During the summer of 2019 I started developing a set of events that would promote the Austin Events 2020 wall calendar. It was called the “Secret Unpublished Event Series“.
Here’s the list of events I created. Follow the links to read posts about individual events.
- I Made An Extra Cup Of Coffee. Who Wants It?
- Who’s Your Height?
- How Many Extension Cords Can We Put Together?
- Coozie Turn-In Program
- Did you know? Ancient Austin Pyramids
- Anything-But-Drums Circle (Drums, OK, Too)
- Count To 1000
- I Made a Technological Time Machine
- Let’s Chew Some Gum, Y’all
- I Got A Bag Of Wigs. Let’s Wear Them
- Show Up And Get An Award
- Giant Cornhole
The hope was that lots of people would talk about it, only a manageable few would attend, and I would get some promotion for the calendar while doing the sort of work that I love to do.
Many of Godin’s quotes spoke to me, but these really stuck out:
“The rational plan isn’t what creates energy or magic or memories.”
“People like us do things like this.” – This is the response you want your market to have when they see what you are offering.
I eventually concluded on making events that:
- Had a funny high-concept that people would talk about.
- Were absurd.
- Would be easy to do.
- Would be fun. (for my “tribe”, as Godin puts it)
I wanted to appeal to the quirkier, weirder parts of Austin. This was going to have a distinctive homemade lo-fi look and feel. Like something goofy you and your friends might do in your backyard or a nearby park.
Like I said, I didn’t want many people to show up. The budget was non-existant and I didn’t have the people or bandwidth to do the work. I wanted people to talk about these events more than attend them. I think the absurd nature of them combined by a lo-fi aesthetic would make people question if they were even real. Only the people who really wanted these to be real would show up.
I developed a checklist to know if an event idea was a fit. I started developing language and tone to talk about the events. I made lists of the artifacts I would need to promote and hold these events, as well as the types of volunteers that would be needed. I had to figure out the channels I would promote the events and their strengths and limitations. As usual, there were many spreadsheets.
I made elaborate art and video and storylines that lasted across multiple email newsletters. This was a huge endeavor and definitely overkill, but it gave me the opportunity to experiment and learn everything from Final Cut to how to make a giant cornhole game as big as an efficiency apartment, to what it takes to plan a multi-week event series in the middle of the busiest time of year for your company.
It was clear almost immediately that #3 wasn’t going to happen, so I focused on the other ones. Perhaps not the best strategy. Find out more about the development and results of each event using the links at the top of this post.