• 08/12/09 Event Planning , Special Events , Sustainable Event Management , Sustainable Marketing # ,

    Tips For ‘Greening’ Your Events, with a guest contribution by Heather S. Teegarden, CSEP

    I’m delighted to include an incredibly useful green event resource in today’s blog post. KFM’s guest contributor, Heather S. Teegarden, has kindly allowed us to feature her latest guide that outlines “Tips for Greening Your Events“.

    Heather’s guide is a great tool for anyone wishing to green their events, integrate greener business practices into their work, or to simply gain further knowledge in the area of green event management. The guide covers topics such as venue selection, entertainment, decor, and catering and even lists other great green links and resources! This “green tips” guide can be viewed by clicking on the link below.

    Tip For Greening Your Events by Heather S. Teegarden

    Should you wish instead to have this guide emailed to you directly, simply send us an email at KFM.

    Heather S. Teegarden, CSEP


    Heather is a well-known “green” resource as well as a certified event professional based in Seattle, Washington. She has contributed her event expertise and experience towards efforts at the Volunteer Center of Lewis, Mason and Thurston Counties; the Woodland Park Zoo; the University of Washington; the United Way of Snohomish County; the Pacific Science Center; and was also a recent speaker at the CSEME09 (Canadian Special Events and Meetings Expo) in Vancouver. Heather has received industry awards for her proven excellence in the field and is highly regarded for her non-profit organization management.

    Further information on Heather S. Teegarden can be found on her LinkedIn profile: LinkedIn/Heather Smith Teegarden, and those interested in contacting Heather directly may do so at: hteegarden@live.com.


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  • 30/11/09 Event Marketing , Event Planning , Special Events , Sustainable Event Management # , ,

    Event Planning: Choosing the Right Food for the Mood

    By Karran Finlay

    Whether planning a party, a wedding, or a gala evening, the three most important aspects to get right are – 1) food and beverage, 2) how food and beverage are served (and quantity available) and 3) music. If you get these three things right, you can be sure to have a happy crowd.

    Sounds simple right? Well, it’s not quite that straightforward so I thought I’d start with food and jot down a few tips for choosing the ‘right food for the mood’. I’ll also blog about beverages, service standards and music in the future, so be sure to check back!

    Here it goes…

    Whether planning a big or small event, make sure you source a professional catering service (or work with someone – a chef – who’s used to event catering). Working with someone who understands proper quantities, service standards and preparation can make all the difference. One of my favourite Chefs to work with when I do events in Toronto is Chef Corbin Tomaszeski (I might be biased because he’s also originally from Edmonton, but mostly it’s because he get’s it – and that makes my job a lot easier).

    Chef Corbin Tomaszeski, Holt Renfrew

    BUT, before you confirm your caterer, I suggest you first follow these steps.

    1.) Event Format: Know what event format you want. Is this a cocktail party, a corporate meeting, a wedding or a gala affair? It’s important to pair the food served with the format of the event. For example, during a cocktail party it’s important to serve bite-sized appetizers that can easily be popped in to one’s mouth with one hand while the other hand is holding a glass of wine. It’s surprising how many times I still find myself at an event needing to put down a glass of wine in order to eat a large portioned messy appetizer – it’s awkward and can easily be avoided.

    2.) Size: Yes, size matters. As I mentioned above, bite-sized pieces are usually best for cocktail parties. Guests need to be able to negotiate a glass of wine, a napkin and hors d’oeuvres at the same time – so the smaller the better (within reason). I would also suggest avoiding dips. Some thicker dips are ok, but all are usually messy and a bit awkward at events. A small intimate dinner party with friends allows for more appetizer flexibility (i.e. dips, larger servings that require a small plate, etc.) but at any stand up function, keep the bites small and tidy. Similar rules apply for other types of events and obviously sit down dinners are a whole other set of rules. A few general rules for sit down dinner parties can be found here: Tips on How to Plan a Formal Dinner Party. And although I don’t agree with everything she says, Martha Stewart is certainly a well-known expert so I’ll also include Martha’s tips for planning a dinner party: The Best Laid (Dinner) Plans.

    3.) Food Tasting: Once you have your short list of caters, arrange to do food tastings. Most caterers these days are very open to this. Some may ask for a deposit, but in most cases it’s understood that in order to confirm the right caterer one needs to ensure food quality satisfaction. Food tastings are a great way to test the standards of the catering company and allow a greater understanding of likes and dislikes (what you like and dislike may very well be what your guests think as well!). Ask lots of questions at the tastings – you’re the customer!

    4.) Waste Management: Ask your caterer about their waste management and average event food quantities. It’s important to have a bit more food than you think you need (running out of food is one of the worst event faux pas), but, you also don’t want to end up with too many leftovers (that you end up being charged for!). This is unfortunate for two reasons – one, you just paid more than you needed to, and two, it’s a waste. Ask your caterer for average food quantities from some of their past events – this should give you a good idea to confirm your numbers by. Good caterers will also be able to provide you with great advice for how much to serve for your guest numbers. Also, ask your caterer how they manage food waste. Will they allow you to keep non-perishables for your corporate lunch meeting the next day? Can leftovers be composted? This will save you money and help the environment!

    Once you’ve finished your tastings and have confirmed your caterer, you will next want to discuss food service and presentation (i.e. what trays to use for serving and how many appetizers per tray – tip: don’t have too many per tray). For this blog entry I’m not going to get into the details of these steps but check back as I’ll be writing about this in future!

    It’s also important to send thank you notes to all the caterers you did tastings with to thank them for their time and effort.

    And remember, these are just general tips – there are so many ways to great creative with food and food service! As someone who loves to cook, this is one of my favourite areas of event planning.


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  • 28/10/09 General Marketing , Green Marketing , Sustainable Event Management , Sustainable Marketing # ,

    The ‘Nu’ Trends in Sustainable Signage

    By Karran Finlay

    I was recently speaking with Alex Fiordelmondo (Sales & Marketing Manager for NuTrends), who I met at the CSEME09 show, and we got to chatting about eco initiatives. I was delighted to hear that NuTrends is one of the first sign shops to start going green! It’s becoming increasingly important for companies to start “greening” their supply chains, so I wanted to pass along the great news about NuTrends – an industry example to follow!

    NuTrends uses UV inks instead of the hard solvents that damage the ozone. Their inks are designed to sit on the material rather than be absorbed. As a result, they no longer require the use of hard solvents to break down materials in order for the inks to stick. This new process allows materials to be more biodegradable.
    NuTrends has also changed their internal practices in order to reduce their carbon footprint. They’ve switched most of their systems over to email based formats (i.e. invoicing, contract agreements, etc.) and are in the process of finalizing a deal with a company that will take their waste (old signage & waste materials) and re-purpose them into sewing thread. In Alex’s words “pretty cool huh?” Yes, very cool! And I couldn’t agree more with Alex’s statement “…it’s not only the products that need to be eco-friendly, but the manufacturing processes and the operational practices that must be sustainable as well”. NuTrends aim to be leaders in a new generation of eco-friendly signage shops…and I think they’re off to a great start!

    Here’s a list of green products that NuTrends currently offers:

    • Biodegradable/recycled Coroplast (plastic substrate great for events)
    • Biodegradable/recycled banners
    • Retractable banner stands that are made our of panda safe bamboo
    • Sign frames made out of 100% recycled plastic
    • A line of eco pens, bags, water bottles and other great corporate eco-gifting options

    If you’re interested in contacting NuTrends for your next event, just send Alex an email at alex@nutrends.com. Visit the NuTrends website for more information.

    And, if you need someone to plan your next event simply send me an email to KFM: karran@karranfinlaymarketing.com

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  • 06/10/09 General Marketing , Green Marketing , Strategic Marketing , Sustainable Event Management , Sustainable Marketing # ,

    Big Businesses Going Green: Eco-Friendly efforts pay off for large companies

    By Karran FinlayKarran_color-36

    Incorporating eco-efforts into your every day business practices can not only save you money, but it can positively affect your brand. This is true for any sized company; in fact big corporations are initiating some of the most talked about “green” efforts.

    Microsoft’s Convergence Tradeshow in March 2009 was the first U.S. event to be certified under BS 8901 – a British sustainable management standard developed for the events industry. Microsoft’s eco event practices attracted delegates but also ensured that Microsoft was moving in the right direction to achieve their sustainability goals.

    Suncor Energy is also investing in clean, renewable energy sources. They have four wind power farms in operation with a total capacity of 147 megawatts. These farms offset the equivalent of around 284, 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. Suncor’s long-term goal is to develop a new power initiative every 12 to 18 months. They’re currently looking into additional wind farm locations to build on their wind energy portfolio. I hope they successfully achieve their green power goals and continue to make renewable energy sources a priority.

    eco_car_162x104Even insurance companies are increasing their “green” offerings. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company (a company of Allianz) has launched green auto insurance. They’re the first to introduce hybrid upgrade auto insurance, enabling car owners to “go green”. Companies are spending more to bring in eco-specialists to ensure these programs can be available for the increasing consumer demand. A recent article, posted on “The Green Economy Post” (by Tracey de Morsella), also outlined a survey showing that many companies are increasing their hiring of environmentally and sustainability professionals. They noted that GreenBiz analysts are finding that environmental, health and safety (EHS) departments of large corporations are also increasing spending.

    And for those that enjoy a little celebrity gossip, we’ve got this for you too. Celebrity “green givers” are also on the rise. More celebrity award shows are ensuring environmental practices with venue choices, lighting, and food practices. Celebs are also getting more involved with highly publicized eco-initiatives and organizations such as Global Green USA and Global Cool. SIENNA MILLER IN MUMBAY

    So what does this all mean for big companies today? Going green is a good thing for the environment and your brand. There are many ways to strategically align eco-initiatives to the specific goals of your company or brand and now is the time to start thinking about this if you haven’t already.

    To receive ongoing updates and news from Karran Finlay Marketing, sign up for our eNewsletter.

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  • 05/09/09 Event Planning , Green Marketing , Sustainable Event Management # ,

    Green Meetings: It’s not easy being green…or is it?

    By Karran Finlay

    Karran Finlay

    More and more companies are taking the initiative to “green up” their meetings, yet others are stuck in the “thinking about it” phase. It’s not always easy to ensure sustainable practices, but it can be easier than you think (and it doesn’t have to cost you more).

    I’ve put together a few “green meeting” tips to keep in mind when planning for a successful (and more sustainable!) meeting:

    Research venues that are LEED certified in your area (or look for those that have sustainable practices). A great blog site that lists venues in various cities is “Green Destinations”. The specific blog that speaks to this can be found here: Green Destinations Blog

    Have meeting programs, name badges, menus, etc. printed on recycled paper. There are many recycled paper options available and they don’t always cost more, nor does the paper quality have to suffer.

    Use reusable dishware instead of disposable plates or source biodegradable alternatives such as plates made of sugar cane. Many companies now supply these products.

    Ask the venue to use biodegradable cleaning supplies and garbage bags for cleaning up after the event/meeting. Green Shift is a Canadian company that supplies a whole bunch of green products. Their product catalogue can be downloaded from their website: Link to Green Shift

    Compost food waste and recycle packaging materials where possible (i.e. boxes from food deliveries, damaged décor items, etc.) – many venues are now equipped to do this quite easily, you just have to ask.

    A friend of mine also shared a great “green” meeting example with me the other day, and I think it’s a great example to follow! You can check out the details here:
    AGU Fall 2009 Meeting, San Francisco

    There are many more ways to ensure that meetings, events and marketing programs can be planned and executed sustainably. I’d be happy to answer any questions or chat more about how to plan “green” programs. Just send me an email at karran@karranfinlaymarketing.com!

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  • 08/08/09 General Marketing , Strategic Marketing # , ,

    Marketing Questions: I need help marketing my new business, but where do I start?

    By Karran Finlay


    This is a question that I’m asked over and over and it’s a good question. What exactly does a “marketing” firm do and how do individuals and/or companies decide if they require marketing help? The answer is not always straightforward.

    Marketing encompasses the tools that help get the word out about your brand, company, product, etc. Many firms also deal with marketing strategy, which is basically figuring out what tools are going to work best to attract a target market towards a specific product or brand.

    Many larger companies have internal marketing teams that have a good grip on what works and what doesn’t for their business. They’re able to strategize and create marketing plans that align with short and long term goals. They have an understanding of what marketing tools they wish to use and how. But this is often not the case with smaller start up companies. Marketing is a grey area that seems overwhelming and somewhat confusing. The basics make sense, but putting that basic knowledge into action is where things get a little muddy. My general suggestion would be for a new start up business to begin as follows:

    The first place to start is to ask yourself what you want to achieve. What are your company’s objectives and goals? Where do you want your company to be a year from now…3 years from now, etc? Decide what your short and long-term goals are (i.e. financial, brand awareness, distribution, etc.) and then write them down.
    Some companies hire marketing firms to assist them with this process but many do this internally.

    Secondly, determine who your target market/customer is. As your company grows, your target customer base may change but you should set out with an initial assessment of who you think your target clients will be. Then, think about this target market’s interests and hobbies. Does this group watch a lot of television? What shows do they watch? Do they read the newspaper? If yes, which ones? Are they on the internet a lot? Do they drive cars? Once you’ve established these answers, begin to think about what advertising vehicles would best reach this group. If they’re on the internet a lot, an online approach might target this group effectively. An online approach could include banner advertising (ads that run along the top or bottom of websites) or smaller placements on popular sites. Or if this is a group that likes to network, then maybe a launch party would work to develop brand awareness and allow the target clients to feel and touch the product being marketed.

    Marketing firms are often involved with this process. This would fall under marketing analysis, strategy, research, etc. A company can do this research and analysis on their own, or hire a marketing firm to do the assessment and then recommend advertising and marketing tactics best suited to the target market. The marketing firm could also then assist with the creative for the actual ads, web design for a particular marketing program, manage the launch event, etc.

    Once you’ve determined a few good ideas as to what you think might be the best advertising vehicle to reach this group, determine what your marketing budget is. Once you know how much you can spend, you can look at your marketing options and decide which tactics you feel will give you the “biggest bang for your buck”.

    Finally, I recommend that companies always have a plan for measuring the success of their marketing plans. Being able to strategically analyze whether a program worked or not will allow you to tweak and improve your marketing year after year. Again, some companies wish to do this internally or some choose to hire outside agencies to assist with this stage.

    A marketing company can help you with all of the above steps, or companies can proceed on their own if they have the right resources.

    I’ve listed a few articles below that may also help. None of these articles will provide you with hard and fast rules on what you should do – but they are general opinions that may help you to formulate your own understanding of the topic and allow you to take a few more steps forward towards creating a successful marketing campaign for your company.



    Another good read is “Growing A Business” by Paul Hawken. It’s a fun, useful and well-written book that combines smart business advice with good common sense.

    I hope that this information was helpful and if it’s all still a blur, feel free to contact us at Karran Finlay Marketing and we’ll be happy to work with you to figure out a great strategy for your company!

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