Confusing everything else with ticket sales

Last week, a client threw me a prickly curveball. Their point went like this (paraphrased)...

"Eugene, I understand your focus is on ticket sales. But we as an organization need to show the community all the great things we do."

If you've been following the last few days of emails, you'll notice a recurring theme. Where to focus your efforts. If you're asking yourself, "why do you keep bringing this up?"

Because similar words ("we need to show the community ... INSERT VIRTUOUS CAUSE HERE!") have been spoken by many an event organizer. Especially event organizers for not for profit events.

That same sentiment from above is a significant reason for event failure. Organizations try to do too many things. All while losing sight of selling tickets to their event.

Am I opposed to organizations trumpeting their amazing accomplishments? Not at all! But it's far easier to trumpet your virtues when you don't have to worry about paying your bills.

In an ironic twist to the statement above. The "community" focused organization is behind in their year to date ticket sales. And their focus isn't where it needs to be.

Here's a straightforward question you should continuously ask yourself and your team ...

"How is what I'm doing now (or want to do) going to improve the customer experience and sell more tickets to our event?"

It's a simple question. And hopefully it gets you and your team to think a little differently about your event priorities.

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


Remember, the Internet is forever

Lately, I've been assisting clients with some particularly thorny online "angry-pants people." Specifically, the people who will whine and complain about anything you try to do. It seems like some people were born to be difficult, without any particularly good reason.

That said, the ultimate goal in every scenario is to take upset people and turn them into happy and loyal customers.

Clients have gotten really good at turning a majority of the complainers into loyal customers. In some cases by being fairly direct with people. Especially online complainers who are downright belligerent and rude. Just because someone is unhappy doesn't give them the right to "f-bomb" the people who are trying to help. Hence, a little tough love may be necessary.

Which leads to today's takeaway.

If you're going to dish it out online, whether it be via a Facebook review comment, email, Tweet, etc. Remember that the "Internet is forever!"

That means if you write an email to an angry customer, assume they're going to post that email online. I've worked on client projects where an irate customer posted part of an email I wrote on the client's behalf. That was A-OK by me. Because I worked from the assumption that the email would be posted. And ultimately, it worked to the client's advantage.

You and your team should work with the "Internet is forever" assumption for every event response. If someone reads what you wrote, how would a casual reader interpret it? Your response could have a considerable impact on your event's reputation. Always be aware!

Want to get more info on online customer service for events? Check out the links below:


The millions in advance ticket sales model

In 2019, three Platinum clients raked in over 2.5 million USD in advance ticket sales for their events. I cannot promise you the same results. But, I can share with your a fundamental strategy they all implemented.

Over the years, I've worked with multiple event organizers who are staunchly opposed to discount pricing. They each have their own reasons. Including, "we don't want to discount because it costs us ticket revenue" to, "I don't want to do discounting because of how it is perceived ... so we don't do discounts!"

Hey, it's their event, so they can do whatever they want.

That said, I try to challenge them on their own beliefs. A simple look at historical ticket sales data really sheds light on what's going on ...

In one instance, an event organizer who is against discounts is always left with hundreds of unsold tickets. My question to them, after their event, "if someone offered you 50% of the value of those unsold tickets as cash, would you take it?" When they answer, "yes!" I proceed to ask, "then why not sell your tickets at a discount?" At that point, you can see the mental gears going.

All of my clients use a strategic pricing model. It involves smartly discounting tickets based on historical ticket sales performance, while aggressively protecting profit margins. Because most of my clients are outdoor events (directly impacted by a bad weather forecast and/or weather), advance ticket sales are critical.

In every instance to date, clients have gone on to record ticket sales revenue while smartly offering deep discounts on their ticket prices.

Just this week, a client used a process called "blocking and stepping" to generate more ticket revenue in four days, when compared to their last event over seven months. And the kicker is ... they started by offering tickets up to 50% OFF!

My challenge to you is, how can you sell tickets at a discount and generate more revenue for your event? Are there tickets for sale after your event? If someone offered to purchase those unbought tickets, what price would you sell them for?

The answer to the questions above should give you a decent idea of what discounts to offer. Yes, there is a lot more to strategic price modeling. The above questions and examples hopefully get you thinking differently about discounts. Start by at least taking a deep dive into your previous ticket sales data.

Want to get more advance ticket sales advice? Check out the articles below:


Mushy, unicorn and rainbow event questions

After every event, we send a Customer Experience Assessment (CEA) for Platinum clients. Without getting into the weeds, a CEA is basically a supercharged survey. The most significant difference between the CEA and a traditional survey are the probing questions being asked.

To date, almost a million words of event feedback have been collected with CEAs for North American and European events. And the event attendee feedback is nothing short of extraordinary.

When a CEA gets shared with new clients, it's usually followed with a very uncomfortable reaction. Some of the first phrases said by clients newly exposed to CEA questions are, "we can't ask those questions" or "those questions are very negative!" Maybe. But, if you want meaningful answers regarding your event, stop asking mushy questions.

Here's the bottom line on your post-event surveys. If you're serious about improving your event, you need to ask tough survey questions. And those tough questions are going to scare the heck out of you and your team.

If you don't ask questions tough questions, you're hurting your event. How so?

Because events that ask "positive" mushy, unicorn and rainbow questions like, "what was your favorite part of our event?" are setting themselves up for failure.

It's simple. If you never receive any negative feedback about your event, (or unwilling to do so) how are you supposed to improve your event? I don't believe you can.

After your next event, be sure to ask tough questions. The questions asked should be worded to evoke feedback that helps you improve your event. Your event experience and ticket sales will improve!

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


If you're going to "do it," do it for real

If you're selling your event tickets online or off, maybe a combination of both, I recommend the following. Run a live test of a ticket purchase.

It's simply not enough to run a "test" transaction or in a "test" environment. And ideally, you want to run multiple tests.

It's fascinating to me that with thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in ticket sales on the line, event organizers don't want to run a simple $20 USD "live" ticket transaction.

I hear things like, "oh, I don't want to ding my credit card twenty bucks." Even worse, is when ticketing companies refuse to run live tests. It's enough to leave one fit to be tied.

Just today, there were two critical issues identified before a client's major ticket launch. The problems in question never showed up during multiple test transactions.

Fortunately, the issues were identified early enough to make the needed corrections. Had the problems not been identified during testing, a two-year data set would have been ruined.

If you're going to sell tickets to your event, make sure you test the entire process from start to finish. I cannot recall a single client project where a significant problem wasn't identified during live ticket testing.

Test to ensure your success!

Here are some additional resources regarding selling event tickets online:

 


How Disney eliminates their competition

Today, we're going to take a quick look at how Disney's movie division scares off their competition. You're probably saying, "Eugene, I don't have a movie studio." And that doesn't matter. Because it's the "stra-te-gery" that counts!

Overall, Disney has a very consistent track record of delivering better than average movies. By the mid-point of 2019 Disney had sold over $5.7 Billion USD of movie tickets. (Source: "Disney Tops $5.7+ Billion In Global Box Office In First Half Of 2019", Forbes.com)

In terms of dealing with the competition, Disney's advantage is straightforward. They make better movies than their competitors. That means that things get interesting on the strategy and marketing side of the house. How so?

Disney often announces its movies years in advance. This put the competition on notice. Though it's never verbalized, it basically comes down to the following. "We have something great, here's when it's coming out, we dare you to compete with us!"

Other movie studios, more often than not, stay away from the dates when Disney is releasing a blockbuster. And you can do what Disney does to their competitors. Eliminating competition on the event side of the house requires two key elements. The first element is easy to implement.

You announce your next event date(s) at least a year in advance. This not only informs your target market, but it also puts other event organizers on notice.

The second element is comparatively more difficult. It requires you to have a phenomenal event that the competition is afraid to go up against. And being "phenomenal" comes in the form of praise from your event attendee.

Depending on the reputation of your event, you force your competitors to ask, "do we really want to compete against that event?"

Any wavering on their part means advantage - you!

He's more Disney strategy for promoting your event:


A giant steaming pile of bull***t ...

A few months ago, I received an email from a nearly billion-dollar (USD) marketing company. The company espoused the following "keys to success" for email marketing in said email:

"Better email design = better results."

"What's one of the biggest reasons for under-performing emails? Underwhelming design. To deliver emails that perform as great as they look, follow these essential elements of email design ..."

The first item on their essential elements list, "LOGOS AND COLORS."

Aside from one or two points, that have zero to do with design, the marketing company's recommendations for "better results" were total B.S. If the primary focus of your marketing emails is "design," you're setting yourself up for failure.

Does the design of an email have an impact on your results, "yes, it does!" But the effect of the design is minuscule when compared to other factors driving results. And your results need to be measured in dollar signs, not marketing awards!

These result factors include: who is sending the email, the quality of the relationship with the email list, and the offer. Not even a witty subject line comes close to the previous factors just listed.

Last month, a client sent one email and sold over one hundred thousand USD of tickets to their event, in twenty-six minutes. Their email did not contain a single graphic. Other so-called marketers consider the email sent "ugly and unprofessional."

So my question to you (and you can only choose one of the following), "what would you rather have, a hundred thousand dollars of advance ticket sales or an email that's visually stunning?" Ironically enough, most event organizers choose the pretty email.

Get more insight on effective design that drives event ticket sales:


Lie about this number & you get crushed

A couple weeks ago, a colleague of mine sent me an email chain regarding a large outdoor event.

In the email chain, a representative from a Fortune 500 company took serious issue with the event's reported attendance. The event organizer told sponsors that their weekend event draws over 120,000 attendees. The Fortune 500 company was a sponsor and had booth space at the "120,000" person event.

Because the sponsor had years of outdoor event experience, they are excellent at accurately calculating event attendance numbers. One could say the sponsor has event estimation down to a science. You can probably guess where this one is going …

Long story short, the sponsor asked for their money back. According to the sponsor's internal calculations, the event had approximately 5,000 attendees for the weekend. That's a 115,000 person difference. To be fair, events often exaggerate their attendance numbers. But where does one draw the line, 5%, 50%, 95%? The attendance delta was over 115,000 attendees.

I'm no attorney, but if one were to grossly exaggerate their attendance numbers by 100,000+ attendees and sell a sponsorship or exhibitor booth package based on those numbers, I believe that's called fraud.

Event organizers need to stop blatantly lying about attendance numbers!

If not, they are putting the future of their event in serious jeopardy.

If the fraud statement above is a bit much for you, gross attendance exaggeration creates numerous other issues. One in particular … word gets around about events that completely bull$hit (not by a little, but a lot) their attendance numbers. And people won't do business with those type of events.

Do yourself and your team a favor, keep your attendance numbers as accurate as possible.

Here's more attendance insight regarding your event:


About all those social media icons ...

If you're going to have social media icons on your page, keep them confined to the footer of your website. That is unless you can show, with hard data, that social media icons deserve larger and more prominent placement.

How can I make the above statement?

Because of the millions of dollars in client ticket sales, less than 4% of event ticket revenue could be directly attributed to social media. This is not my opinion, but what the data shows.

Ironically enough, when I bring the 4% or less stat up to event organizers, most get pissed off. How dare I say something so preposterous?! Here's my simple response, "please show me the data to back up your position." At that point, all the protestors all go silent.

Not a single event organizer to date has been able to provide a shred of evidence to back up their anger and angst. Yet they claim social media to be the end all be all event marketing tool.

Are there events generating more than 4% of their event ticket revenue because of their social media efforts? I have no doubt! If you're one of them, please let me know.

As usual, go get your data in order! And let the size of social media icons (on your event website) be proportionate to the ticket revenue generated. Else, stick them at the bottom of your website.

The Cold-Hard Truth . . .
Here's the cold-hard truth: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram have built their business empires on the backs of their users. Most people are never paid for the content they post, and social media sites re-purpose that content and make billions of dollars a year. This is lopsided. So, how do you get the better side of this deal?

You Must Play the Game Differently
If you want to take advantage of social media, you have to play the game differently. What follows are the most common social media marketing mistakes to avoid and simple corrections you can use. The suggestions apply to any social media platform. Click below and dive on in to the 5-Part Social Media Series:

  1. Putting Your Social Media Mindset Ahead of Theirs

  2. Focusing Too Much on Likes & Followers

  3. Trying to Engage on Too Many Social Media Platforms

  4. Avoiding Paid Social Media Advertising

  5. Not Measuring the Results of Your Hard Work

Here are some additional social media resources you can use to market your event:

 


This needs to be in every vendor contract

I'd like to take a closer look at crucial vendors at your event. In particular, your vendor agreements.

In a recent feature, the interconnect between event execution and advertising/marketing was broached. In short, if your marketing is excellent and makes bold promises to event attendees, you need to overdeliver on the event experience! And the only "did you deliver?" opinion that truly counts is that of your event attendee.

One place that has proven chronically problematic for clients has been vendor execution. Which begs the question, "what happens when a vendor fails to execute their services at a reasonable and agreed upon level?"

Let me give you just one example. The cater you hired runs out of food mid-event for an outdoor VIP Chalet. In the words of a VIP ticket holder (heard firsthand), "I paid $250 for this VIP ticket, you promised me food all-day. Now you're giving me a ticket for a single plate of food?! That's not what I paid for!"

Numerous VIP ticket holders expressed the same concerns. The vendor miscalculated the amount of food needed. The client informed the caterer 6 months in advance on attendance numbers.

Vendors probably don't want to have the contingency discussion, or they'll tell you, "the lawyers (legal) won't allow us to change the contract." That's all, hogwash! Like I say to my clients, "you're paying the money, you get to negotiate terms to your satisfaction!" And they have every right to say, "No!"

Today's KEY question ... Are you negotiating contingencies into critical vendor contracts (ticketing, catering, parking, etc.)? And so we're clear, my expectations for vendors is NOT perfection. I'm often a vendor, so I see both sides of the equation.

Negotiate tough and fair! And don't forget the Chester L. Karrass advice: "In business as in life, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." Make sure that for your key vendors there is a clear and reasonable plan in place for when things don't go well or when the vendor fails to execute (runs out of food because of poor planning on their part).

Get more event advertising negotiation insights: