If you’ve ever been in a communications role, you’ve probably been there at one point or another: an annual conference needed to be bigger and better than ever; a small, but critical board meeting needed flawless tech; or there was a campaign that you found out (too late) was too complex to execute on your own. In each of these common scenarios, it’s important to consider two critical questions:
- Do I need outside support?
- If so, how do I choose the right vendor?
In truth, to compete in today’s marketplace, most businesses need outside technical or strategic production support of some kind along their journey. Maybe you’re already aware of that. But the second question will be the focus of this article. Helping you “right-size” the appropriate support is more critical than ever in an industry that has grown and evolved significantly over the past decade. If you’re overwhelmed, you’re in the right place. Let’s jump in!
Outside support for events falls into three primary categories. Let’s start with what we offer at avad3.
The 3 Types of Event Vendors
1. Event production: Event production companies, like avad3, work hand in glove with clients to plan, produce and execute events. Typically, our services begin about 100 days prior to the event, with a dedicated event production manager serving as a single point of contact from the initial kickoff meeting to execution on the day(s) of your event – with many other check-ins and touchpoints along the way. A single event production manager leads communication between your team and ours throughout the process to facilitate technical precision and excellence (as the event is executed). Our crew provides staging, lighting design, audio, and visual tech support to execute a seamless run of show that’s on time and on budget.
2. AV support: If 100 days of lead time feels like it’s overkill, then you may be in the market for basic AV support. This can run the gamut from basic audio or sound equipment rental to a DJ. Businesses that specialize in AV support deliver specific tools or resources for a specific purpose. The organizer of a local fundraiser might be looking for someone to drum up energy and engagement. They might also need a screen, projector and sound system suited for use outside. A small AV support business is the best fit for an event like this, providing solutions for a few basic needs.
3. Marketing agency: The most extensive support of the three categories are event marketing and promotions agencies. Event marketing agencies typically develop broader brand strategies to accompany and surround them. They often specialize in promoting events rather than producing or executing them. If your team is looking for the best color tent to use at a large-scale, professional sporting event to attract 20-35-year-old customers to take samples of your product, you should work with a marketing agency. Often, within these agencies, there’s a heavy emphasis on strategy. When it comes time for the actual production of the event, the agency may enlist subcontractors depending on the purpose. For complex or larger scale needs, they may enlist a production company like avad3. For simple technical solutions, such as the delivery of a TV, they may hire an A/V company. If an event production or AV support company seems too far downfield, or you don’t even know what to call your event, who to invite, or what branding to use, then start with a marketing agency. When the need arises, they’ll contact us or another vendor to deliver for their client.
Not Understanding the Differences Between Vendors Can be Costly. Here’s how.
If you choose a small, local AV company to plan and produce your multinational company’s annual meeting, you may pay less initially, but you will likely be disappointed with the outcome. Inexperience or overconfidence can lead to errors like misjudging the time and resources needed to pull off an event of this scale. In the end, you will likely spend more time and money trying to correct errors, and the next time you have a similar event, you will have to start from scratch to identify another business to help provide event support. In this scenario, the business was simply too small and unqualified to execute the event with excellence.
Partnering with a business that is too large or doesn’t specialize in delivering the kind of service you need can also be costly. You may be inclined to select a large, well-recognized marketing agency to provide support for the same annual meeting. Along the planning journey, you might discover your real need is in tactical support, not strategic counsel. In this case, you have a capable partner, but your need doesn’t match the agency’s real strength–delivering strategic counsel. Your company leadership will likely be frustrated with not getting what they thought they were paying a high price for.
In the end, trust is the single most important ingredient to producing a flawless event. Whoever you hire to help you bring your event to life, make sure you trust them. As you consider your options, here are a few tips to help you identify the best partner:
- Interview at least 2-3 businesses
- Take note of how responsive or communicative the businesses are when you contact them.
- Ask basic questions: Has the vendor delivered this kind of support before? How do they handle unforeseen issues such as technical difficulties? Hint: if they aren’t able to demonstrate experience with backup plans, it could be a red flag. The best partners should be prepared to handle contingencies.
- Look for examples of work and talk to colleagues who may have used the same vendor previously–what was their experience?
Consistency builds trust, and now, more than ever, that matters. At avad3, we know we won’t always be the best fit for everyone. But for many, we believe we’re “just right.” Our operating model is always driven by a desire to listen first. If you contact us and want our business, if we don’t think we’re the right fit, we’ll tell you. But when our skills and experience clearly fit your needs, we’ll come ready to serve. It’s our passion and it’s our purpose.