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February 2008
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April 2008

Reverse Engineering Online Marketing for Your Event

If you’re doing any electronic marketing for your event, I urge you to dedicate some time studying the process and methodology of high end Internet Marketers.  You can visit your local library and check out some books on the subject. I recommend books by Joe Vitale, Seth Godin, and Dan Kennedy. My other recommendation is to sign up for additional information on a web site for a product or service that captures your interest.  When you start to get emails from the business, ask yourself the questions “What can I learn from this?”, “How can I reverse engineer the process to present my information better to my target market?”, and "What do you find annoying?" Asking the previous questions can help you refine and streamline your own marketing process.

Most Internet Marketers utilize a number of universal strategies to connect with their target market. Some of universal strategies include:

  • Strong Copywriting
  • Compelling Subject Lines
  • High Quality Content
  • Building Trust and Credibility over Time

A Marketing Guru to Study
One person I’ve spent extensive time studying is Eben Pagan. Some people might know him by this dating guru alter ego, David DeAngelo.  Eben’s ideology of Marketing embraces the notion of “front loading value.” His latest project is the Guru Mastermind program. In the program he gives away oodles of high quality information on developing your own information products for FREE. Why give stuff away for free? If you give away high quality useful information you can make it difficult to for your target market not to take a desired action. Almost every event marketer or promoter can adopt a similar ideology and apply it to their event.

Respect Copyrights
I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t remind others to respect the copyrights of other people.  Make sure you’re not borrowing someone else’s work and then taking credit for it. If you pay attention to the strategy used you shouldn’t have problems.

There is no need to reinvent the online marketing “wheel.” If you can incorporate some of the techniques top marketers employ, you’ll be saving yourself time and money.

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Why Well Planned Events Fail . . .

Last week I spent some time with a good friend of mine who does a lot of volunteer work. He was telling me about the fund raising his organization does to raise money for charities.  Anyone would appreciate the time and energy that is involved in planning events. One of his biggest frustrations was all the effort put forth to organize and execute an event with little or no return on investment. To the best of his knowledge, he and his associates spent about 55 hours collectively planning the event and 5 hours executing the event, all to break even.


Event organizers and volunteers invest dozens or hundreds of hours of time with little return on investment.  If you’re looking critically at events that didn’t succeed, you might surmise “They didn’t do a very good job of planning or the event wasn’t very good.” Yet, I know a number of people, including myself that have spent countless hours meticulously planning events that failed to meet their financial objectives. Of the numerous event case studies I’ve examined the problem doesn’t appear to be in the planning or execution phase. The reason is the marketing of the event itself.

More Money Means Better Marketing, Right?
I personally don’t equate the level of marketing an organization can accomplish with the size of their marketing budget. Because an organization has a respectable marketing budget doesn’t mean that they’ll be successful marketing their event. Some of the most successful events I’ve been involved with engaged in simple grass roots marketing. They only used event posters and word of mouth. Those events did tremendously well on a marketing budget of a few hundred dollars.

Where to Invest for Your Event
If you want your event to have the greatest chance for success invest in better marketing. Event organizers don’t do enough of the right marketing to get people to their event. I’ve seen great events financially fail and poor events rake in the bucks. The same ideology applies in the business world. Regardless of how good the product or service, if there is no market, a lack of marketing, or the target market isn’t motivated to act, the business will fail. I’m not sure who said it but here is sage advice, “Market or Die!”

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Event Marketing: Persistence versus Pestering

Last year I was involved in an event marketing project that utilized a series of emails to promote an event. The permission based list was a little over a thousand people.  Toward the end of the promotion the client started to question if too many emails were being sent to potential attendees.  In the end, not one of the email list subscribers complained about getting too many emails or being inundated with information.   On the flip side, I’ve seen other businesses sales pitch their prospective customers into oblivion and get plenty of unhappy emails in return. If you’re going to email market your event, it is always important to respect the fine line between being persistence and pestering.

Don’t Pester, But Be Persistent
Each event will have a different threshold for where potential pestering begins.   The most important point to be made is that as long as you’re working with a permission based list, your potential attendee’s will give you an impressive degree of latitude. That latitude is afforded to you only if you send them information of value.

The Key
The key to stay persistent without being pestering is in delivering information that will be valued by your potential attendee.  If you’re doing email marketing for your event and send four “sales pitch” emails with no information value, chances are you’re going to annoy your potential attendees.  There is always the possibility that a few people might complain. It’s important that you can’t keep everyone happy. If there are several people that are complaining, you’ve crossed the line.

Be Persistent, Especially as Your Event Approaches
Try sending a event oriented email a week before your event and then one last blast a few days prior.  We’re all human. You would be surprised how many times interested attendees for your event simply forget that your event is happening. A friendly reminder, in almost every instance, can only help you get more people to your event.

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Event Marketing: News Updates on Your Event Web Site

One thing almost every event web site encounters is a varying percentage of users who are return visitors. Users want the latest and greatest information regarding your event and return over time. As your event draws closer, the number of updates you make on your web site will most likely increase.  Have you considered dedicating a section of your home page to news and event updates?

Consider News Web Sites
If you’re looking to emulate information update ideas look no further than your favorite news service.  It can be,,, etc.  Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. It is important to remember news companies have invested a lot of money into the functionality of their web sites.  How they deliver time sensitive information is critical to their business models, especially the latest news.  Ask yourself, “Are there any ideas I can borrow from some of the top news web sites?”

Some Basics

If you update a number of pages on your web site include the date and time of the most recent update.  Consider sectioning out an area of your home page specifically for news updates. In the update area included links to pages that contain new information. One idea that you can borrow from news web sites is the “one-liner” link. An example of a one-liner, “Girl Scout Saves the Day.” You can then link the text to the related page or article.

News Archives
Unlike other news sites, I don’t really think an archive of updates is necessary for event web sites. You might want to keep your own records, but I can’t imagine people would take interest. Plus, your return on investment for time and expenditures might not be a good return on investment. Ultimately you need to determine what is most important to your group of users.

Having an easy to understand and navigate “News Section” on your web site home page will save your user time and effort.  Keep your focus on making the information easy to access for the user.

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Event Promotion: Building Excitement for Your Event with Great Stories

Shackleton_advertisement If you ask event organizers and patrons why someone might show up to an event, you’ll probably get two very different answers.  One crucially simple thing you can do is to tap into the interests of your perspective customer. It’s imperative to get people excited about your event. Ask yourself the question almost every perspective buyer subconsciously asks about your event “Why should I care?”

Having a worthy charitable cause is no longer enough to drive event attendance. You have to give people a very good reason to open up their wallet and spend their hard earned cash. There are so many events vying for the attention of your prospect. One way to beat the competition is by leveraging story in your event marketing and promotion. What does your prospect really want in relation to your event and how can you present it to them in the most effect way possible? You want to craft the answer into a powerful story that engages your prospect from start to finish.

Tell Them A Great Story
I’m a big history buff.  The one thing that makes history really interesting is a great story.  It’s the “Did you know . . .“ line that can take something from being mundane to extraordinary. Let's take a plain old field some place in Canada. It's a plain old field until you tell a story about it.

  • Did you know that that empty field across the road was once used to train some of the best pilots in the world during World War II? If you walk over there you can see what's left from the old runways where Canada's best fighter pilots trained. If you go off into the woods you can actually touch the abandon fuselage of one of the training aircraft.

You should include story telling into various aspects of your event. Can you tell people a good story about some aspect of your event that will capture interest and attention? Get people to say "I wanna do that - it sounds like it would be fun!" Relevant stories can instantly add value and credibility to your event. The best part is that words are free. All you have to do is put on your thinking cap.

Audio and Video Storytelling
Another consideration is using audio and video to tell a story. Consider an exclusive audio interview with an event performer or event the event organizer. There are a plethora of interesting videos on YouTube that you can easily embed into you event marketing process. At the same time, don’t try let cool technology trump high quality content. A lousy irrelevant video is still lousy at the end of the day.

People love good stories. Even more than good stories they love to tell other people good stories. Use that simple process to your advantage when marketing and promoting your event. One of the greatest event promoters of all time (plus, used stories all the time) was P.T. Barnum. Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event with stories. Don't worry about getting too many ideas to start. Just focus on using one good idea and take action on it!

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Event Marketing: Stop Reducing Your Event Ticket Price

Have you ever considered a decrease in the price of your event ticket to increase attendance?

The Price Drop Example

Lately I find myself telling event marketing clients and colleagues about a particular volunteer event where ticket price was a concern. Over four years, the volunteer event had an associated dinner banquet. The first year the banquet ticket price was 25.00 USD per person and over three hundred fifty people showed up. As the years progressed the dinner ticket prices were reduced because event organizers thought the ticket price was too high. The logic used was decrease price and you’ll get more people to attend. The dinner banquet prices went from 25.00 USD per person down to 15.00 USD. When the tickets reached the lowest price the banquet had the lowest attendance.  The above example illustrates the counter intuitive of what most people would think in terms of ticket pricing.   

Expensive = Good
Last week, I started reading a book by Robert Cialdini from his Influence series.  In the chapter titled, Weapons of Influence, Cialdini illustrates that if something is expensive that the consumer will perceive it as being good. One example he used was a jewelry shop owner clearing their inventory of a certain item by doubling the price of an item that nobody would buy. Cialdini infers from additional examples that consumers believe that “Expensive = Good.”  I believe the same methodology can be applied from ticket prices for an event to your products or services.

Doing the Counter-Intuitive

Instead of trying to reduce your ticket prices to compete with a given market consider increasing your price to redefine your position in a given market.   As a caveat, I don’t think you can raise ticket prices if you can’t deliver perceived value at your event. Take the time to think through the scenario and potential virtues or vices. I don't believe in raising prices and skimping on quality. The quality of the experience needs to exceed the actual ticket price in order for a price increase to work.

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