Brand New Community-Sponsored Workshop Sells Out Within Weeks

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Background

The Solano Small Business Development Center (Solano SBDC), located at Solano Community College (SCC), provides workshops, one-on-one advice and funding assistance to small business owners located in Solano County.

The Solano SBDC approached BrandGov to help them launcha newinitiative: 48 Hour Startup Launch, anintensive “bootcamp” or “hackathon” style workshop to teach local residents, aged 14 to 24years old, everything they need to know to run a new business. The free workshops would take place over two consecutive weekends, with adults attending one weekend and youth attending another. Participants would have the opportunity to pitch their business idea and compete for a variety of prizesat the end of each event.

The Challenge

Although events of this type generally take a minimum of three months to plan, BrandGov was tasked with pulling together this brand new multi-day workshop with less than 30 days’ notice.The Solano SBDC hoped to have 50 attendees at each event. In addition to ensuring that a portion of the attendees were low-income, they also wanted an equal distribution of participants from all eight cities that make up the county.

The Strategy

Develop visual branding and target audience profiles to attract the desired audience. BrandGov led an in-depth kickoff meeting with the Solano SDBC and the SCC to create customer personas for both target audiences. The discussions provided clarity about the desired age range as well as audience needs, wants, attitudes and income levels. We also established clear action steps and clarified roles and responsibilities. The compressed time frame meant that BrandGov needed to complete the messaging as well as develop brand concepts for the logo and collateral within 5 to 7 days instead of the usual three-week period. Even though the workshop targeted two separate populations weencouraged our client to use a single brand concept to unite both events and increase brand recognition.

Mobilize outreach street teams to generate community awareness and excitement.

BrandGov developed a custom outreach plan to direct highly targeted traffic to the new website, www.48hourstartuplaunch.com. Over the course of three weeks our street teams:

  • Executed a social media campaign that included direct outreach to key community influencers as well as social media ads.
  • Rolled out a public relations effort targeting journalists atlocal city and county newspapers.
  • Attended business events where they connected with young business owners.
  • Visited all seven local area high schools to talk with students face-to-face during their homeroom classes.
  • Conducted “how to start a business” lunch and learns at low-income housing developments. 

Recruit reliable, locally based speakers.

The Solano SBDC and SCC provided general guidelines for the conference topics. Despite the short timeline, BrandGov was able to successfully tap into our extensive database and network to line up experienced speakers for both workshops. Since the speakers provided their presentations in advance, we ensured that the presentations tied into each other, creating a seamless workshop experience for our attendees.

The Results

Generated significant press coverage, both before and on the day of the events.

BrandGov prepared two PSAs that appeared on several municipal cable television stations as well as KUIC radio station. We also released three press releases sharing event details.

As a result, the inaugural 48 Hour Startup Launch workshop:

  • Generated 764 hits on social media and over 10,000 impressions
  • Received ample pre-event and day-of-event coverage in many local papers, including front-page coverage in the Fairfield and Vallejo papers as well as the smaller county newspapers in Benicia and Dixon.
  • Was featured on localsocial media news feeds including the Dixon Tribune’s Facebook page and the VallejoBuzz Twitter feed and several online publications including the Napa Business Journal, Topix forums’ newsfeeds for Rio Vista and Vallejo and ePRNews.

Successfully sold out both events in advance of the event date.

Using EventBrite to manage the registration process allowed us to track analytics as well as to manage the wait list for the youth program. Both workshops sold out well in advance.

Our client now has a mailing list of residents that have indicated a high interest in attending similar workshops in the future. Although the Solano SBDC and SCC had initially intended for this to be a one-time event, the intense public interest and positive audience response has led them to decide to host the event several times a year. Furthermore, several school districts have expressed an interest in underwriting a 48 Hour Startup Launch for their own constituents.

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