How to get a full house for your (startup) event

Besides media relations, photography, speaker and media training we occasionally get asked to come up with event formats for our clients. While we always appreciate a great talk, exciting product demo or fun party as a change to the routine, we also know how hard it is to put together successful events on a budget. Especially in a town like Berlin where there are already so many events to pick from.

So yesterday’s Magic Leap demo event and talk by our client nomtek was not only a great success for us, but also proof that some of the rules we follow when planning events work. As we are all for knowledge sharing, here are a few tips on how to get a full house for your own event:

1. Find a great community or partner to join forces with

In a crowded startup scene such as Berlin it is really hard to get attention. Startups often face the challenge to not know many people yet. But after all, that’s one of the reasons you want to invite people to an event, right?

You want to connect and mingle, discuss and exchange and start building a personal relationship to potential customers, partners, media, influencers and investors alike. But where do start? We strongly recommend to not put the burden on yourself alone. Rather try to get a great community or a like minded partner to join forces with you - might it be a joint panel talk, co-hosting and sharing costs or leveraging their space and community. You will see that this helps a lot to gather a diverse and big enough crowd. In our case we’ve been incredibly grateful to have the nice folks at The Family host our Magic Leap demo evening last night. Without them, neither we or nomtek would have gotten that far. Not only did they support us with venue space, they also invited their community - a great networking effect that made the evening a huge success! Big thank you to The Family!

2. Berliners are flakey - keep the high no-show rate in mind!

One thing to always keep in mind is that different cities have different “event rules”. In a busy town like Berlin, people tend to be flakey and register to many events - in the end not all of them show up. To give you an example: For last night we aimed to gather a crowd of about 70-80 people. To do so, we left registrations open up to 200 people. A little bit more than 170 people registered. A no-show rate of 50%. Given that Magic Leap had a big pull factor and that we offered free drinks and food, this rate might have even been low. We know from our partners in London that the rate can be even higher - with a drop out rate of 70% for free events. So keep that in mind when planning your event and try to find out how people behave in your town.

3. Spread the invite as far as possible

Unfortunately, there is not the one silver bullet tool to reach all potential (Berlin) people to come to your event. We therefore combine several channels and tactics to guarantee a big turnup. From personal invites, newsletter integrations to sharing the event in relevant Facebook groups - spread the invite as far as possible.

4. Don’t be boring

The most important rule for anything in PR and marketing: Don’t be boring! That also counts for events. While we know that you’d like to deep dive into what your startup does or wants to achieve, we recommend to keep talks short and non-commercial, get great moderators for panel rounds and give hands-on demos of products rather than lengthy lectures. Combine this with some drinks and ideally a few bites of food for networking and you got a recipe for success.

5. Invite media beforehand

Depending on your plans - e.g. if you want to celebrate a product or company launch - you also might want to talk to journalists. However, in the buzz of an event you might not find the time and quiet atmosphere for a proper interview or detailed product demo. We therefore suggest inviting media for background talks, interviews and demos prior to the event. Of course, journalists who want to stay for the event, can do so - but most appreciate to get the time freed up to write your story. We followed our own advice yesterday and made journalists from golem, Androidpit, Tagesspiegel and Vrodo happy by giving them enough quality time to test Magic Leap and nomteks new game B-all One themselves.

And it all worked out! Happy client, happy Laika team - as you can see on a few photos in our gallery below.