Take It To Another Level

Corporate events and expanding your business.

It is 6am on a Tuesday morning.  We have been planning this event for a week and now it comes down to this.  I must admit that I was shocked when they called and said they needed entertainment at 7am on a Tuesday.  Shocked, but not afraid.  I planned it out just like any other show.  This one-hour event would have a beginning, middle, and an ending just like any other event I had ever performed at.  This one had it's challenges, that was certain.  As I looked over the spec sheet, I was proud that we had created a show for one solid hour even though we would not have the benefit of music, props, or a DJ.  It was just going to be myself, my partner, and one hour of pre meeting warm-up for one of our largest corporate clients ever, Universal Studios Florida. 

This is just one example of what I have experienced in the world of corporate entertainment.  As I travel around the United States conducting seminars and speaking to large groups of mobile entertainers about interactive skills, I am often surprised to learn that most companies are still not exploring the lucrative world of corporate entertainment outside of the occasional holiday event or the summer picnic.   Most likely your market is filled with companies that conduct events, meetings, or a slew of other corporate functions during the workweek.  These types of situations are perfect for expanding your entertainment.  Meeting warm-up, team building, event entertainment, and post meeting wrap up entertainment are just a few of the situations available to you as options with which to expand your business.

Now, if this has excited you and it should, you are ready to Take It To Another Level.  You already have a good beginning mailing list with which to build your new clients from.  If you have ever worked a wedding, bar or bat mitzvah, private party, or corporate holiday event, then those clients are the ones you will be sending your new event entertainment options too.  First you need to think about the packages you want to offer.  Try to keep it simple in the beginning.  I suggest you begin with no more than three options for your new clients.   A key item to remember when developing these new event packages is to have specific themes.  It would also be a good idea to leave an open “Customized” option.  This option has no set price and leaves both you and the client some flexible options.  Keep in mind that building an event from scratch with a client, while fun and profitable, takes a great deal of time, effort and creativity.  To get a head start on this, look over the mailing list you already have and begin to list the specific occupations as well as the companies of those past clients.  Now you are ready to lay the groundwork for your event packages.

Your event packages need to be versatile, and adaptable. For instance, if you have created an option for meeting warm-up then you need to be flexible enough to adapt that warm-up to different styles of meetings and companies.  Unlike weddings, where most are similar in form and structure, corporate style weekday events will need to be customized to fit the particular product, theme, or style of a company.  The more you can customize these particular events the more value they will have to your clients.  The same is true for all of your events but especially the corporate events.

When developing your packages, begin by determining which events or situations you want to target first.  You could even call a few companies in your area and ask them to tell you of the type of things they do and ask them what they would like to see in the way of new, fun entertainment for those situations.  Most likely when you speak to a company for the first time the person that can help you answer these question or at least direct you to the correct person is the Human Resource Manager.  This step will definitely aid you in determining what, specifically, corporate clients in your area are in need of in the way of new forms of entertainment.  This helps you to decide on which target situations you will initially develop.  This also serves to open a dialogue with potential clients.  As I wrote before, I would begin with three specific corporate situations.  For this article, I have chosen what I consider to be one of the easiest and most frequent situation options, the Pre-Meeting Warm-Up.

THE CRITERIA

Now you have your style of event, and you need to put together the packages surrounding these events.  I like to apply a criteria to developing every event.  I have different criteria for different event styles, but for the next example I will be using my corporate event criteria.  Once my criteria is in place I can then plug in the different specific variables from the organization for which I am developing the event.  My criteria for corporate events of any kind contains several steps. 

1)    Will I need or be permitted to bring equipment?

2)    Determine the time that I am needed to perform.

3)    In my performance what does the corporation want me to accomplish?

4)    Specific activity, contest, or interactive element

5)    Added company information about products, or personnel

6)    How will I begin the event?

7)    How will I end the event?

This checklist will aid you in developing any style corporate event.  For our discussion I will apply this criteria to the Pre-meeting Warm-up event, and utilize the Universal Studios example mentioned previously.

PRE-MEETING WARM-UP

1)    Equipment: For the Universal Studios Pre-Meeting Warm-Up they provided the microphones as well as a technician to operate them.  Frequently, meetings will be in a small room or conference area; thus equipment may not be necessary.   It is important to remember that your equipment does not necessarily give you more value to the average corporate client.  I have performed over 150 meeting warm-up events in my career and I have only used equipment on about 20% of the meetings.   

2)    Time: The Universal Meeting Warm-Up lasted for one hour.  Most meeting warm-up shows will last about one hour, however, they could have you there for up to 2 hours and may ask you to add a service at the end of the meeting to close out the day.  Remember, more time equals increased value, and added elements equal more value as well.

3)    What to accomplish: When I did the Universal Studios meeting warm-up at 7am, the executives simply wanted me to excite and energize the audience.  I needed to create an activity that would include several members of the audience in an interactive forum.  Because the company did not have many specific goals for the performance other than to energize, it gave me a tremendous amount of freedom when developing an exercise. 

4)    Specific Activity: For the Universal example I choose to create a “scene”, much like in a film or television show.  I brought up several members of the audience.  I then told them that because they were Universal Studios employees we would be creating a scene just like in the movies.  In my “scene” we would be depicting a beach rescue.  Therefore we would need a lifeguard, drowning victim, and several screaming witnesses.  To include the audience I told them that they would need to hum the theme to Hawaii Five-O when the lifeguard began the “Lifeguard Run” to rescue the drowning victim.  Notice we took the lack of a sound system and music and turned it into a valuable audience interactive element.  SThis all took some time because I had to set it up and explain everything.  My partner was the casting director and I was the director.  You can see how this activity involved everyone and created a great deal of humor as well as energy.

5)    Added Company info: As you see above, I added the fact that Universal made films and television shows into my Meeting Warm-Up.  You can also add any elements or specifics about a companies products, staff, sales goals, previous meetings, etc.

6)    How To Begin: For the beginning of a meeting warm-up you will introduce your self and then welcome everybody.  Now, your dialogue must convey your intention.  For instance, my meeting warm up usually contains the following line; “I have been brought here today to make sure none of are you able to fall asleep during the meeting.  Right now I need everyone to turn to the person on your left and say, Wake Up!”  This dialogue lets people know that I am in charge and that I expect them to be active participants in my warm-up.  Also, notice that I have kept my instruction very specific.  I do this so people can not apply their own interpretation to my instructions.

7)    How To End: Using the Universal Studios example above, I chose to end with a great deal of energy and vocal action.  The client wanted their group to be extremely energized; therefore I had the entire audience clapping and humming the Hawaii Five-O theme again while I reintroduced the “cast” of my scene.  I also decided at the end that I would make the audience say a similar phrase as they did in the beginning.  For the Universal example I had everyone turn to the person on their right this time and yell out, “I’m awake now!”

Corporate entertainment is a great way to expand you business.  If you truly desire to journey to the next level of Mobile Entertainment you need to create your basic packages and get them to your past clients and new leads.  With these events you are allowed the freedom to create your own spin on each situation.  The value begins to go up the more you customize these events and you should never limit your self with a set price.  Set your beginning price at an amount that your market can handle.  In the past I have charged anywhere from five hundred to three thousand dollars for a one or two hour show, and that is without equipment.  However, each situation and market is different, and you should adjust your starting price accordingly.  Always tell these perspective corporate clients that each of your packages has a beginning price and it goes up based on the level of customization.  This untapped market is primed and waiting to be harvested by the Mobile Entertainers of the world.  For your business to truly grow you need to open your options to the corporate entertainment market.

Using the example I have given you will most certainly enable you to create your packages and to begin to lay the groundwork necessary to further build your business.  Just remember to be flexible, and have fun.  The time to take it to another level is now!

Todd Mitchem