How To Throw An Event That Inspires

Firstly, for those who don’t know what I do for a living…I work/live at Inkpact; a startup with a love for delivering personalised handwritten notes on behalf of businesses. I am their Head of Creative & Marketing and there’s no usual day. Take for example a few weeks ago when my job seemed more like ‘event planner’.

The brief:

Throw a delightful ‘soirée’ for friends and clients of Inkpact.

Our network consists of some inspiring Founders, creatives and high-profile businesses – all people who truly care about building brands that connect with their customers. So, our event had to be really special. Three of us at Inkpact put our heads together and put together a plan of action. After months of planning, dreaming up ideas and putting them into action, the event was a success. As well as showing you what it looked like, I want to share with you the creative process behind the ideas and the people I worked with to make magical moments for our guests.

1. Know your ‘Why’

To be throwing an event in the first place, you must already know why you’re going to all of this effort. How could we find a way to fill a room with brain boxes and Founders of brilliant businesses, and have a conversation with them all about ‘What Makes A Brand Unforgettable?’ We’re obsessed with understanding human behaviour and how we can create tools for businesses to be ‘more human’ by finding little ways to connect and delight their loyal customers every day. Our event had to reflect this.

2. Find the Yin to your Yang

I am lucky enough to have someone who sits next to me at Inkpact HQ who has a complementary skill set to me. Lorena is the ‘Queen of Process’ at Inkpact and has the memory of an elephant. With me being a creative type, naturally I’m all about big ideas and a little chaos. This was the perfect cocktail. Lorena looked after all the necessary finer details with the hotel, invoices, spreadsheets, timings, setting up regular meetings and made sure we had absolutely everything covered. She also has an eye for luxury settings so set about searching for the perfect location. When she happened upon 11 Cadogan Gardens, an iconic English boutique hotel situated near Sloane Square, she knew it would be PERFECT for our event.

It was reassuring when we met with the lovely and relaxed hotel’s event’s director, Katie Burns, that she was both open to all of our event ideas, but also had that craving for order and detail too! Katie, Lorena and I sent emails back and forth covering everything from setting a date, filming on the premises, numbers of guests, backup plans and of course, food and drink.

3. Overthink the whole thing

Anyone who knows me will tell you that my mind is a busy fairground of information, thoughts and ideas, mainly down to the fact I’ve been blessed with ADHD and Dyslexia. I say ‘blessed’ as I’ve learned that as long as I can act on those ideas and turn them into reality, overthinking actually leads to big thinking and brainstorming ideas down to the very last detail.

Close your eyes, walk through the event in your guests’ shoes, see it, feel it, doodle it – see above for an epic sketch of mine (proof you don’t always need drawing skills to be a creative), what could you do in the smallest ways that have not been done before? Elevate all event ideas to level 10 in your head to start with – you can scale them back later on.

4. Pinterest is your best friend

I love getting a ‘feel’ for the event visually and for this, I start with trusty Pinterest. Start with writing down words that go hand-in-hand with your business, values or event theme. Inkpact’s mission is to scale thoughtfulness by allowing businesses to send personalised messages via handwritten notes, so I started thinking about all the emotions I go through when I receive an unexpected handwritten note myself. Anticipation, curiosity, excitement, joy, connection, magic and emotion are all words that came to mind.

I opened a brand-new board and started typing in those words. I took ideas from Harry Potter children’s party ideas and books such as Alice in Wonderland…after all, who doesn’t love the magical nostalgia of being a child?

5. Do something different

To create a sense of ‘magic’, I wanted something floating in the air and originally was going to attempt ‘flying Inkpact letters coming out of the fireplace’. But once I started looking at the logistics, I realised this installation was going to get in the way of the guests. The event space was in a compact cocktail lounge, so I decided we needed to work above people’s heads. This led to the idea of birds. Although pigeons are the natural choice for representing the carrier of mail through the air, I found that there were lots of sources talking about origami cranes being a symbol of loyalty and good fortune, so these ended up being the perfect choice. I found some on Etsy, and used the measurements of the small birds to order custom-sized mini envelopes to fit in their beaks and some quilting thread to hang them from the ceiling at the venue.

Voilà, carrier cranes delivering delight in the form of handwritten notes!

6. Have your invitations handwritten

This was a no-brainer for us as it’s what we do as a business. We knew a handwritten invite would be the perfect touch for our event, complete with an added touch of quirkiness having everyone’s names written in gold calligraphy at the top of every invite. Why stop there? We have a community of creative Scribes with beautiful handwriting! We had our name badges handwritten in calligraphy, the welcome sign in calligraphy, the wifi password handwritten in ink…you get the picture.

One of our Scribes, Natalie Charlotte, worked closely with us on all the calligraphy. She came along to the event and we set her up with a ‘Calligraphy Station’. This meant we could offer our guests the option to choose inspiring and personalised quotes which Natalie wrote in calligraphy on luxury notecards on the night, so everyone had something to take home with them.

7. Create your own cocktail

What better way to tell a story about who you are than style a drink with your own brand in mind? As we’re all about ink, handwritten, paper and curiosity, we created our very own signature cocktail called ‘Yours Gincerely’. I wanted the cocktail to connect with the theme of writing, so I order mini white feathers to act as ‘quills’ that we attached to each glass. To add to the curiosity factor, I sourced tiny envelopes with ‘open me’ written on them and attached them to the bottom of martini glasses. Much like a fortune cookie, I inserted little notes inside them, all handwritten with motivational quotes.

We spent time working with the hotel’s amazing bar staff tasting different blends of ingredients to find something we loved and that most of our guests would like too. We also offered guests the ability to ‘personalise their Prosecco’ with different berries. I always think it’s important to offer something more exciting than orange juice for those not-drinking, so we provided a non-alcoholic drink entitled ‘fizz without the fuzz’.

8. Everything is content, capture it

When you invest time and money planning an event like we did, it’s worth capturing it. All of it! We knew we were going to have content in every corner. I wanted to have something to share with our guests afterwards and footage and photographs to share on social.

Having started out in radio and having spent time producing interviews and online video series, I know the key to great content is meticulously planned pre-production. This means deciding the mood you want to capture, the testimonials you need, the length of clips, everything down to the style of music. Deciding all of this with a team of creatives in advance makes it easier for videographers to capture and edit what you need. With the help of my friend Brendan from Space Geek Productions, we discussed everything down to checklists of ‘moments’ and ‘emotions’ that we wanted to see on screen.

If you have the chance to visit your event venue prior to the event, try and take your videographer and photographer along with you. Ask yourselves questions such as;

Is there going to be enough light at night in a dimly lit bar?

Do we light the space prior to the event to save getting in people’s way?

How do we move around a small space packed with people and get shots of people without being too intrusive?

How to we interview people without there being too much background noise?

Will there be a space close to the event to record vox pops, just in case it IS too noisy on the day?

Also, Charlotte (Co-Founder & CEO of Inkpact) was keen to interview someone with fantastic knowledge on building a brand and community. Tamara Lohan, the Co-Founder of the original luxury boutique travel company Mr & Mrs Smith, is a good friend of Inkpact, so she very kindly agreed to an interview with Charlotte on camera, with our guests as an audience.

You can watch the full interview here:

9. Have a moment

After all this time, the event will finally be upon you. You’ll want to be networking, keeping time, making sure everyone has a drink in their hand and is enjoying themselves, but the most important thing is to find a moment to enjoy it yourself! Grab your team, take a glass of fizz and get them to look around at what you’ve created together, toasting the work you’ve done.

10. Delight everyone involved

After the event, it’s important to thank everyone who turned up, say ‘you were missed’ to those who couldn’t come and say a huge thank you to those who went above and beyond to help you.

We took our golden origami cranes and tiny quotes in envelopes and teamed them with personalised handwritten thank yous from the team to make sure they had something a souvenir to keep…until the next one!

If you have any other tips you’ve picked up from producing an event or video content, let me know in the comments, I love hearing from other creatives and Heads of Marketing. Thanks for reading!

Watch our highlights video from our ‘Unforgettable Society’ event’ below and our photo gallery here.

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