Once we settled on the idea for our event series, Women Crushing it Wednesday, we couldn’t wait to start advertising. But we knew that in order to attract attention from the community and get the right attendees through the door, we needed to partner with some stellar panelists. As with all of our other marketing initiatives, great event content would be essential.
Here’s a look into how we recruited panelists, worked with them to garner a serious buzz about our event and ensure that the panel content would be captivating.
Seize opportunities to connect
The Event Farm DC office is located in a WeWork (co-working space), which makes it easy to find and connect with people at all different kinds of companies. Luckily for us, we sit adjacent to Spotify, and recruiting a panelist from that office became priority number one. One morning, I found myself in the kitchen at the same time as one of the Spotify employees, Holly Maine (who we’ll share an interview with later in this post). Even though I didn’t necessarily have a pitch ready, I knew this was a great chance to introduce myself, share the broad event idea and gauge potential interest. Holly jumped on board, and started immediately giving great advice about the event. She then offered to put me in touch with other people who she thought would add interesting insight to our panel discussion. Which leads me to my next point...
Ask for introductions to broader networks
Holly made this easy for me, but she taught me a lesson that it never hurts to ask for introductions. Holly was able to connect me with another one of our panelists (from Snapchat), and once we had those women on board, it was really easy to recruit others.
Coworking spaces are great for facilitating introductions, but it’s important to remember that everyone you know has their own personal and professional networks. The jumping off point for panelist recruitment efforts can start with your coworkers. This is a great opportunity to inform your colleagues about the subject matter and goals of your event, and help them feel involved in its progress and ultimate success.
Work in partnership with your panelists
All of our panelists have participated in panels before, so they had great advice to offer about number of questions, flow of the conversation and more. It worked in our favor to get our panelists really involved in panel content during the early stages of our event planning. We were able to work closely with them for about a month to help uncover their personalities, passions and plan out who would answer which questions.
At event time, I felt like I really knew all of these women, which made the panel extremely conversational and engaging for our audience. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to check-in with your panelists early and often, and schedule plenty of calls prior to the event.
Show your appreciation!
This is a given, but make sure you thank your panelists (a lot)! These people are dedicating time and effort to make sure your event goes well, and they need to feel the love. Once the event ended, we gave our panelists gift bags of thank you notes, succulents and some other fun swag. You may want to work with your panelists again down the line, so do your best to end everything on a high note.
Our first Women Crushing It Wednesday event was an awesome success, largely because of the important, impactful conversation by our dynamic panelists.
For those of you who couldn’t join us, here’s an interview with Spotify’s Holly Maine about how technology plays a role in community, and what brands can do to create their own unique communities.
|Holly, center, takes the mic.|
Q: What drew you to Spotify?
A: I work on the political advertising sales for Spotify. Millennials are a target audience for a lot of candidates and Spotify is unique in that we have a huge user base that’s largely millennials. A lot of candidates want to work with us, because audio withstands the test of time, and is an effective medium for educating people and getting them to know who you are as a candidate or brand. It’s exciting to see how music really impacts our culture and world.
Q: What’s the brand story of Spotify and why do you think it’s been able to succeed in an age of digital oversaturation?
A: Spotify has been at the streaming business for 11 years. We started on the heels of Napster, but were ahead of our time in that we created a platform for both consumers and artists, and we pioneered playlists. I think being pioneers in this industry is what helps us succeed. We’re innovative and not afraid to take risks. We strive to be crystal clear on who we are as a brand, and by being authentic we can develop real relationships with our audience. We have spearheaded using algorithms to provide personal playlist experiences, so even though we have 140 million active users monthly, each of those users feels connected to the platform and brand.
Q: How does Spotify use events to strengthen brand identity?
A: We operate in a competitive space, and when people think of music streaming they clump us and our competitors all together. But what people often don’t realize is that there are big differences among the different streaming platforms. Events give us a unique opportunity to talk about what makes our business distinct. When we’re in person we can be really vocal about our data intelligence and other key differentiators, so when consumers have a choice they choose us.
Q: What are other ways you create relationships with Spotify users and get to know your audience?
A: Our first party data gives us a glimpse into the personalities of our users, and enables catered experiences for them. With all of that data, we can create customized playlists based on what you’re listening to and recommend new artists to expand audio communities. We launched a campaign at the end of last year where we pulled out insights from our users over the entire year of 2016. We got a lot of great information from that, including that someone streamed Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” 8000 times. I’m not sure what he did, but I am sure that with that insight we can serve him a really tailored experience moving forward.
Q: What’s one actionable tip you can give to anyone about the importance of building community and how you can get started?
A: Define your manifesto, mission statement and pillars of values. Whatever you do, tie every initiative back to those things. Brands that develop well start with a clear identity.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received that you still carry with you today?
A: Well, there’s a few. The first one is to Always, always, always say thank you. That applies internally as well. It’s second nature to thank clients, but you have to do the same with your colleagues.
Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something. Ask questions, ask for help. Own up to your mistakes, because mistakes will happen. Be accountable, apologize when you need to, learn from it, and don’t beat yourself up.
If you want a behind-the-scenes look into how and why we're planning the WCW event series, watch the recording of our webinar, How We're Driving Revenue and Building Brand Awareness with Our Events, Step by Step. We talk about everything from setting high-level event goals to why we think it's so important to segment our guest list—click here to watch.