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October 2008
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December 2008

Why Buy Tickets For Your Own Event?

Here is a little story from my own personal experience of selling tickets at retail locations.  The scenario goes as follows. Event patrons had the option of buying tickets for an event either online or at two local retail outlets. The event promoter had a discount coupon available for those who purchased tickets at local retail outlets.  A 100,000 discount coupons were printed out and distributed locally.  For whatever reason, none of the retail locations received the message about the existence of discount coupons.  Hundreds of people had purchased tickets without being able to use the discount coupon.  If you purchased a ticket for an event and found out that you should have received a discount would you be upset?  There were a few upset people in this instance.

The Discount Coupon Didn’t Work!
I personally went to different retail locations where tickets were available for purchase four times.  Each time the retail ticket outlet didn’t recognize the coupon.  It took almost a week to correct the issue. In the mean time hundreds of people had already purchased tickets for the event at full price.  Regardless of how hard we try, there are things that occasionally slip through the cracks. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can create the biggest customer service debacles. 

Some Simple Advice
If you’re going to use retail outlets or coupons go the extra mile to make sure everything is setup properly. My strongest piece of advice is for you or someone from your team to go out and personally try to purchase tickets for your event. The same vigilance should be followed for online tickets. This is one of those scenarios where I don’t know if you can test enough. An hour of your time is a small investment compared to hours of complaining customers who complain about not getting their ticket discounts.

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

Get Them to Your Event with Great Invitations

Event_invitationRecently I attended a fundraiser where invitations were sent through snail mail (traditional USPS mail). The invitation was enclosed in an expensive looking envelope and printed on a nice card stock.  At first glance one would think it is a decent looking invitation. The problem was that the envelope didn’t give anyone a good reason to immediately open it up. When you opened the envelope the actual invitation was as boring and mundane.  If you’re sending invitations through the mail for your event, you need to immediately grab people's attention and motivate them to action!

The Envelope (Packaging)
If you’re going to send paper invitations for your event, make sure it “WOWS” the recipient.  In this case start with the envelope. An envelope with nothing but a person’s name and return address doesn’t cut it. Most of us are well aware of all the junk mail that comes to us on a regular basis.  As consumers, we have taught ourselves to wade through all the obnoxious messages by ignoring them. Instead of trying to be louder than the other mail pieces, think of ways to be more unique.  Are there some words you can put on the outside of your envelope that would prompt someone to open it immediately?  Can the letter be hand addressed or addressed with a handwriting font? Is the envelope packaging truly unique? The envelope or packaging of your invitation can make a big difference in response rates. There are companies that actually specialize in creating unique envelopes and packaging. One company offers you a service to send someone a message in an actual bottle. I’m willing to bet someone would open a message in a bottle before an envelope. You can also send out mass mailings using personalized post cards with your handwriting digitally reproduced. Think of ways to make your envelope unique.

Personalized Post Cards

Message in a Bottle

The Invitation (On the Inside)
When it comes to the invitation, focus on giving people a very good reason to act immediately.  I’m a firm believe that words are extremely powerful.  Are the words in your invitation crafted in a way that would get someone to act upon your offer right away?  Use ethical marketing techniques. Let your target market know there are a limited number of tickets available. You might want to consider using an early bird special and various pricing options.  Offer preferred or premium seating, first come first serve. The possibilities are endless. But you need to give it some thought and get people to act immediately on your offer.

Digital Hand Written Notes and Doodles

Test It
Before you ever send any mass invitations through the mail, test it! Find a few test prospects and send them prototype invitations. I’d recommend not using family and friends for testing. Find people who are going to be very honest with you. Send the prototype invitations and follow up a few days later. Find out if your test prospect found your invitations clear, concise, and actionable.  Ask them for their feedback.  A little testing can go a long way, especially with mass mailings.

Last, but not least, make sure your invitations are not boring! Add a little spice and excitement to the mix. To many people the information above might seem overly simplistic, and it is! But it’s usually the simple things that can make a big difference in your event.

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

Why People Really Attend Fundraisers

Last weekend I attended a fundraiser for a great local charity. There were over 400 people in attendance.  When it comes to attending any sort of event I approach it as potential case study.  There is always a new idea to waiting to be discovered.  In several instances the lessons you learn at one event can be applied to other events. At this particular event, I was out to solidify my notion of why people really attend fundraisers.  As an added bonus was that I was able to put on the tux and accompanying sly grin (I think doing market research should be fun).


Why do people attend fundraisers?
If you're a not for profit organization, be sure you etch the next sentence permanently into your mind:

A minuscule number of people (hardly any) actually attend
fundraisers because the money goes to a good cause

Now please repeat the previous statement until it's permanently stored in your subconscious mind. Over the last 15 years I’ve attended well over 50 fund raisers of all kinds. In some instances people have flown in from across the globe just to attend a one night fundraiser. The event ticket price for one of these fundraisers of $150-$1,500 is pale in comparison to what people pay for airfare, lodging, food, etc. Why would someone do this? Because raising money for a good cause ISN'T really the motivating factor.

You’d be surprised at how few times someone says they’re at an event, because it supports a good cause. In all the times I’ve asked the question, only two or three people (out of hundreds) answered with conviction, “I’m here to support a good cause.”

Try the following next time you attend a fundraiser. Ask a few people at the fundraiser the following question, “What brings you to this event?” Chances are you’re going to get one of two very common answers.

  • The person is there because they know someone either organizing or associated with the event.

  • They’re there because they consider the event a “good time.”

I hope the information is carefully considered by those who organize fundraisers. Most event organizers falsely think people are attending their event because it supports a good cause. That type of false logic can doom a fundraising event. Always remember people attend your event because they want to have a good time or a experience something unique. People aren't going to give you their hard earned money so you can bore them.

Today the competition is fierce and people are far more protective of their dollar.  You have to go that extra mile. The best way to raise money for a good cause is by making sure the event is an amazing experience for those in attendance. If your event isn't a good time, regardless of the cause, people won't come back to support it.

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

Creating an Early Buzz About Your Event

It’s never too early to create a buzz about your event. A big mistake many event organizers make is waiting until it’s too late to promote their event. A direct result of promoting your event too late is a negative impact on your bottom line. Waiting to promote also creates unnecessary stress amongst the people running the event.  You can avoid most of the stress and anxiety. Start building the buzz about your event early using both traditional and new media.

How Early is Too Early?
I honestly don’t know if it’s ever too early to promote any event.  My recommendation to clients is for them to start their traditional advertising (television, print, radio, billboards, etc.) at least 60 days out.  You can begin your traditional advertising as a trickle and then build the crescendo.  Aside from traditional advertising you can use other mediums to build anticipation for your event months in advance. Two examples are leveraging social media and online champions.

Try promoting your event a year out.  Post a blog and photo gallery of your previous event.  Ask people to post their suggestions for making your event better than the previous year.  The online possibilities are nearly endless and sometimes cost nothing.  Use the Internet’s interactivity to your advantage.  In many cases you can build a buzz for little or no cost.

The Star Trek Example
Over the weekend the Internet was set ablaze regarding the new bootlegged Star Trek trailer. The brand new trailer doesn’t come out online until today at 1300 EDT. If you saw the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, you might have caught a glimpse. The new bootlegged trailer has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online over three days and the movie doesn’t come out for almost 6 months. To the best of my knowledge Paramount, the studio producing the movie, hasn’t been voraciously issuing cease and desist letters.  Paramount realizes that people are building a huge buzz for their own online trailer premiere. The buzz building has cost them nothing. Their fans are happily doing the work. Can you think of a similar idea to build anticipation for your event?  Have you ever consider creating a movie trailer for your event?  You can probably get it done for free.  Check with a local college or university and find yourself some capable interns. It doesn't have to be a video, it can be anything. Use your imagination!

Here is the bottom line:
The earlier you create a positive buzz about your event, the more money will flow into your pocket.

If you're interested in the new trailer:
New Star Trek Trailer (*Launches November 17, 2008 at 13:00 EDT)

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

David Ogilvy's "Secret Weapon" for Advertising Success

In a continuation of this week’s Ogilvy feature I’ve dug up the following video.  Instead of pontificating on Ogilvy’s best advice, I thought it best to let the man speak for himself. The video above is at least 30+ years old,  yet Ogilvy’s advice is timeless.  He built his ultra successful agency, Ogilvy & Mather, on direct response marketing.  He considered direct response marketing his “first love and secret weapon.”

Continue reading "David Ogilvy's "Secret Weapon" for Advertising Success" »

$1.48 Billion of Marketing and Advertising Advice ...

One of my marketing mentors, Eben Pagan, talks about delivering massive value when engaging your prospect.  Eben is also a very big fan of David Ogilvy. Way back when, Ogilvy created an ad that was full of some of his best insight on advertising. Ogilvy gave away FREE advertising secrets that cost his firm $4.9 million dollars to learn.

What follows below, (if implemented) can take you event to a completely new level ...


Continue reading "$1.48 Billion of Marketing and Advertising Advice ..." »

Advertising and Marketing that Sells

Last week I had a pretty heated discussion on advertising and marketing.  A friend was telling me why they needed to use ‘creative’ (artsy) advertising for their next marketing campaign. My opinion is that they’d be wasting thousands of dollars. Trying to be too creative with your advertising is a huge risk. Business people have an insatiable need to “do something different, just because!” Just because, is a very bad idea if you’re looking to produce advertising that brings a return on investment. Focus on advertising and promotions that get you results.

Everyone Wants to Be Like the Big Guys
Many companies want to emulate the ‘big guys.’ In 2007, Geico spent over half a BILLION dollars on advertising. Thus, they can advertise insurance with cavemen and lizards. $500+ Million allows almost any company saturate the market with their brand and message.

Most small businesses and events don’t have that kind of money to spend on advertising. Yet, small businesses and events want to emulate Geico and other big companies in their advertising. They try to be cute, clever, and funny - instead of focusing on selling something. It's a costly mistake. If you want to emulate a Geico advertisement, have a strong call to action in your advertising.

The Marketing Master - David Ogilvy

This week I’ll be focusing on the late great David Ogilvy. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest advertising and marketing professionals the world has ever seen. His book “Ogilvy on Advertising” is one of the top marketing books you should read at least twice! If you mention Ogilvy to any advertiser or marketing person, he’s acknowledged as advertising genius. Yet, for whatever reason, those same marketing and advertising people disregard Ogilvy’s most basic tenants. (shrug)

Ogilvy’s take on advertising was very straight forward:

I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.

(Ogilvy on Advertising, p. 7)

Ogilvy’s friend, Rosser Reeves (the guy who coined Unique Selling Proposition - USP), bluntly drives home the point:

WARNING: If you're easily offended, don't  read the next quote.

I’m not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won’t sell. I’m just saying that I’ve seen thousands of charming, witty campaigns that didn’t. Let’s say you are a manufacturer. Your advertising isn’t working and your sales are going down. And everything depends on it. Your future depends on it, your family’s future depends on it, other people’s families depend on it. And you walk in this office and talk to me, and you sit in that chair. Now, what do you want out of me? Fine writing? Do you want masterpieces? Do you want glowing things that can be framed by copywriters? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?

(Ogilvy on Advertising, p. 25)

Your best course of action is to treat your advertising and marketing as an investment.  If your advertising is an investment, then you should expect a return. Do you want to be known as the company with beautiful advertising? Or, the company with decent looking advertising that made tons of money?

Here is a little secret . . . If you really know what you're doing with your marketing and advertising, you can have highly effective advertising that actually looks great. You just have to build you advertising on the fundamentals of classic salesmanship.

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

The Worst Marketing Sin with some Caution

As of late I’ve been on a Dan Kennedy binge. If you’re unfamiliar with Dan Kennedy’s material you can find it at most bookstores or your local library. Kennedy is considered by many people to be one of the top direct marketing consultants in the world.  Fair Warning: He’s very blunt in most of his advice. But he’s spot on with all of his business advice. Several of my core principles in the Event Promotion System are based on Kennedy’s teachings.  In his “No B.S. Business Success” book he talks about the importance of being “interesting, different, and outrageous” with your marketing. Kennedy states that “the worst marketing sin you can commit is to be boring. People love to buy when it’s a pleasure to buy.” You want to be creative with your marketing, but be careful.  Too many people who market their stuff make the colossal mistake of confusing creativity and usefulness in their marketing.

The Caution
If you are thinking of making your marketing more creative, there is one very important point to remember. Many companies confuse creativity with relativity in their marketing. If you’re going to be creative with your marketing it needs to strike a deep chord with your prospect. What a business or event thinks is cool versus what the consumer thinks is cool are usually two very different things. Most businesses find this out the hard way. A consumer will almost always take high value and useful over cool. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have something that is cool and useful. It just takes a little creativity.  Google and Apple are very good at combining useful with cool.

Personality over Slick Professionalism
People want to connect with one another.  It doesn’t matter if they’re in a suit and tie or t-shirt and jeans. Kennedy states, “People are people, in the boardroom on the 50th floor or on the floor in the living room.” When you get down to it we all buy for the same reasons. If you can connect with your prospect at a very personal level you can do great things. Ask yourself, “Are you connecting with your prospect at a personal level in all your marketing?” Make it about them, not about you. It works!

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

How to Grow Your Business in a Down Economy

As most people have probably heard, the economy in the United States and across the globe seems to be in a bit of turmoil.  I can’t speak for everyone. But I’m not exactly sure what to believe regarding these “bad” economic times. Yes, people are facing difficult economic times, there is no denying it.  Yet at the same time people are doing very well. That forces me to ask the question, “Why are some people doing really well and others struggling?” The answer is pretty complex. Today I’m going to share with you one universal factor successful businesses and events employ in bad economic times. In the last three months I’ve worked with three events that posted record attendance numbers. According to many people that's near impossible in these economic times. Wanna know how they did it?

A Little Background
Event organizers and businesses that are very savvy about their marketing and promotions can protect themselves during down economic times. My close friends and associates have seen their businesses thrive over the last 6 months. One friend more than doubled his monthly sales in October. Many people think, “The economy is down, he can’t do that!”  My friends are from the most diverse group of businesses you can imagine, including the event industry. Many of their products or services would be considered non-essential to most consumers. I'm not saying this to brag, but to impress upon you that others are doing very well in troubled economic times. Don't let the other people or the economy dictate your business growth.

They Delivered MASSIVE Value
Nobody is taking all of the world’s money and hiding it. People are just far less likely to spend.  You need to be more creative with your marketing approach. All of my friends who are thriving during the current economic hardship are doing some specific things in common. They are delivering massive value with their product or service. You need to be able to prove that what you have to offer is going to do the consumer some good or deliver a desired benefit. Ask yourself the question, “What can I do to prove the value of what I have to the consumer?” You have to be able to get them to open up their wallet and spend their hard earned cash!  This isn't an easy task. If you can figure out how to deliver the value of your product or service during bad economic times, just imagine what you can do when the economy is thriving.

P.S. - A Side Note on the "News"
Here is a personal recommendation that will allow you to see the world a little differently. It is important for you to know that I'm am a recovering news junkie. This suggestion might seems a bit "woo-woo," but you'd be amazed how down you can get watching the news. Do yourself a HUGE favor, stop watching and getting wrapped up in the news.  It is psychologically and financially counter productive. In my opinion the news has become an over dramatized editorial for the network you watch. Both political sides do it and it's really annoying. If you have to get your news fix, I'd recommend reading, not watching your news from a unbiased source. Or, ask a friend who isn't going to editorialize the news. I've been on the news diet for the past two months and it has allowed me to do some great things with my business. You'd be surprised what you can do if you aren't wrapped up in the world's over dramatized woes.

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