So, you have an event coming up. Getting the most people you can to your event matters. My guess is, if you’re having an event, you have a lot to share with people. Events are a gateway to other great things you offer as well.
That said, an event can create energy around your brand and your mission. It can also provide an opportunity for your followers to connect and network.
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years of hosting events, that have helped me be sure I’m checking off all of the boxes I need so I get the most people I can to attend an event.
Events can often seem like dating someone. Quickly, you start making a promise about what someone gets from your event. However, it’s important to point out the benefits attendees will get when they sign up, when they attend the event, and even after the event.
It’s vital to show how you’re going to deliver on whatever you promise. When you do this, it helps people feel like you’ve made a solid commitment to them—just as they have—or will—to you when they register.
This step is vital. Whether you're an author or leader of a community, a clever event title and great speakers may not get you the registrants as you might think. This step is all about what problem you’re solving with the attendees. If you clearly spell out what people get from your event, your followers or visitors will register because they trust you.
Here are just a few examples of what attendees might expect to learn or how they may be helped from attending your event:
Guided connections with experts
Refreshment in their career
Best practices and expert learnings
Connections with others like them. Your attendee doesn’t need to feel alone
Matched connections to exhibitors
Preparation and followup resources
Access to content after the event
You don’t have to feel like you need to offer every single one of these, but it's definitely worth thinking through what attendees will get from your event. Reiterate your promises throughout your marketing leading up to the event. Refer to these promises during your actual event. Then, ask or survey attendees about these promises after the event—to be sure they received what they thought they would receive.
Hosting and marketing an event is a great opportunity to engage your partners, exhibitors, speakers, and alumni to help promote the event. You just have to ask! Think about how you can make a promotion part of being a partner. Will you provide a set or kit of marketing messages for use on web, blog, email, and social media for your partners?
Consider making it easy to promote the event by creating resources to help people promote your event. Think of how your partners will be best at sharing. Will it be through PDFs, images, and so on? What platforms or channels are your people most familiar with? The last thing, you might consider partnering with some of the best groups who stand to bring new registrants and offer them a percentage for each attendee they bring. You can do this easily and track it by using a discount code at checkout. This could be the incentive some of your best partners need to move the need for promotion and registration.
This group is a bit different than the folks in #4. This group of people may be helpful, but they aren’t necessarily the folks who you’ll want to invest time in creating affiliate codes and such. However, don’t forget this group in your promotion of the next event. How well you activate this group may create a buzz and registrations that bring your event from dull to a success.
For this group of followers, be sure you ask them to share several posts on social media. Be direct. Give them the exact post and link if at all possible. People are busy, and to be honest, your event three months from now isn’t the priority for this group! : ) Ask them to share with their friends—via email and text where fitting. Ask these things several times if you have lots of room in the calendar before your next event. You might consider offering a free ticket if they can recruit five (5) attendees. Now, this assumes you’ve done well at staying in touch with these folks between events. Remember that word of mouth is most likely your greatest marketing tool—especially for events. And, you might net out more followers to your website after the event ends.
People are looking for a guide. It’s up to you to help attendees do some relational dot-connecting. Also, events can be intimidating. Show how you're going to make the event feel more personal. Will you have time for folks to connect and get to know each other before the event? During the event? After the event?
You can create relational dots in several ways. One big way is offering times of connection where you share stories of how your event has set others up for success. Also, for your speakers, event staff, keynote speakers, and breakout session speakers—be sure attendees get their stories in front of them. Try and think beyond the bio. Why did you ask this particular person to speak? Mention that in marketing emails leading up to the event. This will serve you well in that—you’ll gain more registrants for folks who wish to connect—and—you’ll help the speakers be able to know their why.
These are just a few of the best ways I’ve found to help me feel confident, knowing I’ve done all I can to make an event and get the most attendees possible. If you do these things, you can rest easy knowing your event will be a success.
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.
Are you leading an online community? Maybe it’s through social media or through your own website.
Here’s the thing: whether you realize it or not, you are leading an online community.
Let’s be honest, managing an online community is tough. How do you keep up with all of the changes? From how to engage folks to what’s the best time of day to post, it’s a crazy role that changes, literally, daily.
There’s two ways to go wrong in thinking about community management:
1) Be the person who overthinks it.
2) Be the person who trivializes it.
I think there’s a sweet spot somewhere in the middle where we can truly engage our people and create fans who truly connect, share, and help folks. Managing a community well doesn’t just happen without intention. If only you had a list of things to focus on?
The easiest way to do this is through a survey. Create a survey. Keep it simple. Make it between one to three questions. Ask things like “what do you need most from this community?” or “what’s the biggest problem you’re facing?”
One digital community I worked with shifted their event survey from asking about opinions on various pieces of the event to asking people how it helped them achieve their goals and what pain points attendees had. People naturally want to talk about their problems. My client also had greater success printing the survey out on paper and collecting responses in person. In this case, it meant a lot of paper. But, they increased survey feedback from 200 replies to over 10,000 replies.
The simplest way to know your data is through analytics. For example, do you know what pages visitors are clicking on your website? Study your page views to see what folks are looking at. Once you know the top-performing pages and you understand the content on those pages, guess what? Write more about those topics.
Do you clearly state what value you offer your community? Here’s a great test: Can your community state clearly what they get from being part of your community? They can if you’ve clearly stated it. If you haven't already done this, create a list of how followers might benefit from being part of your community. I saw one group post on their event site a section called "Here's what you get". Isn't that what people are asking? Make it clear. Just tell people what they’re getting.
Have you ever been in a relationship where expectations are not clearly stated from the start? If you have, then you know, it becomes a horrible relationship pretty quick. Take a moment to write out what your community should expect from you and what you can expect from them. Yes, it’s okay to state what you expect from them as well. You might mention things like contribution and being helpful to the rest of the community, as one example.
You don’t have to do all of this on your own. Create a team approach by asking others to help you moderate your community, answer questions, and help take the load off of your shoulders. You might find your team members through this who contribute the most and help others in your community. I loved watching as one community engaged specific experts in each of their core content areas and trained them up as the moderators of each of those areas. This took a lot of stress off the main team and allowed for additional expert voices in the community to engage.
Often, we might just wait to see what people are going to do in our community before we engage much. Don’t do this. Take the lead and encourage content, shoulder tap subject matter experts you know, engage in content yourself, and help make connections with others in your community. This will be helpful to your followers.
My guess is, you already have certain people in your community who you can shoulder tap to help engage others. Start by making a list of who can help you intentionally engage. Then, take your list of folks and consider what they are best at—or what they’re most passionate about. Ask them to help you with a specific content topic.
This is so important. It matters much less what your post frequency is. But, whatever frequency you decide, it’s important you stay consistent. Look for a rhythm that fits you. Whether you post daily, once per week, twice a month, let your analytics speak to you as you go.
Content isn’t worth much if it isn’t useful. You live and breath this because you realize how to monetize a blog. Make sure you have tapped in to your community for what they are interested in and what questions they have. Once you have that information, it’s time to talk about those topics. One community has an annual gathering of some of their key experts, partners, and advocates to help them design their content strategy. That group sits down for an entire day of brainstorming and planning. After that meeting, they walk out with an entire year of action plans.
Sadly, there’s always a follower or two in any community who end up being malicious. Don’t sweat it. Consider your community and make sure you are intentional about addressing these types of followers. It’s your role to take care of any negative situation. There are times when you need to remove followers from your group. When that happens, see it as a teaching opportunity. Your true followers will thank you and be encouraged to engage even more because they will feel comfortable knowing you have their backs.
These are the ten (10) tried and true ideas I’ve found helpful to think through related to community management tips for authors and leaders. What would you add?
You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community which thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.
About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.
Creating a culture of innovation is no easy task. Truthfully, creating a culture of anything isn’t an easy task! But some things are more critical than others for what they mean to your culture. As we’ve unpacked before… innovation is far more a process than a skillset. This is important, especially if your goal is to create a culture of innovation because you can scale a process (but it’s difficult to scale skillset with limited human resources).
Before we talk specifically about innovation culture, it’s probably best to start with understanding and having some agreed upon idea about organizational culture in general. Let’s give this some definition or at least some talking points.
Co-Owned - people in your organization feel ownership and it’s not centralized with a person or a team
Repetative - the action or manifestation of that cultural idea is being repeating and lived out in various forms in your organization
Catalyst - there are core catalytic events and moments for bringing/driving this culture to life
Stewardship - there are dedicated people to “own” this cultural mandate and help see if become part of the overall organization
So then we dive into innovation culture and what makes that unique. Innovation culture is when an organization embraces a standard process approach to help solve organzational problems. It’s what happens when there’s a discipline to allow an objective process to help flush out better ways to solve a problem (than one person carrying that weight on themself). Let’s give this some more talking points as well.
Branding - give your process, space, and team a name - something that makes this unique to your organization
Dedicated Space - creation of a dedicated space to lead and facilitate innovation sessions
Defined Process - refining the innovation (or design thinking) processes to clarify your organization’s version and vernacular
Campaigns - starting with strong campaigns to get others on board, initiating early innovation sessions, and educating people
Facilitators - building a team of trained facilitators from across the organization
Lastly, it’s important to give people the opportunity to engage and leading them to how to make that step of engagement. While there are many ways to engage, here are three recommendations.
Participate - give people the opportunity to sign up and be a team member of an upcoming innovation
Submit - give team leaders the ability to submit innovation concepts for their team to have an innovation facilitated
Facilitate - request to be trained as a facilitator to learn the skillset and be on your roster of facilitators
In short, creating a culture of innovation is a discipline of activity and steadiness over time to see your process well leveraged for the betterment of organization. Add to our list here and get started creating your own culture of innovation!
Cause Machine Solutions
Here at Cause Machine, we help organizations solve complex community engagement problems/questions. We use these disciplines of innovation ourselves in our own development process and have helped lead many organizations throught their own process of innovation discovery. Leveraging the Cause Machine platform for engaging your community helps you be confident that the foundations of this platform are built on time-tested best practices of great processes like innovation and design thinking. Schedule a demo today!
Many times we think of innovation as a gifting that certain people have. We think of Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Einstein, and others… which just leads most of us to think we don’t have that special “gene”. While there are some people who are exceptionally gifted to innovate and think outside the box, there’s also a process that all of us can use to solve problems and innovate toward a better solution.
In the past several decades, several pioneers have navigated a path to build processes that have helped countless people work through an innovation process. This largely began with David Kelley, the founder of IDEO. Since those early years, others have adopted the process, changed pieces, and renamed things (ex: Stanford University, Google, etc.), but all the while continued the legacy of leading innovation.
Key Principle: Innovation is far more a process than a personal gifting.
So what does that mean for me on a practical level? Do you ever find yourself working on a project feeling stuck? Do you ever feel like a project should have more input from others? Do you have projects that just feel so epic that you’re intimidated by them? If yes for any of those questions then there’s a good chance an innovation can help you. Look at this process as a good friend who is going to help you navigate a path to a better solution. And the amazing part of running an innovation… you’re basically guaranteed a better solution on the other side of the process. So let’s take a moment to talk through the stages of the innovation process.
The first stage is setting the foundations for your project. You start by building your scope which includes things like your problem statement, defined WIN, the team to participate, how long of an innovation, what Discovery voices to invite, and general logistics. Strong scope development helps set up the innovation event for success.
The innovation session begins with what we call Discovery. This is where you look outside the world of what’s common for you and your team. Here you explore what others are doing that are outside your industry but who have enough crossover to make you scratch your head and consider ideas from outside.
Here we move to more internal thoughts and perspectives on how to address the core problem/project. This stage walks a group through 12+ “buckets” of strategic thought that are helping to equip the working group to help solve the problem. This interactive stage allows for mass contribution to specific points of your future plan.
Next we move into a phase where you allow each participant to sketch out a few models for how they would see solving this project. We’re always working toward tangible models and visual representations of the strategy. This stage allows individuals to express and share ideas and then presents an opportunity for group members to vote on which bring the most clarity and direction to the project.
The final major stage is where the whole group is broken into two core teams to build prototype projects. Think arts and crafts projects with supplies from Hobby Lobby and Office Depot… seriously. The goal here is to create some solution to the core problem that’s a creative approach to the problem statement.
Once prototypes are complete, the two teams give a short presentation of their prototype and field questions from the other team. This phase helps flush out the two proposed solutions and gives the innovation owner two working models that could be used to solve their core problem (the owner leaves the innovation with the task to compile those two models and create the blended solution that meets their core problem).
And that’s it… it’s really that simple! Now there are all sorts of nuances to the process and how to facilitate these sessions well but this is the basic construct for what an innovation looks like. These sessions are excellent to help you dig into those more complex problems, seek the council of others, and come up with solutions better than you probably could construct on your own… or at the least, put a lot more “meat on the bones” of what you’ve already created.
Cause Machine Solutions
Cause Machine is a platform created to help you better engage your audience. We share blog posts like this to encourage community leaders to work through processes like an innovation to discover how better to engage community members. One of our core principles at Cause Machine is that your strategy should always drive your technology. Our hope is that you have great rhythms to better engage your audience, like hosting innovation sessions. And then we would love to see you bring those engagement plans to life on Cause Machine. Schedule a demo today!
So why do we innovate?
I believe we innovate because it’s part of our design and in some ways, why we were created. Now, I don’t know where you land on the origin of man, but I believe there is an undeniable divine imprint on all of us. And that divine imprint is from a Creator who has instilled the same characteristics in each of us. That’s my reason for believing we should all create and innovate. What’s yours? We all need our reasons for why we exist and why we engage as we do.
There is nothing around us that couldn’t use to be bettered in some way. Regardless if you see yourself as a creative or innovative person, we all believe and see that things have this mandate to get better as time moves along… health, healthcare, technology, mechanics, transportation, and so much more. Innovation helps make things better and creates an intentional process and/or time to seek to make things better.
Many times innovations fail… that’s okay. It’s the trial and effort that count the most. Innovation is a means to try new things, test them, adjust, and retest. Have you seen any of the stories of SpaceX and how they built rockets? While Boeing was spending multiple times the expense of SpaceX to run computer simulations, SpaceX was testing real rockets over and over… with many failures. In the end, SpaceX created the rocket faster, spent less money, and sent people to space. Innovation is all about trying new things.
There’s a burn within almost all of us to innovate, try new things, or at least, consume new things. Yes, there’s that whole bell curve of product consumption, but for the most part, most people have a burn within them for “the new”. That burn is just part of who we are and part of what sets humans apart… the sleepless nights spent thinking about what could be. This is true of products, experiences, programs, and much more.
Let’s face it… things get old. They always do. It’s like gravity… as soon as something is created, it’s getting old. I heard something say one time about technology if you wait to launch until it’s perfect you’ve launched too late. It’s true… and we need to be focused well on how and when to cycle out the old and bring in the new. Now, a caveat here, is that make sure that the foundational principles remain the same… it’s the methodologies that change. Read more about this principle here.
Innovation is a collective/collaborative process that allows us to work together to build better solutions. Innovation brings us together and allows us giftings to sing in harmony with each other to see a solution created that no individual could create on their own. It’s a magical way to see a group bond together around a common goal and challenge.
There are countless reasons why we innovate. What are your reasons?
Cause Machine Solutions
Innovation is in our DNA at Cause Machine. We are continually refining our platform and working to design innovative solutions for you and your community engagement. Schedule a demo today!
COVID-19 changing your community engagement strategy?
We know you want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives through seasons like this.
We want to share a treasure-trove of secrets with you here to help you thrive in a season like this.