I’m writing this at 7:00am in Honolulu. The sun is rising above the palm trees. I’m sitting at my favorite table in my favorite coffee shop, drinking something called an “island breakfast tea” and nibbling on a warm, crumbly blueberry muffin.
In just a couple of days, I’ll be on a flight from HNL to LAX (my life will be lived in airport codes this month) for our first Launch Your Business Tour stop in Los Angeles. This will be the THIRD year in a row that I’ve gone on tour to different cities to meet and connect with women in our Happy Black Woman community all over the country. In the past, we’ve had women travel from as far as Pennsylvania, New York and North Carolina to our DC events and this year is no different. There will be women traveling from several states away to each tour stop so they can participate in what will be a powerful, low-cost live training and networking opportunity!
But there are a few BIG changes with this year’s tour that I’m both excited and honestly, a little nervous about. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes of what I’ve been dreaming up for the last few months. I wanted to share this with you today, from my heart, because I know you may be thinking about hosting your own events and might be a little afraid to get out there with your message.
Because the truth is…this year’s tour is the culmination of a lot of planning and marketing and fear.
Behind the Scenes of the Planning
I have to admit, event planning is NOT my strong suit. But this year, I chose to go all out and rent hotel meeting rooms for each tour stop because 1) our groups have gotten too large to mooch free event space from local bars and 2) I’ll be giving a presentation in each city and everyone needs to be able to hear me clearly and it would be nice to be able to show a Powerpoint to illustrate my talk. This means that I am paying out my own pocket to the tune of a couple thousand dollars for each tour stop. I pretty much just break even with ticket sales. Any profit comes from product or program sales I make at the event. So, you might ask, why do a tour at all? Because what I know is that being with my tribe in person at my own live event is the most powerful marketing I could ever have for my business :) And I’m in this for the long haul, not for quick money.
Selection of Tour Cities
Fun fact: I choose the tour cities based on where we have the MOST email subscribers and Facebook fans! The top 3 are always Chicago, Washington DC and Atlanta. So when people ask about me coming to other cities, I have to chuckle. I’d love to host events in every city in the world, but we have a budget, folks! We will continue to have events in cities where we have the largest following so that we can maximize attendance.
In terms of team support, I do have a great assistant named Kaylee who you may have interacted with recently (she can be reached at email@example.com) to help with event questions, customer support and client care (there will be several clients and students in attendance at each tour stop). This helps me focus on the bigger pieces of the event, like the agenda and content. For on-site support, we enlist amazing volunteers with good energy and organizational skills to work the events. The beautiful thing we have now though, is a model that we can replicate in any city!
Behind the Scenes of the Marketing
This year, we actually have a THEME for the tour. In past years, we just referred to it as the “Happy Black Woman Happy Hour Tour” which worked, but there was really no set topic for me to speak on and it was all about networking. But I kept getting requests from attendees to make some remarks and give some tips about creating your ideal life during the events. So, I chose the theme “Launch Your Business” because it’s all about getting your business or project or idea off the ground, which is what I get asked about the most. My intention is to equip and empower everyone in attendance with the information, motivation and connections they need to move forward with their entrepreneurial goals.
In terms of branding, I decided to invest in a graphic designer to create the banner for the tour to make the registration page really pop. This branding also helps on social media where I can use it as my Facebook cover photo and draw attention to the tour.
As for event registration management, we are using Eventbrite for the third year in a row because it allows ease of registration, sends automatic reminders to attendees AND Eventbrite actively markets your event to users in each city. So we often get new people in the room that have never even heard of me or Happy Black Woman if not for seeing the event on Eventbrite.
In addition to frequent Facebook posts, we have Facebook ads running that target each tour city. This year, for the first time, we will also send out a press release via PR Web about the tour, to help with exposure, media mentions and to fill the later tour stops. Finally, social media is still huge for getting eyeballs onto the registration page!
Behind the Scenes of My Brain on Fear
Even though I’ve been hosting events for years now, I STILL get caught up in fear and questions like, “what if no one shows up?” Let me tell you…it is NOT easy to get people to actually leave their house and come out to a live event, even if it’s free! And this holds true even if you have a relatively large following and a nice-sized email list, like I do with Happy Black Woman. So this is where I always have to remind myself that when you are called to do something, you have to feel the fear and do it anyway. I have to remind myself that this isn’t even really about me. It’s about the transformation that will happen for the people who are in the room. I am simply a vessel for that transformation.
If you experience fear around anything you want to do with your life, that is NOT a sign that you shouldn’t do it, or that it’s not going to work out. It just means that you care so much about the outcome that you don’t want to fail. But what I know now, after doing this for years, is that you can’t ever fail by following your heart and doing what you know you are meant to do.
I invite you to join me in my journey to inspire women around the country to launch themselves and create shifts in their lives and businesses. Because this is what I know I am meant to do.
Leave a comment: Will you be planning to host any of your own live events this year? If so, what kind and when?
P.S. Let me know if you’d like to see more “behind the scenes” type of posts with concrete tips and strategies you can use to grow your business!