to lose.
Be consistent with your engagement; make sure that you leave a positive and lasting impression.
4. Be kind and patient
It’s important to treat others in your events community with respect and kindness whenever you reach out. Follow the golden rule, “treat others as they would treat you.” You may find some resistance and encounter folks that aren’t all peace and chicken grease, but all you can do is be patient and move on when necessary.
5. Collaborate and share
Find ways to work with other event organizers in your market, and have a blast doing it. If you are launching a new product, invite your new friends. Swap venues, pick out a third-party venue together, share ingredients, exchange recipes, create a product together or do a cross promotion.
Give it a try, and see the wonderment of your attendees as they enjoy a pro-event created by two or more of their favorite event organizers.
6. Communicate well
It helps to figure out how people prefer to communicate. Some like e-mail while others prefer face-to-face interaction. Take note of what communication channels get the best results. Knowing their preferences will take the pressure off. For example, you won’t fret so much if you haven’t had an e-mail returned for a while by someone who prefers phone calls. Consider your communication needs too and let your acquaintances know what they are when you exchange contact information.
7. Follow through on promises
Follow-through goes a long way in life and an extra long way in the often hectic events community. Knowing that you can count on someone in a pinch is clutch when it comes to organizing events, as I’m sure you realize. Consistency and reliability are outstanding ways to win the favor of the cooperative events community.
8. Evaluate accurately
Measure twice and cut once when you are planning an event. If you are going to offer a collaboration or cooperative promotion, make sure it benefits all parties involved. Some efforts, whether toward a relationship or an event simply aren’t worth the time. Dig in, list and evaluate benefits and pitfalls. Then you can re-calibrate and try again if you make a mistake.
9. Break bread
All work and no play makes for a dull and weary events community. Get folks together over a meal and try to create long-lasting relationships. It shouldn’t be too difficult—these guests share your same interests and operate in the same community. Eating a meal together is a deeper way to connect, and it takes a lot of the pressure off. It doesn’t need to be a big formal event; in fact it may be better to host a potluck or barbecue.
Letting your guard down a bit to share food and laughs can cause a ripple that will carry your community for a long time.