Every November at the ENTERTAINER, we reveal our new apps for the coming year. It’s always a much-anticipated event (or, in our case, a series of events) with top bloggers, journos and our partners in attendance.
We support the events with press releases, product drops and plenty of social media activity, not to mention a solid email campaign and paid media advertising. Sounds relatively straightforward, right? The problem is, we’ve got to do this in three different markets, all in the space of two weeks.
Over a few years of hosting launches, I’ve quickly learned that South Africa is bigger and more diverse than I ever imagined, and that a concept that does extremely well in one city might be a flop in another. I’ve learned that the blogger scene in Joburg is quite different to Cape Town’s, and that Durban is a different ballgame entirely.
So, without further ado, here are some of the things I like to keep in mind when planning multiple events in different markets.
1. Don’t schedule all your events for the same night.
It’s tempting to do this for social media traction, as you’ll get a huge influx of cross-country coverage in the space of 12 hours. The impact is great, to be sure – but to pull this off you’d need a large, highly reliable team that can function in isolation. It’s a bit of a gamble, and I personally would hate to have to choose which launch I could physically attend. Plus, if you spread out the events, you can figure out any teething issues at the first one and use your learnings to improve the others.
2. Enlist local assistance.
This is especially important if you’re not from the city where you’re hosting the event. I always like to contact a local blogger with a decent following – someone I was planning on inviting to the event anyway – and get their guestlist advice. It’s a win-win situation, because they basically get the chance to invite all their influential friends, and you’ll get a stellar turnout on the night.
3. Don’t compare your events against each other.
This is a tough one. In Durban, for example, we always go with an exclusive guestlist and an intimate venue, simply because our product is still new there and getting VIPs to attend an event for a product they haven’t heard of is tricky. We’ve found it to be much more effective when we do a few small events in the build up to our launch date, versus one big event, like we’ll do in Cape Town (where the whole city knows and loves the app, basically). The hard part is quantifying the results of the different events, because on paper it may seem like Cape Town’s launch was way more effective than Durban’s. I try to remember that the metrics used to measure success need to be different in each city.
4. Keep the overall message consistent, but tweak the rest.
At the end of launch season, we need South Africa to understand what the ENTERTAINER is and how the app works. The core message must be the same in each city – but it would be madness to roll out the same format without adjusting elements for the different markets. And these adjustments can be as simple as changing the starting time (in Joburg, a later start is better because the work day is longer and traffic is worse) or as bold as a completely different theme (Durban, I’m looking at you). As long as people leave the event knowing what you’re selling, you’ve done your job.
5. Have fun!
This is a bit counter-intuitive, because obviously you should be at your professional best at a work event. However, I’ve come to realise that guests respond best when their hosts are relaxed and having fun. This goes for the whole team – showing off how well your team gets along, and how much you genuinely love your product, is a great advert for the brand.