Logistics

S.4 Ep. 9: Crazy How Things Have Changed in Two Weeks

He’s back! This week we share an episode recorded two weeks ago when things were starting to move in the events industry.  Micheal Cerbelli shares his take on the current virus as well as the last time the industry was hit. 

What have you been up to since you were last with us on our podcast?


It’s been an incredible year. I’ve had 155,000 miles of travel in 2019. We’re seeing some challenges with the Coronavirus affecting events, but other than that, I’m very excited to announce that we are officially signing with a brand new collaborative building in the event industry in New York City. The fourth floor will be myself and a great company called Elegant Affairs Caterers.


Who is your Demographic/Audience?

We’re looking at it as a spot to help promote all our businesses with our clients. What we wanted to do was create a space that anybody and everybody in the event industry could come to. We wanted to bring a space together so that our clients could be there, have their meeting, a get together with their clients, and be around creative people all under one roof and share their ideas with each other. From there, the client knows that there is a closer relationship there instead of jumping on a phone call for twenty minutes. We want to have collaborative experiences.


How long has this been in the works? Tell us what the journey has been like.


I’d been looking for a new space because our lease was almost up in NYC. About a year ago I said, “Let’s start planning.”  We live in a beautiful area of New York City; it’s called Hudson Yards. It’s the newest hotspot in NYC; it’s booming. I think 40 office buildings have been built in this area throughout the past five years. There were four firehouses back from the 1800s that put out their own fires before the fire department was around, and there are two of these firehouses left. We have one now, and the other one is owned by Anderson Cooper as his home. It’s fantastic, I have a fire pole in my office, I’m so excited! It’s going to be officially called “24030.” That’s our address, 240 30th St. Manhattan. We don’t want to have one name on the banner outside; it’s a collaborative building, so why does it have to be one company? It’s all of us.


How are you dealing with the Coronavirus and how it affects you in the event industry?


It’s there. If you look at the news today, Facebook and Microsoft cancelled events that they had coming up. I had a name talent, and I’ve worked with this guy four times. His camp had started to question about two weeks earlier, and when we came to them and said “it’s official, we’re postponing it, we’re going to pick a new date,” they understood. “You got it, safety first. Let’s work out these dates and see what we can do.” We’re flexible, we’ve got it, everybody is working together as a team on this one event that I’m seeing, and I’m seeing that in other areas too. I think people are starting to understand that in the world we live in, stuff happens. You know what I actually want to say, but “stuff” happens, and that’s what we all understand. My client is actually having more pullback from the actual attendees; they’re more upset than us in the event industry, so I think it will affect events. If everybody can work together, and those clients can work with us to help manage some of the losses(maybe airplane fees, paying someone for their time because they lost it). We work together as a team, and I think that’ll be great for all of us.


Has this sort of situation been something you’ve seen previously in your career?


Yeah, I can definitely 100% go back to the financial crash of 2008 when people were cancelling like crazy. I had a client cancel, and there was no reason for them to cancel, but they didn’t want to be perceived as a company spending money during that time. This was going to be my first event ever in Dubai. Huge spend, monster spend, and they just cancelled the whole program. Back then, there was a panic. “We all lost, what are we going to do? How are we going to recoup?” I think now we understand this. We don’t want you to hurt. We don’t want to hurt. How can we all work together? That’s the difference I see immediately from everybody. In 2008, people panicked. I think that’s why it hurt harder. I think we’ll know in about a month from now if it’s going to affect us hard. Macro, not micro; let’s look at the big picture right now. Let’s keep calm and cool heads.


What’s been going on with you aside from everything else?


A corporate client let us create a magical circus theme; it was called Under the Big Top. I’ve done this event for seventeen straight years, and every year has a different theme, and this one really stood out. There were people flying through the air, tightrope walkers, we used their colors instead of the red and white stripes. It had a very “NYC Circus” theme to it, from the video invitation to leaving there with a bag of popcorn and Crackerjacks for the kids. It was probably one of my favorite events of last year. This summer was an incredible 50th birthday party at one of the most beautiful homes that you could imagine. We took them through a musical journey through 50 years of music festivals. It went from Woodstock in the 60’s, the 80’s and 90’s Lollapalooza, today’s Coachella, and to a big concert onstage in their backyard.


What advice do you have for people who are brand new to events?


I could be sitting for hours and nothing’s coming to me, and I’ll wake up at 3:00 in the morning and I’ve got to write it down. That’s how my head works, but although it’s in my head, I can’t do it without a team. I’m very lucky, and there may be newbies that don’t have a team. Take what you see, look around you, think about these moments. It doesn’t always have to be black and white. How can you change it? How can you come together as a team? I may be a producer, but I don’t own anything. Reach out to your vendors too, maybe they have something creative. Partner with the right people. My whole thing is collaboration. When you’re going to work with someone, does it all have to be you? If you take advice from your creative partners, that’s what leads to a great event. So many people are like, “It’s my event, I own it, this is what I want to do.” Ok, that’s great, that’s good for you, that’s not good for me. I love my team, I love my partners, I love their ideas. We all like working together because we feel we’re part of one.


What are your pet peeves?


My biggest pet peeve is the person that doesn’t plan properly; the people that panic onsite. When someone says “I’ve thrown a party before,” that’s great, but have you thrown an event where you have to know how people get on the loading dock? If you think about every step along the way, how everybody has to come together to manage this one event, that’s the strength on an event planner. The person that doesn’t know that is the person running around panicking at an event. Don’t tell me you’re an event planner if you’re not an event planner. It comes with years of experience, learning, getting dirty, working 40 hours in one day to get everything done for what you need. Notes, contracts, insurance. If you don’t have that, you’re the one panicking. I can point them out at any event.


Any last thoughts for our audience?


In two weeks from today, it’s the official 19th anniversary of Michael Cerbelli’s “The Hotlist!” If any listeners want, please reach out to me, I promise I’ll try to get them seats for the show. It’s going to be an amazing show this year.

Reach me at michael@cerbellicreative.com and visit our website, cerbellicreative.com

S.4 Ep. 7: Master Event Satisfaction Ratings

How do you create more engagement? How do you sell out a conference? More importantly, how do you get 100% satisfaction ratings? Sheena and Matt from the Institute of Internal Auditors have figured out the formula that works for them and their audience! Listen to this if you’d like to be challenged on how you approach planning your next event!

You have to tell us how did you get started? 

Sheena: I’ve been doing this since 1989. I was meeting with my college recruiter. I said I like people, I like to travel I want to apply my business skills and I want to make a lot of money so doesn’t everyone. She sent me on some journeys to interview and she sent me to this association and I just fell in love. At that point it was in their regulatory affairs department and I was responsible for scheduling the congressional visits and managing that whole process. The rest is history. I’ve been in the association environment ever since. 

Matt: I started in the hospitality side. I worked for several resorts and all different facets from operations, front office, sales and that’s where I got exposure to working with associations and corporate groups and really loved the events side of the business. I finished my MBA and an opportunity came up with the medical association in Florida with the endocrinologist. I led their readings and events staff for a couple of years. Went to a couple other associations. Then was led back to Orlando with the IIA. So I lead our conferences, events, and sales teams here. 

When I tease at the beginning of an episode, how are you going to get higher satisfaction ratings? Everyone’s ears perk up! What do you guys do? 

Matt: Coming from MPI, very different environment with meeting planners, hospitality, resorts, suppliers. Our members are really focused around risk management and adding value to organizations and corporations. It’s very different from what one may think of when they think about auditors. So our members span globally, we’ve got over 200,000 around the world. So major footprints. That’s really one of the big things that drew me to come to the organization. This organization has a stellar lineup of conferences. We’ve five large events, a major international conference, and over the last year we sold out three of those major conferences, it’s pretty unheard of. 

Sheena: It’s historical for the organization, so that’s exciting. It is kind of a misnomer that when you come here you think, “I’m getting ready to go and deal with a bunch of accountants, so it’s going to be a boring situation.” It really is not that. So internal auditors, to Matt’s point, they are risk management professionals, responsible for assessing the entire risk universe of an organization. Very diverse set of skills are required, which is exciting. So that gives us a bit of a playground when it comes to developing content. We have the opportunity to bring some exciting information, looking at business trends, looking at business environment, and really being in tune and in touch with your audience. I think that’s one of the main things, you really have to understand what is the pain point of the audience that you’re serving? How are you going to bring value to them as a professional, so that when they leave this event, they’re gonna leave feeling fulfilled, inspired, and empowered to go back into their settings and apply those learnings and make the difference in a positive way. When that’s your baseline, then you’re able to build from there. 

What are some of those things that you’ve tweaked, because I’m guessing you haven’t always had 100% and you’ve kind of come up to that and you know, what are those things you’ve changed? 

Matt: We’ve put a lot more focus now on event technology and what we’re doing to engage attendees, our learning environments, really looking at all of those elements to make it a more interactive and engaging experience for our attendees. So much so that we’ve dedicated a role to event technology and the attendee engagement at a director level. It’s been really great for us. Sheena can talk about a lot more of the initiatives that we’ve enhanced.

Sheena: Looking at the technology component, and how we have been able to apply some of those elements to enhance the experience, by raising the level of production that we engage in our conference programs. So it’s not just the standard audio visual set up. We really try to include some enhancements as some element that’s going to bring some excitement to the program. We have incorporated things like polling and our social Q and a. That has really elevated and increased the level of interactivity. I would say we’re all adult learners, right? As adult learners, when you go to a program, you sit in that room and you know what is your pain point when you’re sitting in that room. You’re sitting in that room and you have a speaker at a podium reading off slides for 60 minutes, that’s a pain point. I don’t know any adult learners who will say, I paid attention all 60 minutes and I got every single thing that I needed to get from that because that’s just not how adults learn. We were very skill based. We were very diverse in our learning. We know that those come with different formats, different learning modalities that you have to include. We put ourselves in the mind of our conference goer, and what their needs are and how we can create an experience that’s going to be much different than just them sitting behind the computer. Because in this age of technology, you can get content any way anyhow in any time. When you attend, it’s about the overall experience. 

How do you walk that line between polling and getting it out of the audience without annoying the crap out of them? 

Matt: You just have to give them that. If they want to engage that let them, but you don’t make it an annoyance. You don’t overburden them. It’s another channel for people who want to do that. So it’s just all about understanding all the different needs from all your different segments of your audience and being able to make it available if that’s the way they want to engage versus saying everybody, use this to ask questions. I don’t think that’s the right way to approach it. 

Sheena: I think you’re absolutely correct, Matt. It’s a delicate balance. Our audiences are known to be introverts. We take that into consideration when we are incorporating all of these engagement activities, understanding that everybody is not going to want to default to that one thing.  So you have to create multiple opportunities for that engagement and make sure that people are comfortable with attaching to whichever element or component that you provide. 

How do you sell out an event? 

Sheena: It’s the experience. You’re going to hear us say that so much because what we have learned is it’s so very important and the experience is everything combined. So it is not just the content, it is the combination of how was registration, what are the social events? Think through each day, what is this person going to experience today from start to finish that going to create something for them that is almost magical that they leave saying, I can’t wait to come back. Peer to peer engagement is going to be important and valuable. What things are you incorporating in your conference that fosters peer to peer engagement. How are you prepping your speakers so that they are more dynamic? How are you incorporating those different elements so that it’s not, when you come to the conference, you don’t feel like it’s robotic. 

Matt: I would add from a marketing perspective, it’s definitely that FOMO effect. You need to take your event beyond just the three days or however long it is and carry all of the traction that you’ve got all the way through. 

Matt Pet Peeve: When you’re at an event and there’s not a lot of branding, a lot of good signage on where to go. It starts off the whole thing on a bad foot. 

Sheena Pet Peeve: Not starting on time. There’s like this domino effect. It just impacts everything else in the course of that day. 

Matt Super Power: Staying calm and cool under pressure. 

Sheena Super Power: My superpower is my smile. I think that it calms me down and then ultimately it translates out to I’m able to calm you down. 

Matt Advice: You’ve gotta be patient with your career growth. I was very ambitious when I started out, wanting to grow very quickly in the industry and you just have to understand that you need to learn as much as you can about all the different facets about the industry. Find a mentor who can guide you to where you want to go with your career. 

Sheena: This is a very stressful industry. So you really have to find that balance for yourself in how you are able to manage that stress because it can console you if you don’t find that. 

Insta: Charlesevaneide

EideComCreative

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Twitter: The Meeting Minds

S.4 Ep.6: Part 2 Protecting the Integrity and Messaging of your Content

What’s the biggest lesson learned as well as the biggest disaster? 

Coley: The biggest lesson that I’ve had is that no matter how hard you plan, nothing is ever going to go exactly as you want. There’s always a fix to it so there’s no sense of getting worked up. There’s always going to be a response and so staying as level headed as possible and not having those around you know that there’s an issue is the best way to go. I will say the more pressure that I have, the better performer.I did an event, I mean I’ve had many a disaster, but the biggest one I’ve had, I did a concert at outdoor concert at the Atlantis in The Bahamas and I had 800 people for a dinner and a concert. The women’s restrooms, there was one set of restrooms that were open in the other side were locked. All of the women’s restrooms started overflowing and flooding. So you couldn’t even walk in the bathroom because there was so much water and sewage on the floor. We found out that the other set of bathrooms couldn’t be open because there was apparently one person on the entire Island that had a key and they had gone home and they lived on the other side of the Island. I was like, well, I’m going to need you to come back. Nothing like having like a really fantastic event and then having it end in sewage. 

Super Powers: Coley: Being calm, cool, collected, and finding the answer. 

Rachel: I’m not just saying this because we’re on one of our partners podcasts, but I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned in the events world is have really good business partners. I think truly over the last year as I’ve learned it’s really important to have people that you trust, not only running your production but helping you facilitate your event. I think that’s the biggest thing for me is having that trust between like my internal business partners and myself and then my trust to the other vendors that we work with and our partners. I think that’s huge. 

The biggest disaster: last year we had a celebrity on our stage doing a keynote, power went out and I’ve never run faster in my life. Dr Oz’s was on stage. And let me tell you that man is the most cool, he’s like a fricking cucumber. He kept talking and just kept tangenting as like myself and my team. We were sprinting. I don’t even, I didn’t even have like an intentional place I was running to. So there was construction happening in our venue and one of the people that were conducting the construction was training in somebody new and they were like, Hey, we have this kill switch. You want to see it? And the trainee was like, yeah, I want to see it. And it’s like you open this switchboard and it kills the power. So that’s been the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen. 

Super Power: Rachel: Empath, able to read a situation. 

Pre Conference Pet Peeves – Coley: I think for me the biggest pet peeve I have is when people either set unrealistic expectations and push for them and they don’t understand that the budget is a factor. While those are really great ideas, they can’t always come to fruition. The other one that I would say is, people who don’t understand or respect timelines. 

Best advice – Rachel: I’m so fresh into this industry, so I feel like I have an interesting perspective.You don’t know what you’re doing. You have no idea what’s going on. So just take a step back and listen. And I think that’s been the biggest thing for me in the last year is taking a step back and humbling myself and understanding that I’m going to listen to what my business partners want. I’m going to listen to what other people that are really good in this industry are good at. I’m never gonna think that I’m too big to take advice from somebody. That’s the biggest thing to me that I think has helped me. 

Best advice – Coley: Learn and absorb as much as you can to learn your placeMake sure that you are communicating the things that you want to communicate with the correct audience and making sure that you’re not overstepping because nobody will respect you if they feel like you are overstepping. 

Insta: Charlesevaneide

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Twitter: The Meeting Minds

S.3 Episode 18: How to Win in the Expo World!

When you know there is a strong need for an event how do you go about building it? How do you stay true to yourself and your own brand? This week Ashley Hawks of Forever Bride joins us to talk all about how her and her small but mighty team created the Forever Bride Market.  You will be surprised by the amount of detail and perfection that goes into it!

Tell us about you.

Born and raised here in the twin cities, so total Minnesota girl. My start in the wedding industry, started when I was really young. My mother owned a bridal shop here in the twin cities for 25 years. She launched it when I was five. I remember she, worked high up in the JC penny world back in the 80s when JC Penney was like the thing. She was in the fashion world for years and that was her specialty. And then in 1990 she decided to open her own bridal shop, Mary Kay’s bridal. I mean it was a dream come true. I mean I was a total girly girl and we’d go there after school and she would give me these little Dixie cups and I’d crawl around on the floor and the carpet, this horrible mauve pink carpet. Everything was this mauve pink. And I would crawl around picking up these tiny little pearls and diamonds that I thought were real. Well when you have, you know, 800 gowns in this massive bridal store, you know, and she saves everything. And so, you know, I’d go around collecting all these little beads and stuff cause we did alterations and so it was nice being able to give these little Dixie cups of beads to the seamstresses and kept me busy after school. And then I upgraded to vacuuming and cleaning millions of mirrors on a daily basis.

You were a model in the fashion world. Tell us a little bit about that.

I was a very ginormously tall young girl. But when you’re in fifth grade and you’re almost 5 10, that’s a lot. It’s very aggressive. So my sweet mother got me into modeling and I loved it. I’m surrounded with these other giant tall women and I was making money and I got to travel. I started traveling actually when I was 14, all by myself. Got in an airplane and flying around.

I learned a lot about, both about the wedding industry cause I got started modeling wedding dresses and going to bridal fashion week and things like that. So I was still within the wedding industry. When you’re young, a lot of these designers would let me stay at their house, you know, with their families and I’d get to know, a lot about the business and the behind the scenes. I just became completely obsessed with the industry and then of course as years went by I’m going to date myself a little bit, but the internet started to become a little bit more powerful and social media came out. I really became obsessed with how businesses made it through that transition. I remember being one of the very first Facebook users.

So what are you doing? Where did that lead you and what are you doing now?

About seven years ago, I partnered up with these two incredible entrepreneurs. One is present. We’re business partners. I met Charles and Mike years ago through my mom’s bridal shop again. We sat down and they started sharing this vision that they had for the wedding industry. It revolved around the community and telling people’s stories and really just creating a different experience for businesses to get their name out there and to really connect with people and build quality relationships while still using social media. It was a perfect fit for me. I mean, growing up in a bridal shop and knowing how hard it was to run ads and magazines and we would do the bridal shows and the industry was evolving quickly and I wanted nothing more to be a part of this and to be on the cusp of something really big and different. That was in 2012 when, when I left everything. I was modeling full time.I think I had like four other jobs, you know, Jack of all trades, master of none. That’s gotta be, I think the best piece of advice that we can give people listening right now is even if you are absolutely good at like three or four things, just pick one. It took me what, almost two years to fully quit modeling when I was building Forever Bride. I couldn’t let go of that chapter of my life. And it wasn’t until I retired. I remember going into the agency and we’d joke that you’re hanging up the strapless bra cause that’s like a whole part of the modeling world. It wasn’t until that point that I started taking myself a little bit more serious that my customers started taking me more serious and it just, it kind of put that fire on my butt. This is it. This is my one thing. I just dove deeper and it’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.

You were doing this digital thing for long time with Forever Bride. How did you come up with this event? 

When we started building Forever Bride it was digital,It’s social media, it’s smaller networking events, really community focused. When we were putting together the early vision of the company, wedding fairs or wedding expos were not a part of it. And in fact, at one point I vowed that we would never do wedding shows ever.

Why?

Well, I grew up going to these things. They were, they were at the convention center in the middle of winter. I’m the daughter of the owner, so I’m in charge of schlepping all these dresses at 4:00 AM through the snow and these parking garages. It was a ton of work. And then we’d set up, we’d be there, talked to hundreds of people, not really much traction would come from it and then you pack everything back. It was exhausting. It was a ton of money. It was a ton of work. Think of collecting emails. I mean back in the 90s you don’t collect emails. Right. You know, it’s more handing out brochures and business cards and hoping that they come back or giving your phone number saying, would you like to schedule an appointment? They are walking around that day, they’re getting ideas. They’re talking to people. They don’t have time to open their date book. They don’t have iPhones to open their date book and schedule an appointment or Oh yeah, we’ll totally come in maybe sometime. 

Years into building this and we did smaller networking events for our clients and it started out just as these little happy hours and they turn into these beautiful events with some food and some cocktails and you know, photo booths, things like that. And our vendors, my clients started coming to me saying, Hey, when are you guys going to do an expo? I said, Oh, that’s so sweet, but we’re not, that’s not my style. It’s, I don’t really think it’s your style. No, no, no, no, no. Not like, not like one of those, but like a Forever Bride expo. I’m going. Okay. So then if the seed was planted and through social media, our brides, we have this, this loyal following, we had brides messaging us through social media saying, Hey, do you guys ever do a wedding expo? No, that’s so sweet. We have a website you can sign up and when you have two different groups of clients asking you the same thing, you have to step back and go, okay, well there’s gotta be something to this. And I knew that if we were going to do a show of this size there’s a couple other shows here in the twin cities that are very big and they do a great job. Very well established, great reputation at the time we didn’t know if there’s room for another show. 

There’s a lot going on in the whole expo world. If I did it, I wanted to make sure that this is going to be really profitable for my clients because not only am I putting in a lot of time and money, but I’m going to expect them to put in their money as well. So I started doing some research and we started surveying our customers. Hey, if you were to go to a wedding fair, what kind of things would you want to do? What are some things that you like about the shows in town? What are some things you don’t like? There’s no limit to the amount of information that you should be gathering when doing something new and different. Then sometimes you have to step back and put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Like if I was to get married again and I’m going to get my butt off the couch on a Sunday afternoon and drive somewhere and get all my girls, what are my expectations? It wasn’t I’m going downtown and it wasn’t being surrounded with thousands of people in a very like state fair like atmosphere. I love popups like local popups where you’re meeting these local artists and you’re talking to small businesses and you’re shopping and maybe trying some great food. 

The idea of the farmer’s market is how we explain it to new people that we’re working with. It came from, I went to the farmer’s market with my husband and my kids. A couple weeks before the idea came and we were at the Minneapolis farmer’s market walking around and my little girl is just the cutest tiniest thing you’ve ever seen. And she was looking at these flowers and you know, we look but don’t touch. And we had walked away the florist, came running back and had this giant sunflowers big as her head on this huge long STEM and didn’t speak English but handed it to her like, you know, you keep it, keep it, her face just lit up and I’m like, are you sure? She goes, yes, yes, yes.Well now guess who we go back to buy our flowers every time. It was such a simple gesture and it meant so much and she actually grew those sunflowers. It was, it was just such a personal thing.

Tell us more about how do you design an event from the ground up that that is inspired by these ideas you had. How do you design a show like that?

The very first thing is numbers the entire show has to be about numbers. I don’t care how beautiful the dream and the vision is in my head, it comes down to figuring out all the small details, financially figuring out, the venues, a huge part, but, but literally it comes down to numbers. If we’re going to do this many booths, how much revenue do we need to produce? You know, your first couple of shows probably aren’t going to be hugely profitable at first, but what is the longterm goal? It literally was just a ton of math and numbers. Run the numbers and then basically you have to sell like hell There’s no substitute for selling. You have to sell the idea and the vision and you’ve got to get a lot of people on your side. 

And what was your strategy for doing that different than the other people that you talk about having in town and how you wanted to be able to differentiate yourself and then hitting the ground running, selling. , how did that work for you?

So we were lucky enough to already have really great businesses that we have built a relationship with. So for me to be able to come to them and say, Hey, I’ve got this vision. I know it’s a little crazy, but here’s our plan, and I wanted to make sure that they felt very secure in my plan. I wanted to make sure I had everything all presented where it wasn’t me going, well I’ve got this idea and we’ll try it and we’ll see. No. This is how we’re going to execute it. This is the results you are going to see. And I’m going to hold your hand every step of the way. Cause a lot of these businesses maybe haven’t done a fair in the past. Over-communicating, making sure that they felt comfortable of what was expected out of them. It just came down to trust finding people that really trusted in me. Over promise, over deliver. I mean I went above and beyond to make sure that every single vendor that was there felt taken care of. Of course you got to promote the thing. What’s the point of having a beautiful event and all your clients, they’re ready to show off their stuff if nobody shows up. 

I think it’d be interesting to get more in your head about like how do you find partners that are willing to help you pull this off from the venue to the different sponsors who kind of do different activities and things. So how do you, how do you figure that all out? 

A lot of the people that we work with, relationships and their reputation and just having a brand in the community is really important to them. So businesses that only care about awards or we did so and so celebrities wedding and those types of recognition, they might not be a great fit for something like this. I really wanted to work with businesses that truly care about the customer, that really love what they do and get excited about it because that type of energy and passion is going to translate into a really great expo because when you’ve got brides walking around, they want to talk to people that are excited about their brand. They don’t want to talk to someone who was hired to hand out brochures all day long. Really sitting down and meeting with people and finding the right customers that want that personal connection. I will give you one piece of advice for our marketing strategy. I think this applies to any industry. When you’re having an event of this size, there’s a lot going on and it’s really easy to go down the rabbit hole with your advertising we’re going to have this and this and this and this is going to be there. And it can be very overwhelming to the person who’s deciding if they want to come or not. 

I think the most powerful thing that we have done is focused on a couple of specifics and leave the rest of the imagination. For example, we do a make your own floral crowns station. It sounds so silly and so simple and yet this, this little idea that we had from the very first show is now one of the main reasons, according to our surveys that we send our brides, is one of the main reasons people come to this. Do you come to meet vendors or to make a floral crown? Oh, I come to make the floral crown. And then they just happened to book their photographer, their venue, their caterer. We’re incorporating a couple of new pieces into the show just to keep the experience there. You have to create experiences for your customers to keep them engaged, to keep them excited, to differentiate your show from something else. And then you have the ability to use social media. Cause if they’re taking pictures and they’re posting things about your brand and they’re using your hashtag, they’re doing the advertising for you. And that’s usually why we do two shows back to back because then there’s all this hype, there’s all this excitement. We ride that wave of social media that the brides created for us into our next show.

One of the things that I’ve learned that’s really important is it’s not about me. It’s not about my brand. It’s not about, you know, what I can do or how great I am or what awards I’ve won. I want to make sure that it’s all about my vendors and that it’s all about the bride. I want to make sure that, that the person who bought the ticket and drove out on a Sunday afternoon is feeling like a celebrity. I want her to feel special. I want her to know that all of this is for her. And if she feels special and she feels like this is just a beautiful experience that’s not only there to help her plan her wedding, but I want to create an experience that’s really fun and memorable for the people that she brought with.

How do you help consult your clients on what’s going to help them stand out to the bride? 

We send out so many emails here’s great articles about this and here’s ideas for this we try to hold their hand as much as possible and there’s always one person that shows up with a table and a chair. Do you know that I actually don’t allow chairs at my event? People go to rent their all ala cart items like linens and tables and things like that, I don’t allow chairs. If you want to bring your own, that’s fine. There’s so much psychology that goes into these things. Standing with your arms crossed and then you wonder why nobody came to you and people should not have to come to your booth. I send articles even about the psychology of like what to dress, you know, how to dress and what to expect, you know, and telling people too, you should make sure that your booth speaks for itself because no one is going to come up to you and go with, so what do you do? You should make sure that the bride goes, Oh, that’s a florist. 

What tips do you have for people that have booths at expos? 

Besides wearing comfortable shoes and having a pocket full of breath mints? I’d say one of the best pieces of advice, get there as early as possible because the networking opportunities are huge. Plus you don’t want to look like that business that’s not prepared because you’re running in last minute. Even though your customers aren’t seeing you scrambling, all the other businesses are. And it makes you look bad. So A, get there early. B, use that opportunity to network because when the show is over, everyone’s too tired. They want to go home, they want to go home. They don’t want you to coming over and going, so what do you do? No, get there early and look amazing. I don’t know what is wrong with some people, go get your nails done. Whether you like it or not, people judge and they judge instantly, not only about you but about your brand. 

Any final thoughts for people in the events industry that you want to leave with?

You are what you eat. You are a 100% representation of the books that you listened to, the people that you surround yourself with. The people that you spend time with, are you spending time with a bunch of complainer’s? You know, be aware of what you’re listening to. Be aware of you know the places that you’re going to, people that you’re associating with, even the businesses that you’re associating with. You know, and if you want to get somewhere in life, if you want to put yourself in your business in a certain arena, put your butt in that arena.

Cause: weliftup.org

Superpower: Making people feel special

Pet Peeves: The term girl boss, calling yourself an entrepreneur without being able to spell it.

www.foreverbride.com

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S.3 Episode 13: Believe it or Not, Everyone is a Sales Person!

Karen Gordon of Goodshuffle shares some information gold this week!  With a super power of empathy, she shares some helpful tips for those starting out in the events world.  

You have to tell us about your career.

I started in tech sales and decided I never wanted to work in sales and technology again, and now I find myself heading up sales for a tech company. I decided to leave because I wanted to get into events, I quit that job and started to do events for Living Social. They had a huge presence out of DC. I worked in their adventures division. They tapped me for a new division, they opened a live event venue. 7 stories, a speakeasy basement bar, test kitchen. We’d be running 7 different events in one night. I moved over into a creative sales role.  I worked in the live event space for a long time, did logistics, sales, creative, budgeting. That sadly closed down, we were ahead of our time. I went on and worked at several different startups in the DC area. 

What is Goodshuffle?

It’s bringing powerful modern technology to the event world. We are in an on demand society, there are a lot of last minute changes and decisions that get made. And you know all the inventory you have to manage, and a last minute change could mean changing a contract last minute, letting a warehouse know… all of that can be a huge disaster. We are on a mission to solve that. Goodshuffle Pro is software for these companies so you can have photo driven proposals, that are interactive, you can make last minute changes, pay online. 

What is your role?

My title is VP of Growth. I’m in charge of everything related to business development. Goodshuffle is pretty small still, half a dozen full time within our office. We work with tons of part time and contractors, but we are still small. It’s crazy, I was the first employee, there were three of us and we didn’t launch the GS Pro software until January of last year and we are in 42 states, Canada, and Mexico already.

You were tasked at ILEA Live to talk about powerful language tell us about that.

We talked about branding and finding your voice. Everyone has different versions of powerful language. I encourage everyone to do branding exercises. We were talking about how powerful language can help your sales style.  Listen for specific examples!

Sounds like this is applicable in many situations.

One of the things I said is some of you may not think you are sales people but everyone is a sales person. 

What advice do you have for people new in the events industry?

In the events industry there are a lot of paths you can take. A lot of people who I talk to that are successful, it’s because they saw other opportunities and pivoted. Even myself, I didn’t stay in core events but used it to be in event technology. 

People get really eager to get to the top in any role. That is especially true in events. I was talking to a guy who thinks he wants to be in events and he was complaining and I said it doesn’t matter if you get to the very top, most people if you’re a good boss you’re also rolling up your sleeves and moving things across the floor. You really need to love it. 

Super power: Empathy, understanding people very quickly

Pro.goodshuffle.com

Insta: Goodshuffle

Insta: Charlesevaneide

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