The Moorpark Morning Rotary Club recently completed a very successful Moorpark Beer Festival.  The event had a sellout crowd of 1,200 people in downtown Moorpark and raised over $20,000 for local charities — not bad for a club of only 20 members!

Here are a few tips and tricks to make your next Rotary Club Event as successful as possible.

#1 View Your Event Through The Eyes of Your Attendees

event-attendeesSometimes since we have been in Rotary for such a long time, we start to cut corners on our special events.  We rationalize it by saying, “this event is for charity, people will give us a break”.

Sure, our event guests care a little bit that the event is for charity — but not that much.  They like the warm and fuzzy feeling they get from helping their community, but they don’t like it enough to overpay for what they consider the market price of the event.  They also don’t care enough to tolerate mistakes in event production or overlook a lack of customer service when dealing with issues.

Here is a good tip:  Ask yourself, “If I was going to attend this festival/dinner/event if it was a for-profit event, rather than a Rotary event, would I be happy with how the event was executed?”  If the answer is no, you have some work to do to improve your event.

The reality is that you are completing with lots of other charities who produce many other community events.  If you don’t put in the effort to stay competitive, you will lose market share to other charities willing to work harder — and their events also give guests that warm and fuzzy feeling.

#2 Create A Dedicated Website For Your Special Event

mobile-phone-view

In our case, our dedicated website is MoorparkBeerFestival.com.  The truth is, most people are going to google search to find your event anyway so you don’t need to have an amazing domain name.  On Godaddy.com, you can register a domain name for a year for about $15.

I have heard of many Rotary Events that send all of their promotion to a sub-page on their Rotary Club’s Clubrunner Page.  While Clubrunner is a great tool for managing Rotary Clubs and Districts, it is a terrible Public Relations Tool.  Most event guests will be confused because they thought they were going to an event page, and landed on the page for a local charity.

For the best result, get an account with a website host like BlueHost.com or HostGator.com.  The monthly service fees are about $5 a month for the first year.  In fact, you can host hundreds of websites and unlimited email accounts on a single BlueHost Account.

web-traffic-source

Both of these website hosts will have free automatic installation of WordPress.  Wordpress is a free, public-domain content management system that is perfect for a simple 5-page special event site.

Pro Tip For Advanced Folks:  This one requires a little know-how, but making your website mobile responsive using a frontend like BootStrap will greatly increase your website traffic.  As you can see from the graphic, 73% of our website sessions were viewed on a mobile phone.

#3 Use Graphics and Video To Enhance Your Promotions

Here is an example of a video ad we created for Moorpark Beer Festival.

This advertisement played on Facebook and Instagram and reached over 20,000 people in the zip codes we targeted for our event.  This one also took a little know-how, but it only cost us $25 to make. We used a browser-based video editing service called WeVideo, ordered some voice over from Fiverr.com and added some pictures from previous year festivals.  You can purchase video ad plays on Facebook and since Facebook owns Instagram, they can display your video ad across both channels.

Here is an example of a Grid Image posted to our Instagram account.
grid-instagram

This is the new trend on social media.  Rather than posting a single photo, post multiple photos put together into a grid.  You can use the collage maker at Fotor.com to develop grids for free.  Or try googling Grid Maker, there are tons of them now.

Using a variety of modern outreach techniques will make your event seem cutting edge, allowing you to stand out in the crowded space of community events and fundraisers.

#4 Track Your Website Traffic Using Google Analytics

google-analyticsThis is a very important one.  How do you know if your advertising or outreach method was successful?  How do you know if it wasn’t and you are wasting your precious marketing dollars on stuff that doesn’t work?  The answer is Google Analytics.

In order to install Google Analytics to your website, just put the tracking code, generated for your website by Google Analytics in the Footer of your website.  This will give you a treasure trove of data about who visits your website and how often they visit.

Our club uses Google Analytics, as well as other indicators to determine how our effective different marketing channels are at reaching our designated audience.

Here is a simple case study as an example:

For this year’s Moorpark Beer Festival, we spent a good deal on money on 2 major advertising channels:  Facebook Video Ads ($1,000) and Pandora Internet Radio Commercials ($4,000).  Were they effective?

First, you have to add tracking tags to your links.  You can use the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder to make tags for your links.  In our case we made one for each campaign:

  • http://www.moorparkbeerfestival.com/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=cpc
  • http://www.moorparkbeerfestival.com/?utm_source=Pandora&utm_medium=cpc

This code allows Google Analytics to sort out the website visits that came from your paid campaigns.

Here is a readout of the Facebook and Pandora campaigns from our Google Analytics account.

facebook-vs-pandora

You can see that for each of the traffic sources we received a fair amount of traffic.  For Facebook we spent 20% of the advertising dollars, and received 20.45% of the sessions, and for Pandora we spent 80% of our money and got 79.55% of our traffic (See the left red circle).  That’s pretty good.

Unfortunately, the traffic that came from Pandora was not very good.  It had a bounce rate of 84.48%, compared to the Facebook bounce rate of 65.93%.  While 84% bounce rate isn’t terrible, the Facebook bounce rate was exceptionally better.  This data will inform our marketing recommendation to spend much more money on Facebook Video Ads and much less money on Pandora Internet Radio Commercials when marketing future events.

This tracking code can be applied to your social media posts, your emails or anywhere else you choose to market your event!

#5 Follow Up Your Event With A Survey For Attendees

phone-surveyIt’s everyone’s first instinct after you have spent many days or probably weeks planning a major event to disappear for a week or two to recharge your batteries.  Unfortunately, there is 1 last step that must be completed before your event is truly done.  You have to ask your guests how it went.

There is a popular saying among pollsters:  “The plural of anecdote is not data”.  What this means is just because you walked around the whole next week and all of your buddies tell you the event went great, does not mean the event actually went great.  In reality, you need to use a systematic, scientific process to survey your event guests.

A few quick tips for surveys:

  • Make them anonymous.  People wont give you honest feedback if they know you will know who said it.
  • Make them quantitative.  You need to have a data driven approach that allows you to compare your data against previous year events.
  • Make them short.  If they are going to take more than 2 minutes to complete, they are too long.

For Moorpark Beer Festival, we sent out our survey through a free service called SurveyMonkey.com.  It went out the Monday after the Saturday event.  This is long enough to let event guests simmer down if they were really mad about something that happened, but short enough that they still remember the details and can give you helpful feedback.

Don’t be upset when your survey results aren’t very nice.  The people most likely to respond are the ones who had a bad experience.  There is no way to please everyone, but if you see some major trends or themes in the feedback, you know you have some course correcting to do.