8 Most Common Mistakes in Planning a
Persuasive Event Where You are
Looking to Raise Funds
or Sell Something
Mistake #1: Mistaking a “Theme” for a Persuasive Messaging Concept
If you choose an attractive “theme” for your event, such as a party or ball that would dictate the decor, the entertainment and perhaps what your guests might wear, many of them will come for the wrong reasons and have the wrong expectations. Themes that might persuade people to attend do little to motivate them to donate or buy. Emotionally, when you choose a theme you’re giving in to the idea that what you’re doing isn’t intrinsically interesting enough to get people to care.
A persuasive messaging concept, on the other hand, affirms that what you’re doing is worthy of attention and support. Like a magnifying glass, it focuses on the mission and values of your organization to create piercing clarity about why your organization deserves support.
Mistake #2: Advertising the entertainment instead of the organization
Don’t hire a well-known entertainer to drive attendance to your event and then make the entertainment the focus of your advertising. While an entertainer’s fame might convince people to buy a ticket, it won’t convince them to donate to your organization. Solid entertainment is important, but you want the people who attend your event to be passionate about supporting your mission. This means your event advertising must focus on your organization and its mission.
Mistake #3: Failing to Plan for Persuasion
Harness this mindset-to-money dynamic to maximize donations. Unfortunately, most event planners spend all their time worrying about food and decor and almost no time worrying about persuasion. You must plan your persuasive event to have a narrative arc and an emotional arc that will culminate in your attendees believing in your cause. This plan dictates what speakers and entertainers should say and do, what decor you should use, the schedule of events, how to seat your people amongst the audience and the roles you want each of them to play.
Mistake #4: Advertising for too short a time
A few weeks of advertising prior to the event may not be enough. You need to advertise with enough repetition to be impactful. Events need time to sink into people’s minds. Repetition is key. It is more important to reach the same people many times than to reach a larger pool of people fewer times.
This is especially the case when you’re advertising the organization rather than the entertainment (a la not making Mistake #2). If you’re doing it right, you are essentially branding your organization as worthy of support. That doesn’t happen with a single exposure.
Mistake #5: Creating an ad instead of a campaign
When you advertise your organization rather than the entertainment and you do it with a lot of repetition, you’re going to need a campaign made of multiple ads. Otherwise, your audience will get bored by your single ad and loose interest in attending your event. A powerful campaign limits itself to a single big idea so that it can dramatize the point. Build your campaign as a series of ads that change over time, telling a full story that people can follow. Tell your story from several angles. By the end of your campaign, readers will be confident about supporting you.
Mistake #6: Too many speeches
I get it: you have awardees or sponsors that need “time on stage,” and that’s why you have so many speeches. Here’s how to fix that: film them ahead of time, then edit the footage for maximum engagement and entertainment. They’ll thank you for it as it makes them look better and your audience will thank you for it as it accelerates the pace of the evening. Don’t let secondary speeches muck up your persuasive momentum. (This is a big part of mistake #3.)
Mistake #7: Bad Lighting and Stage Management
You must keep everyone’s attention focused on the stage. You can’t persuade and motivate people if they’re not paying attention to you. This means the house lights should be dimmed for most of the event. If the lights are bright and people get a chance to chat with each other, they will miss important parts of your presentation. And then what’s the point? Be sure everyone is seated so they can see the stage, and plan your event to minimize or eliminate off-stage distractions.
Mistake #8: Lack of personal involvement
Personal involvement by company staff is often overlooked. An event is a great opportunity for attendees to meet the people who work for the organization. Why not have the CEO of the company sit among the audience, or have her welcome attendees as they walk into the room? Consider replacing your ushers with organization management. Involving your people will demonstrate personal commitment and accelerate your persuasive momentum.
Now go have a great event!
Morty Silber, MBA
Chief Executive Officer
MAD STRATEGIES Inc.
A Wizard of Ads Partner
925-B Avenue Beaumont
Montreal Quebec, Canada
H3 N 1W2