This is the first in a three part article series entitled A Thousand Little Things
Sounds cliche, but it’s a guaranteed, proven formula for success. The details matter! I’m going to share a 3 step process that will revolutionize your event. I've seen it turn around hundreds of businesses and events in ways they never even dreamed of.
First, let’s look at the reality. Most event producers are overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of producing an event, not to mention that ever-looming, absolute, drop dead, deadline (the one that’s coming whether you’re prepared or not!). By default we tend to focus on the “Big” things and hope the details will take care of themselves. After all isn't that what really matters, the big stuff?
My Dr. told me once that almost all fatal heart attacks are caused by a lifetime of unhealthy habits. Poor diet, lack of exercise, stress, and numerous other things cause the arteries to restrict blood flow overtime. Then, a single event causes the heart to starve for blood until... Since most of the symptoms don’t stop us from performing our daily routine they become secondary. We tend to focus on the “Big” things, like earning a living, raising our children, and enjoying life.
Not addressing the little things in your event will, over time, restrict your cash flow until a single issue becomes catastrophic and you’re unable to recover financially.
My first reaction when I realized that all of those little things done right were necessary for a successful, healthy event was, “I’m already overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done. Where are we possibly going to find the time to focus on thousands of little details?” Then I remembered the other thing my Dr. told me “If you don’t have the discipline or time to watch your diet and exercise you may be cut short on accomplishing the “Big” things, like earning a living, raising your children, and enjoying life.” Ouch!
To make matters worse, unlike your blood flow you have thousands of competitors competing for your cash flow! The good news is, as you start to understand this three step process, you’ll see how it absolutely crushes the competition in ways you never even thought possible.
Okay, okay, but which details are important and which ones aren't? I’m going to show you a formula that a close friend of mine who is an accomplished strategic business planner shared with me. It dramatically improved our business! Our events became larger, more profitable, and much healthier financially. However, I soon realized there was an even bigger benefit. The entire process of producing the event became much more gratifying and fun for everyone involved than I ever imagined. And, the most amazing thing was that I actually found that I had less to do than I did before. Sign me up for that! I’ll share how that happened and how to cultivate it, but first step one of the formula.
We affectionately call this the “Who Cares” step. Your event, like every event, impacts people. Who are they? Some are easy to come up with, “Our sponsors, our ticket buyers, our staff, etc.” Take a minute to list everyone that is impacted by the success or failure of your event. List all of them you can think of, small, large, direct, indirect, financial, emotional, positive, negative, ALL of them. We’ll prioritize the list later. It’s important to list as many as you can. You don’t want to over look one that could have a major impact on your event if they aren't happy, like regulatory bodies. (i.e. the city, the county, the EPA, the police).
Here are some categories that may help get you started:
- Participant / competitors / performers
- Facility owners
- Financial backers and Non-profit groups
- Sanctioning bodies
- Local communities and cities
- Industries (buyers and sellers within those industries)
- Staff (production, sales, financial and administrative)
All of these people or entities have a “Stake” in the success of failure of your event. We’ll call them Stakeholders. My dad used to say “When Mama’s not happy, ain't nobody happy.” Same rule applies here. If your stakeholders aren't happy then nobody’s happy.
To make matters worse, some competitor is trying to steal every single one of them! (Except for the really bad ones which you would like to give to them anyway)
After you do a brain dump of everyone you can think of, try and fit them into categories. Remember these categories as you do business. Through the course of the day think about the person you are talking to and which category they should be in, you may find a category you missed.
At this point its not nearly as important to list specific names as it is to identify groups. We’ll address specific names in step two.
Next time we’ll discuss the second leg of our three legged stool. If it's not done right step three will miss the mark and we’ll lose a significant portion of the benefits. We’ll show you how to meet the needs of your stakeholders better than your competition, how to have them take an active role in helping you become more successful, and how to attract the best in each category. More importantly you will start to focus on the most rewarding part of you business, meeting the needs of your stakeholders better than anyone else.
Oh, and don’t be afraid to list YOURSELF as a stakeholder! After all, when you’re not happy chances are none of your other stakeholders will be either.