How I curated my first ‘fashiontech’ event? Part 2
I ended the part 1 of my post at the point where the topics/themes for the event were sketched out. A list of prospective companies/speakers who made the right fit for the event and audience drawn. Next was the task of reaching out to all these people to seek their participation in the event.
However, before we reached out, event website had to be ready. Event pitch and brochures had to be ready. It was one roller coaster ride of content writing, image curation, multiple iterations and comments. This was a continuous process right until the end.
The backend team did the website name registration and hosting. My job was to write the website contents – copy, images, structure, layout and design guidance. By 1st June, I sent to the team the website content plan and copy. What followed was a massive roller coaster ride of multiple iterations, comments, revisions to reach the final output. They say pictures speak a thousand words. I would let the pictures do the talking.
It takes multiple iterations to get the design/content right.
A website takes shape for the fashion-tech event
Bangladesh Fashionology Summit Website in the making
Key Learnings for me were in terms of how to resist the urge to do it all yourself. During all this back and forth commenting and making changes, I felt, if the job was left to me alone, I would have produced the output much faster. It sometimes takes more effort and patience to translate your vision and ideas to others and get the task done from others.
Truth be told, as an individual, you cannot possibly do everything yourself, however good or talented you may be. At some point, you will need to get work done by others. That’s when you simply have to resist the urge to jump in yourself, keep your patience about you, guide others, hand-hold them, build relationships and get them to do the job. The art of teamwork and delegation is all about coaching, collaborating, relationship building and lots of patience.
The final touches to the website were made right until the last minute as we kept getting confirmations from speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, partners, and collaborators. This is a dynamic task and you can expect it to continue. Check out the website here. www.bangladeshfashionologysummit.com
Once the basic structure of website was put in place, the next was the task of preparing the event brochures. We decided to make three separate ones – for Sponsors, Exhibitors, and Visitors. First, we started off with Brochure for Sponsors / Exhibitors. I already had the content laid out on the website. So the task of preparing an outline was easy for the brochure. What took time was to curate the right pictures for the brochures. I collected the images from several sources like Pixabay, Pexels, GrahpicStock etc to source free images which were also relevant to the event theme.
M helped in deciding the sponsorship levels and cost of becoming a sponsor for the event with a detailed listing of benefits and branding opportunities for the sponsor. His experience from organizing successful events like Bangladesh Denim Expo, Sustainable Apparel Forum etc came in handy.
It takes multiple iterations, changes, comments to get the final brochures done. In fact, this process took rather longer than expected. It is difficult to encapsulate the effort that went into the design, layout, content plan for these marketing brochures. Again I just share a few images to give you a whiff of things. This was a massive team effort between all of us involved – graphic designer, me and a few others.
The shaping of the fashion-tech event step by step
The final outcome of all this effort was three brochures.
BFS-Sponsorship Brochure-A4 Size-Small 6 dec
BFS-Exhibitor Brochure -A4 Size-Small 6 dec
BFS-Visitor Brochure -A4 Size-Small 6 dec
Next, we drafted three different letters- one each to solicit sponsors/speakers/exhibitors for our event. A carefully crafted sponsorship letter can go a long way in getting the attention of the prospects. By July 31, 2017, we started our first outreach via email to the list of companies, drawn up earlier.
I must confess that email or cold – emailing – is what we started out is the least effective method of gaining people’s attention!
It was social media that came to my rescue in my efforts to chase the prospective speakers, CEOs, senior executives! I literally connected with them wherever they were in real time! I lived and breathed on all social media channels in the ensuing months. If I found a certain speaker active on LinkedIn with a little green icon next to their profile showing me that they are currently active, I engaged with them in real time on the messenger platform. This new feature rolled out by LinkedIn in August 2017. I had my file attachments and facts ready to share.
Here are a few snapshots.
Speaker Outreach for Fashionology Summit
I engaged with them on Facebook Messenger if they were active on that channel. All in real time. See some shots here. You get the whiff!
And would you believe it? Even on Instagram DMs as well! I will save that story for a later date.
Long story short, it was a herculean effort to reach out to and gain the attention of the right people for a fashion-tech event. Some of my key learnings are –
- Find them in real time, where ever and whenever they are active on digital media channels. Talk to them when they are ready and willing to talk to you.
- Don’t rely on old-school methods of ’emails’ alone. Try the new age methods. Leverage the power of social media, and you will see that people find it easier to chat with you there rather than emailing.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to the top level folks assuming that they would be too busy to respond. You will be surprised to find that it is the C-Suite and upwards level people who make or find time for things that they value!
- You can do perfectly valid business conversations even with photo sharing apps like Instagram! I did so and very successfully. These are real people behind the Instagram profiles. Connect with them. Talk to them.
- Consistently follow up until your objective is met. Or till you have reached a conclusion of a conversation – whether affirmative or negative. Either way, chase the conversation till the end. Do not assume that a lack of response is a no. Sometimes people are busy and don’t find time to respond. So a consistent follow-up to the conclusion is not annoying, rather rewarding in the end.
I had a 45% hit rate when it came to getting a response from the prospects that I had reached out to. That’s enormous! Given the fact that we had no precedent to talk about. Nothing to show from the past. No numbers to share in terms of who attended the event in the past? This was the first time ever a fashion-tech event was being conceptualized for Bangladesh. Every first time effort comes with its own challenges!
Challenges are what we humans love to overcome. Don’t we? In the next part, I will talk about how we designed the social media marketing calendar and promotion material for the event, as well as how we curated an entire fashion-tech runway show as the grand finale for the event in less than 30 days flat! Stay tuned for Part 3 of the blog series.
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