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« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

Event Marketing with an Autoresponder

Event_autoresponder_marketing In the previous post, “Reason Why Event Promotion,” I wrote about giving your target market a very compelling reason to attend your event. It’s important to remember that people aren’t interested in the details of your event if you don’t give them a good reason to attend. I can’t stress how important it is that your “reason to attend” messaging resonates with your target market.

Too many event organizers come up with lots of reasons that they think people should attend their event, yet their reasons are a complete disconnect from their target market.

After you have a few good reasons, you can take your event marketing one step further.  Take each of your reasons and craft them into a short compelling email. Your emails can include links to videos, photos, or just plain text. Ideally the emails should get someone excited to attend your event. You’re going to take those emails and send them out sequentially in advance of your event.

Leveraging an Autoresponder
There are very affordable web services that allow you to send emails automatically to a set of email addresses. The services also allow you to collect emails from prospective leads and store them in custom databases. These services are known as autoresponders.  Two popular autoresponders are AWeber and 1ShoppingCart.  Autresponders can automate your event marketing and promotion.  By using the Autoresponder you build the value of your event before it ever takes place.  I call this front loading the value of your event.

Collecting Email Addresses
The entire process starts with collecting email addresses. You should have an opt-in box, above the fold, that allows people to voluntarily enter their first name and email address. I recommend a double opt-in when collecting email addresses. Make sure all your email collection is in compliance with CAN-SPAM legislation. After you have email addresses for people in your target market, use the Autoresponder to send emails. Remember, you’re trying to build value for your event so people attend.

I would consider the above topic one of the best kept secrets in event marketing and promotion.  As fair warning, the overall topic of autoresponders and email marketing is pretty complex. What’s above is an excruciating simplistic overview of a very powerful and detailed process.  

Event organizers who have implemented the outlined concept generate unbelievable results. Results include 30% conversion rate on home grown email lists and $55,000 in advance event ticket sales. If you're not leveraging email marketing to promote your event, you're leaving gobs of money on the table.

Email Marketing & Autoresponder Resources:

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

“Reason Why” Event Promotion

Reason_why You need to build perceived value for your event before it happens. I cannot emphasize this point enough.  A crucial component that most event promotion and marketing lacks is a good reason why.  Telling someone to do something versus giving them a good reason to do something (“Reason Why”) are two very different things. We love to tell people that we’re having an event, “Hey, you! Come and do this!” Promoters and Marketers give details that include dates, times, performers, ticket prices, etc. At the same time, promoters completely miss giving their target audience a truly good reason why to attend their event. I’d argue that you want to focus on the “reason why” more than anything else.  Event dates, times, and ticket prices become irrelevant if people aren’t interested in what you have to offer them.

Below are a series of article links for building a compelling “reason why” people should attend your event. Browse a few of the articles below and see if there is something you can integrate into your event promotion.

When creating any type of promotional material for your event focus on the “reason why” before getting into the details of your event.  If people aren't interested in what you have to offer, they surely won't be interested in dates and times. In the next post we'll look at how you can take the above process and automate your event promotion for your target market.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

The Holidays & Advance Ticket Sales

Holiday_Advance_Tickets Do you have an event that is still months or weeks away?  It’s never too early to start selling tickets for your event. Always look for opportunities to sell advance sale tickets.  The holiday season is an excellent opportunity.  Below I’ve included some simple ideas that you easily integrate into a holiday ticket campaign.

Offer a Deep Discount
Most event organizers don’t want to discount their tickets. Based on experience, you need to discount your ticket price to about 50% to get people to buy months or weeks in advance. Such a discount isn’t feasible if don’t have a decent profit margin built into your ticket price. If there is little or no margin in your ticket price you’re leaving yourself in a bad financial position.  No margins leave you with zero room for discounts. When you have a large yet fair profit margin, you can offer deep discounts without worry.  Always make sure you have a decent profit margin build into every single ticket you sell.

Discount by Raising Your Ticket Price
If you’re considering raising ticket prices from one year to the next, offer your target market an opportunity to pay the previous year’s price. “Our ticket prices are going up in 2009, but you can still buy at 2008 prices. This special offer is only good until the end of this year.” It’s a limited time offer that gives your target market the opportunity buy early.

Partner with Sponsors
It isn’t enough to let your target market know it’s a holiday special.  Is there something else you can do to add value to people buying a ticket early? Could you cross promote with one of your sponsors and have the sponsor include holiday coupon? Always look for unique opportunities.  The cross promotion needs to resonate with your target market. See if you can get one of your sponsors to market your tickets to their list. You can’t just add something because you think your target market will enjoy it. Look for cross promotions that will get your target market to act promptly.

Engage Them Over Email
Do you have an email list of previous buyers? Provided you met or exceeded their expectations, your list is the single best resource for future ticket sales.  Send a specific email to all the people who previously purchased tickets for your event and make them a great offer.  Integrate some of the ideas above into your offer.

You can combine holiday offers so many different ways. Try a few and see what works.

Your Ideas
Do you have ideas for advance sale tickets during the holidays?
Leave a comment and share your ideas below.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Your Event & Video Testimonials

In “Let Other People Sell Your Event for You,” I wrote about the importance of letting others sell your event for you. In the post I featured a powerful quote by Dan Kennedy:

“What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1,000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2,000 times more eloquent.”

The best video you could ever capture about your event is patron video testimonials.  Having a patron talk into the camera about how great you event is while using the actual event as a backdrop is priceless. Today I’d like to share with you what one can do with a decent video camera and decent video editing. The video below was filmed by a third-party which gives it even more credibility.

Flour City Brewers' Fest 2008


Don't Forget This Important Point
Regardless of who is shooting video for your event, make sure they get some video testimonials of event patrons during your event.  You can use the testimonials as promotion and marketing piece next time you have an event.  If you look at most events little attention is paid to event patrons. Make sure you’re not making that same mistake.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Red Bull Air Race - Exciting Viral Video

Last week I attended the International Council of Air Shows’ Annual (ICAS) convention in Las Vegas.  During the convention representatives from the Red Bull Air Race made a convention appearance. You can think of the Red Bull air races like NASCAR in the sky. During a break from their air racing they frequently use air show performers as intermission acts, hence their attendance at the ICAS convention. Red Bull really caught my attention after I participated in one of their air races.  As an organization they excel at both promoting and producing events. Red Bull’s presence at the convention prompted me to check out their web site and find a really cool video.

Video Highlights of Your Event
Below you will find a short highlight video from Red Bull’s 2008 Air Race season.  The music might not be for everyone, but the video footage is astonishing.  If you’re looking for an exciting event video you want to emulate, don’t look any further than Red Bull. You know you have a winning video to promote your event when people say out loud “That looks awesome, I want to attend one of those.”

2008 Red Bull Highlight Video


Going Viral

Red Bull leverages social media to get their videos distributed all over the world. All it takes is one really great video and rabid fans do the rest of the work for you. This is where a site like YouTube comes in handy. You can post one video and then have hundreds of other people post that same video to their web site. It’s like hiring an army of free promoters for your event. Are you taking advantage of a great promotional video for your event and viral marketing?

If you have a cool video of your event, post it to YouTube or any of the other online video resources. Use online champions to get your videos out to the masses. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to promote your event.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Using Scarcity with Free Events

Free_Event_Ticket Yesterday I had an interesting discussion regarding free events. For those that don’t know, I’m not a big fan of free events. There are too many event organizers who think just because their event is free that masses of people will automatically attend their event. Be sure you check out “the danger of free event thinking.” The discussion about free events gets even more tedious when the same event organizers proceed to tell me of their budget shortfalls. I’m not economic genius but if you want to have a free event, don’t complain to other people about not having enough money to put on your event.  Now that I have that out of my system . . . I’d like to focus on the positive. Yes, it is possible to be very successful with free events. Let me try to get you one idea that might help.

The Double Edged Sword
For today I’m going to focus what one can do to get more people to their free event. If you have a free event, inject a little scarcity. Free events are a double edged sword. A friend of mine who did event promotion for a local radio station told me about ticket giveaways for various concerts his station promoted. Here is an interesting statistic he shared.  Less than 15% of the people who the station gave free concert tickets to actually went to the concert. It’s psychology at work. If you don’t spent money on something you aren’t really vested in it. It’s as easy to say yes as it is to say no.

Using Scarcity
Let your target market know that because you are having a free event, you’re only allowing a certain number of people to attend. As soon as your event is full no one else will be admitted. This scarcity should be emphasized throughout all your marketing and event promotion. One of my mentors, Eben Pagen has a great line to sum up the idea above, “there is nothing more motivating than a rapidly diminishing supply of something you want.” You can use the concept of scarcity to change people's perception of you event.

If you’re going to have a free event, you need to make sure that you’re protecting your own interests. By using scarcity you can insure that some value is placed on the tickets to your event.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Great Stories & Event Marketing

Greetings from Las Vegas. I’m in Vegas for the 2008 International Council of Airshows annual convention. This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Death Valley National Park in California. My adventures spanned everything from the old ghost towns, bottle houses and gold mines to a Con Man’s castle. My weekend journey reemphasized the importance of having great stories for anything you do.

Bottle_House
Picture to the right: Outside wall of Tom Kelly's Bottle House. It's composed of approximately 50,000 bottles. The bottles were used because of a lack of lumber in the area.

Stories and Event Marketing
The story telling process can be used to market almost any event, product, or service. People love a great story.  When people hear something really interesting, they probably tell someone else. When you really peak someone’s interest it becomes far easier to get them to buy. A compelling back story can also become the centerpiece of your event marketing.

Entertaining Information
People want their information to be as entertaining as it is informative. A great story can often trump the facts of what you have to offer. Below are links for turning your web site into a story and what makes a great story.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Charging a Premium Event Ticket Price

Event_ticket_price A few months ago I ran across Yanik Silver’s 34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs.  If you’re at all entrepreneurially inclined his rules are well worth a read. There was one rule in particular caught my attention. Yanik’s Rule #3 states, “You must charge a premium price so you have a large margin to provide an extraordinary value & experience.” Even though his rules are geared toward entrepreneurs, Rule #3 is sage advice for anyone organizing or promoting an event.

Yanik illustrates Rule #3 as follows:

“When my wife Missy, and I were in Venice we had a bill for $45 for two cups of coffee in St. Mark’s Square. The reason they could get away with that is because it’s an experience, not only the entire atmosphere but they also have an entire band playing there.

Even Starbucks, which has crazy margins for a $5 cup of coffee, provides an experience of their own. Beyond that is $45 for two cups of coffee in St. Mark’s Square. That lets you do the things that you couldn’t do on a budget.

If I was charging $2 for that cup of coffee, I couldn’t hire the band, have them out there playing, and do all the things that you want to create an incredible experience.”
(Silver, 34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs, p.11)


Always strive to make your event an experience. Stop trying to figure out the minimum amount of money you need to charge a patron. Far too many event organizers don’t charge enough for their events. These organizers are usually the same people who are caught in the red at the end of the day.  The best way to increase your bottom line is by increasing your ticket price.

Remember Dr. Robert Cialdini’s analogy from his book Influence, “Expensive = Good.” Some part of people’s expectations of your event are psychologically derived from the price you are charging to attend your event.

I’m not suggesting that anyone price gouge the consumer.
But if you can charge a premium price for your event and deliver the value of that event, then you ought to charge as much as people are willing to pay. 

One of most common things I heard recently about not charging a premium ticket price revolves around the economy. Things might not be the best economically at the moment, but don't let other people's gloom and doom stop you from delivering value. I know of multiple events in the last four months that have charged a premium price and sold out.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Don’t Pollute Your Web Site with Advertising

Before I ruffle too many feathers, let me start with a brief disclaimer.  What follows is specifically directed to people with web sites that don’t generate their primary means of revenue from advertising.  News web sites are a prime example of web sites that use on page advertising as a primary revenue stream. They publish content to attract visitors and pay for expenses with their advertising revenue.

Advertising Pollution
Advertising_Pollution A few years ago I was introduced to a unique term: advertising pollution.  If you want to see or hear advertising pollution just turn on the radio, watch TV, open a newspaper, or get online.  We’re so inundated with advertising that it’s easy to get lost in the almost useless myriad of marketing.  When I was doing extensive usability testing on web sites one of the biggest user red flags was confusing on site advertising.  Test users would ask, “What does this (banner or ad) have to do with this web site/company?”  The test users were frustrated by the advertising. The consensus was, if it doesn’t specifically support the company don’t have advertising on an informational site. High quality information first, everything else should be a very distant second.

Don’t Pollute Your Site
Too many web sites run advertising just to run advertising.  I’m willing to bet if you look at their web stats they probably don’t get enough traffic to generate any decent advertising revenue.  If you have an event web site or a business web, don’t cloud the user’s search for information with advertising pollution.  Visitors come to your web site for information about your event or your business. It’s in your best interest to focus on your user’s needs.

Internal Advertising
There are some rare exceptions to the recommendation.  I am a proponent of internal advertising on web sites. If you have a product or service that can truly help someone, then you owe it to your potential customer and yourself to advertise on your web site. Wikipedia for all its faults is a pretty good example.  They have a donation banner on top to support their operation. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t sold out their page space to unrelated third parties to generate revenue. Ultimately the advertising has to truly help the user.

Make sure you put your information before any advertising on your web site.  You’ll have happier users and most likely make more money.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

The Stew Leonard’s & Wegmans Experience

Stew_Leonards Last Friday, I had an opportunity to visit Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, Connecticut.  My good friend Peter Buniak had been egging me on for weeks about Stew Leonard’s, “Eugene, Stew Leonard’s might be better than Wegmans!”

Unique grocery stores hold a special place in my heart. For those that don’t know, I’m a really big fan of WegmansWegmans is a grocery story headquartered in Rochester, New York.  Having grown up in Rochester, Wegmans was where my family did their grocery shopping. In my opinion Wegmans takes the grocery shopping experience to a whole new level, especially on the customer service front.  It’s a tourist stop for people with friends and family visiting Rochester. I was excited and intrigued about visiting Stew Leonard’s. Everything at Stew Leonard's and Wegmans is done specifically by design. Do you do the same with your event or business?

Selling Ice Cream During the Winter Time
As you’re walking into the Norwalk Stew Leonard’s there is an ice cream shop at the entrance.  I’m a bit of an ice cream and milkshake snob. My first job was scooping ice cream.  As most people would assume, selling ice cream during winter is a pretty difficult task. It was a cold winter day when I walked into Stew Leonard’s.  Ironically there was a big line up for ice cream.  The strategically placed Santa Claus (complete with real beard) was no doubt helpful in selling ice cream. Yet, in my 3 years of scooping ice cream I never witnessed anything like that during the winter time.  The ice cream store is setup for parents with children or the kid in all of us. When you get into the store there were a disproportionately high number of kids with ice cream.  The kids happily lapped up their ice cream as parents shopped. What does winter ice cream have to do with your business or event?  A lot . . .

Turn Your Event Into an Experience
I’m always big on encouraging event organizers to turn their events into an experience.  If you’re looking for two really great examples, you don’t have to go any further than Wegmans and Stew Leonard’s. Both companies are like the Disney World of grocery shopping.  Between both companies there are enough great business and event promotion examples from both stores to fill an entire book. If you’re ever in the Connecticut or Yonkers, New York area, be sure to make a trip to Stew Leonard’s. The same goes for Wegmans. When visiting look carefully at what is going on around you. There is at least one great idea for your business or event just waiting to be discovered.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below: