Yes! Who is in the house?
What makes an event intriguing? It's doing what is unexpected or something that can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Add a little bit of the celebrity factor along with some design, and you can create a can't-miss event that is making people extremely curious about what is about to happen. A countdown attached to your event builds extra excitement. It's okay to have fun teasing your community into anticipation, and everyone enjoys a little bit of levity in life!
Do you have a hometown celebrity that became successful on the world stage? Is there an author, actor, artist, musician, doctor, astronaut or professional athlete whose roots can be traced to your town for whom you have a great deal of respect? Most towns have at least one high school that can brag about having a famous alum! Does that person indicate that they want to be reminded of where they came from and inspire other people to pursue their dreams? Perhaps they are a key player in a specific cause. If you are so fortunate, you could create a great event where your business will be in the spotlight for an extended period of time.
Your business doesn't necessarily have to be in complete congruence with whatever your citizen-turned-celebrity does. It seldom matters what your business does nor the business you might co-host with for an event does. Think creatively and develop an atmosphere that coincides with what your special guest is all about. Certainly, if anyone is capable of creating a haunted house with very few items and there's no reason why with the help of an event rental company, you couldn't create a complimentary ambiance for your celebrity.
Most people think of book signing events for this scenario and they can be a lot of fun if they are done correctly long before, during and after your event. First, you have to let people in, around and beyond your community know who your special guest is along with when and what they will be doing. You want to time the event for when their most likely admirers will be present. If you have famous children's book author, perhaps the summer isn't the best time to host an event but it might be a good time if your someone wrote about life as a snow birder. We've all heard that saying that "everyone has a story". It is so true for towns, as well. You don't need a parade to have a Grand Marshall. Have them at your event! If you know of someone who is a spokesperson for a particular cause, help them connect with "the people back home" and support their cause.
Now, think of your industry as your community and apply these same principles. There has to be someone who is a well-sought-after figure who could draw a crowd. With a little research at most, you will find out who that person is. You are put in a different perspective when you organize an event within your profession.
When I primarily planned weddings, I formed a networking group for event and wedding professionals in 2008 (which I still organize). At about the two-year mark, after I formed the group, I invited a person who was well-known as a great coach specifically for wedding professionals, to speak. She lived far away on the other side of the country, but I felt like I was familiar enough through some of her coaching programs, that I could ask if she would like to come out and speak to my networking group. She did and even paid for her own airfare. Within a few days of the announcement, we had members donate services ranging from a fabulous venue, the meal, mimosas, decor, limo, hotel, printing, photography, the stage, a pianist, and a DJ who did his homework and searched on Facebook for her favorite music. It was a great success. However, the very first reaction from more established industry networking groups, was a social media post that stated, "How did THEY get HER?" It was very simple. You build a professional relationship and you ask them! I continue to be long-distance friends with her years later. In contrast to an unnamed person's social media post when the event was announced, the much-admired wedding marketing coach told me, "You are looked upon as a leader in the industry out here". I had never even thought of it that way. Oh, and you guessed right if you bet that the more established group asked us to share her visit with them at their own meeting.
My key point in this story is, you cannot be afraid to ask! Dream of opportunities you could share with other people and follow your gut! Don't be afraid to be the first person to do something in your little niche, your community and even in your profession.
On the lighter side, if you want to feel pressure planning an event, plan an event for event professionals with about a month's notice during the holidays! Seriously, it was fun...because that is what we do! Yes, I took my own advice and had another event planner come on board to help me!
Wishing you the greatest of days!
P.S. Make your special guest speaker feel just that! Special. Go out of your way to make them feel welcomed as you will be in an ambassador role for your business or group.