My number one rule of event content

Most client campaigns are composed of anywhere between 100 to 150 pieces of advertising and marketing content. This content is distributed via both traditional and online mediums. Content can be anything from marketing emails, website updates, social media posts to press releases.

And in case you’re wondering, every client to date started with very light content campaigns. So that means if they’re at 100 pieces of advertising and marketing content now, they were less than 20 pieces of content before we started working together.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I’d like to share with you my single strongest event promotion recommendation as it applies to content creation, specifically in the areas of marketing, advertising, and public relations.

When sending out promotional content for your event, never send something just because it’s on your marketing calendar. Every piece of content needs to be well thought out.

Here are just a few content evaluation questions for you and your team to consider:

What’s the ultimate purpose of this single piece of content? And how does this content integrate with our overall advertising and marketing campaign?

Is this piece of content going to sell tickets? Or, will this content generate more interest and leads to our event?

Is the content specifically structured and delivered to meet some of the objectives above (leads and tickets sales)?

The overall objective of the recommendation above is to make sure that your target audience treats you as a welcome guest. That includes everything from their email inbox to their social media feeds.

Thus, my strongest content recommendation to you is never to send a single piece of content that isn’t helping to build and strengthen your relationship with your target market.

Ultimately, every piece of content is leveraged to build a digital relationship with your target audience. And in a world of too much digital noise, a good relationship is a difference-maker!

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Extraordinary intel on some US events

Here's a little nugget on gathering intel on events in the United States. Specifically, not-for-profit events.

Because I'm US-based, this recommendation is focused on US-based non-profits/events. That said, I'm sure similar tools exist elsewhere in the world. Please let me know if you're aware of such tools and willing to share.

In the United States, non-profit organizations are required to make their tax returns available to the public. And not for profit tax organizations, with gross revenues over $50,000 USD, file their taxes using Form 990.

In the words of the US Internal Revenue Service:

"Form 990 is the IRS' primary tool for gathering information about tax-exempt organizations, educating organizations about tax law requirements, and promoting compliance. Organizations also use the Form 990 to share information with the public about their programs." Source: IRS.gov

Anyone with an Internet connection can access a US non-profit's tax returns. Just do an Internet search on "Tax Exempt Organization Search." You will need the non-profit organization's legal name and state of Incorporation or Employer Identification Number (EIN). Most of the previous information can be gathered with a few minutes of online searching.

Will an organization's tax return tell you everything about its event operations? No.

But it can tell you a lot, especially regarding advertising, marketing, ticketing revenues, sponsorship, and event-related expenses.

I've even used the process above for negotiating contracts.

When asked, "how did you know that?!"

My reply, "it's public information."

As the adage goes, "knowledge is power." Do some digging and let me know what you discover. You will be amazed!

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How to Deal with "LOTS" of Event Complaints

In 2021, a client raised the "a bunch of people are complaining" flag regarding an email marketing campaign.

When I asked for further details, the response was, "people didn't know there was a link in the email" The "complainers" suggested we put 'click here' next to the email link.

The client sends the next email with "click here" next to the link, and the results aren't that great.

Ironically enough, when tested, "click here" has made a noticeable difference in marketing campaign response. Primarily when used sparingly!

Am I suggesting you slap "click here" next to every link in an email or on your website? Negative.

It would be best to be careful using "click here" on your promotional emails. Because there is a chance (based on several combined factors), your email could be flagged as SPAM.

With the client example from above, there are a couple of shall we say, conveniently omitted details. If ever you receive a complaint, always dig deeper!

When pressed on complaints, use this initial question, "exactly how many people are complaining?"

Consider the following complainer's scenario:

Client: "A lot of people are complaining!"

Eugene: "Exactly how many people are complaining?"

Client: "A lot!"

Eugene: "What's a lot?"

(Client gets slightly annoyed and then finally answers.)

Client: "Two"

Eugene: "Two out of 30,000+ sent emails?!?!" (Yes, 30K emails sent and two complaints.)

Follow-up question: "Who is the person complaining?" (Are they a customer or event attendee?)

Here's the icing on the cake regarding the example above. The two complainers were client vendors who fancied themselves marketers.

In the next email, I recommended that the client remove "click here" from their email and write more persuasive copy. They accepted the advice and implemented the suggestions. The result was a 71% increase in email click-through-rate.

Yes, customer experience is paramount. But at the same time, focusing your limited time and resources on a wild goose chase is a waste.

Next time you receive complaints, find out exactly how many and if the people complaining are even your customers. You'll be surprised what you find!

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Overly Obvious Domain Registration Advice

Back in 2006, I only had a few event clients. During that time, most of my income resulted from working with small to medium businesses. There were numerous clients spread across multiple industries and many great lessons learned! Including what follows here.

When it came to new clients, almost every business needed to register a domain name and build a new website from scratch.

During a project, the business owner wanted me to register a couple of domain names. I asked the owner to email me which domains he wanted registered. After receiving the email, I copied and pasted the domain names into the domain registration search tool. Both domain names were available, so I proceeded to register the requested domains.

A few months went by before we started to build the client’s website. At that time, all websites were built on a dedicated development server. Once the client’s website was built and tested, we were ready to go live.

After we went live, the client had an issue accessing their site. In their own words, “I’m typing in my domain name, and the website is not coming up.”
Was the issue technical?

As I dug back through my project notes and emails, my heart skipped a beat and sunk into my stomach.

What happened?

The domain names were copied and pasted directly from the client’s email. And one of the domain names was misspelled.

Regardless of the unique spelling, the lesson learned was shame on me for not spell checking the domain name.

Since the domain registration lesson learned in 2006, every domain name that gets registered is triple checked for spelling. The process is straightforward.

If you’re going to register a new domain, break the domain name you want to be registered and spell-check each word.

superduperbeerfest.com … Super Duper Beer Fest (Spell check each word)

After your domain spelling checks out, then register you domain. Hopefully, it spares you the embarrassment and frustration above.

Additionally, if your domain name is difficult to spell, you might want to consider registering misspelled domains.

What seems like overly simplistic advice has saved my clients and myself multiple times since 2006.

Additional Resources:


Minimize the hoop jumping

Last week, my car needed maintenance. As result, I found myself in a small auto repair shop. "Calcio" loving Italians run this cozy auto repair shop. Serie A and Serie B, to be precise.

In the repair shop waiting room is a community board. There, you will find numerous business cards and a poster or two promoting local events.

During my visit, there was one event poster being displayed.

Side note: If it's not already a habit, make sure to take the time to review any event poster that you might see. There's always something to be discovered!

Most of the important information elements were well covered when it came to the event poster. Yet, there was one significant issue. And it’s something I’ve seen on a regular basis.

The event poster recommended visiting the ticketing company’s website to "Purchase Tickets".

Why is that an issue?

Because visiting a ticketing website makes a prospective ticket buyer jump through several hoops to purchase an event ticket.

Case and point. You must go to the ticketing website and click on a tiny "Find your next event" button. After you click the button, you need to enter a location. Then, you're presented with numerous events. As you scroll down through the events, more events populate.

Ultimately, after a bit of diligent searching, I never found where to purchase tickets for the event advertised on the poster. And my guess is that I’m not the only one.

A more straightforward solution to the above is to have your event website and sell tickets directly from your website.

As the direct response people say, "Make it easy for them to buy, right now!"

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

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Cracking Creativity with Tommy Edison

I'm going to take a slightly different tack on this one. It will focus a little more on personal development. So, bear with me.

One of the world's most creative minds kept extensive handwritten notes. Over 3,500 notebooks were discovered after Thomas Edison's death in 1931. Those notebooks contained a litany of ideas, sketches, and observations. Edison used his notebooks continually to cross-pollinate ideas.

Some of Edison's most significant accomplishments were a result of noting his own massive failures. In Edison's own words, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

For most humans, forgetting is a regular occurrence (this guy included!). In today's digital overload world, our minds are bombarded with thousands of stimuli daily. To remember a quick idea can be a daunting task.

If you aren't already, my suggestion to you is to become a voracious note taker! And don't worry, you won't need 3,500 notebooks. It's the process and strategy that's essential.

Start by finding a pen and a small notepad. Make sure both are compact enough to carry along with you daily. For those that want to go digital, I recommend an Evernote Premium subscription.

Moving forward, keep a pen and notepad (or your digital notebook) with you at all times. When you have an idea, please write it down. If you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, write it down.

Michael Michalko, who wrote Cracking Creativity, offers some Edisonian ideas for organizing written notes:

Write your observations down from daily experiences. Observations can include ideas from meetings, information that you've gained through reading, and brainstorming.

Organize your notes thematically into a set group of categories and subjects. This is where Evernote shines, because you can tag, search, and categorize notes.

After you've established a series of notes, go back to glean additional insight into problems you may encounter.

You might be able to solve your problems by modifying or reinterpreting something you previously experienced. Plus, when you have your ideas written down, you don't need to take the time to remember what you forgot.

Source: Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius (Revised ed.). Ten Speed Press. pp. 106-107.

If you're disappointed in the above suggestion, I'd ask you to reconsider. The most extraordinary client successes have come as a result of taking notes and cross-pollinating ideas.

If you can integrate the suggestions above into your daily routine, I promise you it will have a massive positive impact on your life and your pocketbook.


A Powerful Key to Great Event Survey Results

Recently, clients have been doing a decent amount of surveying. Their survey types include everything from post-event surveys for 2021 to pre-event surveys for 2022.

Here's something of interest. For all the surveys conducted in previous years, there has been a significant delta in survey completion rates. These rates vary anywhere between 26% to 78%.

There are numerous factors influencing survey response rates. Including, everything from the quality of your list to the relationship an organization has with those being surveyed.

And in case you're wondering, list size is one of the least important factors.

It doesn't matter if your list is big or small. One would think that a small survey list would perform better. Nope! The worst performing client survey in 2020 had a total of 16 people on the list. How so? Nobody completed the survey.

Thankfully, there is a single universal element of survey success. Your key to success with surveys is well thought out process. That means treating your surveys like a marketing campaign.

Even the most straightforward marketing campaigns have clear objectives, a well thought out process, and measurement.

When analyzing poor survey results from the past, the first place I start is getting an overview of the process being used.

In every instance of lackluster results, the lack of a well-defined process was glaring.

Before doing another survey, make sure you have a well thought out process in place.

If you're not sure where to start, look at what others are doing and ethically borrow their ideas! There is no reason to reinvent the “wheel” if someone else has already figured it out.

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Does funny put money in your account?

This evening (US Time), companies are investing 6.5 million USD for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial, per ESPN.com. Come Monday morning, you'll hear a bunch of people pontificate about the "best" or "funniest" Super Bowl commercials. Let us not forget all the "viewer's choice" awards.

It's worth paying attention to all the noise! That said, I'm going to challenge you to dig a little deeper into Super Bowl commercials. At worst, it's an excellent edutainment (educational entertainment) opportunity.

My challenge to you is to cut through all the noise about "best, funniest, viewer's choice, etc."

I admit it, some of the commercials are hilarious and entertaining. But, if funny doesn't put money in your bank account, is it worth $6.5 million USD?

After all the "votes" have been tallied, keep an eye on those companies in the news. A great place to do this is by using the Google Search box, run a search on "Super Bowl commercials", and then select the "News" tab. This allows you to sort all the recent news stories.

In the coming days and weeks, keep an eye on the news stories regarding companies that advertised during the Super Bowl.

The question you need to ask, "did a given Super Bowl commercial drive revenue (or a measurable result) with their advertisement?"

Is the funniest or most entertaining commercial the most profitable?

Did those companies who advertised during the Super Bowl make their money back?

Google News can often provide you with the answers.

If history is any indicator, the most entertaining commercials are rarely the most profitable. Not to say that never happens.

You should keep an eye on what happens. Anyone can be a savvy marketer, by merely asking smart questions. More importantly, a little digging can give you a good indication of what might work in your advertising in the future.

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Ted Lasso's curiosity advice for events

After a presentation last week, I was given the feedback of "Eugene gave yet another over-the-top example of success. That seems like what he always does."

Both of the previous sentiments are accurate. With that said, here's a slightly different take.

Instead of touting my accomplishments, I prefer to frame success in the form of client accomplishments. It's a team effort that often involves overcoming numerous challenges.

So yes, I'm proud of what's been accomplished with all parties involved. But, ultimately, the goal is to inspire others and get them to realize similar outcomes, regardless of their current circumstance. Hence, presenting before and after case studies.

For context, the over-the-top example referenced above was an event that increased their first-day ticket sales by over three hundred thousand percent. As they say, "results not typical!" And it only took six years and a lot of "kicking and screaming" to realize that increase.

Regardless of event niche, judgment and jealousy seem to be the default frames of a significant number of people.

And for all the success stories and presentations, a minuscule number of people have ever asked, "can you please tell me how was that accomplished?"

So instead of focusing on the negative, let's try something positive ...

If you're looking for a great television series, may I suggest Ted Lasso. The series is about an American football coach who travels "across the pond" to coach a Premier League team. A great quote is referenced during an episode in season one.

During the episode, Ted is in the middle of a competitive game with a seemingly superior opponent.

As Ted says, "Be curious, not judgmental." And "if they (people) were curious, they would have asked questions." It's simple and sage advice.

Some of the most significant client accomplishments have come from curiosity. Specifically, digging into other events and businesses to determine, "how did they do that?" or "how does that work?"

Fortunately, in almost every instance where I personally reached out, event organizers and business owners were more than generous in sharing their challenges and discoveries. Moreover, many shared findings form the foundational elements for highly successful client campaigns.

If you and your team aren't actively out there looking for new insights and challenging current assumptions, never forget to "Be curious, not judgemental." Ask a lot of questions because the dividends are extraordinary!

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To wrangle event trolls or not?

Last weekend, I attended a series of online presentations with outdoor event organizers from the Northeastern United States. The topics discussed ranged from ticket pricing to profitable event models during the pandemic.

At one point, I glommed on to a brief point about online trolls made by KW.

If you're unfamiliar with the term troll, specifically "Internet troll," here's a definition from urbandictionary.com:

"An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion."

Short version, trolls are people who stir up trouble online without good reason or facts. And trolls regularly infest social media because of their near-instantaneous ability to respond.

During his presentation, KW had mentioned a series of approximately 50 Internet Trolls disparaging his team and their event. Smartly, KW noted every troll and searched the event's customer records.

Of the 50 "loudest" trolls in question, one purchased a ticket to KW's event. One!

The above example is an essential reminder of "check-em!" when they balk. The biggest reason to look up trolls quickly is so don't want to waste your time, energy, or effort with people who don't support (and will never support) your event.

Don't give trolls the energy they don't

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