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June 2021

Your competition is now brewing

Right now, there are ambitious event organizers who are figuring out how to hold their next successful event. This includes changing how events are executed. Maybe even going from a live in-person event to online or virtual.

My recommendation is to keep a watchful eye on these ambitious and innovative event organizers. To be crystal clear here, I'm in no way suggesting anyone compromise the personal safety or health of themselves or others ... just to hold an event.

People are going to figure out how to hold successful events despite the circumstances. And those are the people you want to pay careful attention to.

As with all things you might read, see, or hear about a successful event ... be a healthy skeptic!

If it sounds too good to be true, do your due diligence. That includes verifying and quantifying! Someone is going to figure it out and you're going to want to know, "how did they do that?!?!"

 


Short and long term event cancellation

With COVID still impacting numerous nations to varying degrees, event cancellations are still an unfortunate regular occurrence.

On Tuesday, I ran across a prominent us event with the following message for every page of their website:

"The 2021 (EVENT) at (LOCATION) has been canceled."

I'm paraphrasing the above by obfuscating some event details so as not to embarrass any organizations. My goal is to pass along a critical tenet when canceling one's event.

Too many event organizers simply post a message to their website, social media, and perhaps send out a press release. The previous items should be considered a bare minimum.

It's imperative to have a plan in place that covers both short-term and long-term considerations.

A short-term consideration should be leveraging a dedicated team member to monitor and address social media comments regarding your event cancellation.

Two days ago, a renowned local arts festival canceled its 2021 event. That event is being eviscerated on social media with zero response (to date) from event organizers.

Long-term considerations include letting your event supporters know what they can expect in the future. e.g., not leaving your cancellation notice for six to twelve months after your event was supposed to occur. What's next and what should people expect? Give people a little hope for the future!

After months or years of work, canceling your event can be devastating.

How your organization handles the cancellation of your current event has a tremendous impact on the future of your event.

Make sure you have a well-thought-out process in place for both the short term and long term.

Here are some additional articles on planning and promoting a successful event:

 


Is it the best event experience possible?

Pre-COVID, I had an insightful experience at a local beer festival. The same experience also occurred during an overseas trip to an event in Europe.

Both events had their attendees in scorching environments with people packed in elbow to elbow. And the event organizers had little to no control regarding temperature. Sometimes all the technology in the world can't overcome Mother Nature.

Usually, the recipe above (hot and packed) would result in numerous event attendee complaints and customer service issues. Ironically, that wasn't what occurred.

The question to ask yourself and your team, "regardless of circumstance, what are we doing to ensure the best customer experience possible?" (Both tangible and intangible)

Both the beer festival and European event excelled by making simple, yet effective, accommodations for their attendees. In both cases, regardless of the temperature at each event, hospitality won the day.

You'd be amazed at what something as simple as table service can do for your event.

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


What if you could never email again?

Clients have achieved extraordinary results with their email marketing efforts. To their credit, the way clients leverage email marketing is unique amongst their respective niches.

Last year, one client went from generating as much revenue in 23 minutes and 18 seconds as previously took them 263 days, all by using counter-intuitive email marketing strategies. To be fair, it took them five years of hard work to dial in their email marketing strategy.

Needless to say, you should be leveraging email marketing in ways that your competition is not. That said, here is a question I pose to every seasoned event organizer.

"What would you do if you were unable to send another email?"

And to add "insult to injury," the ability to send email just stops. Thus you aren't able to give your list notice or anything.

Yes, the above scenario might seem a bit harsh, but it's critical to have alternatives.

Want to get more info on marketing your event with email? Check out the link below:

 


Are you willing to fire your advertising?

Before they became a client, a not for profit organization was spending over 25,000 USD a year on one advertising buy.

When it came time for them to decide on making a more substantial investment into my event promotion system, their question to me was "Eugene, how are we going to pay for your services?"

My blunt answer to the soon to be client, "stop spending $25K on advertising that you can't attribute to a single ticket sale."

Ultimately, the organization decided to hire me and did a stellar job of implementing the marketing system. More importantly, the client went on to increase their year over year ticket sales by over 35% without the $25K of ad spend.

It is my firm belief that had the client not hired me, the client would still be spending an extra $25K on ineffective advertising.

Today's recommendation goes along with the marketing meatgrinder email and concept of holding all your advertising ruthlessly accountable.

Before signing any advertising or marketing contracts for 2020, sit down with your team and carefully review the effectiveness of all your advertising and marketing.

Here' the irony of my broken record recommendation. For the hundreds of projects I've worked on over the years a grand total of two companies spent time reviewing their advertising and marketing investments.

What's frustrating is that given all data and tools at their disposal, clients still insist on spending money on wasteful advertising. As always, their event – their business.

I encourage you to be different!

Want to get more tips on tracking your event marketing and advertising? Check out the links below:

 


Disrupting "the Rhythm of the Page"

Years ago, a web design studio featured a client's event website in their portfolio. Here is a paraphrased portfolio description: "XYZ EVENT now has an exciting, fresh website design to excite a new generation of attendees with less text and more images on the site."

Did you notice the part about less text?

Yes, the website was visually stunning. It also cost the client at least $50,000 in lost online ticket sales. The problem was that the website relied so heavily on visuals and eliminated so much text that the purchase conversion rate dropped significantly.

The issue was brought to the client's attention several months before their event. At the time, the web designer stated that the event website needed more traffic. We attempted to explain that it was a conversion rate problem but nobody on their web design team understood that.

Remember that conversion rate is the percentage of people who go to your event website and make a purchase. Their feedback was, "If there was more traffic, more people would buy." So we went out and drove more website traffic.

A few months later, we were able to double the traffic to the client's website yet the conversion rate was still down. Doubling the traffic was great, but the significantly lower conversion rate meant far fewer people were purchasing event tickets.

The result? The client lost tens of thousands of dollars of revenue which was calculated by looking at their historical conversion and revenue data. When conversion rate was brought up to this highly prestigious web developing studio yet, again, they had no idea what we were talking about.

They questioned where our data was coming from. It came from the same Google Analytics account they set up! They took it personally because so much time was dedicated to creating a visually stunning website. They were so emotionally tied to their design that they couldn't see the bigger picture.

Finally -- or, somewhat, reluctantly -- they decided to update the air show ticket page. The update was the exact opposite of what the portfolio description said. Over 1,000 words were put back into the design-heavy ticket page. We also made some design suggestions to make it visually more straightforward for people to buy tickets.

The lead designer for the project said that the suggestions made to update the ticket page would "disrupt the rhythm of the page". What they failed to realize was that their design was disrupting the rhythm of revenue into our mutual client's bank account.

Thankfully, we were able to get most of the changes in place, the conversion rate went way up and revenue took off like a rocket ship.

Unfortunately, it took over six months to convince the web development studio to make the necessary changes. The opportunity cost was massive. This example also emphasizes the importance of knowing and tracking your marketing math!

 

 


Ben Franklin's Thunderstruck

"On a June afternoon in 1752, the sky began to darken over the city of Philadelphia. As rain began to fall and lightning threatened, most of the city’s citizens surely hurried inside. But not Benjamin Franklin. He decided it was the perfect time to go fly a kite.

Franklin had been waiting for an opportunity like this. He wanted to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning, and to do so, he needed a thunderstorm."

Source: Gupton, Nancy. "Benjamin Franklin and the Kite Experiment" https://www.fi.edu/benjamin-franklin/kite-key-experiment

Do you have an outdoor event?  It can be anything from a sporting event, an ethnic festival, to a beer festival.  The weather forecasters try their best, but they are often incorrect in forecasting.

Outdoor events can lose obscene amounts of potential revenue because of a wrong weather forecast.  All it takes is the implication of inclement weather, and your event attendees won't show up, even if it's beautiful outside.

There are few things in this world that have as much indirect impact on your event as the weather. Even worse is a completely inaccurate weather forecast. Though you cannot control the weather or forecasts, there are specific actions you can take to minimize its impact.

One such action is using all your digital resources to keep your fans and event attendees better informed when the weather throws you a curveball.

As Benjamin Franklin put it, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Using digital assets offers you the ability to disseminate information in a very rapid fashion. Compare and contrast a straightforward email broadcast to the time it takes to contact hundreds or thousands of people over the telephone.
 
There are multiple channels for contacting people via the Internet: your website, email, SMS, and social messaging services. The first place you can start to inform people is right on your event's home page.  A simple update to a web site might be all that is required if people know to check the web site for updates. One important caveat, regardless of medium, is making sure your message is easily understood.

Pro-activity, combined with technology, is a serious counterpoint to Mother Nature's unpredictability. Use technology to your advantage.  It can save you time and money. Plus, preserve the customer experience.

Finally, have a game plan in place before you have any weather-related issues. This seemingly obvious piece of advice has been missed often by the most seasoned of event organizers.

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


A Question that has Nothing to do with your Event Attendees

I assume that after every event you're sending a post-event survey. If you're not surveying your event attendees, you're missing a huge opportunity to improve numerous facets of your event.

A series of well-rounded survey questions should give you and your team information about event execution, operations and marketing insights.

Having reviewed numerous surveys for event organizers, there is one critical survey question often missing. And the survey question has nothing to do with your event attendees! It is asked of those who did not attend your event.

The question is, "why didn't you attend this year's event?"

Again, the particulars of your survey need to be set up a certain way to receive the best feedback possible. Obviously, you need a way to delineate attendees and non-attendees. That I leave up to you.

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


About Social Icons and Your Event ...

"A" writes the following in response to yesterday's email on social media icon placement ...

-------

hi - what if you consider that social media helps with awareness, but actual ticket sales do not reflect a click from a social media link

old school example - you have to advertise for months in magazines before there can be increase in sales attributed to magazine ads
continual subliminal and overt messaging on the subject

in this case the show that you want people to attend.
perhaps people click on the social media for more info
and then later to the website to buy tickets

good thoughts, good health!

A

-------

Thanks for reply "A!"

Good question on awareness in regards to social, including your "old school" example. The difficulty of "awareness" campaigns is that how do you measure effectiveness without tracking a specific action? Without some variable or valuation, it almost becomes arbitrary and subjective.

Thus, have a measurable call to action / tracking method in every single marketing and advertising piece in the marketplace.

There are tracking options for every medium, e.g. promo codes, unique URL, unique link on a URL, telephone number, etc. Most of the previous methods tracking methods are offered as part of automated services.

In the case of your magazine ad example, use a unique domain name for that specific magazine.

At the end of your magazine ad run, you can create a report and see how much traffic was generated by a unique domain name, promo code, link, telephone number, etc.

Let me know if the above helps.

Here are some additional social media resources you can use to market your event:


Always "inspect what you expect!"

This happened years ago, during a conversation with a client. During the client call, we discussed setting up UTM tracking links for their online advertising efforts. The client had mentioned that they had a series of online advertising buys that were scheduled to start, last week.

A quick look in Google Analytics showed that the scheduled advertising buys were not sending traffic to their website. The reasons for no referral-based traffic could be many. The simplest explanation is that the advertising isn't running.

In the end, I encouraged the client to call their advertising rep and let them know, "we do not see any traffic from you in Google Analytics. Can you please verify that our online ads are running?"

The wording above gives the advertising people a gentle nudge and lets them know you're keeping an eye on things. You can call it a diplomatic and data-driven approach.

More often than not, clients have paid for online advertising that simply wasn't running. It wasn't out of malice or deception, just that someone dropped the ball. That said, you must keep a watchful eye on your online advertising.

At the end of the day, it's your money. As my friend Phil Pacific is fond of saying, "inspect what you expect!" A simple check of Google Analytics is all it takes.

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


Nobody Cares You Help Kids with Cancer

Before you think of me as some heartless bastard, I've had cancer take my Maternal Grandmother and my Father. No family should have to go through the ravages of such a horrible disease … let alone a child!

Now that I have your attention - let's get to the point. This might be the most important advice to date. It is also going to be brutally direct. If you're a not for profit event organizer, you need to pay careful attention to what follows! 

Years ago, I was told the following: "You need to buy a ticket to our event because we help kids with cancer." When I politely declined with a "no thank you." I was made to feel guilty. That’s not cool! Nor a way to approach someone about buying a ticket to your event.

Because if you think that 99% of the people are buying a ticket to your event to "help kids with cancer, raise money for scholarships, (insert something virtuous here)" ... you are grossly mistaken!

People are attending your event to serve their self-interest. Not who or what your event proceeds may benefit. The fact that you help a wonderful cause is the last reason someone buys a ticket to your event. You help no one if your event is not profitable!

"Eugene, you're such a heartless a$$hole! How can you possibly say that?!?!"

The self-interest motivator is not my opinion ... it's what the cold hard data shows. For the last 10 years, clients have received over 10,000 customer survey responses. Most responses were for non-profit events. The 10,000+ event ticket buyers were asked a simple question:

"What is the BIGGEST reason you purchased a ticket to this event?"

Ready for it? Less than 1% responded with anything along the lines of: "To help the kids … support the men and women in uniform … or, help raise money for scholarships." In some survey results, there were single digit (help the kids) responses – out of almost 2,000 responses!!! That massive disconnect between an event organizer and their attendees is a chronic problem. It is why event organizers fail to sell out their events. That disconnect is also the primary reason events die. They focus on the wrong customer buying motivations.

What's worse is that event organizers still insist on creating "help the kids!" advertising and marketing campaigns. All this despite years of their own attendee data. Then, wonder why their event is half empty. Simple answer. It's because you're not appealing to your ticket buyer's self-interest.

If you want to sell out your next event focus your customer’s real reason for buying. Not why you or your Board think they should buy a ticket.  After your attendee buys a ticket and shows up to your fantastic event. Then, you can remind them of the all good work that is accomplished (thanks to their support)!

If you've reached this point and are upset by the brutal advice in this email. I strongly recommended you ask your own customers "what was the BIGGEST reason you purchased a ticket to this event?"

Unfortunately, most event organizers don't have the spine to ask the question above. Don't be one of those people! Ask the survey question above and let me know what you find. Their answers will open your eyes to a whole new world, guaranteed!

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

 


A Seven Million Dollar Drink

In 2019, I attended a marketing session on social media and using data analytics to drive ticket sales. Overall there were several great points.

During the session, one of the presenters shared their gross ticket revenue numbers and marketing strategies. The figure was around 7 million USD in event ticket sales. It was an astronomical number. And 10x-20x what most event organizers do in the field.

Fast forward to this morning. One of the people who attended yesterday's marketing session proceeded to give me feedback on their experience.

The person's main point of feedback to me on the presentation went something like this. "I can't believe that our conference organizers brought in a person who generated 7 million dollars of ticket sales as a presenter. We don't do anywhere near that number!" Clearly, they weren't happy and a bit jealous.

During the presentation, the person sharing their 7 million dollar success story was more than generous with information.

In my mind, if any event organizer came to me with $7 million dollars of ticket sales results. The question I would ask would be, "can I buy you a drink?"

A few days later, I asked the presenter if anyone inquired about the details of her organization's success. And not a single person inquired. If given the opportunity, always ask! It's amazing what you'll discover.

Want to get more advice on planning and promoting a great event? Check out the articles below:


Doubling Down in a Down Turn

Contrary to what the media is reporting, it isn't all doom and gloom in the world. I'm not going to deny that many people are struggling. But it's important to remember that people still want to do things. Some events and industries are thriving despite the COVID.

Opportunities are all over the place for smart and savvy event organizers. One massive possibility that you can take advantage of is discounted advertising rates.

Advertising outlets are so desperate to get advertisers they are offering advertising at a discount. Everyone is discounting their services: television, print, radio, online, etc. especially now that the US election season is over.

It's far less expensive to buy advertising to promote your event. Even with discounted advertising, focus on negotiating your advertising packages even lower.

A trusted media buyer told me that 80% of online advertising goes unsold. Be vigilant in how you negotiate your advertising agreements. Never say yes to the initial price you're quoted.

Advertising advantages go beyond discounted rates. The current economic state has also prompted many businesses to reduce or even eliminate advertising efforts.

It's a psychological effect. Business owners think "other businesses are spending less, we should follow suit." As a result, you have less advertising competing for the consumer's attention. Make sure you don't follow the rest of the flock.

A down economy is an excellent time to gain market share on the competition. You can take advantage of less clutter in the advertising marketplace to position your future event with the public.

If you're thinking of holding an event, the current economy offers you certain advantages. People still want to be entertained, have fun, and learn new things.

It's up to you to provide them something unique and of high perceived value. The opportunity is out there, go and get it. You can get started for as little as $5 USD per day!


"Chaotic, dramatic, and stressful" during your event

You know what it's like ... those days leading up to and through your event. My guess is that you would NOT use words like "relaxing, stress-free, or pleasant." Chances are it's a little more chaotic, dramatic, and stressful. What probably ends up happening is you get into execution mode.

And because you're in execution mode, you have to prioritize your time and energy against other efforts. What often gets neglected when prioritizing are your advertising and marketing efforts. It's the nature of the beast.

My question for you today is this:

"What's your marketing plan for the final days leading up to and through your event? And how are you going to execute on that plan?"

Being able to confidently answer both questions above is essential for maximizing your event attendance and ticket revenue. And it's rarely an easy answer. So, here are two simple strategies which all my clients use.

With clients, their marketing and advertising plans are usually discussed and finalized six to nine months in advance. There are even a few contingencies thrown in the mix for outdoor events (weather being the most common curve ball). If something unexpected comes up during a client's event, there are a series of standard operating procedures. Little is left to chance.

Now for the second critical cog! You might have a great plan, but who's going to execute it?

Because you know how busy things get leading into your event, you must have a dedicated team or person to implement your marketing plan. That's key! It needs to be someone you trust implicitly. That individual or group should have full authority to "do what it takes." And it's something missing for many events.

Make sure you have a marketing execution team leading into your event. By doing so, you'll sell more tickets and be able to focus your efforts on ensuring a great event!

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


Do you have great event photos at your fingertips?

"It's been two days, we haven't found anything decent, and they're still looking."

Thus, let me ask you ...

Do you have a set of high-quality photos of your event at your fingertips?

Even more important, if people are in the photos, do you have a model release or written permission to use your event photos for marketing purposes?

Yes, the questions above seem overly obvious. Yet, there is a lot of searching and digging for event photos on almost every project to date. Unfortunately, the photo search process becomes a giant time suck. And more often than not, when found, the images are less than ideal for marketing purposes.

Here are some quick suggestions ...

Ensure you keep a series of high-quality event photos on a USB drive or online cloud storage that you can quickly access.

If you have the funds, consider hiring a professional photographer for your next event. If you don’t have the funds, you might want to approach a local university for help.

Most of the cameras used by professional photographers also can capture high-definition video and audio. If you’re not using event testimonials, it’s something you might want to consider.

Last but not least, make sure you give the person photographing your event clear instructions. When combined with smart marketing and copy, there is a particular style of photo that can sell your event for you.

Without giving too much away, you want people to see a picture of your event and exuberantly say, "Look at how much fun those people are having; I want to do that!"