The Art of Putting on a Live Event

Live and In Person! Interweave Builds Its Brand in Style

We know the value of live events for SIPA; just watching firsthand the incredible networking that took place at last week’s SIPA 2010 Conference tells you that.

But there is incredible value to live events for publishers as well; just watching firsthand David Pyle, vice president and publisher of Interweave, deliver a session on Event Marketing for Publishers at that same conference confirms that.

Pyle went over the details—and amazing success—of Weekend With the Masters, put on by Interweave Press and their American Artist brand last year at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Hundreds of people came for the four-day event, from the U.S. and countries like Brazil, England and South Africa. A good portion of the attendees found out about it through the publications that Interweave puts out, like American Artist, Drawing, Watercolor and Workshop.

Top artists—luminaries in the field,” Pyle said—were brought in to lead classes. A full schedule kept people busy from early morning to late at night. In fact, 95 people signed up for a Sunrise Painting Demo, leaving the hotel at 5:30 a.m! “These were my ‘passionistas,’ ” Pyle said, using one of his favorite terms. “Classes help build the passionistas, and then we turn them into buyers of magazines, dvds and special reports.”

Among the events at Weekend With the Masters is a “Painting Smackdown”—where two artists take the stage with a single model and…..draw! “It was a two-hour session and people couldn’t get enough of it,” Pyle said. “It’s amazing how events can form a foundation that would reach [your customers] in no other way. [That energy] can filter through the rest of the year. It’s business in a unique way.”

For the success, Pyle credits: a great logistical and management team; sponsors who want visibility and access to consumers; knowing who your target audience is, working with your editorial and marketing team, and finding your passionistas “within your existing enthusiastic audience.” Weekend With the Masters “engages all the senses,” Pyle said. “Artists and instructors had never gathered before in one place like that.”

To advertise the event, a strong print campaign went out two months before the registration date—primarily in Interweave’s own publications. (You can see that they even include a big plug on the cover of their American Artist magazine.)

Fresh promotional information went on their Artist Daily Website three days a week, and they sent emails to a list of 29,000 people. “Our revenue per thousand email sent for this event was the highest ever for us,” Pyle said. “American Artist has been published since 1937—that’s brand equity.”

Besides strong revenue gains, results included contributions and an “experience with your audience that you can’t get in any other way,” Pyle said. He believes that the next Weekend With the Masters, Sept. 23-26, 2010, at the Laguna Cliffs Resort & Spa in Southern California will do even better.

It’s a live event that “gives us buzz and positioning, enhances our branding, builds ad sales and boosts ancillary product sales,” Pyle said. And being in Laguna Beach? “It’s the fun part of the business, going to different places,” he admits.

The brilliance of live events? SIPA’s events continue with the September Publishers Roundtable and the Miami Marketing Conference. Interweave’s—and hopefully those for other publishers—will continue to flourish as well.

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