Landing the Million Dollar Event
The following is a guest post by Howard Givner, Founder & Executive Director of the Event Leadership Institute, which provides training and education for event professionals through on-demand video classes, white papers, webinars, live events, and interviews with industry leaders.
At some point in your tenure, if you run an most event planning company or agency you’ll aspire to landing the really big project, the mega event, the million dollar event. OK, it doesn’t have to be a million dollars; it can be $100,000, $250,000, etc. The number is variable; the key element is that the event is bigger in scope and stature than anything you’ve done before. The event management skills may be there and the confidence may be there, but are you really prepared to do what it takes to play in the big leagues?
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Shearon for our Maverick Series recently. Mark is the Founder of Proscenium, a top events agency based in NY, and an industry veteran who has played at the mega events level for over two decades, including Walmart’s 17,000 person, 5 day shareholder meeting, the launch of Boeing’s Dreamliner, numerous Olympics events, and others.
Here he shares some insights into what you have to be prepared to do to land that huge event.
1. Expect to do all the work up front without knowing if you’ll get the job. Shearon explains that prospective clients want to see a detailed vision of what you’ll do for them before hiring you, and that means basically planning out the whole project on spec.
2. Get comfortable with the concept of giving your ideas away, on a massive scale. One of the most common concerns I hear among planners and designers is their fear of presenting super-creative ideas, and having the client basically steal them, and have a competitor execute them. While this happens far less frequently than people may think, it is somewhat of a risk. However if you’re not willing to share your ideas, you have virtually no chance of landing major events, so it’s usually a risk worth taking.
3. Be ready to spend between $30k and $50k of your own money to produce the proposal, with no guarantee you’ll land the job. That includes the time of your own staff, as well as any external costs which may include graphics, animation, consultants and more.
4. Be persistent. Shearon’s team (then at TBA Global) bid on the massive Walmart shareholder meeting unsuccessfully for four years before finally being hired. Once hired, they kept the client for quite a while, but it definitely takes determination to keep submitting bids year after year.
5. Show that your team can play at the highest levels. This goes for your in-house staff as well as your vendors and freelancers. Shearon’s lighting designer, for example, is the lighting designer for U2 and Jay-Z. Clients of mega events want to see that you’ve got a roster of heavy hitters.
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