Redmoon isn’t known for putting on boring performances. The Chicago-based theater company is know to wow its audiences with outstanding performances and over-the-top events. Its mission is to “transform the experience of our urban landscape through ephemeral events that disrupt everyday life and provide opportunities for public engagement, community building and recognition of the possibility of change.”
This weekend’s annual fundraiser, Spectacle Lunatique, was nothing short of amazing and it made me wonder how many of us can learn something from this performance and apply it to our businesses.
The event created a buzz from the beginning. As an invite-only event, it created an aura of excitement before you set foot in the place. The location was the Hudson Club, a gorgeous space in Bronzeville. As you walked in, you were serenaded with performs clapping as you entered the space. Continue to the VIP Lounge, where you were walked to, to be greeted by10,000 square feet of white leather couches and seats, some of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs providing you sample sizes of amazing food, mixed drinks by owner Stephen Cole of the newly launched Barrel House Flat in Lakeview and Choo Lipsky of MorSo in Lincoln Park. Performers in stilts, large table (yes, TABLE) dresses and even on bikes mingled around the crowd serving hors d’ oeuvres.General admission was no less exciting. Beginning at 8:30, everyone was treated to 30,000 square feet of the “Redmoon Spectacle” and food truck gallery. A third, late night entry began at 10:30 p.m., complete with drinks, desserts, and dancing until 2 a.m.
Even the speeches/live auction segment (which, you know, have to happen at these fundraisers since they are, after all, fundraisers) weren’t boring. Rather the traditional podium speech and live auctioneer, Redmoon has a 120 person chorus SING its “speech” and participate in the live auction. Talk about interacting with your audience.
And, there it is – interacting with your audience. You don’t need to have a theater company to put on a “spectacle” or performance of this level (although, if you’re a non-profit looking to raise money, there is something to be said about putting on this level of performance!). But to be memorable or have people want to come to your event, you’ll need a hook, a tie in, something that they will want to get out of by taking up their time to be a part of it.
Are events something that can drive your business? Are there any businesses that cannot benefit from events? Retailers love hosting trunk shows; accountants host complimentary seminars on expenses you can itemize; grocery stores offer cooking classes; graphic designers teach the latest software and how to effectively use them. Honestly, the possibilities are endless but you need to sit down and think about what it is you’re trying to achieve first and then back into a theme or idea and work it out until it makes sense for your time, business and budget. If you don’t have the expertise to pull off the event, consider hiring an event planner – while it is another expense, the planner is often less expensive than you think when you consider how much time it will take you to plan this event if that isn’t your expertise (it’s called the opportunity cost).
And, as with anything you do for your business, you’ll want to plan it properly and that includes dedicated a portion of your time and budget on marketing the event. From press releases to invitations, word of mouth and social media – an event is only as good as your guests attending and being excited about it before, during and after.
Can you host a memorable event to make an impression and stand out from the crowd? Of course you can. And please make sure to send me an invite!
Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in working with both for profit and not-for-profit organizations. This post is part of her weekly Marketing Monday tips. She has been to hundreds of special events from fundraisers to trade shows and concerts but admits Redmoon’s Spectacle Lunatique was among her favorites. Perhaps it also was because she had a babysitter so she could enjoy her evening with her husband!