Yesterday was setup day for Brandemonium; a branding and marketing conference I produce. We had a steady stream of volunteers helping sort badges and stuff giveaway bags. The conversation varied from whimsical to political, but it was always polite.

It was interesting to meet everyone. Some of them have volunteered at just about every event I’ve done. For others, it was a first time. It was a very diverse group in every way imaginable with only one consistent theme: They all worked happily and diligently.

Painting the Picture

Starting anything new is hard. One reason is you must paint the picture, but not everyone can see. What do I mean by this? Just try sitting in a meeting with potential investors regarding an esports event. Many potential investors that can throw money at an idea don’t have time to play – or have never played – video games. I can show stats about market size, growth, and opportunity, but I still hear the same objection over and over:

“I don’t get it. Who would want to watch someone play video games?”

Events are the New Advertising

Millennials want experiences as opposed to stuff. The best experiences are live events. The best content for social media comes from live events. (The best way to reach Millennials is with social media.) This is why I’m bullish on events. Sure, some festivals are failing, but the opportunity for niche events is huge. I see this in the types of companies using DiaZam. There are the usual suspects - like event planners - but marketing and ad agencies are signing up as well.

In The Black

Reporter: This was the first year for the festival, correct?
Me: Yes.
Reporter: Are you in the black?
What I want to say: It’s none of your f***ing business.
What I actually say: We had a great first year.

Event Safety & Security

For obvious reasons, event security is becoming a priority for event planners. When I launched Bunbury in 2012, security was straight forward. The festival had a mix of police, uniform security, and t-shirt security at the stages. They kept an eye on the perimeter and credentials made sure attendees did not get backstage.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Learning by Doing

We learn by doing. You can sit in a classroom or read about something in a book, but nothing beats getting your hands dirty.

I recently co-founded a new music festival called Bellwether (www.bellwetherfestival.com). I’m excited about it because it allows attendees to camp onsite. This is new for me and my team, but I’ve already started planning for ways I can learn by doing.

Ramping Up

The weather is changing. Just about every festival has announced their lineup for 2018. Festival season is upon us. Can you feel it?

Event me has been in hibernation since the holidays, but now it’s time to wake. Time to ramp up.

It’s exhilarating to plan and produce an event. It’s also stressful. Supposedly, it’s one of the most stressful jobs you can have. I get it. Things happen, and you must adapt on the fly, but if you have a great team, you can adapt quickly.

We Don’t Do First-Year Events

How many times have you heard this from agents, sponsors, and attendees? The ultimate Catch 22. It reminds me of my son who is a picky eater and won’t try anything new. I tell him if he didn’t try anything new, how would he have discovered chicken fingers or pizza? (This tactic does not work.)

Even event producers with proven track records will hear this, so what’s the solution? Persistence, but avoid resistance. What do I mean by this? You must keep trying but move on quickly from those who are stubborn or uncertain.

It’s All About Timing

I was recently talking about my work history with my wife, Elise. I told her about my job as a short-order cook at Bill Knapp’s. In a very short period, I had worked my way around the various stations and often ran the kitchen. Not bad for a 17-year old.

Leveraging Events for Content & Community Building

Events are content goldmines; unfortunately, event planners and sponsors don’t realize what they’ve got.

Brands and agencies spend a lot of money on sponsorships. Sometimes it's for charity. Sometimes it's for engaging existing and potential customers. In either case, there is a huge opportunity just waiting to be unearthed.

40% of engagement happens BEFORE an event. Another 18% happens AFTER an event. Event planners and sponsors need to look around and find all the interesting things to share during this time.