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June 2019
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An "out" to your advertising advantage

Back in 2007, the Internet was still a little bit of the Wild West. These days, much as changed. In some ways, it's better, and in others it's worse. One thing that doesn't change is the fundamentals.

Today, I'd like to share a simple strategy you can use for online media buys. The following advice comes directly from people who purchase $50K USD to $250,000+ per month in online advertising. Don't worry, you don't need to spend those kind of numbers on advertising.

It's something that I was introduced to in 2007 by people who sign colossal advertising contracts. This fundamental is still 100% applicable today. One caveat to the suggestion, you need to track all your advertising and marketing.

Here's my advertising recommendation:

Negotiate a 24 to 72 hour "out clause" into all your online media buys. If you can track your numbers really well, an out clause should also be used for traditional media buys. In the simplest terms, an "out clause" allows you to get out of long term or expensive media buys (contracts).

Why would you want to do that? Because when you're tracking your advertising and it's underperforming, why commit your money to something that doesn't work?

To be clear, I'm not saying you should get anything for free. If you advertise for three days, you pay for three days.
In almost every instance the advertising sales executive is going to balk at the request. They'll tell you, "we can't do that" and "that's not in our contract" or "corporate won't allow us to do that." That's all B.S.! If you're talking to the right person, they'll be able to get it done.

This suggestion is also a learned skill. As your numbers and advertising buying chops come together, so will your ability to be a smart media buyer.

Remember the quote from two months ago:

"In business as in life, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." - Chester L. Karrass

Make sure you get into the mindset of tracking your numbers and negotiating out clauses. Most important of all, don't commit yourself to a bad advertising deal! Never be pressured into buying media. When you know your marketing numbers, this won't happen.

Want more info on radio advertising for your event?
Check out the articles below:

Serving a critical piece of customer service pie

Over the past few days, we've been taking a closer look at your customers and dealing with feedback about your event.

Per yesterday's post, I promised you a "critical piece of customer service pie!"

It applies to emails about your event, social media comments, event reviews, etc. It's also one of the most important pieces of advice I've shared to date.

With several client projects, I volunteer a few hours every year to answer customer emails. (Some of my biggest clients are non-profit organizations.) My reason for doing this is an attempt to understand where people are coming from ... getting into their ego and mindset.

Last year, I responded to an angry email for a non-profit client's event. The person was rude in their initial email. I attempted to answer calmly and professionally. Apparently, they didn't care.

A few months later, that same person decided to copy and paste my email response as a comment on a Facebook ad for the client's event. Of course, they used the Facebook comment with my email response to blast the event and trash talk me in the process. For some strange reason, they forgot to paste their initial email where they were a belligerent a-hole. I still stand 100% behind my email. No emotions or personal jab, just the facts. But this example isn't about me.

Have you ever heard the phrase ... "the Internet is forever!"

Anything you post and in some cases "do," is historically logged as 1's and 0's. It can be a social media comment or email to a customer.

Remember that people will take anything you say, do, or write on the Internet and potentially use it against you and your event. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. People could sit on what you've written for weeks, months, or years.

So here's the critical piece of advice for today ...

Next time you or a team member decide to respond to anything regarding your event, keep this simple phrase in mind:

"Whatever I write here will probably show up on the Internet someday."

That phrase with a dash of humility should keep you in the sweet spot. Even better, it's an excellent way to shut down the online haters. If the public sees your response that someone decides to try and use against you as fair, measured and emotion-free, you'll almost always end up on the positive side.

Want to get more info on event customer service? Check out the articles below:

An (ALL CAPS) Angry Pants Event Email ...

Here's an entertaining ALL CAPS and "angry pants" email ...

It comes courtesy of an event client. Hence, I've [redacted] certain parts of the email below to protect the event and the overly opinionated. The ALL CAPS sections have NOT been edited in any way.

"Hey [NAME OF EVENT]...your ticket prices have gotten BEYOND RIDICULOUSLY HIGH. I'm one of the THOUSANDS watch the [EVENT] from [A PARK] - where we can bring in our own food and drinks ( and not get ripped off by the vendors on-site ) sit in our own comfortable chairs near our vehicle, and see the [EVENT] for FREE - FREE - FREE!

We quit getting ripped off by your high prices YEARS AGO. There are more of us scattered around outside the gate, than you have people inside the gate - and our numbers keep getting higher and higher each year. THAT SHOULD TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR RIDICULOUS TICKET PRICES AND VENDOR SCALPING PRICES."

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Including the person that wrote this lovely email.

As context, a single adult can buy an early-bird event ticket for less than $20 and bring up to 4 children (age 14 and under) at no additional fee. If you want to go the family route ... Mom and Dad, plus up to a total of 12 kids (age 14 and under) can attend the event for less than $40 USD, if they buy tickets early.

It doesn't appear that the person who wrote the email has recently purchased a ticket to the event. Their email was checked against the client's customer database. To be fair, they could have bought a gate ticket.

Which leads me to the question of the day ... how would you and your team respond to the email above?

Want to get more info on event customer service? Check out the articles below:


Before responding to complaints about your event, do this ...

or some reason, online customer service has been a hot topic this week. Whatever the cause, clients seem to be dealing with a higher rate of online complaints than usual. Strangely enough, their events aren't until the fall.

So, instead of complaining myself, let me give you the first step in dealing with any complaint. It's the first thing you should do if someone writes you a criticism via email or posts something nasty on social media.

But before I get into the recommendation, allow me to ask the following:

Do you have a policy or procedure in place for dealing with complaints about your event? How do you or your team deal with people who complain? Do you log all your complaints?

Hopefully, you have a procedure in place. Even if you do or don't have a process, here's a recommended first step ...

If someone writes you an email or posts something to social media, before taking any action (or getting upset), do this ... check and see if they're a customer or previous customer. Doing so will at least give you a general idea of how to deal with the complaint.

If the person is a customer. You might want to dig a little deeper into their customer file. If you're not sure, you might want to ask them.

Why does it matter?

Because if they are a previous or current customer, that should impact how you handle their complaint. Personally, my goal is to turn every customer complaint into a win. And it works most of the time.

If they're not a customer, depending on their complaint, you might want to ask yourself, "do I really want this person as a customer?"

This is in no way to imply that you should treat anyone poorly or unprofessionally. But do you really want people who get all nasty with their complaints as a customer?

Ironically enough, I fired an Event Profit Report subscriber on Sunday. I tried to promptly address their concern, and they still went all unprofessional on me. Not someone I want as a customer! We all have our own limits, you need to decide what's right for you and your organization.

Remember - don't respond to them, don't get upset, do nothing ... until you see if they're a current or previous customer.

Want to get more info on event customer service? Check out the articles below:

About all those ticket price whiners ...

Pop quiz ...

"How many event attendees complained about ticket prices at your last event?"

The question above might seem overly simplistic, but there is an essential word of note. And it's a word you and your event team need to pay careful attention to.

What do you think the critical word might be?

The word is "customers," not people.

What's the difference? If a "person" complains about your ticket price and never buys a ticket, do you really care? They're probably whiners. And whiners will never buy a ticket to your event. But they'll complain all over the place and suck the life out of you.

Let's dive in a little deeper on this topic ...

When I asked the customer ticket complaint question above to a client, their response was, "a lot of people complained on social media!" To which I returned to the important part of the original question, "how many customers complained?" They didn't know.

The complaint question was asked of another client. Their response, "not more than 10 people." Again, I asked, "were the people who complained customers?" They also didn't know.

My goal here isn't to rag on clients, because they're super awesome about implementing my insane requests. What's the goal? To focus on the takeaway ... who's really complaining about your ticket prices?

It's imperative that you ignore the whiners and focus on the people most essential to your event. They are your customers and potential customers.

Here's the icing on the takeaway cake. Both clients in today's email have events that sell tens of thousands of tickets. And yet for one client, less than 10 people complained about the price of their event tickets.

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

Where's your focus & "chopping up" event attendees

Matt writes the following ...

"How can you manage expectations of the customers? Maybe some of my customers would like more info from us, but I don't want to send them stuff they don't want and lose customer's interest (and annoy them), or just get caught up in the piles of other forms of advertising that is constantly bombarding every one.

I want to make sure that our message sticks out from the crowd and would love some way to be able to separate the people based on their interests. We currently don't have any information tied to our e-mail or text listings to separate who wants what—or shouldn't I care?"

First, Matt is doing something massively important.

Can you identify what it is?

Matt is using a customer-centric mindset, bravo!!! It's not about what he thinks. Matt is being very cognizant of his prospects and customers. It's a very mature event organizer approach. And it's missing from most events. If you want more people at your event, stop focusing on your ego ... and focus on their ego!

I'm going to amalgamate my response to Matt's series of questions with one strong suggestion. And to answer his last question, "Yes Matt, you should absolutely care!"

What follows applies to every single event, including free events.

My suggestion is that Matt segments his marketing target lists. In the purest sense, have one list for prospects and another list for customers (attendees).

Side note: even if you have a free event, you should be issuing tickets.

Once someone purchases a ticket (or becomes an attendee), put them on a customer only track. Fair warning, it is more work to use segmentation. But it alleviates many of the concerns Matt pointed out above.

Here's a hard data point to drive home the importance of segmentation. It comes directly from recent client work.

List "A" is a customer list and list "B" is a prospect list. The only notable variation is the P.S. copy was removed from list "A." Three event info messages were sent to both lists. List A's response rate was 3x more that of list B for each of the three messages sent. Again, same message. That's the power of segmentation!

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

How creativity destroys your event ticket sales

What?!? How could creativity have a downside?

Almost every time an event organizer has a new event, or recurring annual event, they feel compelled to create all new advertising and marketing.

This can involve everything from posters, radio ads, television ads, online banner ads, billboards, collateral materials, to redesigning event websites. And everything in between.

On the surface, the above approach seems perfectly logical.

I'm here to tell you, that the need to create something new approach, is most likely an enormous waste of your time and money! "Eugene, you're a heretic! How could you say something so mean?!"

Because creating something new, could hurt your ability to sell tickets to your event!

How is that possible?

You won't know for sure if you don't hold all your marketing and advertising ruthlessly accountable.

That means knowing the marketing effectiveness of at least your most prominent marketing and advertising assets: banner ads, your website, email marketing campaigns, social media posts, etc.

In marketing, specifically direct-response marketing, it's called a control. A control is a piece of advertising or marketing strategy that has a measurable result. e.g., You have a banner ad for your event that gets a .05% click-through rate each year it's run. That's your banner ad control.

When you create a new advertising or marketing piece, you test that new creative against an existing control. The goal is to beat the control and keep testing. There is a lot more too it than the rough description above but hopefully, you get the idea.

My challenge to you is to establish a control and run it for as long as possible. The cost and time to measure the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing controls will dwarf that of creating something new.

Until your controls fail to perform, why spend time and money to create something new? This isn't art class! Figuring out what advertising and marketing works (or if it actually works) is infinitely more important than creating something new. It will also make you more money, every time!

Most of my clients have been running the same advertising and marketing controls for years. And guess what? Not a single customer has ever complained about the same advertising and marketing being used, year after year. The result has been millions of dollars of ticket sales.

The suggestions above are guaranteed to boil the blood of most ad agencies and graphix designers. It's your money, and you should protect it like a valuable investment!

That said, if a designer or ad agencies can beat an existing control, they should be well compensated!

I'm tough on the creative types, but I'm also very fair. The best graphic designers will take you up on a control challenge. Because they know how to use design to drive ticket sales. The rest will run for the hills. Focus on finding those who understand the importance of results over art and you'll be set.

Additional Event Promotion Resources:

Lost revenue from exaggerated 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 rollercoaster 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 rollercoaster 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.

The single best form of "weather insurance" is lots of ticket sale money in your bank account!

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

Want more advance ticket sale insights? Check out the articles below: