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.

If you know someone is a dead end, don’t keep after them. It’s exhausting and will sour the relationship. It’s best to smile, thank them for their time, and tell them you’ll follow up in a year or two. If you find someone needs constant reassurance, move on. You don’t have time to babysit. Now you have more time to seek out the visionaries and pioneers. They’re the ones that become advocates and help convince others to join. Every ‘yes’ makes another ‘yes’ easier to get.

Your event may not be everything you want it to be in year one, but that’s OK. It’s about making it good enough and getting through the first year. The key is rewarding those who helped you start by providing more than what was promised. Give artists more than they ask for in their rider. Give sponsors more in exposure and complimentary tickets than the contract stipulates. Reward first-year attendees with limited edition swag and discounts for next year.

By year two, you can probably get those that needed convincing on board. By year three, those who wouldn’t even consider your event will be knocking on your door. Open it and be a gracious host. Starting an event is one thing. Growing an event requires diplomacy.