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Become the Information Authority for Your Event

Event_marketing_trust 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.

Continue reading "Become the Information Authority for Your Event" »



The Experience Must EXCEED that of Your Event Marketing

Event_marketing_value Today I’m going to rant a little on the importance of delivering an extraordinary experience at your event. When it comes to event marketing, there seems to be a gap between advertising promises and attendee expectations. The end result is event attendees who open their wallets, spend their hard earned money, and leave an event disappointed. Yes, I’m a big proponent of using hype and persuasion (ethically) in the marketing of your event.  But you can’t over promise and under deliver.

Before you send out your next advertising campaign, do an objective review of your event marketing . . .

Your Event Advertising and Promotions
Is your event marketing overpromising on the experience your event can actually deliver? Spend some time thinking through the previous question. Look at your advertising and event from an attendee's perspective . . .  If someone were to read your advertising and attend your event – are you going to be able to deliver on all your advertising promises?

If not, or even maybe not, take those points out of your advertising. I’ve seen first hand the problems associated with promising too much in event advertising. It isn’t pretty and is quickly followed by a slew of refund requests.

Continue reading "The Experience Must EXCEED that of Your Event Marketing" »



Event Marketing and Being Persistent with Email

Event_marketing_email_persistence Here is the harsh reality of event marketing with email – most of the people on your list will never open the email you’re sending. It doesn’t matter if you use a double opt-in process or have a completely house grown list. Having managed dozens of different campaigns for a variety of clients, I can tell you that the average email broadcast open rate is BELOW 50%. Low open rates even affect high quality lists.

There are some additional email marketing points to keep in context. Every day we are inundated with more email than we can possibly read.  Even if people want to you’re your email, they might not get around to it. You’re also up against voracious SPAM filters. Don’t take it personally or get discouraged!

My reason for telling you all of the above is to make sure you adopt the right email marketing mindset for your event. In spite of the challenges listed above, I’m still the same guy who believes your house list is your biggest event marketing asset.

Be Creatively Persistent
The key to still winning with low open rates is creative persistence. There is a thin line between being persistent and being a pest. Become proficient at sending the same sales message to your list multiple times. Please note: I didn’t say send the same exact email multiple times. Get good at rewriting emails that convey the same sales message. By sending multiple messages you're going to increase the chances of people actually reading your email.

Case Study
Last year I wrote an email marketing sequence that nudged people to buy tickets almost 60 days before the event. The first campaign email setup the ticket discount and built anticipation for the event with video. The next three emails were focused on sales.  Each sales email was written differently, yet emphasized the limited number of tickets available. As tickets were purchased we adjusted the available number of tickets accordingly. Ticket sales peaked at the beginning and at the end of the promotion. Over 60% of the total advance ticket sales came after the second email. The end result was over $20,210 in gross ticket sales, 58 days before the event.

Look at your event marketing with email as a multi-step process, not a one off event. You can’t expect to send one email and get everyone on your list to buy. Be prepared for opt-outs. “If you aren’t getting opt-outs, you aren’t selling hard enough.” – John Carlton. Get good at sending the same sales message to your event email list multiple times without annoying them.

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Event Marketing Research - Know Your Target Market!

Event_marketing_research Every aspect of your event marketing needs to start with a comprehensive understanding of your target market. In the case of events, your target market is represented by your ideal event attendee. I cannot stress this enough - Target market research is a big deal! People won’t buy tickets for an event (or attend a free event) that doesn’t hold their interest. A lack of interest is one of the biggest reasons that events fail. If you want to pack your event, the best place to start is with a hungry market!

You can find a hungry market by doing a little online research. If you have a new event, target market research needs to be your first planning step. Start by asking yourself, “What are my target market’s wants, needs, and fears as they pertain to my event?” When asking the question it’s really important to take your ego out of the equation. Focus on the market’s ego.

Use the Net to Do Free Research
There are a plethora of tools you can use to research your target market. Most of the tools are free. Start with a Google search that’s topically related to your event. Consider segmenting your search in Google by look at the blog, news, web, and video results. Look for the hot topics or trends. Pay particular attention to online user content such as comments or reviews. What are people saying? A hotbed for user content can be found in topical forums and blogs.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel
When it comes to events, there is little need to constantly "reinvent the wheel." Take a look at similar and competing events. Try to contact the organizer. Tell them who you are and what you're thinking of doing. It’s amazing how willing other event organizers are to share information.  One telephone call could make your event more financially successful or save you heartache.

Go Back to Your Customer List
If you have a recurring event, go back to your customer list. Consider surveying your customers. Find out what people thought of your previous event and what they expect from your next event. You can have a simple online survey setup in minutes with a service like SurveyMonkey. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions like “What didn’t you like about our last event?” The idea is to give find out what people expect from your event.

Build a Profile
Use your target market research to compile a demographic and psychographic profile of your event attendee.  That profile represents your ideal prospect and should drive everything you do with your event web site and your event. The profile should also drive your advertising and marketing decisions.

I realize that target market research isn’t the most exciting activity, but its importance is paramount. There is zero benefit in planning or creating an event if people aren’t going to attend. Doing a little homework can upfront can save you a ton of money and agony down the road.

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Simple Event Advertising Tracking with Google Analytics

Ask most event organizers - “what’s your most effective form of advertising?” Nine times out of ten the response will be, “we have no idea!” Your event advertising needs to be an investment, not a blind expense. Every event organizer should know their most effective form of advertising. It's imperative that your track your advertising effectiveness. Thanks to technology, it’s getting significantly easier to track advertising effectiveness. One free tool every event organizer should insist on having on their event web site is Google Analytics. You can leverage Google Analytics' comprehensive statistics to help you track the effectiveness of your event advertising. Back in December, Google introduced the Annotation feature to their Analytics suite. Annotations allow you to add short notes to your Analytics data.

Continue reading "Simple Event Advertising Tracking with Google Analytics" »



The Danger of Not Having Your Event

Long_term_event_planning Two weeks ago, I found out that a client decided to “take a year off” from their event. The event had been successfully taking place for the last 14 years. What started as a small event - ballooned into a truly great event. When I heard that the event wasn’t taking place this year, my first reaction was “What? Are you kidding me?!?!” The event was loved attendees and most importantly – making money for the event organizer.

I fully understand that it’s the event organizers decision to take the year off.  It’s their event, their pocketbook, thus ultimately their decision. But I’m not quite sure if the event organizer fully understands the ramifications of their decision.

Continue reading "The Danger of Not Having Your Event" »



Do I Need to Redesign My Event Web Site?

One comment I hear often is “we want to redesign our event web site.” Before you start of thinking of a redesign, ask yourself, “Do I really need to redesign my event web site?” There seems to be this common belief that if you redesign a web site your fortune will instantly improve. Unfortunately that simply isn’t the case. Companies have spent countless dollars on web site redesigns with little ROI. Let me share a few event web site redesign stories for your consideration . . .

Event_web_site_redesign

Continue reading "Do I Need to Redesign My Event Web Site?" »



How to Use Words on Your Event Web Site . . .

Event_web_site_copy_writing Your event web site is the one place where your writing needs to be at its’ most compelling. In the case of event marketing and promotion you’re using words (copy) to persuade people to purchase a ticket and/or attend your event. Best selling author Neil Strauss summed it up like this "The highest goal of writing is NOT to have good grammar; it's to have meaning and impact!" For today I’m going to give you some simple suggestions to improve the impact of the writing you use to promote and market your event.

It’s Not About You!
One colossal mistake made on most web sites is too much writing in the first person. Stay away from using  “I , We, & Our” too often.  To illustrate the point, I encourage you to take a look at a few business web sites. You'll see a whole bunch of first person narrative. Here's the problem with too much writing in first person  . . . People aren’t visiting your web site so you can pontificate about yourself.  They are their to satiate their personal wants and needs. Thus you should concentrate on writing in second person. In second person you’re going to use “You” and “Your” in your writing. Does this mean you should never write in first person? No! You can still write in first person, but do so sparingly. It's hard to go wrong when you write to the ego of the reader and their interest.

Think In Terms of Value & Use a Conversational Tone
It’s hard to go wrong if you write in terms of value for the reader. When it comes to online information it's often said that “content is king.” In this case your writing is your content. Your copy should be written in a way that is valuable to your reader.  Write your copy in a way that gets the reader to say, "Wow, I want to do that!"  Your writing tone also has effect on the reader. Try to write in a conversational manner. Don't try and stuff high end vocabulary into your writing. Writing in a corporate-slick manner makes you come off as a stiff board. Add a little spice to your writing that's appropriate to your audience.

Below is text from an air show ticketing page that exemplifies the two suggestions from above . . .
"Get VIP Tickets and Experience the Air Show in an Extraordinary Way!"

As a VIP Ticket Holder you get:
  • Access to the Exclusive VIP Guest Enclosure
  • The chance to meet, get your picture taken with, or get an autograph from some of the best pilots in the world
  • 4 solid hours of heart-stopping aviation excitement with two amazing jet teams!

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What to Do After You’ve Sold a Ticket to Your Event . . .

Many event organizers think of their attendee’s event experience occurring entirely at the event. An event attendee’s opinion of your event starts the moment they purchase a ticket from you.  They just gave you their hard earned money and have become your customer. What you do between the time someone purchases a ticket for your event and when they actually attend your event significantly impacts the opinion people have of your event. For today we'll focus on simple things you can do before your event to elevate the customer's overall experience.

Think About Them
Here is a simple question every event organizer or planner should ask . . . “What can we do to make our patron’s entire experience (from ticket purchase, until after the event) as enjoyable as possible?” Event attendee opinions are still in play after your event, but to a far lesser extent. Pretend you just purchased at ticket as an event attendee to your own event.  What are all the questions you’d have regarding the event?  Think in terms of being a helpful guide or great information resource to event attendees. Nobody is going to give you grief for providing them with great information.

Below are some simple examples you can easily integrate into delivering a tremendous event experience outside your actual event . . .

Leverage Your Customer Contact Information
Leverage your attendee (customer) list and their email addresses. Your customer list is one of your most powerful resources. Consider putting together a simple event guide (PDF) that event attendees can download and print from home before your event.  A few years ago I made the previous suggestion to a beer festival organizer. The event organizer quickly put together a simple downloadable map indicating where each brewery was located.  The downloadable map looked very unprofessional, but nobody cared! Attendees were hungry for the information. Anyone could download the map from the beer festival web site.  The map turned out to be not only an informational tool, but also a marketing piece. Anyone could download the map for free. As long as the information is relevant and timely, people will always give you a pass on how it looks . . . just look at Google's simplicity. It's all about the information.

Driving and Parking at Your Event
Another issue that challenges many events, especially big events, is parking. Are there parking or traffic conditions that event attendee’s should be aware of regarding your event? Last year a client received a few nasty-grams from unhappy event patrons that didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get to their event. Is it the responsibility of the event organizer to event attendees to plan for traffic? Some people might say yes, others might say no. Your focus should be on making it as easy as possible for people to get to your event.

Remember, the customer has just spent their hard earned money to buy a ticket for your event. You can’t afford to rest on your laurels. You need to expand your customer service experience. Use your event web site and other resources to further enhance the experience of ticket holders. It’s never been easier and so inexpensive to deliver information digitally. Focus on getting people information that will help them to really enjoy your event.

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An Event VIP Experience Done Right – Red Bull Style

If you want a killer model on how to run super successful outdoor events, you need not look any further than Red Bull.  Red Bull events attract millions of people across the globe.  They do everything from the winter Butter Cup (snowboarding) events to adrenaline packed heart-skipping air races.  In 2008, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Detroit Red Bull Air Races. It was an eye opening lesson in selling event exclusivity to the public. Red Bull events run the gamut from FREE admission to a super pricey experience. Today I’m going to dive into Red Bull’s high end model . . .

The Ultimate VIP Experience
Red Bull offers something called the High Flyer’s Lounge at their air races.  It is a high end experience that gets you up close to the action and pampers participants all day long. In the high flyer’s lounge you get to eat scrumptious food prepared by European chefs and access to a top self open bar. It’s also a great chance to mingle with the occasional celebrity who might be in attendance. My purpose for telling your all of this isn’t to sell you anything. It’s all about the idea of offering high end exclusivity at your next event. The High Flyer’s Lounge is a great model for anyone thinking of creating a VIP experience at their event.

The Red Bull High Flyer's Lounge (Video)

Watch the short video above to get an overview of the Red Bull’s High Flyer’s Lounge. There are plenty of ideas for almost any event planner or organizer to borrow.  Pay particular attention to third party endorsements (testimonials) in from people in the High Flyer’s Lounge. Red Bull is leveraging their customers to sell people on the exclusive experience.  

Collecting Big Bucks for a FREE Event
Keep in mind that Red Bull is selling premium exclusivity to an event that people can attendee for FREE! They don’t let the economy slow them down.  There are always going to be event attendees looking for the ultimate experience. You need to offer exclusivity at your event. Check this out . . . To purchase a two day High Flyer’s Lounge pass for the 2010 Air Race in Detroit, Saturday and Sunday, will cost you $1547.00 USD. In contrast a one day High Flyer’s Lounge pass (Sunday Only) costs $1158.00 USD. The High Flyer’s Lounge can accommodate a couple hundred people per day . . . 200 people a day (times) $1158.00 USD = $231,600. Even if it costs $100K a day to support, you’re still up $130K per day.

And Here's the Real Kicker
As part of my 2008 Air Race experience, I witness the most amazing thing . . .  A business man from Detroit paid big bucks to get into the High Flyer’s lounge. Because of high winds on Saturday the Air Race was canceled. In spite of no air races the business man was elated by his experience.  Here is what he told me . . . “It doesn’t matter that they didn’t race today. This total worth every dollar I paid. I was treated like a King and made a few great contacts that are going to be worth a mint to my company.” Any event organizer who can have their event cancelled and pull off a comment like that is a rock star in my book.

Take a careful look at how Red Bull Sells a high end experience.  There are plethora of ideas that you can borrow for your event.

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