A "mean" assessment of an event's priorities

Here's a pretty straightforward marketing concept from Dan Kennedy.

It's featured in Kennedy's No B.S. Direct Marketing book. The concept revolves around how smaller companies are trying to advertise like the big companies. As Kennedy puts it, "most ordinary businesses advertising and market like much bigger brand-name companies, so they spend (waste) lots of money on image, brand, and presence."

Kennedy furthers his angst in an "Agenda for Advertising and Marketing." Here he lists what small companies mistakenly emulate from their larger siblings.

Things like, "pleasing its board, please/appease stockholders, looking good, build brand identity, win awards for advertising," and finally "sell something." He finished up with only one critical item for small business owners, "Sell something. Now."

You can replace the word "company" with "event," and the same fundamentals apply. Kennedy's harsh assessment also applies to your event website.

Much like small businesses, too many event websites are focused on looking pretty, making sure team members have a great picture and bio, how much money an organization has raised, etc. Those are all very nice. But do next to nothing to further someone purchasing a ticket or attending your next event.

People buy tickets to your event to serve their self-interest. And it's rarely what you or your team think! Having analyzed over a million words of North American event feedback, I can tell you with confidence that a tiny fraction of people attend your event, because of altruistic reasons.

What are you doing on your event website to "Sell something (a ticket)"?

Is your event website correctly structured to get someone to attend your event?

Your website must lead online visitors down a slippery slope to, "I want to do that, now!" If it doesn't, you're potentially setting your event up for failure.

Here are some additional event promotion insights:

Confusing your tax status & good business sense

Before we get into today's rant, nothing that follows should be considered legal or accounting advice. The previous two subject areas are not my expertise. With that out of the way, let's roll in ...

Back when I was a teenager, and through my thirties, I volunteered a significant amount of time with not-for-profit organizations. Everything from my church to a scouting organization, a credit union, and business professional organizations. My family was extensively involved in the local Ukrainian community and the familial expectation of volunteering was high.

During the time above, my father had a phrase and that phrase resonates loudly today. His advice came as a result of 50 years of being a volunteer in numerous not for profit organizations. He would say, "don't confuse your tax status (being a non-profit) with the responsibility of being a good business." e.g., generating enough revenue to pay your bills!

A majority of my clients are non-profits. Much to my father's advice, they approach business with a not-for-profit mindset.

The mentality of many non-profit boards and their executive leadership, "we're a not-for-profit, we don't have the money to pay for advertising!"

Why do I bring this up? Because during a deep dive into non-profit organizations with seven-figure event budgets, there appear to be serious attendance issues. I firmly believe their attendance issues boil down to two critical cogs, customer experience, and not spending enough on marketing and advertising.

For today we'll briefly focus on the marketing and advertising side of things. Specifically, the "we don't have the money to pay for advertising" mindset. Because instead of paying for advertising, non-profits are getting a lot of seemingly "free" advertising.

A look at tracking data for numerous non-profit events shows that in almost every instance, "free" advertising and trades severely underperform against paid advertising. e.g., a $300,000 USD of "free" radio advertising that couldn't be tracked back to a single website visitor or ticket sale.

On the other hand, some non-profit clients spend $358 for paid online advertising (as part of a sophisticated marketing strategy) and generate $13,242.75 in ticket sales. Can such extraordinary results be accomplished every time? Most definitely not! But that should be the goal.

Regardless of the type of event you have, keep your focus on identifying paid advertising and marketing that brings you a significant return on ad spend (ROAS). As I'm always harping, track everything to a ticket sale. And if you can't track it, don't do it – free or not!

Additional Event Marketing and Advertising Resources:

A broken hub and bent spokes

Have you heard of the "hub and spoke" model? Truth be told, I'm not exactly sure who came up with the original concept. If I'm not mistaken, the model dates back to the airline industry in the 1950s.

For those not familiar with the hub and spoke model, here's an overly simplistic analogy. Think about a bicycle wheel. You have a central hub with radiating spokes. The spokes and hub are the support mechanism of the wheel. Federal Express adopted the hub and spoke model and look how that turned out!

Interestingly enough, another group of people took the hub and spoke model and applied it to marketing. Each spoke represents a different form of marketing or advertising. All of those spokes lead back to a central hub.

In today's world, the spokes can represent all your social media, traditional media, and online media channels. The central hub is your event website. Your goal should be to get all interested people back to your event website. It's where you control 100% of the message and the data!

Unfortunately, the hub and spoke marketing model gets broken by most event organizers. The breaking happens in two prominent places.

The first place is by not having every piece of your marketing and advertising lead back to your event website. It isn't enough to prominently display your web address. You need to give people a very compelling reason to remember your web address or click on a link to your event website.

Number two is a bit counter-intuitive. When they're on your event website, you want to keep them on your website and give them a good reason to return. Thus, I don't recommend social media icons on your website. Why not? Because that leads people away from what you have to offer. Likes, Shares, and Comments belong to social media companies, plus the all-important user data.

Remember to use all those advertising and marketing spokes to drive people to your event web site. Once they're on your site get them to BLANK or BLANK. Doing so will ensure your success and the longevity of your event.

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Outdoor events & record ticket sales

How do you sell a million dollars of advance tickets to an outdoor event (with a horrible weather forecast)?

You start by offering tickets at a massive discount ... smartly!

One of the biggest fears I hear from new outdoor event clients when suggesting a massive ticket discount strategy is, "we'll lose all our money!" If discounting is not done correctly, then you could lose a lot of money. That's why you must use a discount pricing strategy.

A great way to protect your ticket profit, even with deep discounting, is by blocking your discount event tickets. Ticket blocking means you limit your discounted ticket offerings to a certain number of tickets at a given percentage off. As an example, you can decide to sell only 500 tickets at 50% off.

Once that block of ticket sells out, the price automatically goes up.

Each event is going to be a little different in terms of how many tickets you should discount and at what price. Selling tickets in blocks requires insight into your ticket buyer's behavior.

What are the numbers of tickets that people purchase 30, 60, 90, 180 days before your event? How much revenue is that worth to you at those intervals? When are most people buying tickets for your event?

Having carefully looked at ticket revenue data for dozens of outdoor events over the last 20 years, certain outdoor event niches sell 50-60% of their tickets within 10 days of their event.

The deep discount strategy is considered absurd to many. It has also led all my clients to record advance and overall ticket sales. Including a 40% increase in revenue that started with a 50% ticket discount.

Get your marketing math together and take a look at what you can do!

Want to get more event ticket strategies? Check out the links below:

The egomaniac's guide to event failure

Fasten your seatbelts, because things are going to get blunt!

Event organizers get themselves in HUGE trouble because they're subjective in how they plan and execute their events.

According to Princeton University's WordNet definition, a subjective person uses "judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts." Mix in a subjective event organizer mindset with some ego, and you have the perfect mix for disaster.

Trust me, it's not pretty, and I've seen many utterly avoidable event catastrophes, all a result of people being stupidly subjective.

Here's the typical scenario . . . An event organizer becomes hell-bent on running an event THEIR way (also known as Captain Ahab Syndrome). The end result is that the event organizer adopts a mindset of knowing better than their own event attendees. And that "I know better" will get your event a fast pass to failure.

It doesn't matter how noble or great YOU think your event is if people don't share those same beliefs – or worst, don't care – your event will flop, GUARANTEED!

Event organizers (of the subjective type) empathically state, "It's my event, and I'll run it as I please." That is true, but it's not worth trying to reason them.

My only question is, "What happens when your event crashes and burns?" Usually, it's someone else's fault, and it turns into a finger pointing contest. Even worse is the following event organizer statement (which I've had said to me by a frustrated event organizer), "People who didn't show up to our event don't know what they're missing ... they're idiots!"

Any event organizer who considers those that didn't attend their event in such poor regard is a dolt! People didn't attend because the egomaniac event organizer failed to give the consumer a compelling reason to attend.

Fear not, there is hope! Here is what you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the subjective mindset trap . . . be objective about all aspects of your event!

Being objective focus on facts, not feelings! A well thought out event survey (or pre even survey) is massively beneficial in keeping your event planning and promotions objective. The caveat is that you have to truly embrace the survey results. One of the single best event survey questions to ask your event attendees is "what DIDN'T you like about the event?"

Yet, when I propose the "what didn't you like about the event" survey question to organizers, they get upset and refuse to use it. They believe if you ask a seemingly negative question, their event will be cast in a bad light. I'd argue they don't ask the questions because their ego can't handle the feedback.

The truth is if you ask the question from above, you're going to have to put on some ego armor. BUT, if you integrate the negative attendee feedback, you're left which a significantly more marketable event. Some might ask, "why not ask what people liked about my event?"

Because if you only focus on the positive and don't correct the negative, you'll never improve your event. When you do ask the "negative" question, you'll find people are unbelievably cordial and appreciative with their feedback.

The "what didn't you like" question comes from Dave Pietrowski at the World's Largest Disco in Buffalo, New York. The Disco is a 25-year event that is "SOLD OUT!" numerous times before a single person walked in the front door.

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Are you fying completely blind?

My friend Dan "Diggler" Proczko is also known as "The Duke of Data!"

Last week, Dan gave a presentation to a sold-out room of 75 marketers. During his presentation on campaign building and data strategy, he asked a straightforward question to the audience, "how many of you are using an analytics platform to track your marketing campaigns, like Google Analytics?"

"Come on Eugene, seriously! They're all marketers, of course they have something like Google Analytics installed, right?!?!" Dan was flabbergasted by the response.

In a room of 75 marketers, only 6 people had an analytics platform installed.

Without Google Analytics or a similar service, "you're flying blind!" Just like a pilot flying in clouds, in between mountains, with no instruments. That's a death sentence. And as a pilot, I can tell you firsthand, the last sentence is no exaggeration.

Yet without Analytics or a similar service, you have no idea what's happening on your event website. Including, at the most basic level, if your advertising or marketing is generating any results.

So today I'm going to keep the email short and sweet ...

Please drop me a message and let me know if you use Google Analytics, or a similar service, on your event website.

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

Where are your event dates?

Today, my mother called me. I love talking to her because she's such a positive person. Obviously, I did not receive my mother's super positive disposition. Anyway …

My amazing mother currently lives out of state and returns home over the summer. During today's conversation, she asked, "when is the festival taking place?"

There is a local ethnic festival that takes place every August. My mother loves to go to the festival and catch up with her friends from grade school.

In an attempt to be the helpful son, I used my mobile phone, during our call, and tried to look up the 2019 festival dates.

First stop, a Google search.

I put in the name of the festival and received a bunch of results. The first link is the festival's Facebook page. On their Facebook page, there are lovely photos and posts, but not an iota of information on the 2019 festival dates. So I go back to Google.

On Google, there were several results for the official event website. I clicked on several website links only to be greeted with, "This Account has been suspended." So it's pretty apparent their website is down. Therefore, no date information.

Finally, I grew frustrated at trying to find festival dates and told my mother, "I'm going to have to call you back and let you know the dates, sorry Mama!" With Mother's Day approaching, I failed to help my mother!

There have been at least two other instances where I've wanted to attend a festival or annual outdoor event, unable to find the proper dates. On one of those occasions, I found the event date after the event occurred. Not helpful!

The takeaway of the day … if you have an annual event or any event at all, make sure all your online marketing assets: event website, social media pages, online calendars, etc. prominently display the date of your next event. And here's a seemingly silly recommendation … include the year with your event dates! You'd be amazed at the confusion caused by not included the year with event dates.

Here are some additional articles to ratchet up your event web site:

"Location, location, location!"

Location, location, location ... that's a common phrase used in the real estate world. In short, a piece of property's value can be primarily influenced by location. The importance of location is also directly applicable to the event world. Specifically, when it comes to where you geographically advertise for your event.

Over the years, I've seen local event organizers (including clients) insist on expanding their geographic advertising campaigns. e.g., You have a local event, and you want to market in an adjacent town that is a 60-minute commute away.

To date, I have yet to see a local event that's successfully implemented (and here's the BIG KEY) a profitable out of town advertising campaign. That's an advertising campaign where ticket revenues far exceed out of town advertising spend.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure someone has done it. Probably a national event promoter with a multimillion-dollar advertising budget. That's not practical for most local event organizers.

In short, if you have a local event, the best location to spend your advertising dollars is local! (That sounds horribly cliché and is also spot on.)

What if you REALLY want to try out of town advertising for your event?

Provided you know your target market well (detailed demographic & psychographic profiles), you can geographically target your event marketing, out of town. Out of town advertising success is predicated on three essential factors ...

First, are there known out of town buyers and how much revenue do they generate? You'll have to look at your historical customer data for insight. If you have no data or poor out of town return on ad spend, don't waste your advertising data out of town.

You might want to consider mapping out of town buyers. An online mapping service I use for client projects is BatchGeo.com.

Second, you must be able to track every dollar of advertising spend to a ticket sale. Seriously, no more excuses on this one!

Years ago, a client spent thousands of dollars on out of state advertising. Fortunately, we were able to put advertising tracking in place. Their result was a few hundred dollars in ticket sales against an investment of thousands of advertising dollars in cash. After seemingly abysmal results, they no longer spend out of state.

Third, if you're going to spend advertising dollars out of town, do so online only. This is because online advertising is usually trackable (provided you're selling tickets online) and you can turn off online advertising campaigns in a matter of minutes. Thus, if a campaign isn't working, you turn it off – no long term contracts.

If you're going to spend event advertising dollars outside of your local market, make sure you target your advertising spend and track everything to ticket sales, without exception.

If you can't track it, don't do it!

Additional Event Marketing and Advertising Resources:

65 Minutes of Outdoor Event Promotion Insight

Recently, I was interviewed by Mike Gastin for "The Currency" podcast. Mike brings in experts from various marketing disciplines and excels at asking insightful questions. One listener said of the interview, "Eugene Loj dropped some bombs!" My promise to you ... listen to the interview, and you'll get at least one profitable event idea.

A few of the podcast highlights include:

  • A $400,000 USD event bet on one's favorite music artist
  • Three main datapoints every event organizer needs to know and the critical data question you need to ask
  • "Geopolitical Socio-Economics" and being human
  • Event modeling lessons from Tomorrowland
  • Where to focus your efforts for maximum event success

Please consider subscribing to Mike's weekly podcast "The Currency." Even though the topics aren't event specific, there are plenty of ideas and expertise to get you thinking. Remember, a good marketer is always sharpening their skills!

My thanks again to Mike. Let me know what you think.

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

An event radio advertisement fail

During my drive to the office, there was an event advertised on the radio that caught my attention. The radio ad was for a local event that was selling VIP tickets. The ad listed a series of excellent VIP ticket benefits.

After each benefit, my inner voice said, "yes, that's awesome – I want that!" The radio advertisement even had a call to action, "to get your VIP tickets, go to ..." some website address!

Overall, it was a decent radio ad with significant benefits to a potential event attendee. Plus, a clear call to action.

So after getting back to the office, I went online to visit the event website. Then, proceeded to spend a good five minutes trying to find the VIP tickets advertised. No luck.

On the event site mentioned in the radio ad, there are at least 5 other events listed. It was frustrating to find any information on the VIP tickets advertised, and I doubt that I was the only one frustrated!

What are we left with? A prime example of a good radio ad coupled with a lousy event website.

Hence, here's the takeaway of the day ...

It is a ridiculously simple advertising concept introduced to me by Eben Pagan. And it goes like this: if you're going to advertise your event (product or service) your advertising process has to be in tight alignment, from the start (advertisement) to finish (website). Each step in the process follows a logical progression.

That means if you have an advertisement for VIP event tickets and send someone to a webpage ... the only thing on that webpage/web address should be details about VIP tickets and a purchase link. Not a million different links for people to get lost on your website.

And, unless you really want people distracted from giving you their hard earned money ... no social media links!

Anything less than one topic and one clear goal in your advertising leads to distraction. And distraction costs your event ticket sales.

Keep all your advertising, regardless of medium, in alignment from start to finish!

Want more info on radio advertising for your event?
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