On Friday 11th November 2011 we held our first digital event in Cardiff, THINK DIGITAL. Our aim was to collaborate with other digital professionals in Cardiff and put together a collection of presentations which would both (hopefully!) inform and inspire. Our target audience for the event was local businesses, from start-ups to medium sized companies, possibly with a web presence in place but with scope for improvement and room for ideas and inspiration.
With our capacity limited strictly to 100 we had to ensure that each and every individual who signed up to the event would be fully committed to coming on the day. Many companies approach achieving this by charging in advance for tickets. Due to THINK DIGITAL being an exciting adventure rather than a money-making venture, we didn’t want to charge, so instead decided that all proceeds go to a nominated charity. Prince’s Trust Cymru was the obvious choice, the reason being that we are continuously inspired by its achievements, and young people need our support now more than ever with 1 in 3 school-leavers across South Wales unable to find employment. Last year, Prince’s Trust Cymru helped nurture, train, encourage and enhance (both personally and professionally) in excess of 3,000 young people, with this year’s figures increasing further. A donation of £10 per attendee was requested to secure entry, and we’re delighted to have raised around £1,000 for Prince’s Trust Cymru which we’re told will be matched by the government, meaning THINK DIGITAL has meant an additional £2,000 of funding towards helping young people in Wales (did you know: it takes approx £1,000 to help 1 person through Prince’s Trust). We hope to continue to donate to this incredible charity and would like to thank every person who donated.
With tickets being secured through donations to Prince’s Trust Wales on a page set up though Justgiving.com we offered total transparency to prospective attendees who wanted to see how many people were coming and who they were. We feared in the early stages that because this was our first event there was a risk that nobody would come and we’d leave ourselves vulnerable to visibility of low ticket sales! Luckily, and to our absolute delight, within the 4 weeks leading up to the event all 100 places were snapped up by local businesses, with 95% of those booked online. As a side-note, we’re not sure whether to offer tickets on a first come first served basis for the next event, the jury is out!
We had tailored a bundle of speakers and topics to suit local businesses, from solicitors to TV companies, florists to cake makers, yet noticed soon on that a significant amount of tickets were being reserved by other digital agencies, web designers or marketers in Cardiff. This alarmed us at first, as we were really unsure of how the dynamic would be on the day; all our advice was being channelled to help business owners rather than other digital agencies. But with no control over who wanted to kindly donate/sign-up/show their support, we bit the bullet and decided that the show must go on as planned, and not to change the day’s concept or be influenced by the apparent shift in our audience. It was time to give a warm welcome to all!
The big day
Playing host to the first ever THINK DIGITAL event, Kuku Club in Cardiff provided an intimate, ambient, warm and welcoming environment for us to inhabit. With its oriental lighting, beautiful decor and sparkling service, it really was a fantastic place to launch. Despite a few technical glitches such as lack of lighting on the speakers and a 6ft screen which fell flat on the stage as I welcomed attendees to the event, everything went swimmingly…
Event speakers, Liberty Marketing’s Gareth Morgan, Strategist Elliot Reuben, Cool Social Media guy Carl Morris and Big Eye Deers’ Steve Flanagan each did a 10-15minute presentation, covering a multitude of topics including Search, User Experience, Social Media, Google Docs, SEO and Marketing… information was going down well and attendees seemed to be engaging with our key messages (hopefully there was something for everyone!).
Putting on a digital event of this kind in Cardiff took a leap of faith; with so many different types of events ranging from networking to workshops, seminars to functions, we really had no idea if there was a demand for this type of format. Following the event, many of its attendees hung out and chatted with others in the room and from what we could glean, the feedback was really positive. But we all know how polite us Welsh folk can be (“ooooh, it was lovelyyyyeeeeee mun!”, so we decided to conduct a survey which would allow guests to anonymously tell us what they really thought!
“Good event. well done :)”
“Fantastic event. Something very much lacking in Cardiff.” “Would be great if future events had a little more focus as I’ve found they can get a bit similar if not. Brilliant first event though.”
“Excellent first event. Well done. Learned a lot. Got the synapses firing. Met some cool people.”
“It was a really positive, interesting event which is different from anything I’ve ever been to and draws in a different crowd.”
“A Q&A session would have allowed for a little more depth and I’d certainly hope that future events will get deeper into the subjects.”
“Big success overall all!”
Our survey says, future events could do with the following:
– Same amount of speakers (4)
– Same venue, with technical tweaks (screen, lighting, seating)
– Focus on presentations/learning over networking
– 15 minute presentations
– Q&A Session after each speaker
– Topic specific (opposed to generic) presentations
Importantly, constructive feedback wasn’t amiss, with suggestions on seating plans, lighting and topics to consider for future events.
All in all, we’re absolutely thrilled (to the maximoss!) with the turnout for THINK DIGITAL and feel hugely grateful and chuffed that such a cool bunch of people come along. So, a huge thank you to all the business owners, marketers and entrepreneurs who christened THINK DIGITAL. The next steps are to evaluate the event, look at what worked and what can be improved on, establish what areas/topics/subjects/themes will give the most value and then set a date, ready to be saved into diaries ready for 2012. OoooOoOoOoh, 2012 is nigh! Keep an eye out for the next event’s date to be announced.
Thanks again, until next time!