Great Stories & Event Marketing

Greetings from Las Vegas. I’m in Vegas for the 2008 International Council of Airshows annual convention. This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Death Valley National Park in California. My adventures spanned everything from the old ghost towns, bottle houses and gold mines to a Con Man’s castle. My weekend journey reemphasized the importance of having great stories for anything you do.

Picture to the right: Outside wall of Tom Kelly's Bottle House. It's composed of approximately 50,000 bottles. The bottles were used because of a lack of lumber in the area.

Stories and Event Marketing
The story telling process can be used to market almost any event, product, or service. People love a great story.  When people hear something really interesting, they probably tell someone else. When you really peak someone’s interest it becomes far easier to get them to buy. A compelling back story can also become the centerpiece of your event marketing.

Entertaining Information
People want their information to be as entertaining as it is informative. A great story can often trump the facts of what you have to offer. Below are links for turning your web site into a story and what makes a great story.

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

Charging a Premium Event Ticket Price

Event_ticket_price A few months ago I ran across Yanik Silver’s 34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs.  If you’re at all entrepreneurially inclined his rules are well worth a read. There was one rule in particular caught my attention. Yanik’s Rule #3 states, “You must charge a premium price so you have a large margin to provide an extraordinary value & experience.” Even though his rules are geared toward entrepreneurs, Rule #3 is sage advice for anyone organizing or promoting an event.

Yanik illustrates Rule #3 as follows:

“When my wife Missy, and I were in Venice we had a bill for $45 for two cups of coffee in St. Mark’s Square. The reason they could get away with that is because it’s an experience, not only the entire atmosphere but they also have an entire band playing there.

Even Starbucks, which has crazy margins for a $5 cup of coffee, provides an experience of their own. Beyond that is $45 for two cups of coffee in St. Mark’s Square. That lets you do the things that you couldn’t do on a budget.

If I was charging $2 for that cup of coffee, I couldn’t hire the band, have them out there playing, and do all the things that you want to create an incredible experience.”
(Silver, 34 Rules for Maverick Entrepreneurs, p.11)

Always strive to make your event an experience. Stop trying to figure out the minimum amount of money you need to charge a patron. Far too many event organizers don’t charge enough for their events. These organizers are usually the same people who are caught in the red at the end of the day.  The best way to increase your bottom line is by increasing your ticket price.

Remember Dr. Robert Cialdini’s analogy from his book Influence, “Expensive = Good.” Some part of people’s expectations of your event are psychologically derived from the price you are charging to attend your event.

I’m not suggesting that anyone price gouge the consumer.
But if you can charge a premium price for your event and deliver the value of that event, then you ought to charge as much as people are willing to pay. 

One of most common things I heard recently about not charging a premium ticket price revolves around the economy. Things might not be the best economically at the moment, but don't let other people's gloom and doom stop you from delivering value. I know of multiple events in the last four months that have charged a premium price and sold out.

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

Don’t Pollute Your Web Site with Advertising

Before I ruffle too many feathers, let me start with a brief disclaimer.  What follows is specifically directed to people with web sites that don’t generate their primary means of revenue from advertising.  News web sites are a prime example of web sites that use on page advertising as a primary revenue stream. They publish content to attract visitors and pay for expenses with their advertising revenue.

Advertising Pollution
Advertising_Pollution A few years ago I was introduced to a unique term: advertising pollution.  If you want to see or hear advertising pollution just turn on the radio, watch TV, open a newspaper, or get online.  We’re so inundated with advertising that it’s easy to get lost in the almost useless myriad of marketing.  When I was doing extensive usability testing on web sites one of the biggest user red flags was confusing on site advertising.  Test users would ask, “What does this (banner or ad) have to do with this web site/company?”  The test users were frustrated by the advertising. The consensus was, if it doesn’t specifically support the company don’t have advertising on an informational site. High quality information first, everything else should be a very distant second.

Don’t Pollute Your Site
Too many web sites run advertising just to run advertising.  I’m willing to bet if you look at their web stats they probably don’t get enough traffic to generate any decent advertising revenue.  If you have an event web site or a business web, don’t cloud the user’s search for information with advertising pollution.  Visitors come to your web site for information about your event or your business. It’s in your best interest to focus on your user’s needs.

Internal Advertising
There are some rare exceptions to the recommendation.  I am a proponent of internal advertising on web sites. If you have a product or service that can truly help someone, then you owe it to your potential customer and yourself to advertise on your web site. Wikipedia for all its faults is a pretty good example.  They have a donation banner on top to support their operation. To the best of my knowledge they haven’t sold out their page space to unrelated third parties to generate revenue. Ultimately the advertising has to truly help the user.

Make sure you put your information before any advertising on your web site.  You’ll have happier users and most likely make more money.

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

The Stew Leonard’s & Wegmans Experience

Stew_Leonards Last Friday, I had an opportunity to visit Stew Leonard’s in Norwalk, Connecticut.  My good friend Peter Buniak had been egging me on for weeks about Stew Leonard’s, “Eugene, Stew Leonard’s might be better than Wegmans!”

Unique grocery stores hold a special place in my heart. For those that don’t know, I’m a really big fan of WegmansWegmans is a grocery story headquartered in Rochester, New York.  Having grown up in Rochester, Wegmans was where my family did their grocery shopping. In my opinion Wegmans takes the grocery shopping experience to a whole new level, especially on the customer service front.  It’s a tourist stop for people with friends and family visiting Rochester. I was excited and intrigued about visiting Stew Leonard’s. Everything at Stew Leonard's and Wegmans is done specifically by design. Do you do the same with your event or business?

Selling Ice Cream During the Winter Time
As you’re walking into the Norwalk Stew Leonard’s there is an ice cream shop at the entrance.  I’m a bit of an ice cream and milkshake snob. My first job was scooping ice cream.  As most people would assume, selling ice cream during winter is a pretty difficult task. It was a cold winter day when I walked into Stew Leonard’s.  Ironically there was a big line up for ice cream.  The strategically placed Santa Claus (complete with real beard) was no doubt helpful in selling ice cream. Yet, in my 3 years of scooping ice cream I never witnessed anything like that during the winter time.  The ice cream store is setup for parents with children or the kid in all of us. When you get into the store there were a disproportionately high number of kids with ice cream.  The kids happily lapped up their ice cream as parents shopped. What does winter ice cream have to do with your business or event?  A lot . . .

Turn Your Event Into an Experience
I’m always big on encouraging event organizers to turn their events into an experience.  If you’re looking for two really great examples, you don’t have to go any further than Wegmans and Stew Leonard’s. Both companies are like the Disney World of grocery shopping.  Between both companies there are enough great business and event promotion examples from both stores to fill an entire book. If you’re ever in the Connecticut or Yonkers, New York area, be sure to make a trip to Stew Leonard’s. The same goes for Wegmans. When visiting look carefully at what is going on around you. There is at least one great idea for your business or event just waiting to be discovered.

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


Why Buy Tickets For Your Own Event?

Here is a little story from my own personal experience of selling tickets at retail locations.  The scenario goes as follows. Event patrons had the option of buying tickets for an event either online or at two local retail outlets. The event promoter had a discount coupon available for those who purchased tickets at local retail outlets.  A 100,000 discount coupons were printed out and distributed locally.  For whatever reason, none of the retail locations received the message about the existence of discount coupons.  Hundreds of people had purchased tickets without being able to use the discount coupon.  If you purchased a ticket for an event and found out that you should have received a discount would you be upset?  There were a few upset people in this instance.

The Discount Coupon Didn’t Work!
I personally went to different retail locations where tickets were available for purchase four times.  Each time the retail ticket outlet didn’t recognize the coupon.  It took almost a week to correct the issue. In the mean time hundreds of people had already purchased tickets for the event at full price.  Regardless of how hard we try, there are things that occasionally slip through the cracks. Sometimes it’s the simple things that can create the biggest customer service debacles. 

Some Simple Advice
If you’re going to use retail outlets or coupons go the extra mile to make sure everything is setup properly. My strongest piece of advice is for you or someone from your team to go out and personally try to purchase tickets for your event. The same vigilance should be followed for online tickets. This is one of those scenarios where I don’t know if you can test enough. An hour of your time is a small investment compared to hours of complaining customers who complain about not getting their ticket discounts.

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

Get Them to Your Event with Great Invitations

Event_invitationRecently I attended a fundraiser where invitations were sent through snail mail (traditional USPS mail). The invitation was enclosed in an expensive looking envelope and printed on a nice card stock.  At first glance one would think it is a decent looking invitation. The problem was that the envelope didn’t give anyone a good reason to immediately open it up. When you opened the envelope the actual invitation was as boring and mundane.  If you’re sending invitations through the mail for your event, you need to immediately grab people's attention and motivate them to action!

The Envelope (Packaging)
If you’re going to send paper invitations for your event, make sure it “WOWS” the recipient.  In this case start with the envelope. An envelope with nothing but a person’s name and return address doesn’t cut it. Most of us are well aware of all the junk mail that comes to us on a regular basis.  As consumers, we have taught ourselves to wade through all the obnoxious messages by ignoring them. Instead of trying to be louder than the other mail pieces, think of ways to be more unique.  Are there some words you can put on the outside of your envelope that would prompt someone to open it immediately?  Can the letter be hand addressed or addressed with a handwriting font? Is the envelope packaging truly unique? The envelope or packaging of your invitation can make a big difference in response rates. There are companies that actually specialize in creating unique envelopes and packaging. One company offers you a service to send someone a message in an actual bottle. I’m willing to bet someone would open a message in a bottle before an envelope. You can also send out mass mailings using personalized post cards with your handwriting digitally reproduced. Think of ways to make your envelope unique.

Personalized Post Cards

Message in a Bottle

The Invitation (On the Inside)
When it comes to the invitation, focus on giving people a very good reason to act immediately.  I’m a firm believe that words are extremely powerful.  Are the words in your invitation crafted in a way that would get someone to act upon your offer right away?  Use ethical marketing techniques. Let your target market know there are a limited number of tickets available. You might want to consider using an early bird special and various pricing options.  Offer preferred or premium seating, first come first serve. The possibilities are endless. But you need to give it some thought and get people to act immediately on your offer.

Digital Hand Written Notes and Doodles

Test It
Before you ever send any mass invitations through the mail, test it! Find a few test prospects and send them prototype invitations. I’d recommend not using family and friends for testing. Find people who are going to be very honest with you. Send the prototype invitations and follow up a few days later. Find out if your test prospect found your invitations clear, concise, and actionable.  Ask them for their feedback.  A little testing can go a long way, especially with mass mailings.

Last, but not least, make sure your invitations are not boring! Add a little spice and excitement to the mix. To many people the information above might seem overly simplistic, and it is! But it’s usually the simple things that can make a big difference in your event.

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

Why People Really Attend Fundraisers

Last weekend I attended a fundraiser for a great local charity. There were over 400 people in attendance.  When it comes to attending any sort of event I approach it as potential case study.  There is always a new idea to waiting to be discovered.  In several instances the lessons you learn at one event can be applied to other events. At this particular event, I was out to solidify my notion of why people really attend fundraisers.  As an added bonus was that I was able to put on the tux and accompanying sly grin (I think doing market research should be fun).


Why do people attend fundraisers?
If you're a not for profit organization, be sure you etch the next sentence permanently into your mind:

A minuscule number of people (hardly any) actually attend
fundraisers because the money goes to a good cause

Now please repeat the previous statement until it's permanently stored in your subconscious mind. Over the last 15 years I’ve attended well over 50 fund raisers of all kinds. In some instances people have flown in from across the globe just to attend a one night fundraiser. The event ticket price for one of these fundraisers of $150-$1,500 is pale in comparison to what people pay for airfare, lodging, food, etc. Why would someone do this? Because raising money for a good cause ISN'T really the motivating factor.

You’d be surprised at how few times someone says they’re at an event, because it supports a good cause. In all the times I’ve asked the question, only two or three people (out of hundreds) answered with conviction, “I’m here to support a good cause.”

Try the following next time you attend a fundraiser. Ask a few people at the fundraiser the following question, “What brings you to this event?” Chances are you’re going to get one of two very common answers.

  • The person is there because they know someone either organizing or associated with the event.

  • They’re there because they consider the event a “good time.”

I hope the information is carefully considered by those who organize fundraisers. Most event organizers falsely think people are attending their event because it supports a good cause. That type of false logic can doom a fundraising event. Always remember people attend your event because they want to have a good time or a experience something unique. People aren't going to give you their hard earned money so you can bore them.

Today the competition is fierce and people are far more protective of their dollar.  You have to go that extra mile. The best way to raise money for a good cause is by making sure the event is an amazing experience for those in attendance. If your event isn't a good time, regardless of the cause, people won't come back to support it.

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

Creating an Early Buzz About Your Event

It’s never too early to create a buzz about your event. A big mistake many event organizers make is waiting until it’s too late to promote their event. A direct result of promoting your event too late is a negative impact on your bottom line. Waiting to promote also creates unnecessary stress amongst the people running the event.  You can avoid most of the stress and anxiety. Start building the buzz about your event early using both traditional and new media.

How Early is Too Early?
I honestly don’t know if it’s ever too early to promote any event.  My recommendation to clients is for them to start their traditional advertising (television, print, radio, billboards, etc.) at least 60 days out.  You can begin your traditional advertising as a trickle and then build the crescendo.  Aside from traditional advertising you can use other mediums to build anticipation for your event months in advance. Two examples are leveraging social media and online champions.

Try promoting your event a year out.  Post a blog and photo gallery of your previous event.  Ask people to post their suggestions for making your event better than the previous year.  The online possibilities are nearly endless and sometimes cost nothing.  Use the Internet’s interactivity to your advantage.  In many cases you can build a buzz for little or no cost.

The Star Trek Example
Over the weekend the Internet was set ablaze regarding the new bootlegged Star Trek trailer. The brand new trailer doesn’t come out online until today at 1300 EDT. If you saw the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, you might have caught a glimpse. The new bootlegged trailer has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online over three days and the movie doesn’t come out for almost 6 months. To the best of my knowledge Paramount, the studio producing the movie, hasn’t been voraciously issuing cease and desist letters.  Paramount realizes that people are building a huge buzz for their own online trailer premiere. The buzz building has cost them nothing. Their fans are happily doing the work. Can you think of a similar idea to build anticipation for your event?  Have you ever consider creating a movie trailer for your event?  You can probably get it done for free.  Check with a local college or university and find yourself some capable interns. It doesn't have to be a video, it can be anything. Use your imagination!

Here is the bottom line:
The earlier you create a positive buzz about your event, the more money will flow into your pocket.

If you're interested in the new trailer:
New Star Trek Trailer (*Launches November 17, 2008 at 13:00 EDT)

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

David Ogilvy's "Secret Weapon" for Advertising Success

In a continuation of this week’s Ogilvy feature I’ve dug up the following video.  Instead of pontificating on Ogilvy’s best advice, I thought it best to let the man speak for himself. The video above is at least 30+ years old,  yet Ogilvy’s advice is timeless.  He built his ultra successful agency, Ogilvy & Mather, on direct response marketing.  He considered direct response marketing his “first love and secret weapon.”

Continue reading "David Ogilvy's "Secret Weapon" for Advertising Success" »

$1.48 Billion of Marketing and Advertising Advice ...

One of my marketing mentors, Eben Pagan, talks about delivering massive value when engaging your prospect.  Eben is also a very big fan of David Ogilvy. Way back when, Ogilvy created an ad that was full of some of his best insight on advertising. Ogilvy gave away FREE advertising secrets that cost his firm $4.9 million dollars to learn.

What follows below, (if implemented) can take you business/event to a completely new level ...


Continue reading "$1.48 Billion of Marketing and Advertising Advice ..." »

Advertising and Marketing that Sells

Last week I had a pretty heated discussion on advertising and marketing.  A friend was telling me why they needed to use ‘creative’ (artsy) advertising for their next marketing campaign. My opinion is that they’d be wasting thousands of dollars. Trying to be too creative with your advertising is a huge risk. Business people have an insatiable need to “do something different, just because!” Just because, is a very bad idea if you’re looking to produce advertising that brings a return on investment. Focus on advertising and promotions that get you results.

Everyone Wants to Be Like the Big Guys
Many companies want to emulate the ‘big guys.’ In 2007, Geico spent over half a BILLION dollars on advertising. Thus, they can advertise insurance with cavemen and lizards. $500+ Million allows almost any company saturate the market with their brand and message.

Most small businesses and events don’t have that kind of money to spend on advertising. Yet, small businesses and events want to emulate Geico and other big companies in their advertising. They try to be cute, clever, and funny - instead of focusing on selling something. It's a costly mistake. If you want to emulate a Geico advertisement, have a strong call to action in your advertising.

The Marketing Master - David Ogilvy

This week I’ll be focusing on the late great David Ogilvy. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest advertising and marketing professionals the world has ever seen. His book “Ogilvy on Advertising” is one of the top marketing books you should read at least twice! If you mention Ogilvy to any advertiser or marketing person, he’s acknowledged as advertising genius. Yet, for whatever reason, those same marketing and advertising people disregard Ogilvy’s most basic tenants. (shrug)

Ogilvy’s take on advertising was very straight forward:

I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative.’ I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product.

(Ogilvy on Advertising, p. 7)

Ogilvy’s friend, Rosser Reeves (the guy who coined Unique Selling Proposition - USP), bluntly drives home the point:

WARNING: If you're easily offended, don't  read the next quote.

I’m not saying that charming, witty and warm copy won’t sell. I’m just saying that I’ve seen thousands of charming, witty campaigns that didn’t. Let’s say you are a manufacturer. Your advertising isn’t working and your sales are going down. And everything depends on it. Your future depends on it, your family’s future depends on it, other people’s families depend on it. And you walk in this office and talk to me, and you sit in that chair. Now, what do you want out of me? Fine writing? Do you want masterpieces? Do you want glowing things that can be framed by copywriters? Or do you want to see the goddamned sales curve stop moving down and start moving up?

(Ogilvy on Advertising, p. 25)

Your best course of action is to treat your advertising and marketing as an investment.  If your advertising is an investment, then you should expect a return. Do you want to be known as the company with beautiful advertising? Or, the company with decent looking advertising that made tons of money?

Here is a little secret . . . If you really know what you're doing with your marketing and advertising, you can have highly effective advertising that actually looks great. You just have to build you advertising on the fundamentals of classic salesmanship.

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

The Worst Marketing Sin with some Caution

As of late I’ve been on a Dan Kennedy binge. If you’re unfamiliar with Dan Kennedy’s material you can find it at most bookstores or your local library. Kennedy is considered by many people to be one of the top direct marketing consultants in the world.  Fair Warning: He’s very blunt in most of his advice. But he’s spot on with all of his business advice. Several of my core principles in the Event Promotion System are based on Kennedy’s teachings.  In his “No B.S. Business Success” book he talks about the importance of being “interesting, different, and outrageous” with your marketing. Kennedy states that “the worst marketing sin you can commit is to be boring. People love to buy when it’s a pleasure to buy.” You want to be creative with your marketing, but be careful.  Too many people who market their stuff make the colossal mistake of confusing creativity and usefulness in their marketing.

The Caution
If you are thinking of making your marketing more creative, there is one very important point to remember. Many companies confuse creativity with relativity in their marketing. If you’re going to be creative with your marketing it needs to strike a deep chord with your prospect. What a business or event thinks is cool versus what the consumer thinks is cool are usually two very different things. Most businesses find this out the hard way. A consumer will almost always take high value and useful over cool. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have something that is cool and useful. It just takes a little creativity.  Google and Apple are very good at combining useful with cool.

Personality over Slick Professionalism
People want to connect with one another.  It doesn’t matter if they’re in a suit and tie or t-shirt and jeans. Kennedy states, “People are people, in the boardroom on the 50th floor or on the floor in the living room.” When you get down to it we all buy for the same reasons. If you can connect with your prospect at a very personal level you can do great things. Ask yourself, “Are you connecting with your prospect at a personal level in all your marketing?” Make it about them, not about you. It works!

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

How to Grow Your Business in a Down Economy

As most people have probably heard, the economy in the United States and across the globe seems to be in a bit of turmoil.  I can’t speak for everyone. But I’m not exactly sure what to believe regarding these “bad” economic times. Yes, people are facing difficult economic times, there is no denying it.  Yet at the same time people are doing very well. That forces me to ask the question, “Why are some people doing really well and others struggling?” The answer is pretty complex. Today I’m going to share with you one universal factor successful businesses and events employ in bad economic times. In the last three months I’ve worked with three events that posted record attendance numbers. According to many people that's near impossible in these economic times. Wanna know how they did it?

A Little Background
Event organizers and businesses that are very savvy about their marketing and promotions can protect themselves during down economic times. My close friends and associates have seen their businesses thrive over the last 6 months. One friend more than doubled his monthly sales in October. Many people think, “The economy is down, he can’t do that!”  My friends are from the most diverse group of businesses you can imagine, including the event industry. Many of their products or services would be considered non-essential to most consumers. I'm not saying this to brag, but to impress upon you that others are doing very well in troubled economic times. Don't let the other people or the economy dictate your business growth.

They Delivered MASSIVE Value
Nobody is taking all of the world’s money and hiding it. People are just far less likely to spend.  You need to be more creative with your marketing approach. All of my friends who are thriving during the current economic hardship are doing some specific things in common. They are delivering massive value with their product or service. You need to be able to prove that what you have to offer is going to do the consumer some good or deliver a desired benefit. Ask yourself the question, “What can I do to prove the value of what I have to the consumer?” You have to be able to get them to open up their wallet and spend their hard earned cash!  This isn't an easy task. If you can figure out how to deliver the value of your product or service during bad economic times, just imagine what you can do when the economy is thriving.

P.S. - A Side Note on the "News"
Here is a personal recommendation that will allow you to see the world a little differently. It is important for you to know that I'm am a recovering news junkie. This suggestion might seems a bit "woo-woo," but you'd be amazed how down you can get watching the news. Do yourself a HUGE favor, stop watching and getting wrapped up in the news.  It is psychologically and financially counter productive. In my opinion the news has become an over dramatized editorial for the network you watch. Both political sides do it and it's really annoying. If you have to get your news fix, I'd recommend reading, not watching your news from a unbiased source. Or, ask a friend who isn't going to editorialize the news. I've been on the news diet for the past two months and it has allowed me to do some great things with my business. You'd be surprised what you can do if you aren't wrapped up in the world's over dramatized woes.

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

Using Video to Connect with Your Target Market

“Trick or Treat” to all of you who celebrate Halloween.  In celebration of today’s festivities, I’d like to share with you a great marketing example of a friend and his video.  The video allowed my friend to really connect with his target market.  Here is some quick background info: My friend Ben runs a horror shirt business, He sells scary movie shirts to rabid horror film fans.  Recently Ben has been experimenting with using video and story to better connect with his audience.  Ben’s videos made him really push his comfort-zone. Like many of us, he’s a private person.  It is a bit daunting to shoot personal videos, post the video publicly and then send a website link to thousands of people. 

In the video, Ben talks about his first experience watching a horror movie.  Psychologically, he’s crafted a story that directly connects with his prospects on an emotional level.  His results were extraordinary. Ben has received almost 50 blog comments specifically related to his video. And the comments aren’t just, “Hey! That was a cool video!" His audience loved the concept.

You can use the same idea for your business or event.

Ben's 'Halloween' Video

Read the Great Comments to this video. ( YouTube Channel)

It’s a Home Production

There is one really important note I want to pass along to you. You don’t need to hire a videographer or get fancy post-production to do your own video.  Before you talk yourself out of shooting a video, consider this: Ben shot his video with an older home movie camera hooked up to his computer. He’s not a professional videographer or editor.  Everything you see was done in about an hour with free software.  The video was posted on YouTube for free and embedded into his website. Ben would gladly admit his video is far from perfect. Almost anyone can do this stuff. Don't let the technical aspects scare you away.

Do It Yourself
Take a look at all the comments people left. Can you reverse engineer his process and apply it to your business or event?  Start by identifying what your target market is really passionate about. Next, create a story and find a way to involve your audience. Finally, ask the audience to take some action.  It can be as simple as leaving a comment or signing up for additional information about your event or business.  Go out and give it a whirl . . . I guarantee that you will see some amazing results!

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

Completely Ridiculous Event Promotions

At the beginning of the year I had a very interesting dinner conversation with a friend and local business owner.  He had previously owned a very popular sports themed restaurant. Our dinner conversation revolved around various promotions that he would dream up to get people into his restaurant and bar.  Some of the promotion ideas would be considered too ridiculous by most people.  The irony was that the more outrageous the promotion idea, the better it worked. To clarify, when I say ridiculous ideas I don’t mean offensive anyone. I mean ridiculous in the sense that most people wouldn't thinking of doing something like that in a million years. We humans have a nasty habit of not doing things because we've thoroughly convinced ourselves that an idea will never work.  There is a fine line between gut instinct on something and self deprecating deception. How many times have you thought to yourself "I can't do that because it isn't going to work"? Yet, when you actually do "it" none of the bad things that you thought were going to happen actually occur.  That same mentality prevents most event organizers from hitting a home run on their events.

That's Ridiculous
The ridiculous promotions my business friend shared with me were actually pretty entertaining.  But more importantly the promotion ideas worked to bring people in the door and keep them thoroughly entertained. In classic P.T. Barnum style the hype matched the value of the experience. Some of the promotion ideas included holding events like live crab races.  The crabs would race down a track to the encouragement and cheers of the onlooking crowd.  The owner said he never laughed so hard in all his life and many of his patrons on that night share the same sentiment.  Other events included things like indoor horse shoes with unlikely world champion horseshoe throwers and knee volleyball. I'd go on, but you probably wouldn't believe me.

The Bikini Contest
My friend decided to hold a bikini contest. Yeah, I know, real original idea.  Yet, for whatever reason they promoted it as a big deal.  Two very beautiful sisters entered the bikini contest.  One of the sisters won the contest. Ironically the sister who placed second went on to become Playboy Playmate of the Year.  Perhaps only the guys could appreciate that one, so I apologize if I offended any women.  The contest filled the restaurant to the point where the fire marshal was almost called in. You can still take seemingly ordinary events and take them to the next level with a little imagination.

The bottom line is this . . .  If you have a really out of the box “ridiculous” promotion idea consider running with it.  Most people say to themselves “oh, I can’t do that (insert excuse here)." The lesson my friend shared with me was this, some of the promotion ideas he considered least likely to succeed were by far his biggest winners. Are you holding yourself back on a great idea?

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

Words & Your Event Promotion

Words mean everything in your event promotion.  It doesn’t matter if you’re advertising your event online or off.  When it comes to naming things associated with your event or promotions, take a little time to think of ways to build intrigue with words. Below I’ve included a quick tip on how to transform a lame event title into an exciting event title.

F-22_Raptor_MIL_PHOTOPhoto Above

"A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor banks left causing vapor contrails during an aerial demonstration at the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defense Exposition (AVALON) March 3, 2017, in Geelong, Australia. The F-22 is assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and is part of the F-22 Demonstration Team from Joint Base Langley Eustis, Va. AVALON 2017 was an ideal forum to showcase U.S. defense aircraft and equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)" (Amazing Photo and excerpt source: Unites States Air Force)

Starting with a Lame Title
Earlier in the year I gave a series of talks on what it’s like to be part of a formation aerobatic team.  The sponsoring organization took care of most of the promotion and advertising.  The first time I delivered my talk it was advertised with a very plain title “Inside Air Shows.” To be honest the title was weak at best. It was the best I could think of at that moment.  Looking back I should of spent some more time thinking of a better title. If you’re advertising a great event, hype it up.  But you need to make sure the value your event delivers matches the level hype in your promotions and advertising. If you have a great event, you owe it yourself and your prospect to hype it as much as possible. Check out “Barnum & Hyping Up Your Event” for more information. The truth is that most events have lame titles.

Choosing an Event Title
Here is what I did to get to my most recent title of “The Heart Pounding Excitement of Flight.” First, I spent a few minutes thinking of various exciting titles to use. After I had a few ideas to choose from, I narrowed the various ideas down to four choices.  The narrowed down choices went onto a Word document and the document printed out. On that particular day I was visiting a coaching client and I brought the sheet with various titles with me.  During lunch I asked a bunch of people to look over the titles and pick the one that would get them to show up.  A significant majority of people choose “The Heart Pounding Excitement of Flight.” I let the people most representative of my target prospect decide on a title. 

You need to spend some time coming up with a great name for your event.
Feel free to use the idea above to brainstorm various names for your event. Could I have done better than, “The Heart Pounding Excitement of Flight” for a title? My answer is yes, absolutely! But for the fifteen minutes of time it took to come up with a better title than “Insider Air Shows,” I’m not going to complain. Give it a whirl and let me know what you think.

Make sure you leave a comment below.

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Your Event, Stories that Sell, and P.T. Barnum

Stories are a powerful way of presenting information. They are also a powerful sales catalyst. People have a much easier time relating to information presented in a powerful and persuasive story than they do “just the facts.” When trying to sell your event, inject a passionate writing and story into your marketing.

Write Passionately and Find a Compelling Story

Joice_illusOne place where painfully polished grammar and strict academic vernacular should take a back seat is when crafting your advertising and promotions. When is the last time you read a story and thought to yourself, “that story was amazing, I have to tell my friends about how grammatically correct it was!” This isn't to say you should use intentionally bad 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. 

People love stories because of how a story can  resonate at a deep personal level. It’s OK to sacrifice some grammar for a compelling story.  I know my English composition teacher probably wants to reach through the screen and strangle me, but it’s true.  Highly technical writing is very boring to read.

Some of the greatest marketers on Earth have sales letters and copy riddled with improper grammar and spelling mistakes. Ironically enough poor use of the English language doesn't stop people from purchasing, because they buy in droves.

Below is some ad copy from the New York Sun advertisement written by P.T. Barnum. He writes about the supposed nurse of President George Washington. Notice the style of passionate writing . . .

Joice Heth is unquestionably the most astonishing and interesting curiosity in the world! She was the slave of Augustine Washington (the father of Gen. Washington) and was the first person who put cloths [sic] on the unconscious infant who was destined to lead our heroic fathers on to glory, to victory, and to freedom. To use her own language when speaking of her young master, George Washington, "SHE RAISED HIM!"

Joice Heth was born on the island of Madagascar, on the coast of Africa, in the year of 1674, and has consequently now arrived at the astonishing age of ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-ONE YEARS!!! She weighs but FORTY-SIX POUNDS, and yet is very cheerful and interesting. She retains her faculties in an unparalleled degree, converses freely, sings numerous hymns, relates many interesting anecdotes of the boy Washington, the red coats, and often laughs heartily at her own remarks, or those of the spectators. Her health is perfectly good, and her appearance very neat. . .

The appearance of this marvellous relic of antiquity strikes the beholder with amazement, and convinces him that his eyes are resting on the oldest specimen of mortality they ever before beheld . . .

Source: New York Sun, August 21, 1835.

Are you using persuasive and passionate writing to get people excited about your event? Try to find a way to craft a story around your event and be passionately descriptive in how you write sales copy. Leave the hum-drum writing for academia.

The information above is applicable to almost any form of advertisement: email, billboards, posters, direct mail, etc. If you aren't creating compelling copy with a powerful story you're selling your event short.

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Barnum & Hyping Up Your Event

Barnum was extraordinary at hyping up anything.  He could take a seemingly ordinary object and create an amazing back story. He would then feed that story to the press and get droves of people to show up.

When Barnum was younger there were certain times where he let the hype go overboard. By overhyping he lost some credibility with the public and the press. Fortunately for him he was very good at delivering on the hype and getting credibility back.

Delivering on the Hype
I don’t think it’s right to hype or advertise something where you can’t meet or exceed the customers expectations.  For the purpose of this article, the word hype and promoting/advertising are one and the same.  If you can’t delivery on your promises, don’t hype it.

Here is the interesting part ... I’ve seen more instances of great events not being hyped enough as opposed to over hyped.  I honestly think too many events fail because they don’t advertise or promotion enough. Not because the event wasn’t well planned or well executed.  If you haven’t already, please read “The Danger of Free Event Thinking.”

Barnum's Never Said "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute." But, he did say and believe this ...

It is of no advantage to advertise unless you intend to honestly fulfill the promises made in this manner.

(Barnum Quote - Vitale, p. 103, There’s a Customer Born Every Minute)

He's some important information on one of the most mis-quoted (being that he never said it) lines in history ... The Real Story Behind, "There's a Sucker Born Every Minute."

The Movie Analogy
I think movies are a bit analogous with events.  Studios spent a ton of money hyping up their movies.  They inundate the market with everything from trailers, to interviews, news coverage, cross promotions, etc. 

There is a popular notion that you can get attention by creating more noise than the other person. It’s just a casual observation, but I’ve NEVER heard any of my friends say “That movie was awesome, but they hyped it up way too much.”  When a movie doesn’t meet or exceed the public’s expectations, people usually say, “that movie was way over hyped.” The movie analogy is directly applicable to events. 

You can never over hype a truly great event that is well planned, well executed, and gives the event attendee EXACTLY what they want ... That's a formula for event success!

If you’re an event organizer or promoter, you owe it to yourself and your audience to hype your event as much as possible.

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Leveraging Curiosity in Your Advertising - P.T. Barnum Style

I’m going to continue on my exploration of P.T. Barnum and his advertising strategies. In the excerpts below from ‘Art of Money Getting’ Barnum points out the curiosity one can invoke with advertising and how one man attracted huge media attention by leveraging an event.

But first on curiosity and advertising:

So a man who advertises at all must keep it up until the public know who and what he is, and what his business is, or else the money invested in advertising is lost.

Some men have a peculiar genius for writing a striking advertisement, one that will arrest the attention of the reader at first sight. This fact, of course, gives the advertiser a great advantage. Sometimes a man makes himself popular by an unique sign or a curious display in his window. Recently I observed a swing sign extending over the sidewalk in front of a store, on which was the inscription in plain letters,


Of course I did, and so did everybody else, and I learned that the man had made an independence by first attracting the public to his business in that way and then using his customers well afterwards.

Can you think of a way to introduce curiosity into your advertising? It's important to remember that anything you write needs to hold your reader's attention.  Just because you find something interesting doesn't mean everyone else will follow suit.

Having a Golden Ticket
In 1850 Barnum brought over the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind. Ironically Barnum never heard Ms. Lind sing, yet spent a ton of money upfront promoting and booking her US tour. Part of Barnum’s promotions included auctioning off the best seat in the house. One businesses man, Mr. Genin,  used the opportunity to catapult his business by being the first person to buy a Jenny Lind ticket for $225 in 1850. Because some people might be curious $225 Dollars US in 1850 is worth about $4,900 in 2008 dollars based on the CPI. Here's the excerpt . . .

Genin, the hatter, bought the first Jenny Lind ticket at auction for two hundred and twenty-five dollars, because he knew it would be a good advertisement for him. "Who is the bidder?" said the auctioneer, as he knocked down that ticket at Castle Garden. "Genin, the hatter," was the response. Here were thousands of people from the Fifth avenue, and from distant cities in the highest stations in life. "Who is `Genin,' the hatter?" they exclaimed. They had never heard of him before.

The next morning the newspapers and telegraph had circulated the facts from Maine to Texas, and from five to ten millions of people had read that the tickets sold at auction for Jenny Lind's first concert amounted to about twenty thousand dollars, and that a single ticket was sold at two hundred and twenty-five dollars, to "Genin, the hatter."
Men throughout the country involuntarily took off their hats to see if they had a "Genin" hat on their heads.

At a town in Iowa it was found that in the crowd around the post office, there was one man who had a "Genin" hat, and he showed it in triumph, although it was worn out and not worth two cents. "Why," one man exclaimed, "you have a real `Genin' hat; what a lucky fellow you are." Another man said, "Hang on to that hat, it will be a valuable heir-loom in your family." Still another man in the crowd who seemed to envy the possessor of this good fortune, said, "Come, give us all a chance; put it up at auction!" He did so, and it was sold as a keepsake for nine dollars and fifty cents!

What was the consequence to Mr. Genin? He sold ten thousand extra hats per annum, the first six years.
Nine-tenths of the purchasers bought of him, probably, out of curiosity, and many of them, finding that he gave them an equivalent for their money, became his regular customers. This novel advertisement first struck their attention, and then, as he made a good article, they came again.

Now I don't say that everybody should advertise as Mr. Genin did. But I say if a man has got goods for sale, and he don't advertise them in some way, the chances are that some day the sheriff will do it for him. Nor do I say that everybody must advertise in a newspaper, or indeed use "printers' ink" at all. On the contrary, although that article is indispensable in the majority of cases, yet doctors and clergymen, and sometimes lawyers and some others, can more effectually reach the public in some other manner. But it is obvious, they must be known in some way, else how could they be supported?

The example above might be over 150 years old - but what ideas can you borrow for the marketing of your own event? People are still willing to pay top dollar to have an extraordinary experience. What are you doing to command top dollar for a ticket to your event?

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A Negative Question to Create a Better Event

A few days ago I was lucky enough to interview Dave Pietrowski, the organizer of the World’s Largest Disco.  Dave is a gold mine of event promotion information collected over the last 14 years.  I want to share with you one simple idea Dave mentioned that you could easily incorporate into your next event.

What Didn’t They Like
Dave’s simple idea revolves around sending a follow up email immediately after your event.  As soon as the Disco finishes an email is sent to event attendees.  The email starts by thanking the attendee for their support and contains one simple question, “What didn’t you like about the event?”  Some people might think, that’s too simple or why not ask more questions.  In the customer service world, simple is always the way to go.

Being Proactive
The thank you email and question accomplishes two important things. First, it is sent immediately after the event finishes. That’s when people’s thoughts are fresh in their minds.  If you wait a few days, people might forget helpful information that you could use.  Second, a counterintuitive question is asked, “What didn’t you like about the event?” The question is counterintuitive from an event organizer standpoint.  Most event organizers only want to hear about the positives.  By asking what your attendees didn’t like it compels you to raise the quality of your event.  It also shows your attendees that you’re serious about making your event better. People are much more willing to attend events where they know the organizer is going out of their way to deliver value and improve upon.

If you have an upcoming event that is reoccurring, think about using the simple technique outlined above.
As a side note, if you aren’t on my mailing list, you’re probably going to want to join. I’ll be emailing my subscribers a link of an upcoming audio interview where Dave is going to share some of his best stuff.

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