A few weeks ago I made my way to Smiths for UnXpected, a gig held by one of our gold partners, NWN Blue Squared, for their clients and prospective clients. UnXpected was the result of four months of planning by UK accountant NWN, Whiteoaks PR, Net Mentor and Xero to try to create something totally different, something progressive, something that, in the words of Nick Lawrence, CEO of NWN, ‘was not a boring seminar or, my worst nightmare, a day of golf!’
The aim of the event was to attract new clients from NWN’s main customer base – artists in the creative industry. You can read more about how UnXpected came about in Making a client event extraordinary. The event also gave the team a great opportunity to increase their PR by inviting journalists to a totally different kind of client event – one that they would really enjoy!
With over 100 people packed into Smith’s great basement venue, a few drinks and some lovely nibbles, it was a cool and trendy affair, with an eclectic group of artists (all Xero users) providing the music for the evening.
Carrie Tree, an up and coming folk singer, kicked the evening off with some lovely soulful tunes. Next up was Faith SFX, with some awesome beatboxing, closely followed by DJ Jazzman Gerald & DJ Nick Lawrence spinning some great tunes for dancing.
Cass Productions captured all the action on video, including a few interviews throughout the evening with the artists involved. They also spent time with Nick Lawrence and Gary Turner from Xero to find out a bit more about the event and why they were doing it.
Many NWN customers and soon-to-be customers came along to find out more and enjoy the evening, as did a number of journalists, which was a great coup for NWN.
The following week, at Xerocon London we were thrilled to have the team that organised UnXpected make up a panel session, sharing their insights into why the event was a success and providing advice to other accounting firms thinking about doing something similar to peak the interest of both the press and their customer base.
Their advice was simple:
Ensure the event reflects your brand and the ‘personality’ of your practice and its clients. Trying to be ‘down with the kids’ or arranging an event using an activity that is totally alien to your employees and clients is like watching your mum or dad trying to break-dance at a wedding if they’ve never heard hip hop – it can do more damage to your brand than benefit it. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in the choice of activity.
Think beyond the event itself. Consider the opportunities the event presents for other communication, such as social media and ‘traditional’ media activity. Is there a chance to interview guests for case studies or post-event videos? Can you follow up with communication to attendees?
Be clear on objectives. Understand the purpose of the event from the outset: if it is specifically to sell services, make that clear and design an event that is compelling in that way. If it is not intended to sell, but to raise the profile of the practice among existing and prospective clients, DO NOT include sales messages or presentations which can introduce an element of discord into the event itself. If it is an event that chimes with your target audience, they should get the message without having it forced on them.