Escape Technology’s Creative Rooms event launches in under two weeks, and I’m deep in last minute preparation.
Something that’s struck me about this particular installment of our bi-annual event is how much smoother the planning has been. Now we’re four big shows in I’m getting somewhat more adept at keeping everything under control.
So I thought I’d share some of my favourite tools for keeping on top of things.
Trello is a god send. Think of it as a digital sticky-note wall. I have a single board dedicated to this particular event and on that board there are lists for everything. From the design to the promotion, I can tell you which area will look like what and when with just a glance.
The checklist function in Trello Gold also allows me to create itemised lists of what I need to ensure gets done in any one space during event setup. Couple this with its free mobile app and you have a roaming note board with no mess.
Where do I go when I need any assets, attendee lists, contacts, contracts, or quotes? Google Drive. Everything for Creative Rooms - from vinyls to the programme, attendee names to merchandise quotes - is stored in a dedicated folder in Google Drive. This folder is shared with our marketing team and the company at large has view permissions. So anyone can find anything they need.
This one might seem obvious, but having a tool that’s specifically designed for event registration and tracking is beyond useful. We can register attendees in advance, export guest lists, and check people in on the door with just one app. It’s smooth, simple, and the new design makes event registration pages all the nicer.
It’s also great for being able to cross-sell events. We contact people who register with other sessions they might like. And there’s the social media aspect as well - each session is public and can therefore be found organically, generating leads that we might otherwise not have gained.
Embedding registration forms on our microsite is also awesome. And this is another one with a free mobile app, so tracking on the go is a cinch.
This is a nifty little tool for connecting apps together. I use it to dump all our attendee details into a Google Sheet so I can keep our partners and staff updated with the kind of people who attend our events. I say dump - what actually happens is that whenever anyone registers it pushes that data into a named Google Sheet so it’s always up to date. It saves exporting each event list individually and gives us a sort-able breakdown of everyone on our books. Obviously we don’t share contact details, but it’s useful to be able to tell a sponsor that 73 compositors have registered, or 11 people from architecture businesses. And for staff it’s great for them to see if anyone they know has registered.
Additionally, this list is excluded from our email campaigns for the event so they’re not hit with messages like “come to this event that you’ve already signed up for!” Because that’s just irritating. And unnecessary.
All our comms are sent from Mailchimp. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’re sending and make sure it goes out in a friendly format. You can hook it up to Eventbrite, but because of our mass list export I simply generate an exclusion segment from our Mailchimp database. Any individual cross-selling is done via Eventbrite.
This should probably go at the top of this list, but it’s possibly too hipster to do that. My desk is littered with an organised mess of paper. I particularly enjoy my A4 sheet slotted under my keyboard. On it are simple headings of what I need to take care of. A circled heading indicates the item is important. A scribbled out heading means it’s done (obviously the scribbling happens with great joy). Arrows show that an action has been taken. Underlining illustrates something to chase.
It’s a tactile, immediate way of logging actions that I know I will only do while sat at my desk. Things that don’t necessarily need to go into Trello until they’re done.
What marketer doesn’t know Hootsuite? It’s a magnificent way of dealing with scheduled social media. We know that we need to tweet about our partners and sessions, so that side of things is planned at the beginning of the week. The new bulk upload feature means I can simply write everything into a spreadsheet and upload a CSV. Done. And obviously that spreadsheet is in Google Drive so I can refer back to it when necessary, or collaborate on it with colleagues. Then it’s just a matter on monitoring our social accounts for any interaction and engaging as needed.
One thing I love most about all the apps mentioned above is that they have free versions. Since using them I have paid for a Trello Gold subscription, and Escape Technology uses paid for Mailchimp and Hootsuite. This probably wouldn’t have happened had we not been able to test them first.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything I use, and there are a few tools that I’d like to play with for our next event as well. Stuff like Tom’s Planner, Basecamp, and Slack might be rather interesting. But until then, I’m going to have some more tea and scribble “write blog” off my to do list. With joy.