A lesson is planning a benefit concert.
1. Research your cause. You need to first select the cause. Don’t let a non-profit fool you by using the power of the organization as a whole to reel you in under false pretenses. Do your homework by asking friends, family, and co-workers if they have worked with that organization before.
You can read all about my bad experience because I didn’t do my homework. Please refer to my blog post “Don’t Go Balls Deep into that benefit yet!”
2. Entertainment. Planning appropriate entertainment is important too. I planned a great all girl band for the first half of the night and a great rock band for the rest of the night. The music was spectacular. The crowd just wasn’t there.
Make sure you cover a bar tab for the band and hotel rooms in they are not local.
3. Venue– I’m writing this from the perspective of someone whom works at the venue so the venue is a given in my case. But choose a place that is large enough for what you are planning, make sure to have plenty of parking, choosing a popular downtown spot is always a great choice in my opinion. People love to be able to pop in and out various establishments.
4. Ticket Pricing. This is important. If you think people will pay a ridiculously high price to get into your event, someone needs to stop you. We are in a major recession and I live in a small urban town that loves to host benefits. People can not enjoy what they like best-bar hopping for a reasonable price. Beware of too high ticket prices, with a lot of competition in the area, your potential patron might just go down the street and see what else is happening.
5. Food? Decide early to meet catering deadlines if you do not have a kitchen in your establishment. If you do, then working up some cold sandwich wraps or chicken tenders won’t be any trouble but if you do not have a kitchen then think about asking for donations from local food establishments. You might be able to get away with a higher ticket price if you have a descent spread but don’t go overboard, food is expensive and this is supposed to be a benefit.
6. Marketing and Advertising. Make sure your event is promoted properly. If you have a large budget then go big on the radio during prime traffic hours on the most popular stations and hit the local channels hard with commercials a couple weeks before the event. Post 11X17 size color posters about your event across town and in nearby populated towns in you think people might be willing to make the drive. The size is important. Many people will breeze by a small regular sheet of paper but a well designed poster they just can’t miss. There is an art community in every town so finding a free lance graphic designer shouldn’t be that difficult, they usually charge reasonable prices and cut deals with repeat business but definitely do your research here too.
Tip: If you are hosting events at your establishment, I recommend to book them at least four weeks apart. I have two benefits only 8 days apart which is a bad idea. Unless you have a team of marketers or interns to assist you, it’s pretty damn hard to market the hell out of two events at the same time alone.