Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Fun fact: I have a Special Event Management certificate. For a while in my career, I was providing communications support for corporate events. I loved it so much that I went back to school thinking I might go into event planning full time. In the end, I pursued the communications path of my career and haven't supported an event for a good 5 years. I MISS IT! Doing communications for events is my two favourite worlds colliding and I. nerd. right. out. So, if you ever need communications support for an event you're planning, I'm 100% your girl!
This year, I was happy to join forces with the Ukrainian Youth Association, Edmonton Branch as the marketing and communications partner for their annual Malanka banquet (or, Ukrainian New Years).
Over the last handful of years, the event fell into a rut with its decor and overall aesthetic. The ultimate goal set by the organizing committee was to sell out the event with 350 dinner tickets and 50 dance-only tickets, while providing a fresh experience for guests. The committee also wanted to streamline the ticket selling process - I'll explain why right away.
The marketing goal was simple: sell tickets. Tickets do usually sell out for Malanka, but many of the sales happen the week of the event. In previous years, this made creating seating arrangements difficult since it was done so close to the event. On top of that, tickets had to be purchased in person from committee members, which meant that the committee relied solely on people calling them and making pick-up arrangements.
My goal here was two-fold: make it easy for people to purchase tickets and encourage them to buy earlier. We pushed people to buy their tickets online through Eventbrite and all of the marketing materials supported that. We enabled the seating chart feature in Eventbrite, where people could select the seats they wanted right at the time of purchase. Having the seating chart populate itself as people purchased tickets allowed the committee to focus on other aspects of the event planning.
In order to sell tickets earlier, we promoted a two-week early bird period, where people could receive $10 off. It was a huge success: 198 dinner tickets were sold before November 15. Having a visible seating chart helped create a sense of urgency with ticket sales as well - people could physically see a decline in seat availability.
Facebook event and advertising: The main marketing channel was social media. We promoted the Facebook event with paid advertising the first two weeks of ticket sales, and two more times for shorter periods through the remainder of the campaign. We regularly promoted ticket sales through Instagram stories, as well.
New website: I gave the old website a much needed facelift with user experience in mind, making sure it was the one-stop-shop for information. The website is still live - you can find it a www.malanka.ca - but has less information since the event has passed. This is what the pre-event website looked it:
Other marketing collateral: Poster: Displayed at Ukrainian community buildings, churches and businesses. Member postcards: Mailed out with Christmas cards in mid-December to anyone who hadn't purchased tickets yet. Two member emails: The first - the day before ticket sales began. The second - three days before early bird ended.
To freshen up the event decor, we hung string lights across the hall and turned to a few Etsy store owners for help. Where better to get cute decor than from the source itself?
Balloon arch: Balloonies Studio
Z novym rokom (happy new year) balloons: pomtree
Ice sculpture: Ice Works
Photo areas: To shake things up, we decided not to hire the usual photo booth company. Instead, we created two distinct photo areas. The first was a selfie station with New Years Eve props. The second was a more formal photo set with photos taken by a professional photographer.
Midnight: We expanded the usual balloon drop from 100 balloons to 500 to proportionally fit the space better. Confetti cannons were also included to add to the experience.
The event was 90% sold out by December 31 and completely sold out by January 10. All 50 dance-only tickets were also sold.
The Facebook sponsored event received over 2,200 impressions that converted into 116 sales.
The website www.malanka.ca had just shy of 3,000 visits between Nov. 1 and Jan. 11, with 1,200 of them being unique visits.
Because people purchased tickets online, we were able to gather email addresses. A post-event survey was emailed out - it's the first time the committee has ever been able to formally ask for feedback about the event.
The results of the survey showed 100% satisfaction with the ticket purchase process, as well as the experience changes that were made. We also asked what could be improved, and the feedback was unanimously related to food and the formal program. As a result, we know what our goals are for next year's event!