you’re disappointing the kids

Last Friday, Barnes & Noble (tagline: We still sell books!) hosted a nationwide “Cool off with Olaf” event that was centered around the characters and songs in Disney’s Frozen.

We went because someone in our house (not me) is a major Frozen fan. There was minor disappointment in Bowling Green as the crowd (parents & kids) figured out that there was no Olaf character. Rather, it was a cardboard cutout that you could take your picture with.
Right. Fun times.
Actually, aside from the fact the 7pm event started at 7:15, it was still a decent time with singalongs, stories, craft, etc.

bad elsa frozenBut as life teaches you, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone else has it worse. The inter-webs are alive with this week with this picture from someone who waited in line for two hours at another Barnes and Noble to meet Elsa and Anna. Yikes.
(Compare this to the Florida teen who is also burning up media channels and launching a career as Elsa’s doppelgänger.)

What’s the lesson? If you’re going to do something, do it right. Many events I attend are poorly put together and you can tell there was little planning and no common sense.

On a larger scale, businesses are now trying to talk to a savvy-CGI-iPad-polished media consumer — from the old folks right down to toddlers. On one hand, it’s sad that we’ve lost some of the suspension of disbelief that made things like this fun. On the other, the old Willard Scott Ronald McDonald doesn’t cut it in a promoted event. It has to look slick and produced or many times it just won’t work. If you can’t do it to the level it needs to be done, step back and rework it on a level you can.

the people at your event have to pee

I will be moderating a panel discussion later in the month about “creating great events” which has prompted me to think about what’s essential in creating and marketing an event.

Events have the ability to build awareness and create personal connections that other marketing tactics can’t match. But even with their power, you know there are lots of bad events to attend. And you’ve probably attended ones that didn’t pass marketing muster. In fact, many times most conferences and meetings are a complete waste of time/money/resources for both organizers and attendees.

I think for all that can be said about event planning, a great event comes down to one simple rule: Primal first, enlightenment second.

You have to make sure the basic needs of your attendees are catered to before the awe-inspiring stuff. It goes back to our old friend, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that I based much of Brand Zeitgeist on.

You’d think the key to event planning would be to focus on the big bang sublime stuff. But those first three levels of basic 1) physiological, 2) safety, and 3) group needs are in line before the transcendent self-actualization growth occurs. It’s only in the two top levels of the hierarchy that people can learn and grow. You delight and awe in the basic stuff before you hit the other levels to wow the audience. The trouble is that most event planners see the bottom three levels as “just logistics and details” that have to be taken care of.

In simple terms what this means is, that on a fundamental level, your event attendees are more concerned about the rubbery chicken they’re eating and their need to pee …  than the $50,000 speaker you paid for them to listen to. Looking at event planning in that frame of mind could help you to focus on the mundane as a way to delight attendees.