Digital Aptitude just hosted its first Digital Marketing Summit and it was a smashing success. If you attended, it probably seemed like a fantastically organized event that went off without a hitch (except for the one presentation with no PowerPoint slides).
It actually was well organized and quite a success (sorry if you missed it – watch for our next one!) However, one of our five core values is “flawless execution,” so we’d like to share a few mistakes we made along the way to avoid when planning your next event.

Mistake #1 – The Event Planner Should not be your Bartender

This was less of an oversight than a lack of a backup plan because when the bartender backed out, I was the only person on our team with an OLCC card and we didn’t have time to find a replacement.

Mistake #2 – More People for Prep

Prep and setup are not two-person jobs. An extra pair of hands is hard to find in a busy marketing agency like Digital Aptitude, but it would have helped for all the printouts, designing, cutting out of signs, 160+ nametags, and so on. (I recommend having a paper cutter and a kindergarten teacher on staff if at all possible.) We arrived early and had a great game plan, but still barely got set up before people arrived. To prevent a similar close call at your own event, put all hands on deck whenever possible.

Mistake #3 – Face the Music

I didn’t totally forget the music, but I should have put it on as soon as we arrived because I got carried away with all of the other setup tasks and forgot it once we were underway. On a similar note, I didn’t notice that one of the reception rooms didn’t have music and therefore became a roar of conversation rather than a buzz of conversation. Music sets the tone, so it’s vital to select the right kind and to remember to actually set it up before guests arrive.

Mistake #4 – There’s an App for That

I’m still not sure why we didn’t do this, but Eventbrite offers a registration app that we failed to use (again, my bad). Attendees were great about bringing their registration with codes to scan, so the app would have made the registration process a lot smoother had I not overlooked its benefits. It would have helped the gals at the registration table tremendously and we could have tracked attendee’s guests easier, as well.

Mistake #5 – Get With the Program

Few people asked for this, yet some asked for the WiFi code or schedule of presenters. Plus, we do teach businesses how to take advantage of branding opportunities. Enough said.

Mistake #6 – Slide Size

Although we provided the PowerPoint slides to attendees after the event, we realize it would have been nice to see the Google Analytics data during the presentation. Opera glasses are a rather expensive freebie, so we will improve the slides next time.

Mistake #7 – More Memory

We were recording the event and taking still shots as well, but towards the end of the event the memory space on the cards was running low, so we should have brought some extra storage cards.

On the Flip Side

Now that I’ve pointed out everything we plan to do better next time, I’ll mention the reasons our Digital Marketing Summit was still a smashing success.
First, the turnout was impressive. We provided digital marketing education, free food and drinks to a lot of new and old friends. It helps that we know how and where to tell people what we are offering, as well as the best places to get a return on their marketing dollars.
Second, the venue was beautiful and perfect. The Mercy Corps Action Center was professional, handsome and inviting. The staff was spectacular and more helpful than I could have ever hoped. We will definitely use this venue again.
Finally, if anyone can give a fantastic presentation without the supporting PowerPoint slides, it’s our Managing Director Anthony Miller. We were all glad the projector was back up and running for Zeke’s presentation, but Anthony winged it like a champ and for that we have to give him his props. Well done!
From all of us here at Digital Aptitude, we would like to thank everyone that came out to learn, eat and drink with some new and old friends, and we look forward to seeing you at our next summit in September. And finally, a huge thank you to Rachel, Adrian and the entire Mercy Corp NW team. I couldn’t imagine better people or a better place to help hold an event.
Thank you!