by Eugene Loj
There are a number of people out there who are going to take issue with my next statement, but here goes … Most graphic design for promoting an event is a complete waste of time and money. You’re probably thinking, “are you serious?!?!?” (Make sure you read on, because you're probably going to agree with my previous statement.) Yes, I am seriors and here’s why … too many graphic designers confuse creating art and getting business results when it comes to their design.
by Eugene Loj
There are some great marketing ideas you can borrow from all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. What can you do to get people to take immediate action? The simplest event marketing idea you can borrow is using an irresistible offer to drive advance ticket sales …
When buying advertising for your event, you’ve probably heard the word “repetition.” Advertisers trying to sell you advertising almost always say, "you need to repeat your message several times before people will take action.” In short, if you spend more money with us, people are more likely to attend your event.
Unfortunately one important caveat that is almost never mentioned … If the people you are advertising to are not interested in your event, repeating your marketing message does you no good!
There is a great online utility that you can use to track your online event promotions. It is called bit.ly and it's FREE! The service was started to shorten very long web addresses. In recent years, the company added link tracking for any link that you want to shorten. You get information well beyond just how many people clicked on your link. It includes geographic tracking and link sharing information.
Let me give you a basic, yet powerful, pay per click (PPC) advertising strategy to drive advance sale tickets for your event. The following advice is applicable to PPC services on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Facebook. It can also be used for other forms of online advertising such as banner ads.
Don't Direct Paid Traffic to Your Home Page!
One of the biggest mistake I see event organizers and promoters make with their online advertising is directing paid traffic to their event home page. You might be asking, "why is driving traffic to my home page a mistake?" Because people have too many options when they land on your web site. If you give a web site visitor too many options, they probably won't take the action you desire. Focus on driving traffic to complete one simple task, e.g. join your mailing list, buy a ticket, fill out a survey.
What to sell even more tickets to your event?
As you know, humans have incredibly short attention spans. Once you get online, attention spans get even worse. Here's the problem for event organizers and promoters - short online attention spans have a direct impact your ticket sales. When thinking of how to sell tickets to an event online - Beware of shopping cart abandonment! At it's simplest level, shopping cart abandonment is when people don't complete their online ticket orders. Abandonment happens in the time frame AFTER someone clicks your buy ticket link and before they complete their order.
Most event organizers NEVER consider the online ticket check out process and how it impacts their bottom line. Are you losing a ton of potential event revenue to shopping cart abandonment and don't event know it?
A few days ago, I critiqued a radio ad for an event promoter. Certain aspects of their ad were reducing potential ticket sales. Specifically, the ad directed people to buy tickets from two completely different web sites. That might seem like a good idea (diversifying), until you consider all the details a listener must remember in a 15 or 30 second radio spot. The more details you pass along in your radio advertisement, the less impact and retention.
Here are some radio advertising suggestions you can take away from example above . . .
Think About Your Radio Promotions From the Listener's Perspective
If you're using radio ads to promote your event, take the time to carefully think through the sales process. It's especially important to consider your radio ad from the listener's perspective. Your radio advertisement is most likely going to be grouped with a number of other ads. Therefore, you're competing against other advertisers for the listener's attention. The question to ask yourself is, "what do I want the listener to take away from my radio ad?"
Over the last ten years, I've hear the follow statement said by event organizers countless times, "We have to get our tickets on sale as soon as possible!" My rub with the previous statement is as follows . . . Too many event organizer think that because their tickets are on sale early, people will buy. That's rarely the case.
Here's a question to carefully ponder, "Are you giving people enough incentive to buy tickets early?" If you don't provide a compelling enough reason (that resonates with the target market) you won't sell many advance sale tickets for your event - regardless how early your tickets go on sale.
Six Months of Lousy Ticket Sales
Just the other day an event promoter was telling me about their advance sale ticket woes. Ticket have been on sale for over SIX MONTHS! But nobody is buying tickets. A closer look at the promoter's event marketing shows that there is little reason for people to buy tickets early. The event promoter now has to bank on last minute sales, which is a potential recipe for disaster.
A few weeks ago, I got into a spirited debate with an event producer on the topic of ticket surcharges. The main point we haggled about was whether to include the service fees in the ticket price. If you want to sell more tickets to your event, it’s important to consider how you present ticket price and service fees to your customer. What seems trivial on the surface can have a huge impact on how many tickets (especially advance tickets) you sell to your event.
If you want to lower your event marketing costs, you need to start collecting customer information immediately!
A HUGE Event Marketing Asset
Customer contact information (at a minimum name and email) is one of your greatest event marketing assets. If you have a recurring event, your customer data becomes even more important. It’s far less expensive to market your event to an established customer database.
Failure to Leverage Previous Customer Data
Oddly enough, far too many event organizers fail to collect customer information. Even worst - event organizers and promoters who fail to leverage their existing customer database. Are you making those same costly mistakes?
Over the weekend, a friend of mine told me about an advertising package a local newspaper had (pressured him into) sold him. The newspaper sales person convinced my friend to buy into an expensive advertising contract. The sales pitch focused around the notion of - "if you're advertising - you NEED repetition to connect with your audience." The signed advertising contract NOW ties my friend into an expensive long term contract. This isn't a problem if the advertising works, but if the advertising fails to deliver results . . . He'll have to pay for advertising that isn't doing squat!
How does the example above apply to your event marketing and promotion efforts?
When you buy advertising to promote your event, it's important to be savvy on how you negotiate the deal. You have the right to negotiate advertising terms. More importantly you have the obligation to say, "no thanks" if the advertising deal isn't good for you.
After you’ve built (or started to build) your event marketing house list - There are some simple things you can do to quickly ramp up the effectiveness of your email marketing . . .
Break Your List Down - Segment It!
If you want to increase the effectiveness of your event list marketing, you need to better target your list. A great place to start is segmenting your event marketing list - This allows you to focus your event promotions to a very specific target market. As a result, you’ll get better response rates.
Yesterday, a coaching client asked me if they should pay $6,500 for a ONE-TIME email to a 55,000 person list. My first piece of advice to them was, "don't rush into things & be a healthy skeptic!" If a list broker wants you to pay a lot of money to rent their list, they should be more than willing to answer every question you have for them. What follows is applicable to both online and offline list rental.
When it comes to pricing tickets for your event, there are a number of different strategies. Knowing how NOT to sell tickets to your event is as important as knowing how to sell tickets. What follows are two real world mistakes you want to avoid when selling tickets for your event . . .
After your event comes to a close, do you carefully review the effectiveness of your advertising?
We Spend $250,000 a Year on Advertising!
A few years ago, a west coast event organizer confided to me that they didn’t know their most effective form of advertising. All they could do was guess. That same organizer blindly spends almost $250,000 each year advertising their event - summing up their strategy with "that’s what we always done.” Seriously?!?!? Here’s the really scary part . . . most event organizers can’t identify their most effective form of advertising. At best it’s a complete guess. As a result, countless advertising dollars are lost forever.
Every few weeks I get a telephone call from a frantic event marketer looking for last minute event marketing strategies. The situations can be pretty heart-wrenching. Usually there isn’t much that can be done . . . But that doesn’t mean that I won’t try and help.
One of the first questions I ask is, “do you have an email list?” Very few people respond with, “yes.” A house email list is about the closest thing to an event marketing silver bullet, especially when your event is right around the corner. If you don't have a list or a ton of advertising cash reserve, your last minute options are fairly limited.
Go to Your House Email
Your email list is one of the most lucrative places for ticket sales when you're down to the wire. Unfortunately, too many event promoters and organizers DON’T email their house list ENOUGH prior to their event. You can’t just send one email asking people to buy before your big event.
A common misconception of event planners and organizers is that people are religiously visiting their event web site. As a result, event organizers continuously update their sites with new content . . . in some cases it becomes an obsession.
In my humble opinion, their efforts and resources are being wasted. Don’t get me wrong, updating your web site with relevant and timely content is very important. Keep in mind - event web sites aren’t like news web site.
People don’t come back multiple times a day to check for updates on an event web site. Consider the following . . .
How much time do you spend looking to other events or industries for marketing ideas? Borrowing ideas from other events and industries is one of the quickest ways to add dollar signs to your bottom line.
If you don’t spend much time looking outside your own event looking for marketing ideas, you need to start today.
On Wednesday a friend called me up and asked me to check over their event web site. Over the last week they spent several hours updating their new web site and wanted a fresh set of eyes to look their web site over.
At first glance things looked pretty good. Then they asked me to “Look at some of the other pages.” That’s when we discovered a BIG problem . . . there was no navigation bar on my screen.
On my friend’s computer the navigation bar was showing up. So I asked him, “What browser are you using?” He said “Internet Explorer.” I was using Mozilla Firefox. The reason no web navigation was showing up on my computer screen was a browser compatibility issue.
Here is a costly mistake made by many event organizers and planners - hiding details from their target market.
Over years I’ve seen very smart event organizers foolishly hide information about their event. In their mind, the decision for not releasing certain event details is completely logical.
The thought process goes like this . . . “It’s my event and I’ll give people details when I’m ready.” Let me come out and say it – hiding event details is a bad idea! Being secretive about event details has negative impact on your event marketing and ultimately your bottom line.