Years ago, I found myself in a heated argument with an event client. The discussion ensued after I asked this question, "would you rather get the attention of 1 million people or 20,000 in the local area?" The client adamantly argued for 1 million people, "we want everybody to know about this event in the local area!" How dare I suggest anything different! My position was to focus on 20,000 people.
Which would you choose 1 million or 20,000 people?
When asked, most people choose the million. And on the surface that seems perfectly logical. That is until you understand that most people are not interested in attending your event. What?!?! This is not my opinion, but what the data shows.
Why did I argue to focus on 20,000 people? Because that was the approximate number of previous tickets sold to the event. (The client didn't have accurate attendance tracking at their event.) That 20,000 number was also representative of the client's best previous attendance. The client's event never received anywhere near the 60,000 paid ticket holders they expected. People voted with their wallets, and 20,000 attendees are what the market will bear.
Here's some research to consider:
"Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer." Source: Forbes / Lee Resource, Inc.
You should also consider the cost savings in marketing to 20,000 people versus 1 million. Yes, we all want more people at our events. But it's important to set your expectations accordingly.
In 20 years not a single event I've worked with or volunteered at has ever hit their forecasted attendance number. Please understand, I absolutely want clients to hit their ridiculous attendance forecasts! There is a financial incentive for me if they do. But it has never happened, not once!
Today's takeaway ... set your attendance expectations based on your historical attendance figures. And focus your marketing dollars on previous customers. Doing so will put you miles ahead of the competition!
March's "Event Profit Report" will show you a simple strategy to get people to automatically self-select themselves to attend your event. These are the same people who are going to buy like crazy, once you put tickets on sale. If you're serious about promoting your event(s), the investment is a no-brainer! It will be printed and shipped worldwide.
Here are some additional event promotion articles with a little P.T. Barnum flair ...
- Event Promotion: Building Excitement for Your Event with Great Stories
- P.T. Barnum on Advertising
- Barnum & Hyping Up Your Event
- Curiosity Advertising P.T. Barnum Style
- Your Event, Stories, and P.T. Barnum
- The World’s Best Event Promoter Is . . .
- Turn Your Event Into an Experience
- Online Marketing Like P.T. Barnum
- More Marketing Like P.T. Barnum (Part II)