Marketing Team Events: Play as Hard as You Work
Our agency plays as hard as it works.
The parties, outings, and meals we share together require a certain level of empathy and collaboration not found at many other workplaces.
This is why company-sanctioned events are so important at inbound marketing agencies.
Whether we’re working from a coffee shop every Friday morning or lazering in on our goals at a two-day retreat, our team focuses on maximizing the benefit of every minute we spend together. Trust is built with face time.
So what does it take to bring a team together away from the grindstone?
Whether you have a crew of five or 50, here are four ways to plan more meaningful company events.
1. Party Like Your Culture Depends on It
Take fun seriously.
Organized events celebrate and advance a company’s culture. We’ve decided that our events should always reflect the exciting and empathetic culture we’ve built as a small agency.
So, don’t be afraid to go big. If you’re going to make your employees feel appreciated, go out of your way to show that appreciation. Better food, better drinks, better decor, better themes.
It all starts with a focused effort on making the event meaningful.
2. Hold a Vote (But Not Always)
One hallmark of our special events at 9 Clouds is that everyone has a say in the details.
For example, if we’re going to plan catering, we let the team vote amongst a handful of options curated by our party planning committee (PPC). Accommodating the preferences of our teammates makes for a more pleasurable event.
On the other hand, our PPC (no, not that PPC) likes to surprise the team from time to time. For instance, we purchased tickets to see William Shatner during our most recent retreat, and we built the suspense by not announcing it until minutes before the event — which was unique and delightful.
Sometimes, surprises can be bad, which is why our PPC has found it helpful to have a spreadsheet of each teammate’s preferences for reference. With this on hand, 9 Clouds can order pizza on short notice, knowing everyone will be happy with the selection.
Furthermore, constantly holding votes for food, accommodations, games, and other details can bog down the fun. Crowdsource with care, because there’s a fine line between buy-in and boredom.
3. Don’t Forget the Details
Every team has that one person who doesn’t like to eat anything green or that person who really, really doesn’t like dancing or sports. These considerations should have a huge impact on the direction your company takes with meals and activities.
I’ve been with 9 Clouds for almost five years now, and one thing that I’ve noticed is that our best parties consider and involve everyone. For example, if we’re ordering Jimmy John’s in Sioux Falls, we do the same for our remote teammates in Minneapolis and Denver. Knowing that my teammates are happy makes me happy.
But it’s really not only about the food. It’s also about why you’re having the event.
If the event is celebrating a milestone, ask someone to reflect upon it at the gathering. For example, my favorite part of our annual holiday party isn’t the food or the gifts — it’s the impromptu reflections upon our company’s progress.
After all, it’s important to celebrate wins.
Another aspect of our team events is that they aren’t obligatory. If you don’t like baseball, you don’t have to go to the game. If you don’t like dressing up as a fantastic unicorn, you don’t have to celebrate Halloween.
“Open but not required” is a great policy for company social events.
4. Plan Ahead to Make It Meaningful
Well, planning ahead can be difficult for a team of 13 (mostly) millennials, so we formed a committee to record and plan our company-sanctioned events far in advance. Booking locations, entertainment, and catering well ahead of time ensures that we can get the best quality and meet the most preferences (see tip #2).
Don’t forget to set the budget before you plan. While this sounds limiting, it also maximizes what you can do within that budget.
What you might discover is that, instead of ordering another depressing sheet cake, you have enough to go for the more eccentric option, which people will talk about for weeks to come. (We’re still talking about the taco bar we ordered in from Pancheros back in August.)
But again, good team events aren’t only about food. They’re about the people and the reasons for bringing them together.
Keep a list of reasons to have company events, and your team will find unique ways to celebrate them.