I’m thrilled to bring this comprehensive article about running a great event to you! Although there are several topics detailed, it was hard to fully convey the extent of my experience since there are so many variables to consider. I have included several valuable resources and quick links to help you along the way!
If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact me for more information.
My experience has taught me that kick ass events aren’t cheap, and are a lot of hard work that require a lot of preparation. And that NO MATTER WHAT – the goal should be to have a safe, well-run event that people want to come back to. Word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising – so it’s worth making sure you run a kick ass event!
Many people DO NOT realize that this part is Marketing: Point of Contact
Having a designated Point of Contact for the event is CRUCIAL. This person must have the ‘vision’ for the event, is passionate about it, understands the scope of the event and can make decisions. You may already have an Event Manager, however if you do not, you’ll need a point of contact to manage the event.
If there isn’t a designated POC, then details will get lost and the enthusiasm and support for the event will fade – ultimately determining the success of the event. THE POC MUST HAVE A WELCOMING AND SOCIABLE PERSONALITY! If they are passionate, timely in communicating, and personable, this will set the tone for the entire event!
There is a laundry list of Event Duties and have complied a template to get you started. It’s up to you to designate who’s responsible; generally its the Event Manager, but can be your POC as well. Event Duties [Downloadable Form]
Where will you promote the event? Here are a Few Suggestions:
- DZ flyers (in bathroom stalls, in high traffic areas, bulletin boards, packing area, etc)
- Event listed on YOUR website
- Email Newsletter
- This is a FREE form of marketing and often under utilized!
- Don’t spam! I would only conduct 3-4 event email newsletters. I don’t like a cluttered inbox and prefer high value content.
- Be sure to include the date, the event concept, the party, costs, and registration payment link with contact details
- Facebook Event Page
- Use consistent event branding and have the graphic designer resize the ad to the Facebook cover page and home page dimensions
- Highlight your Load Organizers in the Discussion
- Load Organizers share Facebook Event page and participate in the page’s Discussion
- Add to Event Listings: “Skydiving Events” Facebook Group, Parachutist Events, Blue Skies Events and Dropzone.com
- Parachutist Ad
- Website Banner Ads: com, Blue Skies and/or Skydive Mag
Branding the Event
Once you have decided on the ad artwork, it’s important to carry the theme AND the design into all of the advertising. This will help create an association to the event. Incorporate the designs into flyers, t-shirts, ads, and the theme of the party.
In Part I, I used logos from Chick’s Rock, shown images from Skydive Chicago’s Summerfest as good examples for Events, but also for branding. Here are a few more examples:
Skydive Arizona Christmas Boogie 2015
(An event I managed when I was the Events & Marketing Coordinator at Skydive AZ)
The Christmas Boogie at Skydive AZ is a classic event. I had the challenge of coming up with the theme, come up with planned nightly activities, manage all the event duties listed in the checklist above, and market it.
I chose the Point Break theme because the new Point Break movie was being released over the holidays that year. Then I designed events that fit within the theme such as “Ex-Presidents Casino Night,” “Surf’s Up Skyvan & Tail Gate Party,” and a mechanical surfboard riding contest, a stunt jump and rock wall (since the new movie was all about stunts). I had the designer take the design concept of the original Point Break ad, bought suits at a thrift shop and asked a few local skydivers to pose for me. Then I had the designer resize for Facebook, DZ.com, and incorporate into the t-shirt design & goodie bag. I added the artwork to the event schedule as well.
See gallery below.
(The “Working Girls” are comprised of Amy Benton, Lisa Mazetta and Chazi Blacksher who have been organizing Sisters In Skydiving events for several years. They have set the standard for not only SIS events, but events in general!)
First, they come up with great concepts such as last years, “We Want You.” They have awesome graphic artwork, consistent branding, their party that also incorporates theme (see photo in gallery below), and they are excellent in communications.
There is no detail missed with these girls’ SIS events! Their raffles are full of valuable prizes, valuable seminars, camps, and fun. They have a stellar load organizer line up, utilize their Facebook event page, have vendors, and even wrap up their events with an online feedback survey so they can continue to make their event awesome!
Communicating is IMPORTANT! I noted that having a POC is important so they can convey the event details, but there is SO much more to communicate — THIS IS GOLD PEOPLE. This is the above-and-beyond that people don’t see.
Not only is communicating the event concept to get people to your event important – but going outside the scope of people who support the event in ways many don’t think about – Fire & Police Department, City Officials, Visitor Centers, Chamber of Commerce, Sanitation Services, and even the Mayor.
When I became the Events & Marketing Coordinator at Skydive Arizona, I made myself known to the City of Eloy. I visited the City of Eloy, met City Councilmen, sent letters inviting the Fire & Police Department and the City Officials for a tour of the DZ. I also sent follow up letters or visited with flyers of the event and invited them to come check them out. I kept them posted of the big events – since Skydive AZ was already well-established, they already knew a lot happened at the DZ, but this shined a light of details, exact dates, and created a personal connection between them and the DZ.
The S&TA, Staff & Organizers
As noted in the Event Duties – a former safety plan should be in place and communicated with the entire staff. A safety briefing should be available to all registrants. Both Skydive Chicago and Skydive Arizona have made a safety briefing video that is very effective and thorough. Skydive Arizona and Spaceland Houston (along with other DZ’s) also have a safety kiosk to further convey safety information. If any normal DZ rules are changed for the event, THIS MUST BE COMMUNICATED with locals, staff, and event participants clearly!
It’s important the staff is also informed of all the details of the event. I would print the schedule and registration information for manifest so they could answer phone calls and questions at manifest. I also held meetings so everyone on staff also knew what to expect, and worked with each department on set up details.
I also invited staff and load organizers to the Facebook event page, and would send emails to follow up and update any details for the event.
One of the most confusing things as a load organizer is what my expectations are: what time to show up? Do I have to be at party? Did they have a weather hold plan? What was the schedule of events?
I was hired for an event several years ago, and of my 3 days of organizing, 1.5 days were weather. When getting paid, I was only paid for 1.5 days, not the 3 I was hired for. I was frustrated because I had taken time to be there for the event, was at the DZ at 8am on the weather days, stayed for the party, etc. Since that day, I created an agreement so terms are understood for both parties. This helps set expectations of the event.
[Downloadable Form] Load Organizer Agreement Template
Ever hear of feng shui? If not, the definition is a “Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment.”
- Where will registration take place?
- Is there a good flow of filling out paperwork, getting gear checked, getting wrist bands, boogie bags, t-shirts, and paying for jump tickets?
- Will manifest be in the same place? Or a satellite station?
- Where will the vendors be? Are they close enough to the action so they will get a flow of jumpers?
- Where is the loading area? Will the planes be fueling close to where announcement are made?
- Where will packers be?
- Is there a good flow from walking back from landing area to packing mats?
- Is there a good flow from daily activities to nightly activities?
- Is there food?
Marketing During Event
This is another important element and preparation is key. Communication should continue on the Facebook Event Page as to the daily schedule, announcements, etc. PA announcements should also be made as to the day’s activities. Also telling the story on the main DZ page on Facebook.
Facebook algorithms are constantly changing to continue making the newsfeed interesting and valuable to the users. This means that your strategy needs to creative so you can reach as many people as possible. Right now, Facebook states that only 3-5% of people will see a post organically.
The best way to promote the event is to have the beginning (all the prep), the middle (during the event), and conclusion (event wrap up & thank you’s). Here’s a sample strategy to promote the event on Facebook:
– Create Facebook Event Page 8 months to 1 year Prior to Event
– Create 3-4 Blog Posts talking about history, concept, or highlighting parts of a previous event with images of past events and post on Facebook with engaging post leading up to event
– INVITE people to Like the Event Page
– Only share the Event Page on the main Page only 2-3 times closer to the event, and boosting the post so more people will see it
– Ask Load Organizers to Join the event and share the Event Page
– Add the Facebook Event Page onto your Website Event
– Once Load Organizers are confirmed, start promoting them on the Event Page (see SIS event)
After all the preparation, it’s important to keep the momentum up during the event:
– Post daily in-air & ground shot albums during the event on the Main Page and share to Event Page
– Do you have enough Bandwidth to do Live video? A great example of this was just done this year with Skydive Orange’s Big O Boogie!
EVENT WRAP UP
– Post a thank you blog to your website, sharing the exciting parts of the event, highlighting a few images, then share onto Facebook
– Be sure to share the link to the Event Page
– Post Event Video to Main Page when complete
It takes A LOT of work to run a great event. It’s so hard to predict how well an event will do – weather, current events, and how well the event preparation and marketing are done will affect the outcome. After every event I do, I create a report to document the details shortly after the event takes place so the memories are fresh. I use that to help improve the event for the following years.
Event After-Action Report Template [Downloadable Form]
I’ve assembled a quick Top 5 Secrets of my mega event marathon during my time at Skydive Arizona and will share them with you here: Event Extravaganza Top Secrets [Downloadable Form]
In my history of running events, I was able to turn around failing events and create record breaking attendances, establish new events, and realized what doesn’t work. It was a lot of hard work, however, it is worth it. It is worth it on so many levels. It’s worth showcasing your DZ so people want to return; to provide a fun and safe event that inspires people and keeps them in the sport longer, supports the professional athletes, helps to showcase skydiving in a positive light through social media that may be seen by others and perhaps inspire THEM to make their first jump.
If you’ve never run an event, or want to make your current one better, I’m available through Dropzone Marketing for Event Consulting and I’d be thrilled to help you prepare for a kick ass event!
I’ve included several additional resources of people that I’ve worked with: they do great work, are just awesome people and most of them are skydivers (whom I love to support!):
Marketing / Event Consulting / Web Design
Boogie Shwag (pull ups, wind blades & more)
Skydive Tribe (this is a relatively new resource that more people should know about. It’s an excellent tool to help connect DZO’s/Event Managers with Load Organizers)