I scribbled a few notes on my whiteboard in February 2020 outlining a new event series I called Pairings. The idea oriented around taking a timeless album, an amazing craft alcohol brand, and a unique venue to deliver a curated experience that would be an antidote to the ho-hum networking events that dot our calendars. I couldn’t believe it took me two years to get the concept from whiteboard to reality. It’s almost like something happened in March 2020 that distracted me. I’ll dig into that. Must’ve been something big…
My first Pairings concepts went something like this: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon paired with Reservoir whisky and McIntosh at Brambly Park. I loved the idea of walking into a space with craft cocktails on one side and a 2-channel listening rig on the other. We finally ended up with Belle Isle Moonshine, Klipsch, and Common House paired with Sam Cooke’s Live At The Copa. Getting there took a bit of work…
The first call I made roped in Ryan Trapp, Livewire’s contenting marketing director. He’s amazing. I started waving my hands around and gesturing wildly while he nodded and scribbled. Eventually he came up with a killer one-pager that I started using in my subsequent calls to our other partners in crime. I made a few calls and pitched them the concept. I struck out at first. I thought for sure a few premium audio vendors would want to be a part of our event, but they weren’t digging it. I kept dialing. We’d always planned on involving Klipsch in the event series down the road and we have a great relationship with Balaton Marketing’s Aaron Cochran. He got it right away and jumped right in. I then began hunting down folks at Belle Isle Moonshine and pitching them the concept. It took a few calls and emails, but they were in as well. My last call was to Common House. We’ve done all their technology and it’s a wonderful place to work and play. Their CEO, Ben Pfinsgraff, got excited immediately and we were off! Next up came nailing down dates and squaring up on who was responsible for what. I wanted the event to be equal participation from all parties, so no one had to come out of pocket. Common House would comp the event space, Belle Isle comped their alcohol, and Klipsch brought out loaner gear.
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I’m blessed to work with some extremely talented and hard-working people. Brad Camp, one of our key folks at Livewire, stepped up and started making things happen immediately. Before I knew it, invites were being sent out, floor plans sketched, and custom cocktails designed. Everybody pulled together and all of sudden it was game time. I strolled into Common House around 6:00 PM last Thursday and beheld the physical version of what sat languishing on my whiteboard those many months ago.
What really struck me was the folks this event attracted. Our events usually skew towards a more traditional country club set. This event attracted a much younger, eclectic crowd and made me feel like we were breathing some fresh air into our marketing efforts. It’s great to see us shaking things up and I would call our first Pairings outing a stunning success.
I wrote about my experience with this event to highlight the challenges associated with bringing a concept to life, especially when it comes to sharing a vision but also to demonstrate that it doesn’t take big bucks to pull off something like this. Our budget for this event was $0. We also tried to change things up a bit and attract a crowd adjacent to our typical customer base. It was a lot of work and wouldn’t have been possible without folks from Livewire, Belle Isle Moonshine, Balaton Marketing (Klipsch), and Common House leaning in big time. I am extremely grateful to the many hands who labored long on this one.
What are you doing to shake things up? What $0 events will you put on this year? Why not try a Pairings event in your market?
Henry Clifford is president of Livewire, an integration firm in Richmond, VA. He also serves on the CEDIA Business Working Group and writes a bi-monthly blog for Residential Systems.