Guest blog: How to run a Masterclass for your membersFebruary 10th, 2018 | Share on:
Based in Glasgow, Scotland, Kimberley White is the Project Coordinator for membership organisation Textiles Scotland. Textiles Scotland is passionate about textiles designed, manufactured and made in Scotland. Kimberley runs masterclasses for textile designers and manufacturers to help them improve their business processes.
Kimberley wrote this article for us on how to run a masterclass for members.
Purpose: Why are you holding this masterclass? Who should it benefit? How many people do you aim to reach? Write these goals down and make sure everything you do relates back to them.
Budget: Know your budget, don’t be afraid of the numbers and end up overspending. Look for sponsorship for aspects of the masterclass where you might be lacking in budget; for example, I often look to craft gin suppliers to sponsor networking events. Make sure any sponsorship you achieve aligns with your brand, craft gin and luxury textiles work well together.
Push or pull: As a membership organisation, you can create masterclass content based on your expertise at hand. Alternatively, you could survey your members and determine what kind of masterclass they would be most interested in attending. You could use this market research to gather a host of ideas and put together a programme of masterclasses.
Content: Choose inspiring speakers who are experts in their field. Use someone who has plenty of ideas and doesn’t just look to you to design the content. I regularly run Trends Forecasting Masterclasses for Textiles Scotland members and employ the expertise of Trends Expert, Fiona Chautard.
Location: Are your members concentrated in one area or are they spread out? Textiles Scotland members are spread out all over mainland Scotland and the islands, therefore I must ensure I am providing support for all areas. In March I will be running a masterclass in Glasgow and repeating it in Shetland. You could consider delivering the masterclass in different locations, or you could hold one masterclass and live-stream it to members far and wide.
Date: Make sure the date you choose doesn’t clash with a bank holiday, or school holidays if you can help it. School holidays matter for Textiles Scotland as many of our member companies have very small teams and finding childcare can be a hassle for someone who wants to attend a weekday masterclass.
Time: Are people coming from out of town? If so, then 9am isn’t a particularly friendly start. If you need to start at 9am you could provide breakfast to soften the blow!
Timing plan: Have one and stick to it as best as you can. Share it with your speakers, share it with your caterers. However, don’t assume that they will keep themselves right. If you are running the masterclass, your watch should be your best friend. Practice the subtle nod to speakers to make them aware of time restraints. Remember to schedule breaks, they are important to digest information, recharge, and for attendees to network.
Seating: Do you want people to mingle with others that they don’t know, or are you happy for guests to sit within their natural cliques? Think about a seating plan, especially if you want to encourage interaction.
Ticket prices: Masterclasses can be a great way to recruit members, so think twice before restricting access to members only. For Textiles Scotland members to benefit, I usually heavily discount their tickets, or offer free tickets to members. However, access to exclusive masterclasses could be a selling point of your membership organisation, so that decision is up to you.
Invite people: You can create the greatest masterclass in the world, but if you don’t shout about it then no one will come. Think about the kind of communications your industry responds best to. Is it a snail mail invitation? An advert in a specialist magazine? Email invitations? Support your chosen method of communication with a social media campaign, utilising all platforms available. Use consistent wording and imagery across channels so that people begin to recognise the masterclass. Facebook ads are one of the best ways to target your key demographic.
Partners: When I run a masterclass for Textiles Scotland, I contact other industry organisations to help me promote it, for example Creative Scotland, Cultural Enterprise Office, and Fashion Foundry. Getting your masterclass listed on other organisations ‘event’ pages and being included in newsletter round-ups is a great way to increase your reach. Equally, I promote in turn for other organisations. Have your venue promote the masterclass for you, driving footfall to their venue is a win-win situation for both of you.
Reminders: I usually begin selling tickets and promoting an event 6-8 weeks in advance. For this reason, I find reminder emails and social media posts necessary. Send people directions, parking information and start times, and instructions if they are required to bring anything.
On the Day
Arrive early: It’s your job to make sure the room is set up correctly, that the projectors and microphones are working, to lay out your name badges, and ensure that your tables are full of promotional material from your organisation. You should be the first one to greet your guests.
Relax: No one wants to see you running around stressed. Sometimes things go wrong, timings run late, or technology fails us. It’s best to deal with it all with a smile on your face, and make your guests feel at ease.
Be personal: My masterclasses usually have around 30 guests, so when I check people in I like to try to try to memorise their name and face, so I can check back with them later. It’s nice to add a personal touch, and as a membership organisation each member and potential member should be important to you.
Encourage discussion: I have found myself asking a room of people ‘What do you think about that?’ and getting a sea of blank faces staring back at me. However, if I direct a question at a specific person (whose name I have remembered, see previous point) then I find it easier to generate discussion.
Feedback: You have dedicated time and effort into creating an informative masterclass, so remember to collect feedback. This will help you assess whether you have achieved your initial goals, and help you improve masterclasses you run in the future. I usually find a survey link distributed directly after the event to be the most effective and environmentally-friendly way to collect feedback, but you might want to hand out paper forms and ask guests to complete them before they leave.
Feedback reminders: Guests are not always overly concerned with providing feedback to you but remember this is one of the most important things for you. Keep a spreadsheet of who has returned feedback, and chase people who haven’t. You can give a ‘bonus’ to people who complete feedback, e.g. a thank you email filled with links and articles for further reading relevant to the masterclass.
One Key Thing I Have Learned
It is better to charge a little for a ticket, rather than nothing. People are more likely to turn up to an event that they have invested money into (even if it’s just £5). No-shows can be really disheartening, and they make it hard to plan seating, catering, etc. Show your members the worth of your masterclass and cement their availability by attaching a small price to the ticket.
Follow VeryConnect on social media for more advice for the membership sector.