This blog is most certainly aimed at those who want to organise events from first time event organisers to seasoned organiers, and those who want to attend well organised events. There is nothing worse than spending a large amount of time producing stunning things, packing up your car and arriving at a destination, setting our your stall and throughout the day there is very little footfall. Stallholders want more than just buying from each other, they want lots of customers. It's time to put the oomph back into events and get bottoms out of chairs and off to well organised events, whatever the weather.
The earlier you start planning the better and have a good team around you to share the workload with. Oh and also make sure you have good French speaking team members too. Events are not just for English speaking people.
Once a date has been set. [And this will be down to availability of venue and facilities, what your costs are and what you need for the day]. Word of advice here – don't set a date then ask for stall holders. If you have a good network rally up support before you agree a date. Get buy in and some of those costs covered as early as possible. That includes advertising costs too. Events cannot be promoted through social media alone. Events need to be advertised and promoted well.
So back to the date. Once you have a date, utilise your newsletter database [see newsletter article] and send a save the date. You may still have space available to stallholders and entertainers, a good opportunity to get interested parties to make contact with you as soon as possible. When you hit the point where you have everyone on board, your future newsletters will take on a different slant. It would be wise too, to make sure you have segmented lists: general, stallholders/caterers/entertainers and another for volunteers on the day, as you will be keeping them on their toes in the run up to the big day.
Your artwork for posters and flyers should be in hand with key info such as date, time, where, when, contact details. Good design and logo help gravitate people. These designs to be included on your newsletters and your social media platforms – helps create consistency. Again these costs should be included in your costs.
Get your advertising in place. Knowing where you are going to put your advertising should be key. Know their cut off dates and get coverage and adverts in regularly. Unfortunately a one off of an event happening next month is not going to cut the mustard. If you have 3 months available, use it. Take advantage also of their social media platforms, get the word out there. If you are an expat organising an event, don't overlook your French audiences – they like English events too! One excellent story to cite is that of Chez Tante Mabel who last year promoted their Christmas event in one of dept 79s monthly print magazines, Tournesol. The French attended and loved it and fully appreciated an English speaking business promoting to the French too!
Create a public event on Facebook. Make it known that the event is to be shared. There are dozens of community groups, private groups, closed groups accommodating a variety of needs and hobbies. Make sure you keep a list of places/spaces where it has been shared, because when you update your main event page, you can re-share. All those involved with the event should be sharing too: stall holders, caterers, volunteers. Aim to keep the event page updated at least once a week. Have your stallholders share content on the page too. Make sure the event link is included on your newsletter, so people can see what is going on and join in the buzz. Is a charity benefiting? Make sure they are included.
This is what I love about the French. We have all been to a weekly market or a vide grenier, gone back to our cars and there are flyers on the windscreen. Take note, they work. Everyone involved should be sharing them with friends and family and with their own professional and personal networks. Leave them at the Mairies office, bars, restaurants, cafes, schools, shopping trolleys, those windscreens at weekly markets! Who do you know? Are there local business who could take flyers for you? Are their businesses out and about on the road that you know who could leave them with their customers? Get creative.
If you have not got a newsletter database, start one now. Make sure you are using a 3rd party platform such as Mailchimp so that you are complying with data privacy. Add your contacts who have a connection with you regarding the event, who you have spoken about the event to. Add a sign up link on the Facebook event page. Once you have got save the date out to everyone: you can start planning a campaign of keeping them informed. Updates may include what to expect: show case stall holders, caterers, entertainment. Is there a charity link, showcase them. Make sure there are plenty of pictures and call to actions: see you there, don't forget, please share. With your segmented lists there will be generic content, but there will also be specific content to your segmented lists.
Ask everyone involved to share newsletters, particularly stallholders. It is everyone's responsibility to encourage footfall not just the organiser. What local businesses do you know, English and French that send out newsletters to customers – can you be included? If they do, give thanks. Give shout outs in your newsletters and Facebook updates.
Now here's where you need a fairly decent French speaker within team to help get something out to your local magazine/paper. Why shouldn't English organised events get some press! Let the French see that you are keen to get the exposure. Get a press release out to your local media/radio.
While I have aimed this particular blog at events being organised so those organising can glean from these hints and tips, these can be applied to any large event being organised throughout the year. This is by no means a complete list, I am sure there are some other interesting actionables that can be added.
May there be many successful events across France!