We get the majority of our work through bidding on RFPs (requests for proposals). The problem with the RFP process, which most businesses will tell you, is that you don’t get a chance to build a relationship with the potential client. You are being hired – or not chosen – based on what you write and what you quote (often the lowest bidder).
When the RFP for the Newmarket project came out it was an exciting one. In the proposal it was called the Ideas Conference. In the RFP they talked about wanting to bring the big thinkers who live and work in Newmarket into one room to talk about their big ideas. This project was right up our alley. It was an exciting potential project for us to dream about. Usually, the ones we get most excited about are the ones we don’t get. But we got it!
We got the news of this big win the day before Julia was leaving the country for two weeks and right in the middle of our busiest month in the history of our company. We started the planning the first week of October and executed the event the last week of November, for a total of about 7 weeks to strategize, plan and execute.
What made this project so interesting you ask? Pretty much everything about it.
- an opportunity to build community
- an opportunity to use our strategic approach
- we were given creative freedom
- the client said they wanted to do something different and they meant it
When we get the opportunity to work with a client who trusts us to run with it, it inspires and excites our team. On this project we were given an opportunity to do what we do best – strategic thinking, creating a vision, using creativity. And what was the final result? True partnership. The client was thrilled with the results. The attendees were inspired. And our team left Newmarket feeling like we could conquer the world.
We understood what the client wanted. We were trusted to bring that vision to life. And we did it!
Have you ever been to Newmarket? If not, you should go. Prior to winning this project, we’d never been either. It was not at all what we expected being in the Toronto area. The downtown…adorable! It was like being in a small town but it’s not, it’s actually quite large.
We spent two days there during the planning process to really get a feel for the area and its people. In those two days we fell in love it. You know that feeling when you travel and you arrive somewhere and immediately think, “I could live here”? That was the feeling Newmarket gave us.
The coolest thing? All the ideas we had been brainstorming were all reflected in our walk through the downtown. There were inspirational quotes around town, the venues we had been asked to consider were fresh and vibrant, the owners of the businesses felt a true sense of respect for the municipality and the client personalities around the table reflected exactly what they had described in the RFP – combining old and new, fresh ideas, and inspiring conversations.
Let’s give you an overview of the concept the client was after for this incredible day. The client knows that in their community there are people who are doing amazing things around the world. The problem is that they don’t necessarily know who all those people are and those people aren’t always together in the room with the up and comings from the community. The client wanted to create a space where the movers and shakers, who happen to call Newmarket home, were given an opportunity to be in the room with the fresh minds of Newmarket. The client’s hope was that by putting those who have done it in the same room as those who are dreaming about it, they could create connections that will continue to inspire the people of Newmarket to go out into the world and do more incredible things.
It would have been so easy to set this event up in a conference space – use a plenary space and a bunch of breakouts. But that was not the client’s vision and we were more than thrilled to bring their vision to life. The client’s thought process on this was, if this is going to be an event to build community and engagement then we have to use our community to make that happen. The plenary sessions were in the old town hall. The breakouts…wait for it…were all off site! Yup, you read that right. We took all the attendees off site for the breakouts! How amazing is that?
The client specifically wanted us to use the local restaurants and event spaces for the event and we were able to use them as the breakouts and for lunch. We had three venues, within walking distance of the old town hall, that we used as the breakouts. Depending on the session people wanted to attend, they would make their way to the breakout space that had been designated for that session. Following the session, lunch was served in that venue.
Not only did we keep the attendees engaged by moving them to different locations, we were also supporting the local businesses by using their spaces and serving meals in their establishments. If you want to build community this is the way to do it!
How do we explain how this day felt? It is likely almost impossible to do with words. So let’s not try.
We’re going to SHOW you how this day felt.
Wish we could show you how it tasted. It was delicious!
Events like this can only be successful with the help of many. We would like to give a shout out to all the incredible people we got to work with on this project.
Photography – Jason Wighton Photography
Food and beverage
- Old Flame Brewing Company
- A Million Mouthfuls Catering
- 180 Drinks
- Event MRKT
- Hungry Brew Hops
- Metropolis Mercantile + Cafe
Design and decor – Fifth Element Group
Audio-visual – Frontier Sound and Light