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082 – 2024 Non-Profit Event Mastery! with Elias Puurunen

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In our conversation, Elias Puurunen sheds light on the unique challenges and opportunities of virtual and hybrid events.

He provides a roadmap for non-profits to create engaging, impactful, and successful events that resonate with their audiences in the digital age.

Whether you’re a seasoned event planner or just starting to explore these new formats, this episode is packed with valuable insights that will help you elevate your non-profit events to new heights.

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Episode Transcription

David Pisarek: In today’s episode, we dive deep into the shifting landscape of event management, exploring how digital marketing and communication strategies are revolutionizing the way that we engage audiences and maximize profitability. We’re joined today by Elias Puurunen, a Vanguard in the digital event space.

Elias is the founder of Tractus Events and an author of Memorable, Profitable, Virtual: How to Run Virtual Conferences, Conventions, and Trade Shows that Create Meaning, Value, and Lasting Connections.

As an early pioneer of digital experiences, Elias has chartered the essential must-haves and must-nots for a successful virtual event. Elias, thank you so much for joining today’s episode.

Elias Puurunen: I am excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

David Pisarek: My pleasure. And I hope everybody listening to this will get something great out of this. Virtual events feel like they’ve certainly come into the forefront during COVID. People weren’t really getting together.

If they were, then they were quiet about it. But virtual events are typically a boring type of thing. People are trying to recreate in-person events. Why should we consider adding them to an event portfolio?

Elias Puurunen: There’s two ideas that I want to unpack here.

First is, should we do virtual events? We saw what they’re capable of or what we think they’re capable of during the early 2020s, and maybe they have a reputation for being not as good as the real thing.

And the other idea is replicating an in-person experience online. And those are two very important ideas. Plus, I think the second idea is having an event portfolio.

It’s a very different way to think about running events, not just as a not-for-profit, but any organization that wants to bring their people together. Let’s talk about virtual events first.

Why should you consider having them? Let’s think back to an era before virtual events, when meeting in real life was the only way to physically meet somebody.

So think about maybe back in the 1980s, 1990s. It might take a little bit to think that far back for some people, and some people might have been negative 10 years old around that time.

But back in that era, if you had, say, executives or contacts in your industry that were on the West Coast and you were located on the East Coast, going to that conference or that trade show on the West Coast might have been your one opportunity in the year to talk face to face with that person.

And it wasn’t that long ago that we paid for long-distance charges when we called somebody on the phone. So, yeah, you could call somebody on the phone, but it wasn’t a guarantee that you had long-distance calling.

With the adoption of technologies like Zoom and these online platforms, we now have opportunities to communicate with our audience and to engage with them on a two-way dialogue more than once a year. And I think that’s something that a lot of organizations are starting to become aware of, especially with social media. Social media allowed us to talk to our audiences daily, sometimes hourly.

I mean, if you see some of the trending hashtags, the post volume is incredible. And I’m sure you see it with your own clients, the reach and visibility that they can get with social media.

With virtual events, we’re starting to see a shift in how we deliver content and bring people together. So in the old days, you host in an event, it was a no-brainer. If you wanted to meet the movers and the shakers, you wanted to get your name out there in the industry, you went to that physical event.

And it might be the only event that you put on each year. For some organizations, that was their main fundraiser. Maybe they had a gala of some sort, and that was how they raised the majority of their funds for that year. Now, think about how fast the world moves.

A couple of years ago, AI was just something that us super nerds were into. Now, my dad uses ChatGPT to help him write his emails. AI has gone mainstream, and that has only happened in the span of really a year. If you think back to a year ago today, when we were recording this podcast, ChatGPT was really on the fringes, and now everybody’s using it. And if you don’t have some AI in your software, you’re just falling behind. That’s a lot of progress in 365 days.

And so if your only touch point with your audience as a not-for-profit is getting everybody excited for your one main in-person event, which may last a day or two, you’re leaving another 363 days on the table where your audience is not engaged with you.

They’re not excited about what you’ve got coming up. What I’ve seen in my experience is a lot of companies, a lot of organizations wait until a few weeks before the event to pump things up because, well, that’s when they have all their speakers confirmed, that’s when they have their sponsors confirmed, and they can announce a venue and keynotes.

There’s not a whole lot to announce beforehand. But with virtual events, we have a reason to reach our audiences well in advance of our cornerstone in-person event.

One of the reasons I suggest considering virtual events as well, it gives you a chance to test out new content. It’s a low-cost way to deliver your educational content. It’s a way to hype up your upcoming portfolio events, whether it’s webinars, special trainings, other virtual events, and of course, your big cornerstone in-person event.

We’re at a where it’s no longer a matter of either or, either we do virtual or we do in-person. It’s a question of where does it fit into the portfolio?

David Pisarek: I think that’s a really great point. Organizations need to be thinking about how they can reach further. Not everybody can afford to fly. Not everybody has the time to drive hours or hours or hours necessarily.

I know myself, I can accomplish a lot more in a day because I don’t have to travel to each client and go and meet with them. There’s technology here. It’s here to stay. Let’s figure out the right way that we can embrace it where it makes sense for what we do and we can still get the same or similar output coming from it.

Elias Puurunen: Sure. Here’s something to think about, too. Let’s call them the pandemic era events, the pandemic era virtual events, where we replicated what we did in person and tried to do it online. Those are not coming back. And thank God for that, right? Just sitting in front of your computer for five days solid, 12 hours a day while the presenter was talking into their laptop, which was 12 feet away from them. You could hear the room echo and the neighbor with their leafblower and the dog barking in the background. Those are done. Those were never great. A

nd the idea that, “Oh, it’s online, it’s just like in person.” Now, I talk about this in my book, by the way, the online versus in person thing is online can never be as good as in person. I don’t 100 % believe in that.

I think the pandemic-era events oversold that, but we needed something in those dark days. We needed some hope to cling on to. But the reality is that a lot of organizations are getting back to doing in-person events, and the math just isn’t working out.

The American Astronomical Society, they are in the midst of figuring out what they’re going to do for 2024. Their events, they went hybrid for 2023. And what they’ve said is, “Look, we’re spending 1.6 million just to put this conference on, and that is not sustainable for us. We’re spending a lot on the venue to have Wi-Fi, $147,000. Our audiovisual costs are close to half a million dollars. This is not sustainable.

We have to take a new look at how we host these conferences and how we host our events.” In 2023, I saw it with a number of organizations, they went back to business as usual.

And Business as usual is incurring a high price tag, and it’s not unique anymore. And in some cases, they’re not doing anything that you couldn’t do on Zoom today, i. E. Delivering content.

If the primary attraction for the attendees is, “Oh, I can sit and watch some presenters,” no offence, the presenters’ torso does not add anything valuable to the presentation. It certainly doesn’t spice up their PowerPoint slides. You can deliver that online for a fraction of the cost and make it much more engaging.

So in 2024 and beyond, one of the reasons we need to look at doing virtual events and where they fit into our event portfolio is in-person is now the premium experience.

And organizations can capitalize on the fact that in-person is the premium experience. If you give people a solid reason to attend your event, to spend money and their time on your event, and they get a return that they could not see otherwise without going to that in-person event, they will be back for your virtual events. They’re going to be back next year. One of the trends I see is the effects of your 2023 event will be felt in 2024.

So if you deliver an awesome experience in ’23, people will want to come back in ’24. If you deliver a terrible experience, you’re going to have a harder time selling tickets to ’24, as well with going back to that event portfolio idea.

With an event portfolio, you have more monetization opportunities as well.

So while you may have your gala or you may have a main conference, and you have sponsorship opportunities there.

David Pisarek: So I want to put a pin on that for one quick second. What I got from what you just said is we also need to think about being fiscally responsible and accountable.

As non-profits, as charities, we have to go back and we have to tell the board, why is it that we need to spend $1.4 million or $5,000 or $200, depending on the size of your organization, on doing X, Y, and Z. That is money that can be used for programs, for services, for helping, for supplies, for staff, for recognition, for grants, for scholarships, for whatever it is that your organization wants to do. That’s a lot of money.

Elias Puurunen: That is a lot of money. Every dollar that is spent on something other than your not-for-profit or your charity’s mission is a dollar that cannot be used to help further that mission.

And as not-for-profits and charities, you can’t run a loss. In a lot of cases, there is sticker shock that is hitting with increased venue prices, increased food costs, and transportation. Flights are not getting cheaper, not to mention the environmental impact and many individuals and organizations becoming a lot more sensitive to sustainability.

There’s a fair degree of hypocrisy when you have an environmental conference where everybody has to fly in. There is a certain level of credibility that goes into those events, too. So if you say that you have a sustainability pledge, but then everybody is required to fly in, do you really have a sustainability pledge? Are you being true to that?

David Pisarek: It goes back to the core values, I think, of your organization, really understanding where are you going to draw the line in the sand? Where are you going to be like, “This is acceptable, this isn’t acceptable”? Every organization has a different threshold.

I think it’s worth having conversations internally between your upper management, your board, your colleagues to sort that out. But I also want to talk about how can events or virtual events be leveraged to be more engaging or exciting, or more palatable.

Elias Puurunen: One of the best ways when it comes to content delivery is to make something that is engaging… Because let’s face it, people will be sitting in front of their screens regardless. So that is something that we need to address right off the bat in today’s modern world:

People are going to be sitting and looking at their screens anyway. The question is, are they going to be looking at your content or are they going to be looking at somebody else’s content?

By the way, in person, one is not immune to this effect either. I’m sure you’ve been at a conference or some in-person event where you were physically there, but everybody was doing this. They were scrolling on their phones, checking emails, posting on social media, texting with their loved ones back home.

It comes down to good content design and being intentional about curating for quality. This is a big bone of contention that many event organizers have is we want to have the best and the brightest minds speak, but there’s also this fear of, “Well, we need to let everybody speak. We don’t want to exclude anybody.”

The problem is you can also have speakers that are just completely unprepared and don’t respect timelines.

They have busy, productive lives that they need to go on with. And speaking at your event might be a bit of an afterthought in some cases.

So if you’re curating for content quality, i. E. Somebody that has delivered these sessions before, that has invested in a half-decent setup – It doesn’t need to be a crazy studio production quality setup, but do they have a headset microphone? Do they have a professional microphone? Do they keep it close to their face? Is it obvious that they care about the content, the quality of the content that they’re delivering? Have they rehearsed their content?

So when you’re designing your content for delivery, you need to think about, “Are we getting quality speakers through the door?” And not just the keynote speakers but the people who will be delivering your breakout session content.

Another item to think about is When it comes to these conferences, let’s talk about the conference style, where maybe you’ve got a keynote and then you’ve got some breakout sessions. When it comes to that style of content, interactivity is a huge component of people staying engaged. If you want your attendees to be engaged, you need to make that content interactive.

If the presenter is going to deliver their stuff and there’s no time for questions afterwards, record that session and post it as a video.

Just let people watch it at their own pace and give them an opportunity to control the speed as well. It’s not uncommon to see people watch content now at 1.2, 1.5, 2x speed. I don’t know how people do 2 and 3x. I don’t know how you’re absorbing anything. But that’s you.

If that’s the way that you want to absorb the content, go for it, but then bring them back later for that interactive live Q&A. People want that interactivity. And if your presenters are designing their presentation so that they can be asked questions and go into detail during that live Q&A, that is critical to good event design.

David Pisarek: I’m curious, Elias. Do you have any examples of what a successful fundraiser might look like in this environment?

Elias Puurunen: Let me point to one of the best examples of a not-for-profit raising just a ton of money for an incredible cause. And I’m going to point to the example of the event series called Games Done Quick.

So as a video gamer, I love watching video game streams, and a group of gamers got together a number of years ago and created a fundraiser event for Doctors Without Borders called Games Done Quick. And the idea behind Games Done Quick is they raise money for the charity Doctors Without Borders.

People at home can watch the live stream. They can donate to achieve donation incentives. For example, “If we reach $500,000, we’re going to add these five new stream blocks, and in each block, we’ll do a different video game.” Or there will be another donation incentive where it’s “Which game do you want to see streamed? Like Super Mario 64, blindfolded, or Super Mario for two controllers?” The audience will donate to the option they want to see more. And you can see these really close races throughout the event where it’s like, “Oh, Super Mario, blindfolded, is in the lead. Oh, man, the two controllers just took the lead.”

And it’ll go back and forth. And they’re raising. Some of these incentives are raising 50 – $60,000 on their own. The Gamers Done Quick is an example of an organization that is leveraging both virtual and hybrid events to great effect to raise a ton of money for their cause because they’re using the virtual events, A, to test out new streamers to see who would be fantastic to have at the in-person event, which donation incentive seems to be popular, and to raise money throughout the year, leading up to the excitement to the main event, which is raising $1.5, $2 million per event, and it’s happening over three or five days.

They’re using those online events as momentum to build up to the larger, big cornerstone event where they raise most of their funding.

You need to think about this again, as that event pipeline. What events are you building? What content are you bringing to your audience? How are you engaging with them across the whole year to build up to maybe your gala event?

In-person experiences are fantastic. You see people going to events to go experience something.

One of our clients, the in-person audience, had an exclusive experience where they went around the city for the host city for a day on a bus tour to see these retrofit, carbon-neutral buildings and get tours of them.

The online audience got to see the replays of that later on. But because that was gated to just the in-person audience, and it was an experience, they sold more tickets on the back of that for in-person. The online audience, of course, gets immediate access to the replay. So that was another reason. That was a reason for them to sign up early.

Julius Solaris, the man behind Boldpush, former Event MB, and the author of the foreword to my book, talks about this. He has this fantastic event attendance flowchart. And again, in the old days, it used to be, “Is there an event? I’m going.” Now is, “Is there an event? Is there a virtual option? No. Maybe I’ll go next year. Yes. Can I get access to it? Yes. Okay. Looks good. I’ll attend this year,” or maybe not.

So there’s a whole flowchart that goes into “Should I attend an event? Shouldn’t I attend an event?” And it’s about capitalizing on what each medium can bring for you.

Another one that came to mind was, I believe, Furnal Equinox. It was an event for furries. They raised a record-breaking amount of money for animal sanctuary charity and put on a stunning event which kept people glued to their seats for three, four days and for weeks afterwards through not just a virtual reality environment, but there was, and it still exists, a thriving Discord server where everybody could chat, jump into live streams, watch the streams together. There were lots of special interest channels. It was phenomenal.

This is why I think Games Done Quick is also successful it’s not just your traditional let’s deliver a conference. Games Done Quick, the Furnal Equinox and a lot of these successful online fundraisers feel a lot more like a TV broadcast than they do a stuffy conference.

There’s a master of ceremonies. There’s a host, and they’re interacting with the audience, and they’re reading the chat comments, and they’re bringing people up on stage, and they’re having interviews, and they’re telling stories, and they’re providing content. They’re producing a show.

I think that’s the big corner that we need to turn in the industry is we need to think about we’re producing and putting on a show.

And chances are, if you’re doing a million other things in your not-for-profit or your charity, probably don’t have time or the bandwidth to think about that or to spin up resources to go do that. And that’s where you should really think about bringing an expert.

I’m sure I could insert a shameless plug here, but I’m sure the show notes will do that for me.

David Pisarek: I’ll give you the opportunity in a couple of minutes. Absolutely, Elias.

So really interesting ideas that you’ve spoken about so far. They sound super expensive. And non-profits, obviously, like I was talking about before, there are budget limitations, approvals, and all that type of stuff. But how can non-profits do something good or great, maybe not phenomenal, but good or great, without really stretching their budget too far?

Elias Puurunen: I can’t answer this question without a shameless plug, and the reason I can’t answer this question without a shameless plug is because I’ve been in this situation where clients had come to me after they’ve signed the venue contract.

They said, “We’re going to do the event. We want to do our regular event, but we want to do it hybrid. And we’ve already got a contract with this venue.” And then they find out that that venue has an exclusive AV provider, and they have an exclusive Internet, and you don’t have a choice.

I mean, there’s a reason why the American Astronomical Society spent 1.6 million on their conference. There were a lot of exclusives on that contract.

I had a client who signed the contract for the venue; then they contacted me. They got a quote for two days of WiFi for their 300 people. It was going to be $10,000. And your choice is, “Well, do you want WiFi or not?” And some of these venues are complete dead zones.

So one strategy for a not-for-profit that you can use is to get an event expert involved early, book some time on their calendar, get a consult, and say, “This is what we’ve done; this is what we’re thinking of doing. Where do you think we should go from here?”

Because that small expenditure could be peanuts compared to a cancellation penalty because you found out the venue that you need doesn’t have what you require to pull off your vision.

Or that just translating what you were doing before into a hybrid format doesn’t make the attendee experience any better, and it’s 10 times as expensive.

And when I say 10 times as expensive, I mean that. On the low end, we’ve seen mid-five figures. There was one group we worked with, and their AV bill for three breakout rooms in a main plenary hall. That AV bill was $70,000. I’ve seen them go six figures and way more.

So you want to invest in talking with and booking a consult with an event expert to say, “This is what we’re thinking. We’re not sure where to go from here. What do you think?” An hour or two on the phone with them, or maybe you engage them for a week, could pay dividends in creating an event portfolio and an event strategy that you can follow, and one that takes advantage of all the different mediums.

For example, one event portfolio that I’m seeing gain a lot of traction is you have a number of virtual events throughout the year, delivering your main content, leading up to, say, an exclusive executive retreat.

And when I say exclusive, I mean capped attendance, like a maximum of 50 people, one or two top-tier speakers, and you leave plenty of time for the live QA, and it’s not streamed. As soon as we’re streaming content, the cost goes way up. So it’s not streamed.

We only have one or two speakers. We’re renting the venue maybe for an evening or a full day, and we’ve got only 50 people. So we have our food costs under control. We have executives, and they generally have nice budgets to work with. I’m not saying we gouge them, but I’m saying they usually are able to make the budgets happen. It’s a chance for them to meet other executives and network in a meaningful way and in a safe environment, talk about their hopes, their dreams, their fears, and share ideas.

We keep costs nice and low. We provide them with a fantastic experience, and we get them talking about and excited to be engaged and involved with your brand or with your organization. And we use online to reach a wider demographic, a wider audience.

We had a client that did just this. They had a webinar. It was a one-hour webinar all about AI. They had 1400 people attend live. They had 2000 people sign up. The replay for that has been seen 13 or 1400 times as of this recording.

And they spawned a whole new product series off of that one webinar. And it’s been responsible for something like 10% of all of their leads from one virtual event. This is the power that you can leverage.

And this is one way that we can start to keep those costs down or take the budget that you were working with and see how can we spread it out across multiple events so that we keep the excitement rolling all year long, as opposed to six weeks before our main keynote event, we ramp up social media.

David Pisarek: I think that makes a really good point. You don’t necessarily need to be streaming. Everybody’s streaming, everybody’s zooming, this, that, whatever.

If you’ve booked a hall, for example, the Metro Toronto Convention Center, that’s all underground. You’re not getting a signal down there. You’ve got to spend money for data if you want to, whether it’s wired or wireless or whatever.

There are unions involved, which also amps up the cost of it. There’s electricity running that you need. There’s all kinds of things that we don’t necessarily think, “Oh, we’re just going to put on an event.” No, no, no. There’s all this back stuff that we need to think about.

I think it’s a really good point, Elias, like you mentioned, talk to an expert before you actually go and book anything. As you’re starting the initial concept brainstorming planning part, bring them in. Have them give you their expertise. Maybe you’re paying for a day of their service or a couple of hours or a week. It will be money well spent because once you’ve done that, you could take that learning and apply it to the next one and the one after that.

And not to cut you out of any work lives here, but once you’ve gotten that expertise and you’ve run the event or you’ve had help running the event, whatever that actually looks like, rinse and repeat. If it was successful, great. If it wasn’t successful, have a meeting. Have a meeting, whether it was a success or not.

Afterwards, do what we call a postmortem. What went well, what didn’t go well, what can we plan again differently? What should we do, et cetera, et cetera? And then you’ve got it for the next one.

Elias Puurunen: And it’s just a build on that for a second, too. And it’s not about cutting me out of work.

You would be surprised at the amount of capacity your team likely already has for running those day-to-day events.

Maybe you need an expert’s help to get that up and running, and maybe you need to book some time on their calendar to produce it. But if you’ve already got some of the industry expertise and you have a plan and a framework for promoting those events, you might book that consultant once or twice to help get that started.

But once they come up with those SOPs for you to continue, that also frees up that consultant to help you with your big cornerstone event, where you probably want to focus your main attention, especially if that’s your biggest fundraiser event of the year. You want to spend your money well on that.

Booking that time with an expert is also an opportunity to see what our skills inventory is. What have we got right here? Do we need to hire for a certain position? Does it make sense to have this company on retainer? And does our event strategy make sense in 2024 and beyond?

David Pisarek: Absolutely. And just before we wrap this up, Elias, do you have maybe one or two quick points on how the people listening to this episode could leverage corporate sponsors or big donors to help make the event happen?

Elias Puurunen: It’s funny because the sponsorship model is changing. We’ve seen sponsorship packages be a bit slower to sell as of late. And It’s been a trend that we’ve seen. It’s been a trend across the industry that sponsors are taking longer and longer to sign.

And if this high-interest rate environment we find ourselves in continues, that’s only going to keep getting worse and worse. Beyond just leveraging, say, sponsor dollars, I think the more important point here is to maintain those relationships and make it very clear what that sponsor is getting in return for their financial incentive.

Are they getting a chance to access your audience one-on-one? Is this something that aligns with their corporate Is there a sponsor that you’d like to have on board that offers maybe a product or a service that would be important to your audience or to your cause, so both of you get a win-win out of that? So are they sponsoring a particular webinar where they might be speaking at? Are they sponsoring a livestream? Are they sponsoring a particular session, maybe at your gala event? There’s all kinds of ways that you could take that.

I think the bigger point is making sure that you establish and maintain those relationships and go, “We’re not just going to put your logo on a page where nobody’s going to see it.” We’ve seen the stats on the event apps that we’ve had. If you have a sponsor page that has a bunch of sponsor logos, you’re getting zero clicks. Even if there’s content on there, that’s where the content goes to die. They need to be integrated into your event in a meaningful way.

Some of the ways we’ve seen that for the in-person conferences is we’ve built out, we called it a success partners directory, where we were able to show off not just the sponsors, but what they do and what products or services they had that were relevant to the audience that was attending.

And so if you make that relevance clear, aside from, “Hey, Company X is sponsoring our event. Let’s thank them.” It’s like, “No, why are they here? Why are they interested? Why are they getting involved?” Give them a chance to speak. Give them a chance at the microphone and really integrate them into your events and into your live streams instead of just your traditional lip service. Do a feature on them. How are they aligned with your mission, vision, and values?

David Pisarek: On that point, Elias, I think a lot of organizations can leverage their sponsors to build up some hype through their social media channels through their email marketing. “Hey, look, we’ve got these three new sponsors for our event in a month from now. Here they are. Here’s why they’re participating. Here’s why they care about them. You should go and support them,” but also, “Have you bought your ticket yet?” You can leverage their name and their status to help build up your event to feel like a more premium type of event, even if maybe you don’t think it really is.

Elias Puurunen: 100%. And if you can make it easy, and this goes for your sponsors, it goes if you’re running a trade show of some sort, it goes for them, too, and it goes for your attendees.

If social proof is going to sell tickets, social proof is going to sell sponsorships. If you can leverage other people’s audiences, I forget where I heard that term from, but I love it.

It’s all about leveraging other people’s audiences.

If you can make it super easy for your sponsors or your attendees to say, “Hey, I’m going to this event,” or “I’m involved with your not-for-profit,” that is going to get buts and seats. One of the biggest mistakes I see made about the leveraging other people’s audiences is you see, you might get a registration email saying, “Hey, registration confirmed,” or maybe you have a sponsor onboarding email, and maybe it’s just one sponsor onboarding email that says, “Hey, thanks for sponsoring. We appreciate you. And by the way, share on social media that you’re sponsoring.”

That is the weakest call to action to get them to post anything. They’re not going to post anything because what do I post? What do I say?

The best events I’ve been to that I’ve spoken at and we’ve helped host give their sponsors a gigantic package of, “Here are some social media banners. Here are some social media graphics that you can use. By the way, if you want to make your own, here are the PNGs with transparency of all of our logos. Here’s some sample copy; here are the links that you can use to purchase your tickets.”

They make it dead simple for the social media manager at big corporations to schedule this into their pipeline. Make it dead simple for those social media managers to post content.

Same thing goes for your speakers. Make it easy for them to highlight the fact that I’m going to be speaking at this event. “Look at me, look at me, look at me. Get your tickets you know you want to.”

And that can be applied as well to if your sponsors and if your speakers have email newsletters. I mean, I do this all the time when I’m speaking at webinars is “I will put a blast out to my audience and say, Hey, I’m going to be speaking at this webinar.” It’s relevant to my audience because usually some technical event-related thing would love to see you there.

Make it easy for whoever is going to be involved with your event to blast out to their audience that, “Hey, I’m going to be involved with this event.”

And one last thing I’ll add on to this, with each client that I work with, one area where we spend a ton of time is coming up with a communications plan when it comes to an event. And we’re talking about, “We’ve got a sponsor that’s been onboarded. What does their onboarding email look like?” A week later, we follow up with them and say, “Hey, have you put together your booth page yet? Or if you put together your sponsor page yet, if you have any questions, book some time with us. We’ll actually sit on…” That’s one thing we do for our clients. We will Get on a Zoom call with their exhibitors and with their sponsors. Help them build out their presence at the event. Help them come up with social media content, work with them to make sure that the event is a success for them. The relationship has got to be a two-way street.

It needs to be more than just an exchange of funds. You need to be a partner in their success. That’s what’s going to keep them coming year after year.

David Pisarek: Phenomenal advice, Elias. Such an amazing episode. I’m sure you and I could probably talk for a day or two about this. Maybe we’ll do a two-day event, and we can invite everybody listening to this to come and hear what we’re talking about.

Amazing advice from you. Thank you so much for coming in on the show today. If anybody wants to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?

Elias Puurunen: Best way to find me these days is go to tractusevents.com. If you’re into event production, the very technical side, we’ve got a number of free software tools available that you can go download.

If you want to get all of my knowledge condensed down into a book, and by the way, the book has a bunch of free downloads like communication plan, moderator and facilitator, rehearsal scripts, you can go and sample surveys. You can go check that out.

tractusevents.com/book – The book, of course, is Memorable, Profitable, Virtual. It’s available where all fine books are sold. Those are the easiest places to find me.

If you’re looking for me on social media, I’m on the platform formerly known as Twitter – @AGFINN. You can look me up on LinkedIn Elias Puurunen or just look up Elias Tractus, you’ll find me on LinkedIn. Post there fairly regularly, and I’m pretty good about checking my messages there. So if you send me a direct message on LinkedIn or on Twitter, chances are you’ll get a response from me.

David Pisarek: Awesome. And just for everybody listening, Tractus is spelled T-R-A-C-T-U-S. We’re going to have links to everything that Elias just mentioned. We’ll have a link for his book and all that as well on our show notes page.

Thank you so much, Elias, for joining in on the Non-profit Digital Success podcast. To everybody listening, if you want any of the links, again, visit nonprofitdigitalsuccess.com. Click on this episode for all the details and the show notes. And until next time, keep on being successful!

Elias Puurunen: Wonderful. Have a great day, everybody.

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