Carl Landau, a 30-year veteran of magazine publishing, event organizing, and more, share his insights into hosting a live niche event.
As the brain behind the infamous Camp Niche, Niche Digital Conference, and Super Niche conferences, Landau is more than qualified to share his experiences and know-how on hosting a live event for promoters, associations, and magazine publishers.
Starting a Live Event is Like Starting a Magazine
When you create a magazine, or build a website for that matter, you are looking for an opportunity.
The same theory applies when creating a live niche event: there must be an opportunity. The right amount of opportunity will mean people are interested in attending the event, and more importantly, sponsors and vendors will be interested in highlighting their services. If there is a demand, the event has the potential to succeed.
Landau suggests starting with some research. It’s important to get as many opinions as possible to help determine if the event idea is worthwhile. If event promoters have any hesitation, it’s a good idea to tweak the event to ensure it’s more appealing to a general audience.
Location, Location, Location
Finding the right location is critical to success. It must be centralized to meet the needs of vendors, sponsors, and attendees. So, using a local convention center, hotel meeting room, or outdoor venue is the first step in ensuring attendance. These centers have operational staff who handle the coordination, saving you the hassle of hiring someone to coordinate.
For national events, it is about finding the right city, time of the year, and considering any location factors that could deter people from other counties or states from attending.
Marketing the Network Benefits
The one promoters tend to neglect, but should not, is that of networking. There are two reasons people go to conferences: to learn and to network. Both are equally important; therefore, event organizers must keep these benefits in mind and create an environment that allows them to learn, but also to socialize and network with like-minded professionals.
Landau puts himself in the place of those who have never been to an event before and who are attending alone. He tries to mold his events around opportunities to encourage people who do not know one another to interact. A first-time attendee should not feel awkward at these events; instead, they should feel welcome, casual, and ready to talk.
He suggests integrating activities that break apart groups of those who know one another to encourage people to branch out and meet others.
Having a Good Time is Critical
While educating and offering significant network benefits are crucial, the fact remains that people attend events because they hear about the positive experiences of others. That means you should host an event that has a stellar set of activities.
Landau highlighted how he rented out the NASCAR Hall of Fame for one event, which was highly interactive and even let groups of six work as a pit crew. It was fun, and something an attendee would talk about with others, increasing the likelihood of more participants next year.
These activities can be incorporated into the event’s theme. For example, Landau used a theme of NASCAR, which was why he rented the Hall of Fame. He also points out that themes should be relevant to the area where they are hosted. Themes help tell attendees how much fun they will have at the event.
Listen to the full interview here:
Building Urgency with Discounted Pricing
Also, having early registration deadlines will help drive early sign-ups. Landau points out that he does four different timelines, each with decreasing discount periods to encourage early bird signups.
Research and Acquire Vendors/Sponsors
Finding the right group of suppliers and sponsors for any event is critical. Landau highly recommends studying other conferences that are of a similar niche and seeing what vendors they use. Add them to your list of probable contacts, then make contact and see who might be interested in your event. They should be related to your industry or the industry you are targeting.
Take the Bad and Spin it for the Good
No event runs 100 percent smoothly, but Landau points out that many of the errors in an event can be caught ahead of time. Event planners should do sound checks to ensure there is no electronic equipment failure, and should always stay in communication with essential team members to ensure they are up-to-date on their tasks.
A live niche event can be wildly successful, so long as a publisher or promoter takes their time preparing for such event and follows the tips Landau has shared today.