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"Have Blue" secrets for marketing your event

Back in the 1970s, the United States Government took on a highly secretive project known as "Have Blue." The "Have Blue" project was the precursor the to the F-117A Nighthawk a.k.a. "Stealth Fighter."

One fascinating part of the "Have Blue" project is that the aircraft was meticulously "Frankensteined" from other aircraft. Some of the components included the landing gear, ejection seat, engines, and fly-by-wire system. A great deal of time and money were saved by using "off the shelf" parts.

You're probably asking yourself, "what exactly does this have to do with me?" Here's the Stealth Fighter lesson for every event organizer...

When it comes to your website, it's essential to start with trying to find an "off the shelf" solution. Over the years, I've seen countless custom designed websites for businesses and events. In many instances, the person or web design company hired to build the site unnecessarily custom coded features. This "customization" cost an outrageous amount of time and money.

Once an event organizer bragged about their $40,000 USD custom designed website. The visually stunning website hurt the event's ticket sales. Later, the event's website was replaced with a far less expensive alternative (using off the shelf tech). Add in some smart marketing strategy, and the event went on to skyrocket their ticket revenue.

Before redesigning your next website, ask your web person/company, "is there an existing technology or service that can be used?" Save those valuable dollars for your advertising and marketing. You'll get way more bang for your buck!

Use direct response marketing for your event and only pay for results. Check out the links below:

The "X" factor of a great event ticketing company

"Your patron's event experience does not start when they walk in the front gate of your event. Their event experience starts the moment they use their hard-earned money to buy a ticket to your event. In some cases, months before your event begins."

For almost twenty years, I've been on a quest to find a truly excellent event ticketing company. The adventure has left me with a litany of lessons learned and chronic disappointment.

There was even a time when I thought all I had to do was form my own ticketing company. That didn't work out well, but I did learn a lot.

Here's one of the biggest lessons learned about selecting a superior event ticketing company. It applies to every event organizer on planet Earth.

Ironically, my strong recommendation has nothing to do with technological bells and whistles. It even ignores seemingly essential items like how much you pay in ticket fees.

(As an aside: Ticketmaster is the largest ticketing company in the world. Ask any event organizer or ticket buyer and they'll probably say, "Ticketmaster's fees are absolutely ridiculous!" Yet, Ticketmaster is the biggest ticketing company in the world.)

If the ticketing company can provide you with the following "X" factor, make them your ticket company! That "X" factor is proving extraordinary customer service to your ticket buyers (and you!), from start to finish.

Here are some key factors ...

Great ticketing companies make it easy to buy a ticket on desktop or mobile. After a person purchases a ticket, their personal and financial information are stored in a safe secure spot.

If an event attendee loses their ticket, that ticket can be easily retrieved, by the attendee. The ticketing company should provide telephone support with employees who truly understand customer service.

If you're paying ticket service fees, you and your team should not have to provide ticketing customer support.

When onsite, the ticketing scanning and entry should work near flawlessly.

Again, you'll notice that most of the items above have little to do with technology and everything to do with great customer service.

When people buy a ticket to your event they don't see the ticketing company, they see you or your organization. The same goes for when there are issues with ticketing, they only see you.

Choose your ticketing company wisely!

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

"What happens when your event gets canceled?"

Quick disclaimer: what follows is not legal or accounting advice. My recommendation is to speak with an individual well versed in consumer law for your country or jurisdiction. With that said, the following information comes from years of conversations with attorneys across North America and Europe.

The following scenarios are real-life case studies of outdoor events being unprepared for adverse weather. "Weather" or not, the same advice applies to indoor events.

One of my first questions for any event organizer is, "what happens when your event gets canceled?"

The most common response is, "that's never happened." When it does happen the first time, the outcome is usually less than ideal.

On several projects with new clients, the standard response (when pressed) goes as follows. "We have a clearly stated no refund policy. If our event doesn't happen. We don't need to give people their money back!"

According to multiple attorneys, that's a legally sound position. That legally sound position also comes with a caveat and an important consideration.

Regardless of your event's terms of service, if an event ticket was purchased with a major credit card, the rules are different. Because you have a "no refund" policy means little to the credit card companies.

If your event attendee feels like you didn't deliver on an aspect of your event, the consumer can initiate a chargeback. With rare exception, the credit card companies will fight to protect the consumer and get them their money back.

That means credit card companies can forcibly take chargeback money out of your bank account, plus a chargeback fee. This is a big reason why ticketing companies hold a ticket sales reserve on your ticket sales.

If you haven't already, ask your ticketing company / merchant account provider what their policy is regarding chargebacks.

Too many chargebacks could result in not being able to process credit card transactions. Your best bet for avoiding credit card chargebacks is by having an event cancellation contingency place in place, before your event. To get you started here's a question to ask yourself and your team ...

"If you can't give a refund to an event attendee, how can you make that person happy?"

You then need to think through all the aspects associated with the above question. How are you going to get that message to event attendees? What happens when people demand a refund on social media (because they will)? Who's going to execute your contingency plan? Plus numerous additional questions and considerations.

Clients who have had cancellation contingencies and execution plans in place have kept chargebacks to the single digits (on tens of thousands of annual transactions) and refunds to a minimum.

Most important of all, they've gained trust with a very loyal customer base ... which is essential for long term growth of any event.

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

The comfort and benefit of extra event seating

A few years ago, I engaged in a heated debate with a client's operations manager. At the time, I requested an extra 25-50 seats for a sold-out premium venue of 150 seats.

There were several useless telephone calls and email debates. "Eugene, do we really need the extra seating?" My answer was a firm, "yes, absolutely!"

The operations manager's response was, "Eugene, we sold 150 tickets and there are 150 seats. We don't need more seats and we can't get the same color seats." (Yup, you read that correctly.) Ultimately, the seating request was authorized after a discussion with the client's Chairperson. And all was well in the universe.

When event attendees paid (150-250 USD) for a ticket premium ticket, it's imperative that attendees are comfortable. And it doesn't have to be just premium venue tickets! The price of extra chairs was 1.50 USD, trivial in the grand scheme of things.

If ever you find yourself in a situation of providing extra seating, always go for the additional seating option. The easiest way to sell a ticket to your next event, is a happy customer. A few extra seats can make a significant difference in your attendee's event experience.

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

The rub against free event advertising and marketing

Every year, I hear event organizers espouse the virtues of "free" advertising and trades. Occasionally at conferences there is an "oh yeah ... well we got X, Y, or Z for free" contest. Lots of people trying to one-up one another.

Here's my rub with the whole "free advertising" gambit ...

To date, not a single event organizer who swears by their free advertising and trades can produce tangible evidence connected to ticket sales. This isn't to say that it doesn't happen. To be fair, most event organizers don't even bother to track. So, how would they know?

"Free" advertising and marketing is a topic that hits close to home. Because clients spend an inordinate amount of their time managing their free advertising efforts. Ultimately in the end, they're left with nothing to show for it.

I am unsupportive of ANY form of advertising or marketing (online or traditional) that cannot be attributed to a ticket sale. Either you can track what you're doing to a ticket sale or not. And if not, it's pretty simple ... stop doing what you're doing.

This year a client went back to using old school "promo" codes on their print advertising. The results were eye-opening and easy to understand. When in doubt, go back to the fundamentals!

The way to preserve your advertising soul is to pay for advertising and track those efforts to a result.

Instead of free advertising and marketing, focus your efforts on paid solutions with a proven track record. You can start advertising online for as little as $5 a day. Even better, you can track simple advertising efforts to ticket sales.

Want to discover more about promoting your event? Check out the articles below:

"Bummer. The good tickets are sold out!"

"Bummer. The good tickets are sold out!" That was from an email that was sent to a client today.

The client had done such an excellent job of advance ticket sales, that all their premium event tickets were sold out.

Some premium tickets were sold out weeks in advance, after multiple price increases!

Most event organizers would think the situation above is a great place to be. Yet, being sold out of tickets could potentially be bad for your event. How so?

Because when you're sold out, especially weeks or months in advance, you can't generate additional ticket revenue.

A quick calculation showed that based on marketplace demand the client could have generated an additional 15-25% of ticket revenue, had they expanded their capacity. Unfortunately, because of the site layout, there was no additional space to increase capacity.

Here's today's takeaway. If you have a hot ticket for your event, always look for ways that you can expand capacity. One caveat to expansion is making sure you don't negatively impact customer experience. I've seen events get greedy and scuttle the customer experience.

Have you ever found yourself in the situation above? What was your result?

Want to "smartly" sell out your next event? Check out the links below:


Beware those event industry "bandwagons"

I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "jump on the bandwagon." If not, it means that a group of people start lining up to do something, because "everyone else is doing it!"

You'll often see the bandwagon approach at industry conferences. Things like in-depth education sessions that include "60 Social Media Tips in 60 Minutes" or "Getting Millennials to Attend Your Event!"

Bandwagons and fads are often used as marketing gimmicks to get people to attend industry conferences. Yet rarely garner meaningful results for attendees.

Remember when you had to have a Flash web site? Aside from an occasional video these days, Flash-based event websites are extinct.

Ironically enough, clients have generated record ticket revenues and "SOLD OUT!" events by doing the opposite of their peers. In some cases, clients are mocked for their archaic event promotion strategies. "Nobody does that anymore!"

As with most fads, I encourage you to take the position of healthy skepticism. This recommendation is not to rag on cutting edge technology, but to keep things in perspective. If something works well, it will prove itself in the marketplace and have long legs.

When you decide to take the leap into something new, do your homework! If you want to try a new piece of marketing technology, ease into it. Be sure to look for case studies from your event niche with a 5-year track record and quantifiable results. Doing so will give you a massive marketplace advantage.

Additional Event Promotion Resources:

Getting your event promotion and vendors in alignment

Here's a question to ponder, "Are your marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns ALL in alignment?"

The question above came up recently on a major project. Each of the listed elements (marketing, advertising, and PR) were managed by a different event team member or vendor.

In some instances individual components were controlled by different vendors. And each vendor was operating from their own playbook. The result was a marketing and advertising misalignment. Or as my friend Roman Yako phrases it, "random acts of marketing!"

About ten days before the event, significant ticket revenue shortfalls began to appear. Until that time, the event's ticket revenues were up by over 20%.

So, "if all the marketing, advertising, and PR campaigns were in alignment, would the ticket revenue shortfalls have happened?" My answer, "I don't know."

Here's what I am confident about ...

When "the going gets tough," it's imperative that your advertising, marketing, and PR elements (teams/vendors) are all in alignment!

Had all the players used the same playbook from the event referenced above ... I firmly believe that ticket challenges could have been better tackled.

Put in other words, if you and your team are going to face any adversity, you want everyone on the same page.

Get all your event promotions, advertising, and marketing in alignment! Check out the links below:

Ethically "stealing" outdoor event ideas

A few months ago, I attended an arts and crafts festival. Usually not something I'd attend. But, my lady has been mentioning the event, non-stop, over the last two days. So we went!

Three hours later, I walked out with 3-5 easy to implement ideas. Even better, the event's attendees validated the ideas. My question to you:

"How much time do you spend looking at other events for proven ideas and strategies?"

Borrowing ideas from other events is one of the quickest ways to add dollar signs to your event revenue.

If you don't spend much time looking outside your own event looking for marketing ideas, you need to start today.

One giant (self-imposed) roadblock that most people have to overcome is the "that will never work at our event" mindset. How many times have you heard business people lament the "that won't work, my business is different" line? Too many event planners and organizers fall into that same trap.

It's like a broken record ... "That won't work because my event is different." That's an excuse and a bunch of BS!

Proven marketing ideas can be adapted and modified from one industry to another. In some cases adopting ideas can be unbelievably easy. Because someone else figured it out and implemented the idea!

Over the years, I've attended countless events. Most of the events are outside my area expertise. And that's a good thing!

A straightforward strategy I picked up at an event put $500,000.00+ into the event organizer's bank account, months before a single person attended the event.

Discovering the $500K+ strategy took all of sixty seconds with a few quick questions to the right person. Even better, there is no reason why you can't do the same!

Make it a point to venture out and attend other events in and around your area. Especially events you usually wouldn't attended. Push your comfort zone!

When at other events be on the lookout for things that you might be able to integrate into your own event. The more perspicacious you are, the more you'll be able to take away. Find out who's in charge of the event . . . are they on-site? Most important of all - don't be afraid to ask smart questions.

Don't be afraid to ask organizers questions. Keep it short and sweet. Always remember to use a little couth… If an organizer is crazy busy at their event, you might need to follow up afterward.

Follow up with them a week or so after their event. It's important to remember that you don't always need to speak to the actual organizer to get useful information or ideas.

Several event insights over the years have come from event volunteers and later verified with the event organizers.

One important point to remember… You're going to need to do your homework and dig into details. It isn't wise to take everything at face value. If something sounds too good to be true, do a little research to validate what you observe. Why should you do this?

Because even event organizers have egos that need to be stroked. It's human nature. As a result, organizers might exaggerate their numbers or specific claims. Remember, you don't want to integrate a strategy into your own event that has been proven NOT to work. As has been said, "trust, yet verify!"

Next time you go out to another event, bring your thinking cap, a small notebook (plus pen) and an insatiable curiosity. Look for things that you can integrate and ethically borrow.

Never dismiss another event's promotion idea(s) as irrelevant or stupid until you've dug into the details. Chances are you'll be shocked by the details, and often pleasantly surprised.

Get more event ideas, advice, and strategies here:

The "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" event ...

Back on, September 20, 2019 was a scheduled event called is "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" event in Rachel, Nevada, USA. If you ever considered getting anywhere close, I'd strongly advise you NOT to go anywhere close to the "mythical" military base.

For all the jest that is the "Storm Area 51" event, there are valuable insights. And you need not have a super-secret government facility as your event venue to benefit.

If you look at the current "Storm Area 51" Facebook page, you'll see that the Group page has over 76,000 members. There is also a public event listed as "Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us" on Facebook with 5.4K Interested in attending and 2.8K Going.

Two news sources ( & cite over 2 million people as attending until the original Facebook event page was taken down by the organizer.

According to today's most recent news report, around 150 people showed up to the "Storm Area 51" event.

Two million people said they'd show up and only 150 attended, thus far. What's the "Storm Area 51" event takeaway? It's very straightforward and an alien concept for most:

"Just because people say they're interested in your event, does not mean they'll actually attend your event."

It's basically effortless to get someone to click an "attending/going" button to a free event online. Showing up to the said event is a far more significant challenge.

A much better way to have people attend your event, is to have attendees purchase a ticket. If you have a free event, require attendees to have a ticket. The psychology of having an event ticket is far more compelling than your potential attendee clicking on a "Going" button.

There are also numerous additional future marketing and advertising advantages. So make sure they have a ticket!

"Live long and prosper"

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

Those horribly misunderstood event ticket discounts

Last month, I received an email about the unique methodology used to promote client events. One part of the email referenced ticket discounts for an outdoor event and said:

"It would also allow us to keep 100 percent of the sales and possibly without the early bird discount."

The irony of the email excerpt from above is that it comes from an organization that's continuously holding events. To be fair, I don't think they're experienced with outdoor events.

Discounting is an often misunderstood ticket-selling strategy. Some of the misconceptions include the notion that you're "giving up margin" on every ticket that you discount. And that is a true statement. But as I often ask clients, "would you rather have 50% of something, or 100% of nothing?"

To be effective, any ticket discounting needs to be coupled with a well thought out strategic pricing model. The model protects margins and maximizes your advance ticket sales.

Recently, a client used discounted ticketing and a strategic pricing model to more than doubled their ticket revenue to an outdoor event. All starting with offering tickets at a 50% discount. Furthermore, that same client drove 83% of their ticket sales as advance ticket sales. And they aren't the only ones. Indoor events employ the same strategy to sell out, before a single person walks in the front door.

Every client that has used a ticket discount (smartly!) has gone on to generate record ticket revenue.

I bring the above to your attention, not to brag, but to emphasize that smart discounting can work tremendously well for almost any event.

Want to get more advance ticket strategies for events? Check out the links below:

Where should I focus to increase event revenue and attendance?

Today's question comes from a worldwide survey of event organizers conducted a few years ago ...

"In what area(s) should I focus on to increase growth (revenue / attendance) for my events?"

It's an often asked question and my go-to answer bears continuous repeating. You and your event team need to focus intently on growing your marketing skills. It's not a matter of just reading a book or two. You need to continually sharpen the marketing saw.

An essential subset of marketing is an event's ability to truly understand their clients/attendees. When I broach the "know thy attendee" subject with event organizers, many get very upset with me.

Event organizers say things like, "how dare you, Eugene! We've been doing this event for 40 years. And we know exactly what our customers want!"

To be clear, I don't pretend to know an event and its idiosyncrasies better than any event organizer. But there are two places where I excel, asking the right questions and staying objective.

Asking the right questions involves sending a survey to previous event attendees. The same survey is also sent to the event's leadership team. Then, the survey results are compiled.

Overall, what the leadership team / board thinks and what their customer's survey responses are diametrically opposed to one another. Like opposite sides of the universe. It doesn't matter if an event has been going on for 5, 10, 50 or 70 years. Objectivity on the event's part is a rare and welcome gem.

So, get really good at marketing and focus intently on getting inside your event attendee's mind. As a result, being able to identify their reasons for buying a ticket to and why some decided not to attend your event. You will generate significantly more ticket revenue and increase your attendance.

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

If you're every offered a marketing list for your event ...

Every year clients are solicited offers to promote their event to a third-party marketing list. Typically, these list opportunities come in the form of email marketing databases or postal mailing list. "For this low price, we can get your message in front of X number of people." It's a tempting offer.

Let me make it easy for you. If you're offered some else's marketing list to promote your event, say "thanks, but no thanks." Most marketing lists aren't worth your time, money, and attention. Especially for event organizers.

In 20 years, I've seen only one third-party marketing list generate enough sales to justify the time and associated costs. Could there be a great third-party list out there? Maybe. But again, not worth your time.

So, what should you do?

Build your own house list. Even if your list size is zero today. Focus on the quality of your list, not the quantity on your list.

Ten years ago, an event started with a list of zero people. To date, the event has generated over a million dollars of ticket sales to something anyone can watch for free. Most of the event's ticket sales can be directly traced back to their house list.

Don't forget the quintessential part of having your own house list. When you have a house list you own the data, not Google or Facebook.

Treat your house list with the utmost respect and give them what they want, they'll pay you in spades. If you haven't already, get started on building your list today.

Here are links for building your own house list:

Do you have event promotion "baditude"?

This comes from client work and is fascinating to me. What follows is illustrative of how many events approach their advertising and marketing. Especially not for profit organizations.

What is it? It's the mindset of:

"We're not going to pay for advertising if we don't have to!"

That's bad advertising attitude or advertising "baditude." And that attitude severely limits any event's opportunity at growing future ticket revenue and attendance.

For years clients have consistently seen a 2x to 5x return on every dollar invested in recommended advertising and marketing. Yet, long term clients who have seen massive growth in their advance and total ticket sales can no longer grow ticket revenues without paid advertising.

At the beginning of the year, one client asked me, "Eugene how much money do you need for advertising this year?" To which I reply, "Well how much can you get?" They insist on a number, so I request $100,000 to $200,000.

Their response is one of total disbelief. "That's ridiculous, we can't do that!" Not because they don't have the money. But because they've never spent that level of money on advertising and marketing.

Again, 2x to 5x return on investment for every advertising campaign we manage for clients. With zero additional cost for campaign management or agency commissions. Some clients see over a 1,000% return on their advertising and marketing investments each year.

If given a choice between "free advertising" and paid advertising, I'd choose paid advertising every single time! For both clients and for my own business. I encourage you to do the same. Why?

Because I am confident that any event can grow 5x to 10x faster with a systematic approach to marketing and paid advertising. Google and Facebook have made it very clear, you need to pay to play.

My strong recommendation is to break free from the "we don't have to pay for any advertising mindset." Per yesterday's email, you can start with as little as $5 a day.

Investing $3K (USD) a day to promote your event

How do you invest $3K USD per day to promote your event? It's an interesting answer. But first, a little context.

The question above comes from a real-world scenario. A good friend of mine manages hundreds of thousands of dollars in online advertising "spend" every month.

Most people would say spend money on advertising or marketing. I choose to use the word invest because an investment implies an expected return. You need to view all your advertising and marketing as an investment and be ruthless about an expected return.

One of my friend's most significant accounts comes in around 3K USD of advertising spend per day. That's over a million dollars of online advertising per year! And when a million dollars/euro are on the line, you better be good at what you do! Fortunately, my friend is a top gun at what he does.

Much of what I've learned and implemented regarding online advertising for events comes from discussions with my friend. The years of our conversations are being distilled down into September's Event Profit Report (hint, hint).

In most online advertising cases, it doesn't matter if you're selling a product, service, or ticket to an event. The fundamentals are the same! Here's the simple place my friend starts with every massive campaign he manages.

When you invest $3K per day to advertise online, you don't start investing at $3K per day.

My friend starts many of his advertising campaigns at $5-$20 a day. Then, gradually over time, increase the daily budget.

Do you need to spend $3K a day promoting your event? Probably not. But you can adopt the same, start small, track smartly, and the think big approach to any advertising and marketing campaign for your event.

Here's another way to think about it. If you get really good and can turn $1 into $2 of ticket sales, consistently 90%+ of the time ... why would you limit yourself to $3K a day?

Additional Event Promotion and Event Advertising Resources:

Beware perceptions of predetermined success

A few days ago, a client was very excited to send out a new marketing piece. The piece was being sent to over 30,000 well-targeted people. Most were previous attendees of the client's event. In the client's own words, "it's one of the best we've ever put together!"

Before getting to the results, there are a few crucial points.

All my Platinum client projects are performance-based. If clients are financially successful, I receive a percentage of revenue. Hence, I'm always rooting for clients to do well. Even if I disagree with what they're doing in regard to marketing and advertising.

Because of the sophisticated tracking used for client work, most marketing efforts can be analyzed within a day. In some cases, a client can get success indicators in as little as 30 minutes. For all the sophisticated tracking, the results metrics are simple. We did "X," and "Y" tickets were sold. Or, "Z" leads generated. That's it!

Back to the client marketing piece from above. Everything was on point for all the time and effort invested. By the end of the day, the results were in.

In a nutshell, the campaign failed miserably to generate ticket sales. Ironically enough, there were several days where no client marketing campaigns were active, and more ticket sales generated. One could argue that "you were better off doing nothing!" And based on the data they'd be correct.

What the takeaway from above?

Beware your biased perceptions! We're all human and have personal biases, myself included. Especially on things where we invest a great deal of time, effort, and money.

Never assume that a marketing campaign is going to be a success. By that same token, never expect a campaign or marketing piece is going to be a dud. And always measure the success of your marketing campaigns by the revenue generated or tickets sold.

To some the above might seem a cold hard approach to events. It is! And it will also keep in you and your event in business.

Here are some additional event promotion advice tips:

What are you putting on your ticket?

Here's a quick question to consider. It's applicable to both your online and hard stock tickets.

The question is, "what information are you putting on your event ticket?"

Most events include info such as: the name of the event, date, time, location, etc. Once in a while, you'll get an event that includes sponsor logos or a coupon/offer.

What's far less common is including information on an event ticket to improve an attendee's experience.

Ask yourself and your team, "Is there additional information that we can include that makes for a better customer experience?"

As I wrote in a recent EPR issue, don't let your attendees get to your event frustrated and get home upset. Your event ticket offers an opportunity to make sure your attendees arrive at your event happy and get home elated!

In many instances, the amount of space for information on the ticket is minimal. That means whatever information you include needs to be impactful and to the point.

Again, in what ways can you use your event ticket to improve the overall customer experience?

Your event ticket offers you a great opportunity. Make sure you make the most of it.

Here are some additional resources regarding selling event tickets online:

"Yeah, so about those numbers we gave you ..."

Data can be a bit of a trickster, a little good or a little bad. And, sometimes a little bit of both. Data can also be used in a variety of ways. In some instances, the same exact data set can be painted positive or negative. Last, but certainly not least ... even the most basic of data can be confused.

Don't worry, I'm not going to suggest that you become a data scientist. Yet, there is one aspect of data science that you need to champion. That aspect is data accuracy.

In today's increasingly data-driven world, data accuracy impacts your ability to use any data to your advantage.

Years ago, a professional basketball team approached me about providing them with marketing services. The team did some research and found out that I had a knack for selling out events.

During an initial assessment we identified a potentially huge marketing asset. The asset came in the form of the basketball team's previous customer database. The team's marketing manager put their customer database at around 8,000 people. One of the team owners, speculated that their database was much more substantial.

When I pressed for additional customer database details, I was told "we'll get back to you."

A few weeks later, I received a telephone call from the team regarding my database questions. After doing some digging, the customer database wasn't quite 8,000 people. It was closer to about 600! What happened? Several people on the team didn't have a firm grasp on customer data, including ownership.

Ultimately, I turned down the offer to work with the basketball team. The team had great people, but there were numerous places where there were severe issues with data accuracy.

On a sobering note. Had the team become a client, the result would have been a complete failure on my part. All because of inaccurate data!

Remember, data can span everything from your customer database to the tracking of visitors to your website. Where data accuracy becomes quintessential is tracking the effectiveness of advertising and marketing campaigns (hint, hint).

Even if you need to hire someone, make sure you buckle your data accuracy down. It needs to be as accurate and pristine as possible. If not, you could be chasing opportunities that don't exist. Or worse, spending money on marketing or advertising that does absolutely nothing for you!

Getting additional event data insights:

Royally screwing up "sold out"

A few years ago, I was on-site to support a client event. It was a free outdoor weekend event (Saturday & Sunday).

In the days preceding the event, all the event infrastructure was being set up. Crowd fences, tents, tables, chairs, vendor booths, etc.

On Friday, the night before the weekend event, the client decided to have a free community outreach gathering. The Friday night event included live music, a performer meet and greet, and food vendors. A few thousand people showed up to the Friday night event.

Going into their event, the client had sold out all their Saturday VIP tickets. Most of the ticket revenue was deposited in the client's bank account (minus the standard ticketing revenue hold) and attendees full of excitement.

It was nearly the ideal scenario, minus one essential item.

When I arrived at the client's event on Friday, I had asked multiple times to walk through the VIP area. The person responsible for VIP and chalet setup wasn't able to accommodate my request.

When I politely insisted, the client's operations manager said, "Eugene we're really busy with our Friday night event, we can't get you over to that area right now." Then, I asked if I could go to the VIP area on my own, the answer was a curt, "no, not without an escort."

In the end, I wasn't able to walk through the VIP area. Fast forward to Saturday morning and the event gates were about to open.

Because my event access badges never made it to me, I diplomatically made my way to the VIP area. On the way to the VIP area, I ran into the event operations manager. They appeared to be really anxious. To which I inquired, "Is everything ok?"

Their response, "not really, none of the VIP areas are ready."

My response, "Ok, what do you mean by not ready?"

The operations managers said, "Only the tents are set up. No tables, chairs, linens, drink stations, or catering. Because we were so busy yesterday, nothing was set up."

I distinctly remember the operations manager's statement from above and looking down at the time on my cell phone. The time was 08:09 and the VIP area was to open at 09:00 sharp. T-minus 51 minutes until "go time!"

(And in case you're wondering ... emphasis on the VIP area setup had been broached multiple times during client prep calls. In one instance, the client became annoyed at my constantly bringing readiness up.)

Thankfully, there were a handful of volunteers who swooped in to the rescue. Hundreds of chairs and dozens of tables were set up in less than 50 minutes. In spite of the incredible volunteer effort, the VIP experience wasn't fully set up until Sunday. Things like catering stations were set up late on Saturday and the open bar, opened elsewhere (not in the VIP tent, as planned).

In the post-event feedback, patrons were rightfully upset. To paraphrase the consensus of many Saturday VIP ticket holders, "I paid for a VIP experience and didn't receive what I paid for. You weren't even ready!"

The unfortunate irony of the story above is that I've seen a failure to execute in multiple instances across numerous events. As a result event attendees are left with a bad experience and some decide to never return.

Please don't fall into the same trap. Make sure that your event is ready to go, well in advance of event attendees showing up! Else, you subject your event to the "three-year recovery."

Here are a few more VIP ticketing insights:

When to forgo overly proper grammar

When was the last time you read an advertisement or marketing piece and thought to yourself:

"How they organized all those words is simply extraordinary. I have to tell all my friends about the amazing grammar!"

Crafting your event advertising and promotions, specifically online marketing, is one place where painfully polished grammar and strict academic vernacular should take a back seat.
It is not to say that you should intentionally use lousy grammar, because that won't serve you very well.

Just don't focus so much on grammar that you lose your reader in the process. Ironically enough, losing the reader's attention often happens with overly polished and "corporate speak" writing.

Of the millions of emails clients have sent over the years, not a single ticket buyer (to the best of my knowledge) has complained about the less than ideal grammar. All of the emails sent are written in a conversational tone. The result was tens of millions of dollars in event ticket sales, directly attributable to "unprofessional" writing.

New York Times best-selling author Neil Strauss summed it up like this: "The highest goal of writing is NOT to have good grammar; it's to have meaning and impact!"

Make sure that when you tell people about your event through advertising and marketing, you do so with impact!

Get the reader so interested in your event that they have no other choice than to buy a ticket.

Crank up your event promotions. Check out the links below: