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An event marketing checklist or be checked!

On the positive side, a Platinum client set numerous ticket revenue records today with their ticket launch. On the not so positive side, there were costly issues that arose with the ticketing company and internal checks.

One particular "oops!" cost the client serious ticket revenue. The "oops!" happened by not raising the ticket price of a VIP ticket, after the limited quantity of VIP tickets were purchased.

To further complicate matters, the ticketing company doesn't have a system that supports automatic price increases. Pricing changes require an inefficient and manual process on the client's part. (I've tried to have the client fire the ticketing company several times - but the client insists on keeping them around.)

Long story short, the "oops" above cost the client ~$5,000 USD of ticket revenue in 90 minutes. The client oversold 200 VIP tickets that should have cost an additional $25 USD. People were purchasing VIP tickets like hotcakes! The entire situation was preventable. Which leads to an important question ...

Do you and your event team have checklists in place for revenue critical event functions? Especially for your ticket sales!

If not, start to build your own internal checklist. Try to keep your checklists manageable. You're better off with a list of 40 critical items, than 100-200 items to be check.

Another lesson from today, print your checklists and have them with you at revenue critical times! e.g. During a BIG ticket launch. A printed checklist would have avoided the client and ticketing company not raising ticket prices.

Want to get more event ticket strategies? Check out the links below:

Sell more event tickets by not selling tickets

You're probably thinking to yourself, "he's joking around or something, right?" Nope! Allow me to pay off the seemingly ridiculously revised title line ...

For a multitude of reasons, most event organizers are always in a rush to sell tickets. "We have to get tickets on sale as quickly as possible! Hurry, hurry!" That's not a smart approach. Because ticket revenue rarely correlates with how long tickets are sold. Instead, focus your efforts on building demand.

One of the simplest ways to build demand for any event is by making people wait to buy tickets. Remember, people want what they can't have. Tell them no, and they want it more! The same applies to your event tickets.

Consider what Disney did with their last Avengers movie. They built demand for almost a year and then started ticket sales less than a month before the movie's release. Previously, that would have been considered financial suicide. Currently, Disney is within $50M USD of Avatar's $2.78B all-time box office revenue record (not adjusted for inflation).

Some of my client's greatest ticket sale successes have been when they made people wait to buy tickets. Imagine a $100,000+ USD of ticket sales in 60 minutes with only a few hundred dollars of advertising spend. Or how about a million dollars of gross ticket revenue, before a single person walks in the front gate of your event. What impact would that have on your event?

Just last week, a European client made their fans wait for months to buy tickets. It was the complete opposite of what they've always done. As a result, they've generated more revenue in seven days than they did over seven months for their last event.

Clients don't make buyers wait - just because. They made buyers wait with a very specific purpose. That purpose was to build massive demand to purchase tickets. If you're going to make them wait, what are you doing to build demand for your event? Answer the previous question, apply your answer, and be amazed by the results!

Here are some additional resources regarding selling event tickets online:

Do you know when their event experience starts?

If you were asked, "when does the customer experience for your event, start?" What would be your reply?

Many people would answer, "as soon as they walk in the gate at your event!" And an argument could certainly be made for that.

One could also make the case that the customer experience starts, once someone buys a ticket to your event. That ticket purchase could be days, weeks, or months, before your actual event.

A person just spent their hard-earned money to purchase a ticket to your event. What are you doing to facilitate the best customer experience possible?

On the plus side of technology (when it isn't rotting our brains) it gives us the ability to communicate with people in a multitude of inexpensive ways. You could email, voice (telephone) broadcast, or SMS Text your event attendees.

One year a military client used SMS text messages sent to VIP customers and made sure they knew exactly how to get to the VIP parking area. For the most part, it worked tremendously well. There were a few hiccups for people without mobile phones. But even then, a backup message was sent to customers via email broadcast, the day before. As a result, most of the VIP ticket holders showed up happy.

Another place to improve the customer experience is on the actual ticket itself. Many people still print their event tickets. Most online ticketing companies allow you to reserve a space on printed tickets to put a custom message.

A client from Texas used their printed ticket area to send people to a customer only web site link. And a backup customer only message was sent via email. The customer only web site link was a mobile responsive design that gave timely show and performer updates. And the total cost to implement was zero dollars and about 20 minutes of time!

Is there a process you have in place to facilitate the customer experience before, during, and after your event?

If you wait until they're in your front gate, it's too late!

My "go to" customer event experience mantra goes like this, "don't let them show up to your event upset and never allow them to get home angry." Use technology, even in its simplest form and make people happy!

Looking for more event promotion advice? Check out the articles below:

How much do they spend inside your event?

A number that is not discussed often enough, at least in my experience, is average customer value inside an event.

That customer value is typically the sum of food, beverage, and novelty purchases, per person, once an attendee is on your event grounds. Customer value is applicable to both free and paid events.

Some events have average customer value down to a science. A local ethnic festival has an outrageously high per person customer value for their free event!

Even though Disney parks aren't events in the traditional sense, how Disney extracts people's money should be studied by every event organizer. It is absolutely jaw-dropping.

Years ago, I read an article on what the average Disney attendee spends within a Disney theme park. That amount was over $100 USD per person. Keep in mind that's after spending $100+ USD for an Adult admission. Those are astronomical numbers!

Average customer value is also a valuable tool in your marketing math toolbox. Provided you have accurate data, you can use customer value for event revenue forecasting. It can also be used to roughly calculate attendance at large events. Personally, I use it to verify attendance numbers for clients and prospective clients.

Years ago, an event organizer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania claimed they had 200,000 attendees at their event. Yet, they only generated $200,000 in onsite customer revenue. If you divide the total customer revenue by the number of attendees, you get $1 per person. Which seems very low.

Clients in the same event niche as the event in Pittsburgh, generated on average $8.00-$11.80 per person at their events, year after year. That means the Pittsburgh event most likely had between 17,000 and 25,000 attendees. Remember, accurate attendance numbers are critical for your sponsorship dollars. If sponsorship figure out your numbers are grossly exaggerated, they might not sponsorship your event in the future.

If you have a paid gate and want to calculate your own customer value, here's a quick and straightforward equation. Divide the total number of ticket buyers by the gross revenue from food, beverage, and novelties (plus any other applicable goods sold on your event grounds).

Another fascinating takeaway regarding customer value ... a concessionaire in the air show industry found that air shows that sold more presale tickets had higher customer values. Their reasoning, if people buy in advance, they're more apt to spend money on site. It is my firm belief that higher advance ticket spend applies to any ticketed event. So, make sure you're focused on advance ticket sales!

Crunch your own numbers and let me know what you find.

Here are a few more event revenue and event ticketing insights:

Using a strategic pricing model to drive massive ticket revenues

Over the years, I've worked with multiple event organizers who are staunchly opposed to discount pricing. They each have their own reasons. Including, "we don't want to discount because it costs us ticket revenue" to, "I don't want to do discounting because of how it is perceived ... so we don't do discounts!"

Hey, it's their event, so they can do whatever they want.

That said, I try to challenge them on their own beliefs. A simple look at historical ticket sales data really sheds light on what's going on ...

In one instance, an event organizer who is against discounts is always left with hundreds of unsold tickets. My question to them, after their event, "if someone offered you 50% of the value of those unsold tickets as cash, would you take it?" When they answer, "yes!" I proceed to ask, "then why not sell your tickets at a discount?" At that point, you can see the mental gears going.

All of my clients use a strategic pricing model. It involves smartly discounting tickets based on historical ticket sales performance, while aggressively protecting profit margins. Because most of my clients are outdoor events (directly impacted by a bad weather forecast and/or weather), advance ticket sales are critical.

In every instance to date, clients have gone on to record ticket sales revenue while smartly offering deep discounts on their ticket prices.

Just this week, a client used a process called "blocking and stepping" to generate more ticket revenue in four days, when compared to their last event over seven months. And the kicker is ... they started by offering tickets up to 50% OFF!

My challenge to you is, how can you sell tickets at a discount and generate more revenue for your event? Are there tickets for sale after your event? If someone offered to purchase those unbought tickets, what price would you sell them for?

The answer to the questions above should give you a decent idea of what discounts to offer. Yes, there is a lot more to strategic price modeling. The above questions and examples hopefully get you thinking differently about discounts. Start by at least taking a deep dive into your previous ticket sales data.

Want to get more event promotion advice? Check out the articles below:

Why did they unsubscribe? Do you know?

Over the last 8 years, over 24 million emails have been sent for event clients. The emails go out to permission-based prospect and customers from around the world. Thus, the email list quality is outstanding. As you can probably guess, each time you send a broadcast email, people unsubscribe. That's the nature of the beast.

Furthermore, there are multiple unsubscribe links in every client email. Why have numerous unsubscribe options in your marketing emails? It ensures a higher quality email list. The better your list quality, the more tickets you sell to your event.

Depending on your email marketing service provider, there might be an automatic exit survey when people unsubscribe. Basically, the exit survey asks people, "what's your reason for unsubscribing?"

Then, the survey gives people a series of multiple-choice answers or the option to write their own response. Some of the multiple-choice answers include: you send too much email, the content is not what I expected, the content is no longer relevant to me, and I never signed up for your emails.

Over the last 2 years, clients have increased the frequency of marketing emails. In some cases, doubling the number of marketing emails sent. Naturally, the email unsubscribe rate increases.

Would you like to guess the top reason people unsubscribe from client email lists? If you don't want to guess, that's ok. Because I'm about to give you the answer.

As marketing email frequency increased, the number one reason people unsubscribe: "the content is no longer relevant to me." In some cases, two to three times higher than, "I get too many emails from you." Those results leave clients with a lot to think about. Because they believe they're already sending too much email. (Which is not the case!)

Next time you get a chance, look at the reason people are unsubscribing from your email marketing list. You'll probably be surprise by the results.

If most people aren't complaining that you send too much email, you're not sending enough email. And when you don't send enough email, you're leaving ticket sales on the table!

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

How did they hear about your event & why did they buy?

In a recent review of outdoor event survey data, I noticed some interesting discrepancies ...

The post-event survey was put together by the event's ticketing company and is sent automatically to ticket buyers after the event. Within the survey, there is a question that asks, "where did you hear about this event?" Followed by a series of multiple-choice answers. It's important to note the specific wording of the question being asked ... "WHERE did you hear about this event?"

Multiple clients have used the ticketing company that automatically sends out the post-event survey. Separately, there was sophisticated tracking put in place for all the clients using the ticketing company and survey question from above.

Interesting discrepancies arose when comparing the tracking data of a ticket sale and the ticket company's customer survey results. The tracking data showed "how" and "why" people purchased a ticket to the event. Which was vastly different from the "where did you hear about this event" data.

As an example, "Facebook" represented a majority of the customer "where did you hear ..." survey responses. At the same time, the tracking data show that Facebook accounted for a small percentage of overall ticket sales. Additionally, there were discrepancies in place across several marketing channels.

Remember from above, the note about specific wording?

On multiple occasions, event organizers focused their advertising spend around the ticketing company's survey results. That could be a very costly decision!

Because how someone heard about your event and why they purchase a ticket to your event, MIGHT be closely related or completely unrelated.

My friend Roman Yako refers to it as the "Buyer's Continuum." It's where a customer starts, takes a journey (through an advertising/marketing funnel), and ultimately results in a ticket sale. Having good data helps give insight on your Buyer's Continuum.

My question to you, "do you know your customer's journey, and can you define that journey with hard data?"

When you know your customer's journey and can back it up with data ... you acquire an unbelievable advantage when investing your advertising and marketing dollars.

Here are some additional articles on planning a successful event:

Event Promotion Question: At the door or online ticket sales?

Here's a question from the Questions & Answers bag: "Do you think it is better to sell just on the door, or online and on the door?"

With rare exception, all your ticket sales should be exclusively online. Yes, I understand an online-only ticket sales suggestion could be a massive jump for some events. I promise you, it's well worth the challenge!

One of the rare exceptions to not selling ticket online is when you can collect a full data set on a walk-up customer. Because of the time required to get useful customer data, on walk-up sales, it is not practical for most events.

Selling tickets online, when set up correctly, makes customer data collection practically automatic.

Remember, people are filling out their information to complete the ticket purchase transaction. Just make sure you're getting customer consent. It's imperative that you tell customers how their data is being stored and used before they complete their transaction.

Here's a zinger to leave you with ...

"What if I don't charge people to attend my event?" Then you should still issue attendees tickets!

Yes, you read that correctly. This "ticket them" concept was shared with me by Gary Bradshaw from AttendStar, a ticketing company. Here's how it works.

When you collect their data for a free ticket and get their permission to market to them ... you should consider offering a paid VIP ticket. Even to an open gate or free event. Some of my military clients have generated up to $150,000 USD for VIP tickets to an open gate event. I'm telling you with confidence it can be done!

The bottom line for today, if you're not selling all your tickets online ... start to make the transition ASAP!

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

Are you properly targeting your event in the marketplace?

Lately, I've been on a bit of an ethnic festival kick. This weekend was a local Greek festival. And those Greeks sure know how to cook amazing food!

This weekend's festival reminded me of a question my father would ask me regarding a local Ukrainian festival. My father's question, "who is the festival really for?" In his opinion, the Ukrainian festival primarily targeted the local Ukrainian community with their advertising and marketing. Yet they should have been targeting non-Ukrainians.

Think about it. Where is most of the revenue made at a Ukrainian festival (like many ethnic festivals)? Revenue is made on food and beverage sales! Of which the Ukrainians at the festival, represented a tiny percentage. The question to ask is, "who's going to buy our stuff?"

Let's compare the Ukrainians with the Greeks ...

As a restaurant owner in Athens recently told me, "most Greeks already make great food at home, they don't need to go to a Greek restaurant to eat."

The Greeks, to their credit, seemed to target people who like good Mediterranean food. A broader target market and NOT just their own people. "Nothing personal, just business!" And it's a slight nuance but makes a massive difference in a festival's bottom line!

Targeting importance isn't just limited to ethnic festivals. It applies to every event. When targeting your marketing, it's critical to be clear on who you're targeting and why you're targeting them.

Here's the real shocker. When asked, most event organizers cannot correctly identify why people attend their event! Please make sure that isn't you.

Want to get more event promotion information? Check out the articles below:

Taming those marketing tech monsters

There's this guy I know who's really into marketing technology. He drones on about tracking everything to a result. He also drives his client nuts with his rantings and ravings on how they should market their events. For his part, this guy uses very sophisticated marketing technology. I'd describe him as a "principal based a-hole!"

At one point, this guy asked two major ticket companies if any of their clients used a specific marketing tech to track advertising effectiveness. Both ticketing companies responded that they don't have any clients that use that technology.

It's important to note, these ticketing companies represent tens of thousands of events and hundreds of millions in ticket sales across the globe. Yet, nobody is tracking using anything to advertising spend to event ticket sales?!?!

The problem with the marketing tech guy mentioned above, he's not FULLY utilizing all the marketing platforms and tech he recommends to his clients. That's not to say he's undeserving his clients. He's just not getting maximum results and efficiencies out of what's being used. And wasting a ton of his personal time!

I know all the above explicitly because the "guy" described is yours truly! Just last week, I discovered a simple list segmentation utility within an email marketing service used on client projects.

I can say I've easily wasted dozens of hours manually segmenting customer databases. Fortunately, for my clients, they pay for performance, not hours worked or my stupidity.

Unfortunately for me, I cannot get all those hours back for what could have been done in 60 seconds and a few mouse clicks. That's because I hadn't fully mastered the marketing technology being used.

Here's a question, "what would it mean to you if you could reduce the time you spend on an essential task by 98-99%?

Remember that phrase, "jack of all trades, master of none!" Master one piece of marketing tech at a time and then move on to the next! That's how you tame the marketing technology monsters.

Mastering one piece of marketing tech at a time will pay incredible dividends to you and your event. Plus, maximize that one invaluable human resource ... your time! "You can always make more money, but you never make more time!"

Want to dive in deeper? Here are some additional event promotion links:



Mining your event marketing mountain & "digital dust"

When starting with a new client, I conduct a thorough marketing audit. The sophisticated process involves taking a very detailed look at an event's financial health and marketing assets.

In every audit to date, not a single client has been fully leveraging some of their most valuable data.

Several well-established events have a mountain of marketing data. The problem with a mountain of data is that most events don't even know what to look at or where to look. To be fair, it's a daunting task. It's a mountain for Pete's sake ... there's lots of it, and it's unruly! Much like data.

Years ago, I discovered that a new client that had over 90,000 previous customers hiding in plain sight. Unfortunately, those customers were never marketed to, and the customer database collected "digital dust." What does that mean?

Over time, data accumulates "digital dust." The data goes out of date or certain aspects fundamentally change. Here's a simple example. A customer's email address might have changed in the five years since they've purchased a ticket to your event. In most cases, and without a good process in place, that customer data is lost forever. The client mentioned above lost almost 20,000 customer email addresses due to digital dust.

Much like mining, and what little I know about it (a little more than zero), you don't try to mine the entire mountain if there are only a few veins of gold.

You start with a little research to find the best places to mine for gold. Then you put your limited resources into action. In the case of every event, a potential gold mine of data is your previous customer file.

Do you know where to find your previous customer information? Is there a process in place to prevent it from collecting digital dust?

So before trying to create some fancy new ad or Facebook campaign (both fraught with danger), go mine that "gold mine" of previous customers!

Want to get more info to pack your next event? Check out the articles below:

Are your event attendees loyal? Are you sure?

When it comes to event attendance, there is a standard go-to phrase, "we can always count on our loyal customers!"

After completing a recent analysis, my question of the day is, "do you really have loyal customers?"

In this case, a loyal event attendee (customer) should be considered someone who attends your event more often than not. So, if you have 5 events, they've attended the last 4-5 events. Fair enough?

Today, I completed another event analysis study. The analysis involved crunching five years of customer data for a niche annual outdoor event. Its primary purpose was to answer the question, "how loyal are event attendees?"

Thus far, the results have been absolutely shocking. One person summed up the findings this way, "holy f***!"

Because the outcome of the customer loyalty studies could have massive ramifications for how certain niche events are produced, advertised, and marketed. Put directly, throw out what you've been doing for 30-years, because it clearly isn't working ... according to your own customer data!

First, the number of people attending four to five of the last five events, less than 3%! On the opposite side of the scale, the number of people attending only one event in five years, over 80%.

I'm no statistician, but last time I checked, it's nearly impossible to grow any event with those kinds of numbers. Some of the annual events in the study have been going on for over 30 years.

To be fair, the findings above are preliminary. The data and methodology are not perfect, but it is excellent in terms of being able to track customer loyalty.

I plan to hire a "Quant" (Quantitative Analyst) to really dig into the methodology being used and make sure of the accuracy and objectivity of my approach. What's a Quantitative Analyst? In crude terms, a super geek with the combined skills of a computer scientist, finance analyst, and rocket-science mathematician.

In the meantime ... Have you ever looked at how loyal your event customers are? Specifically, using your customer data and matching variables to identify repeat buyers. If so, what did you find?

Here are some additional articles to boost your event promotion efforts:

The egomaniac's guide to event failure

Fasten your seat belts, because things are going to get blunt!

Event organizers get themselves in HUGE trouble because they're subjective in how they plan and execute their events.

According to Princeton University's WordNet definition, a subjective person uses "judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts." Mix in a subjective event organizer mindset with some ego, and you have the perfect mix for disaster.

Trust me, it's not pretty, and I've seen many utterly avoidable event catastrophes, all a result of people being stupidly subjective.

Here's the typical scenario . . . An event organizer becomes hell-bent on running an event THEIR way (also known as Captain Ahab Syndrome). The end result is that the event organizer adopts a mindset of knowing better than their own event attendees. And that "I know better" will get your event a fast pass to failure.

It doesn't matter how noble or great YOU think your event is if people don't share those same beliefs – or worst, don't care – your event will flop, GUARANTEED!

Event organizers (of the subjective type) empathically state, "It's my event, and I'll run it as I please." That is true, but it's not worth trying to reason them.

My only question is, "What happens when your event crashes and burns?" Usually, it's someone else's fault, and it turns into a finger pointing contest. Even worse is the following event organizer statement (which I've had said to me by a frustrated event organizer), "People who didn't show up to our event don't know what they're missing ... they're idiots!"

Any event organizer who considers those that didn't attend their event in such poor regard is a dolt! People didn't attend because the egomaniac event organizer failed to give the consumer a compelling reason to attend.

Fear not, there is hope! Here is what you can do to prevent yourself from falling into the subjective mindset trap . . . be objective about all aspects of your event!

Being objective focus on facts, not feelings! A well thought out event survey (or pre even survey) is massively beneficial in keeping your event planning and promotions objective. The caveat is that you have to truly embrace the survey results. One of the single best event survey questions to ask your event attendees is "what DIDN'T you like about the event?"

Yet, when I propose the "what didn't you like about the event" survey question to organizers, they get upset and refuse to use it. They believe if you ask a seemingly negative question, their event will be cast in a bad light. I'd argue they don't ask the questions because their ego can't handle the feedback.

The truth is if you ask the question from above, you're going to have to put on some ego armor. BUT, if you integrate the negative attendee feedback, you're left which a significantly more marketable event. Some might ask, "why not ask what people liked about my event?"

Because if you only focus on the positive and don't correct the negative, you'll never improve your event. When you do ask the "negative" question, you'll find people are unbelievably cordial and appreciative with their feedback.

Here are some additional articles on planning a successful event: