The day of your event is approaching, and it's time to get ready for it all. You've got the venue, figured out the budget, planned the evening, selected and booked the entertainment; you're set... almost.
Planning is only part of the job. You still have to promote the event, then do all the prep work on the day of the event, and then of course run the event too. We'll get into running the event next week, but today we're going to go into the hard work of promotion and night-of preparation.
A review of promotion
If you have not read the articles written before, then I urge you to read up on street promotion and online promotion that have been posted in the past. There's a lot of detailed information on the right and wrong ways to promote. After all, you want results that lead to a packed night. When creating any promotional materials, make sure you use imagery that speaks for your event. I'll bring up my mistake again in using a pretty "club girl" on the flyer for a laid-back house party atmosphere.
Another factor I did not mention is to have what designers know as an "information hierarchy". What this means is you'll have some items be dominant, then some as secondary, and the rest as support. Even if you're not designing the materials, you should know this whether you're looking over a designer's work, or simply posting event information on your website or a forum.
So what should be the primary information on a print or online ad? The answer is what you think is the most important draw for your event. Sometimes it's the name of the event or headlining act and a "hero" image. A hero image is the big image most see when they look at an ad. Often times it will be the headlining DJ or a pretty girl. Secondary information would include any big food or drink specials and the rest of the DJs on the line-up. The rest is meant for the venue information and your own information (website generally).
The end result is you want your ad materials to highlight the biggest benefits of your event and catch people's attention. Sometimes it will be the headlining entertainment or some celebrity host. Other times it might just be the brand name you've built for your event, or even a big special that's too hard to pass up.
Seriously, if you're a no-name DJ throwing a small bar event, pushing the name with a killer beer and food special can do a lot. Think like the consumer, and think about what they want. I know for many, you might think the DJ is what matters, but sometimes it doesn't... especially if it's a more mainstream music night with DJs most don't know by name.
Make sure you put the full address of your venue. I've seen some who just post the name of the club, but are surprised how most people have not heard of the spot. Doesn't matter if you landed the big venue that Paris Hilton is seen at; most average people that will make up a crowd are not deeply informed on the names of the clubs and where they're at. When you make an online posting, you should also hyperlink the address to Google Maps. Punters love that they can click on the address and see how to get there.
How soon should you start promoting? It depends on the size and scale of the event. If you're doing a big one-off event with an impressive entertainment line-up and even a theme and decor, then give yourself at least a month. Seriously, plan the event so you have plenty of time to get the word out. The reason is you need a good-sized crowd to make this a success, so you need ample time not just to get the word out, but create a buzz from those people. "OMG... DJ Noname is bringing David Guetta to the club. We gotta go!"
If you're a smaller event, or even a weekly, then do not promote too far in advance. The reason is if you push too much for too long, people will lose interest, and your possible buzz won't happen. You can get better results when you first tell everyone on Monday you're having an event on Friday, and gaining interest from all those who haven't thought about the weekend yet. "I didn't plan anything this weekend. I think I'll hit up DJ Noname's night at the lounge."
One trick I've seen even is to find out about early-evening events going on, like art gallery openings or singles/social things at museums and such. Stand outside (or get someone to) and hand flyers to people as they leave. Think about it. This little shindig ends around the time your event starts. Why not give them an option on someplace to go?
I once again will stress the point of not being annoying when you promote. When you street promote, invite people. Don't just hand them flyers. Make them feel special and make them feel like you personally see them as part of what would make it a wonderful night. Make them feel important and popular. When doing online promotion, be effective. Make your Facebook event, invite your fan base, post occasional reminders, and especially reach out to regulars to get them to come out.
Preparation on the day
Promoting isn't the only task to be done. As a promoter, you're really in charge of the whole night. Yes, the owner/manager of the venue is the one who commands the security, barstaff, and waitstaff, but you're on top of the rest.
Arrive at the venue with plenty of time to get things set up. You should first go to the booth and make sure the equipment is working and in order. You never know when you suddenly have to run home to get a CDJ because you and the owner just found out someone spilled a beer on their CDJ last night.
If you have to have a certain setup of gear for the headliner, then set it up. Do a full sound check, even if you're not playing that night. One of the biggest reasons I packed up my 1200s and went Midi was because of how many times I showed up to play at a venue, but the gear in the booth was malfunctioning or broken. As a professional you need to be on top of it all.
If there is a certain theme or decoration to the night, get there with enough time to have things 100% ready by the time you open. Even if you see no one come in for the first two hours, you don't want to be tweaking up the room when it's time to get the night going.
If you need several hours, then get on the owner to get there early and open up the venue for you. He's got a stake in this too, so he and the staff will help. If you want the staff to dress a certain way (within reason), then let them know well in advance. An example is if you're throwing a white party, thus they need to wear white that night.
Be organised when it comes to your own crew. Know that everyone is going to want to have time to have fun, so break up the monotony. Set up a schedule for whoever is collecting money at the door (if you have a cover), and make it shifts so no one is stuck there all night. Do not let anyone not in your crew collect the door money, even if the person works for the venue. I've seen too many times where promoters had door money stolen by the venue. ID checking will probably be handled by security, so don't worry if you can't spot a fake.
Other possible things to have the crew doing would be to help arriving DJs get to the booth and to get them drinks, someone to hand out flyers for the next event to people leaving, anyone acting as a host, and even a pretty girl collecting email addresses if you use email marketing. You should also have someone take photos, be it to live blog during the night or to post online later. Those photos can also help you market future events.
Have your guest list in order before opening, and make sure your friends know not to just show up claiming to know you. Get them to hand you a "yes" or "no" if they're coming, and put them on the list. Put any guests you promised to the DJs and have it all set with whoever collects money. Also make sure you work out with the owner and venue staff on any guests they want. The worst thing for an event is when people are standing there refusing to pay cover, claiming they know someone. It just becomes more drama than you need.
If you're in charge of transportation of any acts, make plans for that. You might have just flown Darude in to play your classic trance night, and thus someone has to go to his hotel and pick him up. If he's not going to arrive early, then set up with one of your crew to be the person to get him at the appropriate time.
Can you now see why I said not to do event promotion alone?
Everything is done, and the event is underway. Think you can just kick back with a drink and wait for your DJ time slot? Think again. A good promoter is working the entire time his event is on, and there are plenty of things to do, some of which I mentioned today. Next week we'll get into more detail on the operations end of the event, and show why working your event will help you build a better brand and bigger deals down the road.
Check out the other parts in this series:
- How To Promote Events & Throw Your Own Parties: Part 1
- How To Promote Events & Throw Your Own Parties: Part 2
- How To Promote Events & Throw Your Own Parties: Part 3
- How To Promote Events & Throw Your Own Parties: Part 5
- How To Promote Events & Throw Your Own Parties: Part 6
Got any questions to ask, or experiences or thoughts to share? Have you got stories of where setting up a venue has gone right... or very wrong? We'd love you to share in the comments.