“Conversely, The Mid-West Conference of Grand Lodge Education had a whole 20 dudes present.”This line is eye-opening and disappointing for the sole reason of we were four Brethren who ran a Conference that outgrew its venue in our first year. We had 147 Brethren attend our event, Brethren from as far west as Seattle Washington, and even an international Brother who came down from Canada. We…were four…Brothers. Contrast that with the Mid-West Conference of Grand Lodge Education where you have multiple Grand Lodges coordinating an event, with far more resources at their disposal than we had, and the disparity becomes really clear. Now, we don’t know exactly why this event only was able to pull in twenty Brethren, and while we have some guesses, we will not speculate without knowing concrete facts.
You all may be wondering what our special sauce was that made our first-time event a success. While we’d love to claim it was hard, and a lot of blood sweat and tears went into the making of the Esotericon, the reality is ANY Mason or group of Masons can put together a successful event like this with limited resources. Now, that’s not to say it was an entirely pain-free event, it was not. We certainly have some things to improve upon for next year’s Con, but we also got lucky in that we did not have anything seriously terrible go wrong. So, how did four Brethren run a successful first-time event you may be asking yourself? Here’s how;
- We started our planning early, especially the social media campaign. After our initial discussions, and our consensus that we would go forward with our event we created our Facebook page, Twitter and Google accounts and put teasers out there as we came up with our speaker list.
- We put together a truly kick ass group of speakers, and got all but one of our initial list of eight speakers.
- With our speakers set, we opened our sale on event tickets…without announcing our speaker lineup. For the first several months of ticket sales we sold tickets for a ten-dollar discount, and also offered a limited run of pre-event tickets to a brewery the night before. We created an incentive for people to buy tickets early.
- After a week we started our announcement of speakers, releasing a new speaker each week after that. Each speaker announcement coincided with a bump in ticket sales. It was a way to keep the event fresh in the minds of those following us and interested in attending.
- We would be remiss to point out that two Brethren of our Organizers are Masonic podcast hosts…we got some really good advertising on the Masonic Roundtable and Whence Came You Podcasts. Don’t fret if you don’t know any of the hosts on these shows, they’re really nice guys and I’m sure they’d be happy to help out if they can.
- Good planning. We planned everything out, put it on a scheduled and held occasional meetings when we felt they were necessary. We enlisted our local Rainbow and Demolay for help and encouraged donations to their organizations from the attendees.
- Last but not least, frequent communication with our attendees. We tried to let our attendees know what was going on when there was something important to relate to them. Whether it be asking for shirt sizes, meal preference, etc. we made sure we stayed in touch from time to time.
All this is to say, anybody, any Mason can run one of these. All it takes is an idea, a plan, a bit of dedication and with the interest out there in Masonic education the Brethren will come. Whether you’re a Grand Lodge, a group of Grand Lodges or just a group of four Brethren like ourselves, if you’re interested in putting on an educational program similar to what we did, please, reach out to us. We want to see these events pop up all across the Masonic World, and we want them to be a success. Masonic education never truly went away, but it has been neglected for far too long. If we’re going to stem the flow of Brethren out of our Lodges, if we’re going to hold the interest of the Millenial and future generations, and give them a reason to join, its going to take more than just four Brethren to effect that change. Join us, let’s do something great together!
~Joe, Jason, Jon and Kevin - Hosts and organizers of the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Esotericon
Bro Homan has been married to his wife Hillary for the past ten years and they have three wonderful (mostly) children. When he’s not doing something with his family or the Lodge Kevin enjoys a good glass of Scotch, the occasional cigar and reading a good book in his office, which “smells of leather-bound books and rich mahogany”.