A Massive "Must Have" for Event Success

What is the American inventor Thomas Edison best known for?


Most people respond with, “inventing the light bulb!” The incandescent light bulb is an extraordinary achievement that still shapes our modern day world. Ironically, most people are unaware that Edison did not invent the light bulb. A British man, Frederick de Moleyns, filed a patented for the light bulb almost 40 years before Edison. Some people also credit Joseph Swan.

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Event Promotion Bias: If You Think It's "Dumb" ... Do This!

It was during the checkout process at Hershey’s Chocolate World that something clicked for me. A very polite cashier was ringing out my purchase and asked, “Would you like to purchase one of our special unreleased bags of chocolate? They are buy one get one free.” When asked the question - my first internal thought was, “no, I just want to pay and get out of here quickly!” I politely declined the upsell offer.


Thankfully my marketing detective mind quickly clicked on. I was curious and asked the cashier, “How many people take you up on that offer?” She happily answered, “About half the people.” That’s amazing! Consider how many people check out every day at your local grocer. People also move through food lines at ethnic festivals. Add in one simple upsell question, and that could mean significant additional revenue. “Would you like fries with that?” (McDonalds)

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You Don't Want Your Event in the News for THIS ...

Last Thursday, I had a great training session with a Belgian client. During our meeting, the topic of data security was discussed. Not a week goes by where another company isn’t making international news for an online data security breach. Today’s email is long and essential, so please bear with me!

“Eugene, why are we talking about data security?!?! I signed up for event promotion advice!”

Please consider the following: “If your event’s customer data is compromised, who gets the blame?” You and your organization are going to be in the news! Your customer won’t care what vendor you hired or who’s fault it is. They will blame you!

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“You Can’t Handle the Truth!”

“You Can’t Handle the Truth!” Those infamous words were delivered with spite by Colonel Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men.” The same words and his speech on the courtroom stand ultimately lead to his conviction. Today we’re going to take a hard look at “the truth” and event promotion advertising spend. Because it’s paramount to your event’s success! You need to be able to handle the truth.

Let’s start with a question. Are you and your team being truthful about your event promotion results? Because most event organizers can’t handle the truth. It's like ripping a scab off - it isn't easy, and it hurts like hell!

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Do You Do This With All Your Event Promotion?

It was 2011 and Rochester, New York had some of the first digital billboards.

For the billboard companies digital was great! Instead of one ad every 30-60 days, plus production costs … they could run several ads in 6-8 second rotations. Based on placements and total display time, I believe the digital billboard pricing, at that time, was around $7,500 for a 30 or 60-day run. (FYI – My figures might be off a little – it was 8 years ago.)

In 2011, a client decided to use the new fancy digital billboards to promote their upcoming event. The client had called me to tell me that the digital billboard had been up for a few days. That was a surprise to me - because I hadn’t seen anything.

Since it’s me, I drove back and forth on the interstate until the client’s ad displayed! Finally, “there it is!!” New and exciting! Then, after a second or two, my marketing brain kicked in.

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Regarding an Event Promotion Idea ..."Yeah, that won't work for us!"

"Yeah, that won't work for us." That is what I was told by an event operations manager. Those words were in response to a new offer for an ultra-exclusive VIP ticket. For this story, let’s refer to them as “Event A.” At the same time, another event organizer at “Event B” attempted to implement the very same VIP ticket and event promotion plan at their upcoming event.


In this instance, we are talking about a ticket and marketing process that had been tested and proven across North America and Europe. Both events “A & B” are in the same vertical marketplace. They also share the same customer demographic and psychographic profile.

All told, over one million dollars of the same kind of ultra-exclusive VIP tickets, using a similar marketing strategy, had previously been sold at other events. After a million dollars of sales, one could argue: tested & proven.

(In case you’re wondering … I'm somewhat vague here on details. My goal isn’t to trash events or event organizers. It is to convey an important take away.)

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Beware the Advertising Account Executive

Over the past several years, clients have increasingly asked me to help them negotiate and review potential advertising buys. With a little knowledge, it’s relatively easy to identify multiple places to cut out ineffective advertising.


Unfortunately, most advertising account executives (a.k.a. advertising salespeople) despise me. Why? Because I refuse to allow clients to pay for anything LESS THAN positive return on ad spend.  It’s not personal, just business. In one case … a client did some simple marketing math and discovered that they’d be paying $420 in advertising to generate a $52.81 ticket sale. No thank you!

Most events can reduce their advertising budgets by 50% or more and still sell the same amount of tickets. How is that possible?

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A Room Full of Cat Pee

You’re probably asking yourself - what the heck is going on with that TITLE?!?! The answer: A very accurate description that carries a valuable event marketing lesson.

Years ago, my fantastic girlfriend convinced me to go to a cat show. To be honest, not my first choice. But, it’s an event field trip and chance to learn something new. I said, “yes, let’s go!” Little did I know what was about to transpire! As we walked into the building hosting the cat show, the stench of cat urine hit me like a ton of bricks.

My first thought, “I’m going to need a gas mask to survive this!” After regaining consciousness, I noticed something interesting … People are gladly paying $10 to go into a room that smells like cat pee! To be fair, the show featured cats that are supermodels of the feline kingdom. They were absolutely stunning!

My second observation track was that of astonishment and pride …

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Critical Questions to Sell Out Your Event


Today we're going to dive into a little Q & A.

One of the most common questions I receive is … “Eugene, how do I SELL OUT my event?”

The answer is complex. So, let’s start with some easy to implement suggestions. I’ll break the simple suggestions into two parts.

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The 'Marvel'ous Event Marketing Tease

Full disclosure, I’m a huge Marvel (Disney) fan for several reasons. One of my biggest "fan boy" reasons is their marketing style. Just in case you’re thinking, “I’m NOT a comic book fan, this isn’t for me!” Today’s suggestion has nothing to do with comic books. It has everything to do with how you market your event. And movies are events.

The "we have to tell everyone everything at once" approach = BAD!

Far too many event organizers want to tell everyone everything about their event. They insist on doing so, all at once. This marketing approach is prevalent in the air show world. You hear things like, “we want everyone to know all our great acts, right from the get-go!” On the surface, this seems perfectly logical. But it works against marketing your event.

What?!?!? Why? Because once you release the best information out about your event, you lose your audience’s attention. If your best stuff is already out in public, then there isn’t much more to say. What can I do differently? Tease them!

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DANGER: Shiny Marketing Objects - Kill Events

Shiny object or shiny object syndrome distract even the best event organizers. In some cases, it has led to events being killed off.


To keep things easy to digest, lets group most shiny objects into two basic categories. New marketing/advertising technology and fresh (never tried before) event ideas. There are actually numerous additional distractions. Today, we'll do a little marketing detective work.

Of all the shiny objects clients have insisted on using (and it’s entirely their call - because it’s THEIR event) … I can’t recall one shiny object that produced a significant result. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen - I'm NOT omnipotent (far from it).

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Precisely Track Your Event Marketing and Advertising Dollars


When it comes to advertising and event marketing, we need to spin the old broken record, yet again … “If you can’t track it, don’t do it!”

Most events waste mountains of money on ineffective advertising and marketing. How is this possible? The answer is that most events fail to track the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing at the most basic level.

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The Single Most Valuable Event Promotion Resource

If you are selling your event tickets offline (i.e., at a sponsor’s place of business, a local grocery store, a local business, etc.), you are most likely giving up your SINGLE MOST VALUABLE promotion resource—the customer’s contact information!


This mistake is an extension of "Ouch! Wasting Your Money on Something That You’ve Already Paid For ..." In that article the solution was to build and cultivate your customer database. The easiest, most powerful way to build your customer database is by selling tickets online. In most cases with online ticket sales, you will be able to collect your customers’ names, email addresses, mailing addresses, and telephone numbers, at the very minimum. That makes for a very powerful dataset.

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Why Setting Your Event Ticket Price by Committee is a Bad Idea

Are you or your Board of Directors thrusting personal pricing opinions onto the consumer?

Over the years, I’ve seen this done time and time again by well-meaning committees and boards. As a result, thousands (or, in some cases, hundreds of thousands) of dollars are never realized!

Too many boards and committees make marketing as well as event ticket pricing decisions based on personal bias. Bias is a human condition that we all share. What this means is that even the best of intentions can result in lost revenue. In some cases, a significant loss of income.

Here’s a real-life example.

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HUGE Event Mistake: Not Intentionally Creating a Sense of Immediate Buying Urgency!

Here’s an all-too-common event organizer phrase: “We have to get tickets on sale as quickly as possible so that people can buy early!” This “logic” gets applied constantly to event marketing campaigns. There is one major flaw with this thinking: it’s completely wrong!

I’ve seen seasoned event organizers flounder for months in the hope of generating advance ticket sales. Remember, just because your tickets are on sale doesn’t mean that people are interested in buying them. The biggest factor in poor ticket sales is the lack of a compelling reason for your consumers to buy right now! Specifically, this ...

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Ouch! Wasting Your Money on Something That You’ve Already Paid For ...

One of the most expensive event advertising mistake is paying to reacquire previous customers. Over the last 20+ years, I’ve seen countless events waste millions of dollars to reengage previous customers.

A few years ago, I helped one client discover information on over 14,000 former customers hiding in a neglected database file. These customers were the result of an initial advertising expenditure of $100,000+ that took place over three years. On average, those 14,000 “lost” customers purchased about $30 per transaction.

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How to Generate Leads & Sell Advance Tickets with Your Event Web Site - Part II

  If you haven't already, please start here: How to Generate Leads & Sell Advance Tickets with Your Event Web Site - Part I

Getting Them to Opt-in
Lead generation on your event web site should take the form of a well-thought-out opt-in box. Put your opt-in box on the home page, above the fold. Your opt-in box needs to give visitors a convincing reason to give you their personal information. Consider offering exclusive ticket discounts, a downloadable event guide, or "Insider" information to entice sign-ups. Go beyond an opt-in box that just says, “Join our newsletter.” Offer a benefit with enough value for a visitor to give you their name and e-mail address. Use feedback you’ve collected from your target market as a key indicator as to what is important to them. A client of mine shared a previously unreleased event performer schedule with their e-mail list. This was a highly-effective incentive that drove opt-ins.

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How to Generate Leads & Sell Advance Tickets with Your Event Web Site - Part I

Event_Leads_Web_SiteThere is a big difference between an event web site and an event web site that lives up to its potential. A dedicated event web site is one of the best lead-generation tools in your event marketing arsenal. Heck, in many cases it’s better than any social media platform. Frank Kern, a top Internet marketing guru, summed up online lead generation like this: “Absolutely nothing can replace the significance, importance, and long-term profitability of having a good targeted list with which you have an excellent relationship.” Your web site is critical in lead generation.

Over the past ten years, I’ve witnessed the amazing results of well-executed online lead generation campaigns. In 2008, a client used their event web site to generate 4,000 brand-new leads. They were able to convert 31% of those online leads into over $100,000 of advance ticket sales. What follows is a brief outline of their simple strategy. You can use the same strategy to generate high-quality leads online, and then convert those leads into advance ticket sales.

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TRACKING ... The Secret to Super Successful Event Marketing and Advertising


If you haven't already and to get the most from this post, please be sure to start with reading these two post:

To truly leverage The 3% or LESS Rule, you must couple targeting with tracking. That means that every single advertising, PR, or marketing piece for your event can be tracked to a quantifiable result via hard data.

What are results? The result needs to be a click to your website, an online lead generated, or somebody purchasing a ticket to your event. Media impressions don’t count!

Any event can use tracking to eliminate wasteful ad spending. If you cannot track marketing or advertising spend to a certain result, don’t engage in that activity. This might seem like a harsh recommendation. It doesn’t matter if it’s an offline or online medium. Over the last 18 years, I’ve seen millions of dollars and countless hours wasted on ineffective event marketing. As an event producer, you need to answer the following with absolute certainty: “What’s our most effective form of advertising? And can we quantify it with hard data?”

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The 3% or LESS Rule of Event Promotion

The 3% or LESS Rule

Here’s the continuation of What Nobody Will Ever Tell You About Promoting Your Event . . .

Ready for a mental event promotion challenge? Accepting that only 3% or LESS of your local population is predisposed to attend your event is a good thing. How so? If you and your event team focus on those most interested, you will significantly boost the effectiveness of all your advertising. Think of the 3% rule as a precision targeting method.

A critical component of targeting is channel selection. You need to identify which marketing channels provide you maximum impact for delivering your advertisements. Clients have run the same ad on two different channels with massive differences in response rates. Make sure you select only the best marketing channels.

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