When the experience of a live event we helped create proved so compelling that participants decided to organise their own when they returned home, it soon became clear that we'd need to step in to tailor help and support so volunteers could get things off the ground. That was 2013. And it was just the start of it...
What was the problem?
In September 2013, working alongside client, Richard Allum, we created the Paraplanners Powwow. (You can read all about it over here).
Despite being intended as a one-off event, the organising principles adopted for that original event – an informal gathering organised by paraplanners for paraplanners to exchange views, learn things, fix things and share things – proved compelling.
So much so, in fact, that two paraplanners who attended the Powwow decided to organise their own event when they returned home to Yorkshire – and so Powwow Up North was born.
(And it didn’t stop there, within weeks there was a Powwow Down South. And then Powwow North of the Border. And so on and so on.)
From the outset, we were amazed that paraplanners had been so inspired by the Powwow that they decided to organise their own events around the country. But what was also clear was that organisers, who had volunteered their time and energy as a side hustle to their day jobs, needed help and support to get their Powwow off the ground.
Our task was to establish an organising platform and administrative hub capable of enabling a growing group of Powwow volunteers to set up and run Powwows.
Our ambition was to offer an accessible promotional and logistical toolkit to organisers, with the flexibility to dial support up or down, and to do so on a shoestring budget.
How did we decide to solve it?
We stuck to first principles: Powwows and associated events were organised by paraplanners for paraplanners so our job was to create space for members of the growing community to do just that.
Instead of assuming the role of community organisers or managers, we adopted the role of facilitator for the Powwow community to enable paraplanners to shape the Powwow movement however they wanted to.
The use of tools and platforms – such as survey tools and online discussions – would enable paraplanners to decide which topics and issues that the Powwow should tackle in a way that stays true to the Powwow’s community-led ‘unconference’ principle.
Finally, to keep the running costs of Powwow promotion to a minimum, we set out to source and select a combination of online event and marketing communication tools giving us comprehensive marketing capacity on a shoestring.
What did we do?
Working alongside Richard and a growing band of Powwow volunteers, we’ve led event and format creation and management, communications and content, and coordination of the design and activation of the Powwow’s supporters programme.
Events, formats and management: From the original and annual national Powwow held ‘in rolling countryside, under open skies, in teepees’, Powwow gatherings have evolved into three distinct formats:
Mini Powwows: These are gatherings of paraplanners organised regionally by volunteers paraplanners which typically last 2-3 hours and can cover a range of topics agreed by participants. Since October 2013, there have been 26 Mini Powwows held across the UK.
Howwows: There are two types of Howwow. The online version is a webinar that focuses on a single topic for an hour over lunch. We launched the first in February 2017 and we’ve run more than 40 since then. Offline, we’ve developed one-day live Howwows – such as our report writing Howwow in London in July 2019 – offering participants a deep dive into a single topic in the company of paraplanners and guided by hand-picked gurus who offer their insights, ideas and expertise.
The Big Tent: In 2016, and as part of an evolution of the website we originally built in 2013, we created an online space for paraplanners to gather where they could post questions or answers, share ideas and expertise.
New Tradition takes care of event design, production and operation for the national Powwows and Howwows – everything from venue identification to managing delegate bookings, and from hospitality coordination to speaker presentation production. We coordinate the promotion of mini Powwows and online Howwows, and consult on content for Howwows too. Plus we’re moderators of discussions within the Big Tent community.
Communications and content: In the absence of a budget to invest in advertising or media promotions, we adopted a propagation strategy based on word-of-mouth that relied on paraplanners to share news of the Powwow with other paraplanners. In fact, the idea of Powwow was launched via a blog post and a single tweet and grew from there.
With the exception of blog posts that are written by Powwow volunteers, our team takes care of the creation of all content such as copy, images, video, event branding and print. This includes creation and coordination of all content for emails, web and social channels, and community management via Twitter and LinkedIn.
Supporters Programme: From the outset, the scale and scope of the Powwow’s activities would not have been possible without the help of enlightened supporters. We say ‘enlightened’ because the dynamics driving the relationship with supporters is distinctly different from traditional sponsorship.
We designed a supporters strategy to encourage brands to invest their time, knowledge and expertise – and not just cash – in a way that’s consistent with the Powwow’s organising principles. What’s more, our approach seeks to help supporters realise the value they can gain from the insights and ideas that emerge from Powwow events – ideas that can shape the design of products and services in the future.
One consequence of this is that supporters are not guaranteed opportunities – such as exhibition space at Powwow events or speaking opportunities – that are associated with more traditional events. But because we understand the importance of demonstrating a return on investment for our supporters, New Tradition works closely with supporters to work out how each brand can participate in the Powwows, and do so in a way that enables supporters to generate value.
- he Powwow continues to reach more Paraplanners, welcoming them into a community of like-minded individuals who are having or have had many of the same experiences.
- Since 2013, working with Powwowers, we've helped promote and stage more than 80 events - in real-life or online
- In 2019, the national Paraplanners Powwow attracted 100 paraplanners - a record for the outdoor event (and the maximum number of Powwowers the teepees can hold)
- The Big Tent now has over 1,500 users.
- Powwow Post is sent to more than 2,200 subscribers
- The Powwow's social channel followers have grown by 15% on Twitter and 141% on LinkedIn.
Partner Maxine Cameron
In collaboration with Richard Allum
© New Tradition Limited (Company no. 07343244) is a company registered in England. Registered office: St John's House, 5 South Parade, Summertown, Oxford OX2 7JL.