Event Planning with Modern Technology

Event planning, you would think, is one of the strengths of Freemasonry, isn’t it? Every year we have extravagant feasts, golf tournaments, charity dinners, even a circus. How is it that we can put all of that together and yet hold a lodge Open House where we might see three visitors? And don’t get me started on the head counts for monthly breakfasts and spaghetti dinners. How many times do we actually lose money on those?

The key to successful events is the event planning process. Gone are the days when a “good idea” and “tossing a few bucks” into a hat will get it done. Event planning is a science that requires proper tools and modern technology to achieve your desired result. This next lesson from Hiram’s Edge will show you how to do that.

Before you read on, spend some time reviewing our previous modules on WordPress, Social Media, and Email Marketing. I’m going to reference each of them in this article, so having some familiarity with those lessons will help you to better understand what we are about to teach you. The blog on your WordPress website, your Facebook page, and email marketing are all key elements in event planning.

Step One: Selecting a Date and a Theme

These may seem like two separate steps, but they should be done together. The “theme” of your event will often be tied to the season or a specific holiday. It also may be something better done on a weekend or perhaps at night. These factors need to be taken into account at the very beginning of the event planning process. What do you want to do and when?

Once you’ve decided on a theme and an approximate date (don’t set it in stone just yet), it’s time to start utilizing technology. The first website you want to log on to is https://massmasons.org. Check for resources and review the existing calendar to make sure your event is not in conflict with someone else’s. I don’t know about you, but I received no less than six holiday party invites for December 16th this year, two of which were in the same district.

After you’ve checked the Grand Lodge calendar, check your district calendar if you have one and then select an open date on your Google calendar, which you should be using and have linked to your WordPress website. If you’re not sure how to set that up, you can review our WordPress module or follow the instructions in this article: https://en.support.wordpress.com/widgets/upcoming-events/

Step Two: Create a Flyer and some Tickets

Every time you announce an upcoming event at a Lodge of Instruction, Fraternal Visit, or a degree with full sidelines, your objective should be to sell tickets or disseminate information. If you don’t have tickets or a flyer with the details of your event, sit down. You’re wasting your breath and everyone else’s time by not being prepared.

That may sound harsh, but as a Mason I am constantly being approached to buy tickets or give donations. If I can afford it, I do it on the spot. I might bookmark a date if an event sounds interesting, but it’s more likely than not that I won’t attend if I haven’t been given a flyer or bought a ticket. I’m guessing most of you act in a similar manner.

We’ll cover more of this when I write a lesson on promotions, but for now, if you need help designing a flyer, check out the video below:

I selected this video because it shows you how to design a flyer from scratch. Microsoft Word has templates you can use to make this process easier, but I’d recommend following the instructions in this video and learning how to create without a template. The software elements are very similar to what you’ll use in WordPress, so it’s worth experimenting with.

For tickets, I recommend https://www.canva.com/create/tickets/. It’s simple to use and actually offers a free version that is more than enough to create and print the tickets you need for any event. You can also buy ticket templates at your local office supply store.

Step Three: Create an Event Page on your Website

The next step in your event planning adventure is to create an event page on your website. If you follow the entire plan laid out in this lesson, this will be the first of many pages you write about this event. Keep it brief, but make sure you include all the relevant information: time, date, reason for event, cost, etc. Be sure to add a contact form and a Paypal link if you’re selling tickets. You can brush up on how to do that by watching our WordPress module.

Before you publish your event page, you’ll want to make sure your social media links are working to take advantage of the auto-post opportunities available in WordPress. For more on that, review our module on Social Media Marketing.

Step Four: Create Facebook Boost and WordPress Drip Campaigns

If you planning an event that will make you a profit, spend some money and Facebook Boost your event page. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get good results. The most important part of creating a Boost Campaign is the demographic and geographic targeting Facebook offers. You can choose where and to whom you want your ad to appear. That’s powerful.

A WordPress drip campaign won’t cost you anything but time. As part of your event planning strategy, create five or six short articles about the event and why it’s important or fun or whatever your appeal is. You can write all of these articles in one sitting and then set them to publish at regular intervals over a period of time before your event happens. Here’s how:

Step Five: Write Email Promotions and Follow-Ups

The final step in this event planning guide is to create the event in Constant Contact and send out some email promotions and follow-ups. This is covered in our module on Email Marketing, but if you’re looking to bypass the forty minutes of viewing time, you can also check out this article from Constant Contact. It will teach you how to create an event, add your Paypal account, and email the event to sell some tickets.

With Constant Contact, just as with WordPress, you can schedule out emails, so you can create an email drip campaign. Follow the same process. Write half a dozen short emails and set them to go out to your contact lists at regular intervals between now and the event. If you do this and your WordPress drip campaign early enough, you should sell plenty of tickets between now and the event. Please reach back out to us with feedback on how all this works for you.

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