Lost revenue from exaggerated event attendance

Years ago, my lady and I went to a local aviation safety event. Full disclosure: the event was a former pro-bono client. 

During our walk around the exhibit hall, my lady saw a friend from a previous job. Her friend still worked for the same company. That company purchased an exhibitor booth at the event. The company's goal with their exhibitor booth was to try and generate membership leads.

As the ladies caught up, there were the usual pleasantries, "how are you? what's new?" And then the interesting part. The woman working the booth said, "they said that they would have a few thousand people at this event. They're lucky if there are 500!"

It got worse when the woman working the exhibitor booth said something along the lines of, "we'll never do this again! They don't get anywhere near the attendance we were told."

As with all events, attendance is going to vary. If you have an outdoor event, you're all too familiar with wild attendance swings. Hence, the phrase "estimated attendance." That said ...

Event organizers need to have very accurate estimated attendance numbers in their sponsorship/exhibitor packages. Why? 
Because numerous companies that leverage events, especially large events, are very savvy about calculating attendance ... your attendance numbers!

In particular, companies who do product sampling. Some of these companies can calculate your attendance using the temperature outside (for an outdoor event) against on how many samples they distribute!

Those companies calculating your attendance could have a massive impact on your event. If you're estimated numbers are way off, sophisticated event exhibitors will know.

It's your event and your call. But if you're going to give estimated attendance numbers in marketing, exhibitor, or sponsorship packages, make sure you're as accurate as possible. If not, companies are bound to leave you and never return. Which means you lose future bank.

 


The Beer School roller coaster ride

Every month a dedicated local group of beer enthusiasts put on a great event called "Beer School." This "school" is an opportunity to try beers that you'd never consider or even knew existed. Gose, Fruit Lambic, Kolsch, Dunkel, etc. The palette diversity is unbelievable.

Each month a different microbrewery or style of beer is featured. You show up and pay $10 to $15 USD per person. It's honestly a great value. With each beer sample, comes a fascinating (occasionally legendary) beer back story. The beers are often paired with complementing food. In short, lots of great stories and tasty useless calories!

Over the years we've invited friends, and they rave about their beer school experience.

For all the positives of Beer School, attendance is like a roller coaster ride. There are months where you can't find a seat and then months where just a few people attend.

On the marketing side of the equation, they even have a Facebook page with 415 members. Most of their Facebook group members have previously attended the event. Each month, Facebook group members are asked to RSVP. Yet, for all the RSVPs and effort, there are numerous no-shows.

There is one crucial piece of the puzzle they're missing.

Would you like to guess what that might be?

It's a commitment to the event. As I wrote up top, you pay upon arriving. So a Facebook RSVP is doing little to help them. It's important to remember, the consumer "votes" with their wallet.

If you want people to commit to your event, get them to invest with their wallet! Event commitment can be in the form of purchasing an advance ticket or paid online pre-registration.

If you have an outdoor event, advance ticket sales are critical. I've seen air shows have over $100,000 of ticket revenue wiped out by a bad weather forecast! Bad weather forecast = the weather fortune tellers say, "it's going to rain this weekend" and there is nothing but clear blue skies. This is absolutely devastating to ticket sales!

You need to give your target market a good reason to invest their hard-earned money with you. So, go out there and get those advance ticket sales.

Else, you're at the mercy of things you have zero control over, like dubious weather forecasters!

If you have your own ticket sales start, please share it in the comment section below.

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


"How do I get more volunteers for my event?"

OA asks an important question, "How do I get more volunteers for my event?"

Without volunteers, some events wouldn't happen. This is especially true with clients who are not-for-profit organizations.

Let's start with answering OA's question. Stay tuned, because there is a quintessential secondary point!

The best place to get volunteers for your event is by going back to previous event attendees. You should have an email list of previous customers. Clients have sent a well-crafted email to previous event attendees and received all the volunteers they needed (with a catch – secondary point*).

A social media suggestion ...

You can also use, boosted (paid) Facebook posts to find volunteers. But your audience targeting methodology and post message needs to be spot on. Furthermore, if you're thinking of posting to Facebook without boosting your posts, don't waste your time! "Because as of June 2016, the Organic Reach of a Facebook Page had fallen to a mere 2%." And that was in 2016!

Source: Patel, N. (2019, February 15). Is Facebook Organic Reach Really Dead? Retrieved April 10, 2019, from https://neilpatel.com/blog/is-facebook-organic-reach-dead/

*What's the catch? (secondary point on volunteers)

One client used their email list of previous event attendees coupled with a simple "become a volunteer" email. That client received over 85 online volunteer sign-ups in less than 3 days. Two other clients used boosted Facebook ads and ended up getting more volunteer sign-ups than their events needed.

Mission accomplish, right?!? Negative!

What ended up happening is that clients, referenced above, received a flood of volunteer sign-ups. And that giant flood of interest is the point where things became tricky. Because not all volunteer's a created equal!

Years ago, a beer festival client found this out the hard way. They ended up with more than enough online volunteer sign-ups. The challenge was that at the event several volunteers confused volunteering their time with volunteering to drink a lot of beer for free. Thankfully, nobody was permanently damaged ... just bruised egos.

In hindsight, the screening of volunteers, before they signed up, would have most likely eliminated issues. And poor volunteer behavior isn't limited to beer festivals.

If you going to get your volunteers online using email or Facebook, have a well thought out screening process in place ... before allowing someone to submit their information. Your screening process should leave you with only the highest quality volunteers.

 


The question that's never been answered ...

Around 2006, I discovered the world of direct response marketing via Dan Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy is a world-renowned marketer who insists you measure your marketing and advertising efforts ... directly to dollars in your bank account, without exception!

One of Kennedy's fundamentals is knowing the "numbers" of your business. These numbers won't be found in a balance sheet or income statement. The figures come from the world of direct response marketing. These "numbers" are also terrifying to most ad agencies and advertising sales executives.

What are these "numbers"? They are the critical marketing math numbers of a business or event. And knowing your marketing math numbers can give you massive leverage in your media buys!

Let's start with ATV ...

One of Kennedy's "numbers" is ATV or Average Transaction Value. In its simplest form, ATV is the average purchase amount for a transaction over time. And the time constraint can vary.

In the case of events, what's the average value for a customer transaction (regardless of the total number of tickets purchased) in 2018?

Back in 2006, I started to ask clients and event organizers if they knew their ATV. It's also one of the most important questions I ask during expensive event marketing audits.

After asking the question around 100 times over the last 12 years, not a single event organizer could answer the question. Not even the MBAs or accountants who were Board Members for various events.

When I would ask the ATV question, people would get confused, "what's that?" Or reply with, "why does it matter?" And some people would get annoyed that I even asked the question.

Because your ATV has a massive impact on your marketing and advertising efforts. ATV can show you how much you can afford to spend to acquire a new customer or re-engage a previous customer.

Here's one of the big reasons advertising sales executives hate me ...

In 2013, a client was considering a local media buy for their event. The media buy included both traditional and online placements. At the time, I knew that the client's Average Transaction Value was around $50 USD.

With some additional marketing math numbers and based on the proposed marketing package, I calculated that it would cost my client over $400 USD to generate a $50 USD customer transaction. My question for the ad sales executive, "why should my client pay $400 in advertising to generate a $50 sale?" That math doesn't work!

Good news ... it didn't require my client to purchase advertising, "just to find out what happens." Because they knew their numbers!
Make sure you take advantage of Dan Kennedy's marketing math numbers!

You can get started with finding your Average Transaction Value. Please make sure you look up ATV and have it committed to memory. At a minimum for your last 3 to 5 events.

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


Why "what is it?" is deadly for events

Today, I began thinking about the following passage from a recent email:

"I believe so firmly in my first-time event advice that I rarely take a new client who doesn't have at least 5 events under their belt and 5 years of event financials. The only exceptions are in niche markets where I can provide a tested and proven blueprint for success. A big key: Those niche events also have other events with a proven market and track record. Not a market that needs to be created for the event."

It's imperative that you focus on the last two sentences from above. Especially the last one!

Why?

Because if you must create a market for your event, you're setting your event up for near certain failure. Even before it begins.

Think about it this way. You are going to have to spend your precious marketing dollars trying to tell people "what" your event is/does for them. Then, IF they understand the "what," you're going to have to convince them "why" they should attend your event.

This isn't to say that it can't be done, but why stack the deck against you and your team?

My recommendation is finding an event type that has already proven to work. e.g., Beer festivals and ethnic food festivals. Both are known event formats to many people, and a target market already exists. Therefore, you don't have to spend money, educating the public on "what is it?" regarding your event.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting you hold a beer festival or ethnic food festival as your next event. But you should ethically cheat by modeling and borrowing from other successful events.

Check out the post on modeling titled, "Hookers host . . . Wine Tasting event."

Does the above advice make sense?

Let me know! It's a critical concept to understand if you desire event success.

Here are a few more premium ticketing insights:


An instant red flag for new events

Back when I was a nicer person, I would often get on the telephone with event organizers.

My goal on these telephone calls was to get a better understanding of the challenges faced by event organizers. Then, give some sage advice, if I was qualified to do so.

Most of the telephone calls were with new event organizers. They had found my website and decided to reach out to me.
One of the most common themes during my calls with first-time event organizers went like this:

"Eugene, we're going to do something completely new and different. We're so excited because there has never been an event like this before!"

For me, the previous statement is an instant red flag! Especially for new events. Not because I didn't want people to be successful with their first event, but because the cards were stacked against them.

Thinking of starting a new event? Here's the advice I emphatically give to everyone ... "don't do it!"

"Wow, that's kind of harsh! Eugene, aren't you here to help people with their events?!?!?" Yes, but not at the expense of good people going broke because of their events!

To the best of my knowledge not a single person I spoke with over 13 years has a successful event today. If you're one of those successful people, and your event continues to grow today, please let me know. This is something I welcome being wrong about!

The most common points of new event failure: far too ambitious attendance targets, underestimating budgets, and a fundamental lack of event marketing skills.

I believe so firmly in my first-time event advice that I rarely take a new client who doesn't have at least 5 events under their belt and 5 years of event financials. The only exceptions are in niche markets where I can provide a tested and proven blueprint for success.

A BIG success key: Those niche events also have other events with a proven market and track record. Not a market that needs to be created for the event.

If you decide to ignore anything from above, it's your event and your choice.

Here's the one piece of advice I give every new event organizer: "Think BIG, start very small and build up to something great!" Back then it was just, "think big, start small!"

Start by getting 10 to 100 paid people to attend your first event, not 10,000. At least break even on your budget and know what marketing works. When you hit that initial (small) goal, then increase your attendance targets by 25%-50%. Take the lessons learned and grow slowly & smartly.

You might be saying to yourself, "Eugene that seems like a long and tedious process!" You'd be correct. Many of the people I gave the advice to were offended by my "start small" suggestion.

I still stand by my new event advice. Starting small is the single best way to understand your market without risking your pocketbook or that of your organization.


The magical Memphis marketing matrix

Here's an air show takeaway that applies to every event ...

It came up this week, during a client call and is a great reminder. Please don't discount the suggestion because of its simplicity.

At the time we began working with them in 2013, the Memphis air show organizers were unsure about direct response marketing. As I recall, when asked about direct response marketing they responded with, "It's that stuff you see in infomercials, right?"

And it was a pretty good guess. Infomercials typically involve some sort of direct response device like a unique web address, unique telephone number or promo code.

The air show started to use simple promo codes across television, print, radio and online advertising. After the event, we designed a matrix with all the relevant promo codes and results. And presto! The show organizers discovered that 87% of all of their online ticket revenue was coming from one source.

The other sources, which was most of their cash advertising spend, only generated 13% of the online revenue.

Without the promo codes, they would have never known what was working and what wasn't.

The promo code that the Memphis Air Show used was straightforward: "Save 20% off your tickets to the Memphis Air Show. Use the promo code FLYNOW." Each media channel had its own promo code. It's important enough to repeat it: Television, print, radio, even individual radio stations had a separate and distinct promo code.

When all the promo codes were compiled into a matrix after the air show, the organizers saw precisely what worked and what didn't.

That allowed them to make intelligent decisions regarding any future air show advertising and it also gave them tremendous leverage when it came to negotiating new marketing and advertising deals. Without the matrix, they would've had no idea what worked and what didn't.

The takeaway? Make sure you're using promo codes with all of your event marketing and advertising. Even better, most online ticket service providers support promo codes. Make sure you take advantage and track your advertising results!

 


Start sending too much email, smartly

Last year, during a marketing session in Europe, the topic of how many emails an event should send was broached.

Will sending less email get you more results? Or, is it the old-school direct response mantra? "The more you tell, the more you sell!"

At last year's marketing session, I was attempting to encourage an event organizer and their team to send more emails. As I recall, the event sent between 5 to 10 marketing emails annually.

To be fair, there were some additional considerations. Each event email they sent was written in 3 or 4 different languages. That's at least 3x the work!

At the same time, I must give them high marks. The European event is sending email in the most common languages of their target market. And they have data to back up their approach!

During our discussion, the following happened unexpectedly ...

An event team member referenced a similar event in the United Kingdom and their approach to email marketing. Their point was this (paraphrased), "the U.K. event sends an email every day, and their event is SOLD OUT!"

That's "SOLD OUT!" weeks or months before the event takes place!

How would you feel if that was your event? Pretty dang good.
Does this mean you should send an email every day for your event? Not necessarily.

Instead of making that massive leap, can you increase your event marketing email sends by 50-100%? Then, let the results decide.

One important thing to remember about email marketing, you don't want to send – "just because!" At a minimum, send more email to strengthen the relationship with your list. That means the quality of your content needs to increase.

For what it's worth, every client that increased their email frequency has gone on to skyrocket their ticket revenue. In particular, record advance ticket revenues for outdoor events!

May's Event Profit Report will give you a behind the scenes look at multimillion-dollar email campaigns used by Platinum clients. The proven approach is radically different than what almost every event organizer is using ... regardless of email frequency.

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


How to repel ticket buyers to your event ...

This morning, I went on a little online field trip. My marketing exploration took me all the way to the ticket check out page for an event.

On that check out page, I was greeted by four paragraphs of text.

Here's the rough breakdown of the copy from those paragraphs:

Paragraph #1: All about the organization holding the event.

Paragraph #2: More information about the organization holding the event.

Paragraph #3: (Yawn!) Even more info about the organization holding the event. "Nobody cares!"

Paragraph #4: A little about the featured act.

Did you notice any glaring omissions?

That paragraph sequence and the accompanying copy give a potential attendee little incentive to buy a ticket to the event. How so? Because it's all about the organization and not appealing to the prospective ticket buyer!

After over 25 years of volunteer work for not-for-profits, I can tell you that those organizations are some of the worst culprits of bad marketing and advertising copy. They use far too much: "Our, We, Our mission is X, Y, and Z, here are all the awards we've won, etc." in their copy.

How could that be bad?

Because you need to directly appeal to the wants, needs, and desires (maybe fears) of your target market.

Failure to do so means people aren't going to buy tickets to your event. This applies to every event, for-profit or not!
Use words like "You, you will, your family will, etc." in your marketing and advertising copy. Make it ALL about them, not about you or your organization!

Anything less is an instant repellent for your would-be ticket buyer.

Here's a suggested (simple) redo of the ticket check out page from above:

New Paragraph #1: All about the buyer and why they'll have a great time at your event.

New Paragraph #2: Another reason why they'll have a great time at your event.

New Paragraph #3: A third reason they'll have a great time at your event.

New Paragraph #4: All about the buyer and maybe a sentence about the organization and if you help anyone.

It's pretty simple. If you make your marketing and advertising copy (online or off) all about your event attendee, you're going to sell more tickets to your event!

So, my question to you, "is your marketing and advertising copy all about your potential ticket buyer?" If not, you're leaving ticket sales on the table. Yes, there is a lot more to it. This should at least get you started.

 


A seemingly foolish event promotion question ...

I'm going to ask you a seemingly silly, but fundamentally important, question.

It's something that I occasionally take for granted or incorrectly assume ... on my part. Here it is ...

Do you have a dedicated event website?

What do I mean by dedicated? One website with the sole purpose to inform people about your event. It is not a page nested on an organization website.

100% of all the pages on a dedicated event website are for promoting that event.

Above I mentioned "silly," because some event organizers do not have a dedicated website. When asked about it, they don't think they need one.

It's not their fault. It's usually the social media acolytes that tell them, "You don't need one. Just use Facebook, Insta, and Twitter!" That might work for the Kardashians and President Trump, but not for your event!

More on social media in a moment ... but first:

Ironically enough, the dedicated event website issue comes up with military air shows and ethnic festivals. Those are two diametrically opposed organizations. And yet very similar in certain ways.

In the case of ethnic festivals, a page on a church parish website is dedicated to the event. For military air shows, the air show website is buried in their public installation website.

At a minimum, this makes finding information about their respective events hard to find.

If it's hard to find info about your event, are people more or less likely to attend?

You might recall a few weeks ago, I mentioned a friend who only used Facebook to promote a local dinner dance event. As a result, they're at Facebook's mercy. And considering all the data scandals Facebook has been embroiled in lately, do you really want to rely on Facebook 100%? Probably not.

Here's the close for today ...

Without a dedicated event website, your ability to track marketing and advertising effectiveness is severely hindered.

More importantly, you won't be able to (ethically) collect essential data on your potential event attendee and customers.

Please reply to this email and let me know if you have a dedicated event website or disagree with anything from above.

Want to get more info on designing a money making event website? Check out the articles below: