The Other 97% ...

By now, you're probably familiar with my "3% rule" targeting rule.

If not, here is a brief overview:

Accepting that only 3% (or less) of your local population is predisposed to attend your event is a good thing.

How so?

Because if you and your event team focus on those most interested in attending your event, you will significantly boost the effectiveness of all your advertising. Think of the 3% rule as a precision targeting method.

One question that rarely gets asked, "what about the other 97%?" or more precisely, "shouldn't I try to target outside the 3%?" Yes, but please understand that the amount of ad spend is prohibitive for practically every event.

It is not a matter of spending thousands of additional ad dollars; it's more like millions or tens of millions of advertising dollars.

Most event organizers simply don't have that kind of money to invest in advertising. If you decide to target outside the 3%, you must carefully track advertising effectiveness!

In 2016, two clients ran carefully targeted and tracked online marketing campaigns. Both campaigns showed that the cost of capturing people's attention outside of 3% becomes astronomical.

The same ads (design and copy) were served to two different local audiences in the advertising test, the 3% audience and the general population. The advertisement presented to the general population was displayed three times more, at four times the cost, while generating 86% less revenue than the 3% campaign.

Thus, targeting outside of your 3% can be astronomically expensive.

Here are some additional articles on planning a successful event:


A logical event website misconception

Recently, I had a brief telephone conversation with a potential client. Overall, it was a positive call. Yet, there was a common question that kept being asked.

After a bit of hindsight, I thought, “well-meaning event organizers think THIS is a silver bullet for their event.”

Unfortunately, it’s a logical misconception. And it wastes a lot of money.

What’s THIS?

It’s the belief that …

“We just need a new website!”

It’s true. A smartly designed website can propel your event to a whole new level if used strategically.

To the best of my recollection and experience, I have yet to see a single “new website” deliver extraordinary results for any event organizers.

Why is that?

Because a website is a single marketing tool in your tool kit. On its own, a website can’t do much. You need to leverage your website with a series of well-aligned marketing actions.

One of those marketing actions is highly targeted paid advertising. When paid advertising is coupled with a well-designed website, that’s a difference-maker!

So next time someone tells you, “we need a new website!” Take a step back and dig a little deeper. Ask simple questions:

How many people visited our website? (And when did they visit?)

Of the people who visited our website, how many purchased tickets or attended our event?

Where is the traffic to our website coming from?

The questions and answers above helped one client build a well-thought-out three-page website. Yes, just three pages. That three-page website sold over 500,000 USD of event tickets in less than 24 hours.

Thus, I can tell you with unwavering confidence that most events don’t need a new website. Instead, they need a well-thought-out set of marketing tools and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of their current site.

Here are some additional articles to boost your event web site:

 


How to Deal with "LOTS" of Event Complaints

In 2021, a client raised the "a bunch of people are complaining" flag regarding an email marketing campaign.

When I asked for further details, the response was, "people didn't know there was a link in the email" The "complainers" suggested we put 'click here' next to the email link.

The client sends the next email with "click here" next to the link, and the results aren't that great.

Ironically enough, when tested, "click here" has made a noticeable difference in marketing campaign response. Primarily when used sparingly!

Am I suggesting you slap "click here" next to every link in an email or on your website? Negative.

It would be best to be careful using "click here" on your promotional emails. Because there is a chance (based on several combined factors), your email could be flagged as SPAM.

With the client example from above, there are a couple of shall we say, conveniently omitted details. If ever you receive a complaint, always dig deeper!

When pressed on complaints, use this initial question, "exactly how many people are complaining?"

Consider the following complainer's scenario:

Client: "A lot of people are complaining!"

Eugene: "Exactly how many people are complaining?"

Client: "A lot!"

Eugene: "What's a lot?"

(Client gets slightly annoyed and then finally answers.)

Client: "Two"

Eugene: "Two out of 30,000+ sent emails?!?!" (Yes, 30K emails sent and two complaints.)

Follow-up question: "Who is the person complaining?" (Are they a customer or event attendee?)

Here's the icing on the cake regarding the example above. The two complainers were client vendors who fancied themselves marketers.

In the next email, I recommended that the client remove "click here" from their email and write more persuasive copy. They accepted the advice and implemented the suggestions. The result was a 71% increase in email click-through-rate.

Yes, customer experience is paramount. But at the same time, focusing your limited time and resources on a wild goose chase is a waste.

Next time you receive complaints, find out exactly how many and if the people complaining are even your customers. You'll be surprised what you find!

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


Overly Obvious Domain Registration Advice

Back in 2006, I only had a few event clients. During that time, most of my income resulted from working with small to medium businesses. There were numerous clients spread across multiple industries and many great lessons learned! Including what follows here.

When it came to new clients, almost every business needed to register a domain name and build a new website from scratch.

During a project, the business owner wanted me to register a couple of domain names. I asked the owner to email me which domains he wanted registered. After receiving the email, I copied and pasted the domain names into the domain registration search tool. Both domain names were available, so I proceeded to register the requested domains.

A few months went by before we started to build the client’s website. At that time, all websites were built on a dedicated development server. Once the client’s website was built and tested, we were ready to go live.

After we went live, the client had an issue accessing their site. In their own words, “I’m typing in my domain name, and the website is not coming up.”
Was the issue technical?

As I dug back through my project notes and emails, my heart skipped a beat and sunk into my stomach.

What happened?

The domain names were copied and pasted directly from the client’s email. And one of the domain names was misspelled.

Regardless of the unique spelling, the lesson learned was shame on me for not spell checking the domain name.

Since the domain registration lesson learned in 2006, every domain name that gets registered is triple checked for spelling. The process is straightforward.

If you’re going to register a new domain, break the domain name you want to be registered and spell-check each word.

superduperbeerfest.com … Super Duper Beer Fest (Spell check each word)

After your domain spelling checks out, then register you domain. Hopefully, it spares you the embarrassment and frustration above.

Additionally, if your domain name is difficult to spell, you might want to consider registering misspelled domains.

What seems like overly simplistic advice has saved my clients and myself multiple times since 2006.

Additional Resources:


Cracking Creativity with Tommy Edison

I'm going to take a slightly different tack on this one. It will focus a little more on personal development. So, bear with me.

One of the world's most creative minds kept extensive handwritten notes. Over 3,500 notebooks were discovered after Thomas Edison's death in 1931. Those notebooks contained a litany of ideas, sketches, and observations. Edison used his notebooks continually to cross-pollinate ideas.

Some of Edison's most significant accomplishments were a result of noting his own massive failures. In Edison's own words, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

For most humans, forgetting is a regular occurrence (this guy included!). In today's digital overload world, our minds are bombarded with thousands of stimuli daily. To remember a quick idea can be a daunting task.

If you aren't already, my suggestion to you is to become a voracious note taker! And don't worry, you won't need 3,500 notebooks. It's the process and strategy that's essential.

Start by finding a pen and a small notepad. Make sure both are compact enough to carry along with you daily. For those that want to go digital, I recommend an Evernote Premium subscription.

Moving forward, keep a pen and notepad (or your digital notebook) with you at all times. When you have an idea, please write it down. If you wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, write it down.

Michael Michalko, who wrote Cracking Creativity, offers some Edisonian ideas for organizing written notes:

Write your observations down from daily experiences. Observations can include ideas from meetings, information that you've gained through reading, and brainstorming.

Organize your notes thematically into a set group of categories and subjects. This is where Evernote shines, because you can tag, search, and categorize notes.

After you've established a series of notes, go back to glean additional insight into problems you may encounter.

You might be able to solve your problems by modifying or reinterpreting something you previously experienced. Plus, when you have your ideas written down, you don't need to take the time to remember what you forgot.

Source: Michalko, M. (2001). Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius (Revised ed.). Ten Speed Press. pp. 106-107.

If you're disappointed in the above suggestion, I'd ask you to reconsider. The most extraordinary client successes have come as a result of taking notes and cross-pollinating ideas.

If you can integrate the suggestions above into your daily routine, I promise you it will have a massive positive impact on your life and your pocketbook.


A Powerful Key to Great Event Survey Results

Recently, clients have been doing a decent amount of surveying. Their survey types include everything from post-event surveys for 2021 to pre-event surveys for 2022.

Here's something of interest. For all the surveys conducted in previous years, there has been a significant delta in survey completion rates. These rates vary anywhere between 26% to 78%.

There are numerous factors influencing survey response rates. Including, everything from the quality of your list to the relationship an organization has with those being surveyed.

And in case you're wondering, list size is one of the least important factors.

It doesn't matter if your list is big or small. One would think that a small survey list would perform better. Nope! The worst performing client survey in 2020 had a total of 16 people on the list. How so? Nobody completed the survey.

Thankfully, there is a single universal element of survey success. Your key to success with surveys is well thought out process. That means treating your surveys like a marketing campaign.

Even the most straightforward marketing campaigns have clear objectives, a well thought out process, and measurement.

When analyzing poor survey results from the past, the first place I start is getting an overview of the process being used.

In every instance of lackluster results, the lack of a well-defined process was glaring.

Before doing another survey, make sure you have a well thought out process in place.

If you're not sure where to start, look at what others are doing and ethically borrow their ideas! There is no reason to reinvent the “wheel” if someone else has already figured it out.

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

 

 


Ticketmaster: Much Maligned & Possibly Misunderstood

Have you ever mentioned Ticketmaster around an event organizer?

To date, I cannot think of a single instance where someone had anything positive to say about Ticketmaster. Yet, ironically enough, for all the hate, I believe that Ticketmaster is the biggest ticketing company in the world.

Years ago, my friend Doug Doebler shared the following interview with Fred Rosen, who originally founded and served as President of Ticketmaster.

In the interview link below, Fred Rosen directly addresses the ticket fees and all the nitty-gritty details most people have never heard. And it’s not what most people think!

Source: ArtistsHouseMusic

Remember, after you click the link, you can speed up the clip by selecting the “Cog/Gear” on a desktop computer or three dots on mobile. With those menus, look for the “playback” speed option. I recommend 1.5 to 1.75X.

When you get a chance to check out the video, mash the reply button and let me know what you think. After watching the interview, did your option of Ticketmaster change?

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


Are all your event announcement ducks in a row?

Here's a timely combination of a few previous rants ...

Last week, a headlining act announced their 2023 performance dates for a well-known local event. After the announcement, local news outlets featured the upcoming event on television and online.

Overall, there was some decent media coverage. All at zero advertising cost!

Unfortunately, it was also a missed opportunity.

For some unknown reason, the local event organizers didn't have their "official" website available. When you tried to access the event website, you are met with a strange hosting company message and zero information about the event.

Almost a week later, the event website is still unavailable.

"But wait, there's more!"

One of the local news outlets linked an online story to the headlining performer's website, "For more information, click here." After clicking the link, the performer's website has no reference to the local event. It's like a double dead end.

Though it seems overly simplistic, you probably know where I'm going with this ...

At a minimum, make sure all your marketing assets, especially your event website, is ready to go before any major announcements.

In 2009, a local event client had all their ducks in a row and generated hundreds of new leads, in one week, for their event. All the collected leads were put through a dedicated marketing process and converted into event attendees. Zero ad dollars were spent.

What seems trivial can have a colossal impact on your event.

Don't let highly qualified traffic go to waste!

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


Systemizing a Little Healthy Ticketing Paranoia

Multiple clients found themselves refunding significant amounts of ticket revenue this year. Ultimately, it came down to an issue with selling tickets at higher pricing than the pricing schedule.

Thus, today's takeaway is about as straightforward as it gets.

Do you have a simple system in place to check your online ticket buying process?

If not, consider setting up a routine of clicking on and checking the “buy ticket” buttons for your event regularly. You might even want to include a simple checklist item or post-it note on your monitor.

After you click on the button, is the ticket price correct?

Do you click through and validate the entire check-out process?

The simple advice above is essential if you're involved in sophisticated marketing and advertising campaigns. Simple and small ticketing mistakes can add up quickly. For example, in 2021, over 40,000 USD of event ticket revenue had to be refunded due to pricing mistakes.

Last but not least, if you ever get called out on a pricing discrepancy, act immediately and issue the appropriate refund.

One overcharged person on social media can be problematic; a few angry people can turn into a public relations nightmare.

Remember - when you're busy playing damage control and customer service, you can't focus on selling tickets to your event!

To the client's credit above, they automatically issued refunds to buyers. However, in some instances, buyers didn't even realize that they were overcharged.

Checking buy buttons is just one example where what many consider trivial can become costly to your event. A little healthy paranoia and a few validating clicks can go a long way.

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


... your event website in the meantime?

After reviewing dozens of event websites for an upcoming project, the following deficiency kept creeping up.

Depending on the event, the amount of time between announcing your event and your event occurring can vary significantly. Anywhere from a couple of years to a few months. If you have a recurring event, what follows is vital to consider.

My question to you is, "what are you doing with your event website in the meantime?"

Especially in the critical time after you announce your event and before tickets go on sale.

At a minimum, most event organizers update their event website with the dates of their next event. Yet there is one essential element that is missing. That element is the collecting of warm ticket leads. Not a single website I reviewed had any form of lead generation.

A closer look at Google Analytics will clearly show you that most people (60-70%) of people only visit your website once. Additional of all the people visiting your website, 40-50% spend less than ten seconds on your websites. If you haven't already, please take a look at your own website engagement metrics. Chances are your jaw will hit the ground.

Because of the above, it's paramount you have an effective method to collect leads on your event website, 24/7/365 even while you sleep.

If you're not collecting leads for your next event, you're missing out on significant amounts of advance ticket revenue! This particular topic was featured in my first issue of the Event Profit Report and has been worth millions of dollars to clients.

You can start with something as simple as asking for an email.

Here are some short articles on getting the most from your event website:


Two-step remedy for online angries ...

Hopefully, all the emails about your event are positive. But there are always a few people that are a little harsh and even sometimes downright offensive in their feedback.

As you know, a small number of people complain "just because." In certain instances, you’ll received event feedback from some very angry people. You are best served by trying to address every piece of feedback even from unreasonable people.

Here are two quick tips for delivering excellent customer service online despite a potential deluge of negativity:

#1 Step back

It's important to try not to take negative feedback about your event personally. When you organize an event, you're emotionally invested in that event. So, it is always personal to you. But see if you can objectively take their criticism.

The initial response to a harsh email might be to respond with an equal tone. It is just not worth it. Make sure you don't react defensively. Give yourself time to cool down. Then, do the opposite of what most people would do ... use "The Magic Phrase."

#2 "The Magic Phrase"

Use the following phrase to diffuse any harsh feedback about your event. I use this all the time with clients for email complaints.

It works amazingly well:

"Dear (first name): Thank you for your email." Then continue your email in an understanding and appreciative tone. Make sure to acknowledge the reason they are writing to you in your reply. Someone who just wrote you a very harsh email is probably not expecting a thank you response.

I use the "thank you" email all the time to diffuse big customer service issues. Its track-record for turning frowns upside down is impressive, to say the least!

It's amazing how that simple "thank you" approach calms people down. Event patrons – who have submitted a harsh critique – have written back apologizing for their initial email after getting the thank you email.

Make sure you make it about them through positive acknowledgment. Give it a whirl and let me know how it works.

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


Spider-Man & the use of Jedi mind tricks

Today, I'm going to rant a little on the importance of delivering an extraordinary experience at your event.

There seems to be a gap between advertising promises and attendee expectations when it comes to event marketing. The result is event attendees who open their wallets, spend their hard-earned money, and leave an event disappointed.

Yes, I'm a big proponent of using hype and persuasion (ethically) in your event's marketing. But you can't over promise and under deliver.

Before you send out your next advertising or marketing campaign, do an objective review of your event marketing.

Is your event marketing over-promising on the experience your event can deliver?

If you're holding an event during a global pandemic, what are you doing to reassure your event attendees of their safety and expectations?

Spend some time thinking through the previous questions. Look at your advertising and event from an attendee's perspective.

If someone were to read your advertising and attend your event – are you going to be able to deliver on all your advertising promises?

If not, or even maybe not, take those points out of your advertising. I've seen first hand the problems associated with promising too much in event advertising. It isn't pretty and is quickly followed by a slew of refund requests.

Another avenue event promoters go down is using psychological persuasion in their event marketing.
Think advance Jedi persuasion skills. Be sure to check out Dr. Robert Cialdini's book "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion."

In the book, Dr. Cialdini outlines his six "Weapons of Influence." One of Cialdini's weapons of influence is scarcity.

Using scarcity is a surefire way to get people to buy event tickets in advance. As tickets are sold, you update the number of remaining tickets on your website. As the available ticket supply counts down, ticket demand goes up.

Unfortunately, some event organizers see fit to abuse scarcity.

In 2009, a local beer festival sold out all their VIP in a flash. To generate even more revenue, the event organizer opened a new block of VIP tickets. Word got out about "previously SOLD OUT tickets" being on sale again. That aggravated lot of people who already purchased tickets.

It is a bad idea to tell people tickets are sold out and then put them back on sale again. Next time, event attendees are going to be skeptical about buying tickets.

People are going to think, "they say tickets are going to sell out, but they'll put more on sale – just like last time!"

Like Peter Parker's Uncle Ben said "With great power there must also come — great responsibility!" (Amazing Fantasy (1962) #15, a.k.a Spider-Man's introduction)

The value your event delivers to attendees must far exceed the hype used in your event marketing. This mindset is critical if you have a recurring event.

People are going to come back to an event if they feel scammed or unsafe. When you boil it down, it's pretty simple. Don't claim something in your advertising or marketing that your event can't deliver.

Want to get more event experience advice? Check out the links below:

 


An Event Cancellation Sample Email / Message

During a 2020 Event Cancellation "Survival" Guide webinar, John Haak from EventSprout provided webinar attendees some great advice on dealing with event postponement, cancellation, and ticket refund scenarios.

John has ticketing experience with 2,500+ North American events. These events include the Indianapolis 500, Oshkosh AirVenture, and the Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auctions.

During the training, John provided and expanded on the following template for event organizers.

To have full context and benefit from the template below, you needed to be on the webinar. (If you missed the webinar, become a subscriber and request the link.)

That said, what follows should give event organizers a good idea of the recommended language and tone used if you have to postpone or cancel your event.

Disclaimer: What follows is educational and in NO WAY legal, accounting, or medical advice. If you use any of the following, please consult the proper professionals for your country.

----

Dear FIRSTNAME,

As a valued fan of our (event) we wanted to take a minute to inform you of some options that have been set up for the current situation with the (NAME OF EVENT).

As you have heard, the local health administration has banned any events comprised of more than 250 attendees. Our event certainly exceeds that number.

We are working hard to reboot and reschedule our event for the soonest possible date that we can offer the quality of show that you are used to attending.

We know this schedule change was not in your plans and honestly, it was not in ours either.

Asking thousands of friends to change their plans to join your party is painful for all involved. We have been able to succeed in the past in presenting a fantastic (event, concert, race, etc.) for the past XX years, and we are not going to let this break that record.

To do this, we will need your help.

We would like for you to consider donating your ticket price to the foundation for us to have the ability to plan the replacement event. Once we get everything set, we will send you a special thank you invitation and offer to represent more than your actual ticketed amount in participating in the rebooted show.

We certainly hope that you see the value in this offer, but If you do need a ticket refund, "fair is fair." Please reply to this email with "Refund" in the subject line. We will process a refund to the purchase associated with your email above. That refund will be processed within 24 hours of your request.

Thank you again for your support and stay healthy out there. We look forward to seeing you at our next event!

----

Let me know what you think of the above.


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:


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:


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!

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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: