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Small event syndrome

After attending a few meet-ups and conferences it may appear to be a great idea to put one of your own on. It’s good fun eating, drinking and talking web stuff, right?

As a business we’ve put on a few events in the past (see Erskine Bowling), so we thought we’d have another go. We started Erskine Breakfast in August and today we had the second bout of pastries, coffees and web speak.

It’s not a large event by any stretch of the imagination, but we’ve run into some challenges none-the-less. And, along the way, realised the difference between attending and organising an event is huge.

Finding speakers

Usually the hardest part of organising talks is finding people who are willing to stand up in front of any sized audience and talk about something. At Erskine, it’s different.

We’re a picky bunch, you’ll see that in the quality of our work, and we’re just as picky when choosing someone to come in and speak for 10 minutes in front of a small audience. Our small audience. That’s why the search for a speaker to compliment Garrett started long before November and led to a few heated debates. Usually most heated on a late Friday afternoon in the Keans Head.

That fussiness was thrown out of the window on Monday when our long-sort speaker fell ill the day before our event. We were forced to take a shot in the dark and booked someone we a) didn’t know and b) had no idea of their skill level. Luckily, James did a great job, and we’re looking forward to seeing him speaking at other events very soon.

Now the search, and the argument, begins again.

Timing

We chose to hold our event in the morning, not only to justify calling it a breakfast, but because all the other events in Nottingham are held after work. This did pose a challenge: how to get people to sacrifice half an hour of pillow time.

Getting attendees

Obviously visiting the Erskine office and meeting our amazing people would get most people out of bed in the morning, but as an added incentive we provide all the food and drink.

But sometimes we struggle with marketing. Not the concept itself, or the theory, but the practice of self-marketing. Surely a tweet is enough?

Unfortunately it’s not enough, so we have to bombard our followers a little, both as @erskinedesign and through our personal accounts, and call in favours from friends who can use the retweet button.

We also email previous attendees. Sorry about that.

We’ve got no idea how long Erskine Breakfast will go on, but we’ve done two now and we’re enjoying it, so there’ll definitely be a third. We’re still learning from the experience, but one thing we now know for sure, it’s never as easy as it looks.

Mat Hayward
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