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Sunday, August 12, 2012

How to Handle Shotgun Events

What do you do when your superiors or clients want you to mount a big event at the shortest possible time? Perhaps the word 'short' may be relative to how each person sees time so let's make that word quantifiable - 3 weeks. And let's remove your ability to say "no" to this command and you were given a small budget (but the expectations are way over budget). What would be your plan of action?

This post is about my company event last August 4, 2012 (Saturday) and how I managed to mount it in such short notice (with the help of my team of course and a trusted event agency partner).

Here are the specifics of that campaign:

Campaign Name: Manila's Finest Eats 2012
Goal: Merchant Partner Acquisition
Objective: To provide a high-trafficked venue for our acquired merchants to showcase their products and services.
Time given: 3 weeks
  • Finding the right venue at such short notice
  • Mounting the event with a limited budget
Manila's Finest Eats 2012 Official Logo

So what were the key and crucial decisions I need to make or questions I need to answer in order for this to work?

  • Do I need an event agency to help me mount this?
    • PROS:
      • Agencies have their own contacts and partnerships with different venues. 
      • They do this everyday so they are used to it. 
      • Hassle-free on my end so I can focus on the more strategic parts of the event.
    • CONS:
      • If not managed properly, cost will go up.
      • Agency will charge their agency service fees on top of the total cost of the event. 
      • If there's not enough communication - agency might decide what would be the direction of the event. 
DECISION: Yes, hire an expert. Since they do this day-in-and-day-out, it would be smart to leave the operational part to them since they already have contacts. 

  • Since budget is limited, how can we make the event exciting? What would be my alternative actions? 
Proposed Actions:
  1. Pass the cost of giveaways to the participating merchants.
  2. Make the event open to all (FREE) so that people are not discourage to check the booths. 
  3. Provide slots or segments in the program and let the merchants use it to promote further their brand by having contests, games and prizes. (note: make sure to create a system and rules so that not all merchants will do the same thing the entire day).
DECISION: To save on cost, make it part of the requirement prior to signing up a merchant that they'll be providing the giveaways, as well as the program. Make it part of the pitch that the slots of the program is an additional mileage for them since they'll be consuming time on stage to do whatever they want (as long as they don't go out of their allotted time). 

  • How can I maximize the event aside from my primary objective of acquiring merchants?
Supplemental Actions:
  1. Make this event a consumer acquisition program. Include in the mechanics that before they can get their freebies AKA 'merchant giveaways', they need to register in our website. 
  2. Make this event a branding opportunity. What we did was we printed branded loot bags so that when people register, they'll get a bag and use it for other things making it more visible whenever they will reuse the bags. 
  3. Public Relations - send the message across that the company means business and it is here to stay. In order to do so, we need credible people to tell our story. So we invited the media and popular bloggers. 
After the campaign, here's our performance:
  • We've acquired  merchants for this campaign. (Primary objective CHECK!)
  • We've mounted the event in a high-trafficked area: Market Market Mall.
  • We've acquired new members for our website during the event.
  • We've displayed our brand to a foot traffic of 5000++ people during that day (Source: Mall head count).
  • People are writing about our event: 273 search results for the keywords "Manila's Finest Eats 2012". 
Stage Setup
This is just 11 am (The mall just opened)

Registration Area

People eager to check out each booth

Ribbon Cutting to officially open the event (Left to Right: Luisa [Marketing Coordinator], Sheila [Sales Director: Daily Deals], Nicco [Marketing Director], Maricor [Sales Director: Inside Sales])

Net 25 interviewing me about the event

The crowd around 4pm 


So overall we've managed to meet our primary objective and also been able to maximize the event. Shotgun events are highly possible at a very agile environment specially when there is a need to provide experience straight to the consumers. 

So my advice if you're in the same boat as I was a few weeks ago:
  • Hire the right people - hire the experts. 
  • Always go back to you main objective and explain it to your events agency partner. 
  • Agree upon a set of deliverables and make sure to check it pre/during/post event. 
  • HAGGLE for the price (everything is negotiable :) 
  • Always have a backup plan 
  • Learn to make the hard decisions when issues arise. 
  • Communicate and set expectations of what's going to happen to all stakeholders (the company, management, employees, event agency partners). 
I would like to acknowledge our event agency partner Lighthouse Events for helping us mount this event at such short notice. For more information, you can check their website here:  (Highly Recommended Event Agency Partner). 


  1. Anonymous15.8.12

    very informative yet entertaining reading material.
    The part that you tried to explain things are the best for instance; you kept remind the goals and expectation from every levels of your organization which come to great results as posted.
    well done and keep blogging the way we like to relate on our daily situation. :)

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. I appreciate. Will definitely write more =)