Thursday, May 10, 2007

Terrible Mistakes When Planning Sponsored Award Events

A lot of law firm marketing budgets are expended on sponsoring industry and community awards events. If you spend your dollar wisely one or more of your attorneys will be a part of the organizing committee and participate in planning and execution. This is a good thing as a relationship development activity. It's a bad thing if they put together a bad event! While I know that no one wishes to be a part of planning a bad event, I can always tell when an event was planned by non-marketer professionals. If you are listening -- here is what, at all costs, NOT to do:
  • Don't let sponsors on-stage, in script or in person. I attended a dinner event this evening that dedicated more than fifteen minutes to acknowledging sponsors. PLEASE STOP! Every non-sponsor in the room was silently begging for this portion to end! We all are forced to sit through commercials we don't remember when watching TV. Why bring it here? And why does an audience need to hear another commercial to introduce a sponsor to introduce an award winner? Enough all ready!
  • Use a professional emcee or someone that knows the role of an emcee. An emcee controls pace, reads an audience, works the audience, and keeps people engaged. Desire to perform the role of emcee does not replace the skills to deliver a good performance.
  • Chicken -- BAD. Anything else -- good. Chicken-anything at a hotel event is so disliked it has become an everyday joke. While it may be the cheapest choice it is not a selection that will be endearing to your audience.
  • Don't use the hotel sound system! Once again a less-expensive alternative, but if you want your audience to hear every word (without irritation) spend a few more dollars for a sound system that works.
  • Use lighting to control attendee movement. Hotels always offer the "bell person" to walk among attendees ringing a musical tone to signal time for seating. Given the din of conversation and background music -- not very effective. Instead, follow the example of performance halls. Dim the lights repeatedly. This simple technique triggers an unexpected sensory experience and your attendees will pay attention.
These are the first few, more to come later.