A shark's dorsal fin and your event

One might assume user traffic data varies significantly from one type of event website to another.

Over the last 20 years, I've been collecting data from numerous event web sites. Some of the event niches include beer festivals, ethnic festivals, sporting events, specialty, and not for profit fundraisers.

One of the most fascinating aspects of event web sites is that the observed user traffic trends are atypical. Without data most event organizers incorrectly assume their own website traffic trends. Even if they've been organizing their event "forever!" The logical assumption is that there is a gradual or linear increase in website traffic leading up to an event.

Every event website for the last 20 years has shown very similar traffic trends. And it’s very different from what most event organizers think.

Leading up to the event, user traffic anemically increases. It does not gradually increase as most people assume. Within a week or two of the event, web traffic increases almost exponentially, to a spike. Then rapidly decreases to a trickle of traffic, after the event.

Here's another observation. For the clients that spend between $0 - $150,000. USD cash on advertising, all the traffic curves look very similar. Like a shark's dorsal fin!

To be fair, I don’t have data on the $150,000.+ USD cash advertising campaigns for events. Clients have never spent that much. Hopefully someday!

There is also some interesting data when you segment data within Google Analytics. Here’s a numerical snapshot of 12 months of user traffic data from two completely different events:

Percentage of Total Web Site Users by Date Range for Annual Events

53-60% of Event Website Users visited 25 Days before the event and 5 Days after the event.

35-46% of Event Website Users visited 5 Days before the event and 5 days after the event.

It is essential for event organizers to collect and monitor their event website stats. Knowing your event web site user trends can prove tremendously beneficial for maximizing the effectiveness of all your advertising and marketing.

At a minimum, it tells you when people are most interested in your event. That alone can help you determine when to spend marketing dollars for maximum impact. You can find your data in Google Analytics under the Audience > Overview tab.

Let me know what you find!

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

 

 


To be fooled or not, by event advertising impressions

Let's dive into an online advertising test from 2014. Several details can be unpacked here. But for today, we'll take a high-level 40,000-foot view.

At the time, I was debating with a client on the importance of advertising impressions. During that client debate, I was challenged on the power of what "a million" impressions would do for a local event.

My standard line on advertising impressions goes like this, "impressions don't impress me much!" I believed that a million impressions would not do much for the event.

During the 2014 advertising impressions test, there were several interesting takeaways. Even a few insights that genuinely surprised me. Several of my assumptions on advertising impressions were proven both correct and incorrect.

And so there is no confusion, I'm NOT against advertising or the people who sell it. I am staunchly opposed to people that sell event organizers advertising they know will never help an event. A far too often occurence.

My ultimate goal is to provide clients and EPR subscribers the knowledge to make great advertising and marketing decisions. So here goes ...

Using Facebook in 2014, I was able to get the client over 2 million online impressions for $62.88 USD. Yes, the decimal place is in the correct spot. A three-cent CPM and that's a phenomenal deal! (And another case study as to why event organizers need to master their own media buys!)

Thanks to Facebook's targeting tools we were able to laser target potential event attendees both demographically and geographically, all using a classic direct response advertisement. A click on the Facebook advertisement brought people back to the client's event website.

With 2,044,800 online impressions, guess how many people clicked on the advertisement?

We tested numerous variations spanning 9 different campaigns over 45 days. And there were a total of 130 clicks. That's 130 clicks on two million impressions. Those 130 clicks went on to generated 12 online leads. When you start with two million impressions and only produced 12 online leads, that appears to be an abysmal result. Yet, when you know your marketing math numbers, there could be a silver lining.

Based on the Facebook impressions test, the client had the option of paying approximately $16 USD to generate a $52 average transaction. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

Regardless of my heterodoxy on marketing and advertising, I'm a firm believer in challenging the status quo. That includes my own beliefs and opinions, regardless of experience and track record.

So, make sure you're always testing your own opinions and biases! Because you might be surprised at what you find.

Want more info on promoting your event?
Check out the articles below:

 


Go where your competition is NOT

Every Wednesday is dedicated to client "status calls." If I don't drone on too long, these status calls usually last about 10-20 minutes. In short, the agenda goes like this: what have we done and the results, what are we working on now, and what's next?

If you're not doing something like a status call, I strongly recommend them. Provided you have an action based agenda, it really helps with team efficiency. Especially if you want to avoid atrociously long (accomplished nothing!) meetings.

I digress ...

During one of the status calls yesterday, the topic of mailboxes came up again. I asked my client, "how much mail do you get daily?" Her reply, "my inbox is always full!" To which I had to clarify, "... your postal mailbox." And she replied with, "I get very little postal mail these days."

This week, I found two pieces of mail in my postal mailbox. Three weeks ago, I almost went to the post office, because I hadn't received any postal mail for four days! Most people I ask say, "I'm receiving far less postal mail these days!" And that lack of postal mail is a potential opportunity for your event. And a place your competition is probably not leveraging!

Ask yourself, "While everyone is going online (including your competition), is there an opportunity to market your event via the postal service?" After years of talking about it, clients are finally ready to give direct (postal) mail another chance.

Here's a tiny excerpt from May's Event Profit Report to drive home the point:

"A local Greek parish uses direct mail postcards with great success to promote their four-day ethnic festival. The outdoor festival makes over $250,000 USD in food and beverage sales. In a recent discussion with one of the Greek festival's organizers, it was revealed that their postcards are the most effective form of event marketing."

Some of the most highly successful marketers I know use traditional postal mail very effectively. They collect a lead or a customer online and follow up with postal mail. You might want to consider the same approach.

Here are some additional articles that will help you create super-effective billboards:

 


Do you know your CAC?

Lately, clients have been doing deep dives into their event expenses and ticket pricing. And that's a great thing! I encourage them to go one step further on exploring their event costs.

Today's suggestion goes along with an email, from last month, on the Average Transaction Value (ATV) of your ticket buyers.

Let's look at another critical marketing math number you and your team need to know.

"How much does it cost your event to acquire a customer?" Or, what my finance friends call Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC).

It's imperative that you know your CAC. If not, how else do you know how much you can afford to spend on advertising?

Here's the excerpt from an email last month to drive home the point:

"... In 2013, a client was considering a local media buy for their event. The media buy included both traditional and online placements. At the time, I knew that the client's Average Transaction Value was around $50 USD.

With some additional marketing math numbers and based on the proposed marketing package, I calculated that it would cost my client over $400 USD to generate a $50 USD customer transaction.

My question for the ad sales executive, "why should my client pay $400 in advertising to generate a $50 sale?" That math doesn't work! ..."

In the example above, the Customer Acquisition Cost is $400 USD for $50 USD of ticket revenue. That isn't sustainable, because you'll go broke!

Most event organizers have no idea their CAC. If you don't know it already, make sure you know your CAC! Per the example above, it can greatly assist you when negotiating your advertising and media buys. As that old cliché goes, "knowledge is power!"

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


When "discrimination" is actually a good thing

Bear with me on this one, because it's crucial to the advertising and marketing efforts of your event ... and it's not what you think.

Every year, at the International Council of Air Shows' Convention, there is a huge discussion about how "our industry is aging out!" It's followed by charts and graphs breaking down the demographic profile of people attending air shows.

Air show chart and graph data is compiled by a biennial spectator survey. This survey includes a series of demographic questions. Yet there is one crucial question that is missing from the survey. When a spectator is asked their age range, there is no follow up question of, "are you the one who purchased a ticket to the airshow?"

Any guesses as to why not asking the purchase question could be an issue?

Because the person giving their age range might not be the same person purchasing the ticket. In this case, there is an older demographic responding to the survey. It's also important to note that the survey is administered by volunteers. And the survey is usually asked of adults, not an equal distribution of participants.

It's critical that you focus on who is buying the ticket to your event. Because if you took an age sample of people within a Disney park, you'd end up with a high percentage of 12-17 year olds. That said, the 12 to 17-year-olds aren't paying for the high-priced Disney vacation. It's probably Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa. They might even be taking out a second mortgage on the house just to pay for the whole thing.

Who's buying tickets to your event determines where you're spending your marketing and advertising dollars. Think about it. Several marketing channels have distinct demographic and psychographic dispositions. As the marketing great Dan Kennedy says (paraphrased), "nobody reads newspapers anymore, unless your over 50 and have a lot of money."

Kennedy then takes the above insight and applies it to advertising and marketing, "you have the right to discriminate who you do business with." Precisely how and where you spend your marketing and advertising dollars.
Which leads to two important questions:

Do you have detailed demographic and psychographic profiles of your event ticket buyers? Are you laser targeting them with all your advertising and marketing efforts?

That means you want to discriminate your advertising dollars against people who aren't remotely interested in attending your event. By ethically discriminating, you can avoid a lot of wasted advertising dollars.


The fallacy of "ooh, look at how big it is!"

It's slightly aggravating when people bragging about email their email list size. You've probably heard the same from some local advertising agency or marketing firm.

Here in Rochester, NY, there is a local advertising company that tries to impress everyone with their massive email list. "Look at how big our list is, pretty impressive, right?" Um, nope!

Don't be fooled by email list size! The size of an email list is rarely related to your return on investment from that list. In most cases, email lists are haphazardly thrown together. Those tend to be "the big ones."

Internet marketing dude Frank Kern has some sage advice on list size. "It's not about the size of the list. It's about the quality of the relationship you build with the list." You should strongly consider Frank's advice, he made over $150,000 in 20 minutes with an email list of fewer than 800 people.

If you're using an email list to market your event, focus on building a high-quality email list. I know this sounds horribly cliched. The quality of the relationship you have with your email list is a huge factor in determining how many people buy tickets to or attend your event.

It's also imperative that you vet any partner lists that you might use to market or promote your event.
Many client projects, both inside and outside, the event industry have helped to drive home the quality versus quantity ideology.

A Canadian event sold $61,450 CAD worth of event tickets in 6 just days with a house list of 3,100 people. Their list of 3,100 people was grown from zero, all online, in less than 2 months with organic traffic, mostly from Google. The only information collected was a website visitor's first name and email address. Oh yeah, there was zero budget for advertising.

Another non-event companies that focused on establishing a meaningful online relationship with their list did amazing at quickly converting new list prospects into buyers. Using an automated 4-email sequence, they were able to convert over 30% of new email subscribers into buying customers in less than 30 days.

You need to ask yourself, "What can I do to have a better relationship with my email list?" Again, horribly clichéd, but massively important.

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


A runny nose, sneezing, and your event ...

Almost every morning starts for me at the gym. It usually involves some audio or video training and taking notes with Evernote. If you ask other people at my gym, they probably think I'm addicted to texting. For the most part, I stay in my own zone. Basically, I tune everything and everyone out.

There is an occasional distraction. Mostly from a long row of large televisions set up in the gym. For the most part, I ignore what's on TV while working out. But this morning was different.

I have no idea why, but there was a commercial for Flonase. It's a product that's used for seasonal allergies. Various networks showed the same Flonase commercial at least twice in 10 minutes, maybe three times. I thought to myself "hmm, I can't recall the last time that was on and so often." Perhaps it's allergy season?

Sure enough, a top Google Search listing revealed, "Allergy season kicks off as pollen counts explode nationwide" -CBS News, April 19th
That's a lot of coincidences. My best guess is that GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical company that makes Flonase, is spending massive advertising dollars now that "pollen counts explode nationwide" in the United States.

What do a runny nose, sneezing, and your event have to do with one another? A lot!

Without knowing anything else about allergy medications, would you spend the bulk of your advertising dollars during allergy season or at some other time?

Last year, two clients ran almost identical ads with similar targeting. I was able to identify two to three days were the same ads went into ticket selling overdrive. There was one day in particular where the advertisement return on ad spend was 2x to 5x higher and occasionally approached 10x.

Again, same ad and targeting (placements). The only difference was when the advertisement was displayed. As a result, client 2019 advertising campaigns will be adjusted accordingly.

When you spend your advertising dollars can have a massive impact on your Return On Ad Spend. Every event is going to be a little different. Thus, your advertising approach is going to be unique.

Are you using an advertising timing strategy that is directly linked to your ticket sales? Can you back up your approach with absolute conviction and hard data?

The difference in advertising effectiveness, just based on when you run advertising is extraordinary. It could also save you a mint on your advertising spend. Or, turn your advertising into a bankable investment. Your timing is critical!

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


Why you should always recycle your event advertising

Do you ever reuse advertising for your event? As humans, we have this drive to continually create something new. This frequently happens when it comes to advertising for events. We often try so hard to create something new that we forget to step back and to figure out what actually works.

I would argue that event organizers are better off rerunning an ad (or a web site) that gets a decent response. As opposed to trying to create something new for creativity's sake. The cost of creativity is usually your time and money.

A great success model to emulate is traditional direct response advertising. The magic of direct response ads are that they are rooted in great headlines and compelling body copy. Some of the most successful advertisements in history have been run for years without any changes.

Finding a winning ad has never been more straightforward. You can track advertising effectiveness with Google Analytics. Let's use print advertising as an example. Make sure that all your print ads include a powerful call to action that provides for your web address.

You might want to consider running different domain names for various ads. Specific domain names make it a little easier to test your ads. After the ads have run, go back to Analytics and see which ad drove the most people to your web site. The ad that drove the most people to your web site might be the winner. In short, you want to get the trend line to go up. The above example lacks specific details but should give you some ideas to start.

When advertising and marketing for your event, you a far better off going with something that you know works. Why mess with something that is going to help put "butts in seats"?

Countless dollars are wasted when event organizers regularly create new advertising and never track the results. Find the ad that works and don't be afraid to use it over and over. You can create a new ad when your winner stops paying you dividends.

One event client reused the same ticket sales page for over eight years. That same sales page sold more than $500,000 USD of VIP tickets to a free event.

As the old cliche goes, "don't judge a book by its cover." If you have an advertising piece that works, keep running it until it doesn't work. Forget people's opinions, go with what the hard data shows you!

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


An "out" to your advertising advantage

Back in 2007, the Internet was still a little bit of the Wild West. These days, much as changed. In some ways, it's better, and in others it's worse. One thing that doesn't change is the fundamentals.

Today, I'd like to share a simple strategy you can use for online media buys. The following advice comes directly from people who purchase $50K USD to $250,000+ per month in online advertising. Don't worry, you don't need to spend those kind of numbers on advertising.

It's something that I was introduced to in 2007 by people who sign colossal advertising contracts. This fundamental is still 100% applicable today. One caveat to the suggestion, you need to track all your advertising and marketing.

Here's my advertising recommendation:

Negotiate a 24 to 72 hour "out clause" into all your online media buys. If you can track your numbers really well, an out clause should also be used for traditional media buys. In the simplest terms, an "out clause" allows you to get out of long term or expensive media buys (contracts).

Why would you want to do that? Because when you're tracking your advertising and it's underperforming, why commit your money to something that doesn't work?

To be clear, I'm not saying you should get anything for free. If you advertise for three days, you pay for three days.
In almost every instance the advertising sales executive is going to balk at the request. They'll tell you, "we can't do that" and "that's not in our contract" or "corporate won't allow us to do that." That's all B.S.! If you're talking to the right person, they'll be able to get it done.

This suggestion is also a learned skill. As your numbers and advertising buying chops come together, so will your ability to be a smart media buyer.

Remember the quote from two months ago:

"In business as in life, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate." - Chester L. Karrass

Make sure you get into the mindset of tracking your numbers and negotiating out clauses. Most important of all, don't commit yourself to a bad advertising deal! Never be pressured into buying media. When you know your marketing numbers, this won't happen.

Want more info on radio advertising for your event?
Check out the articles below:


Serving a critical piece of customer service pie

Over the past few days, we've been taking a closer look at your customers and dealing with feedback about your event.

Per yesterday's post, I promised you a "critical piece of customer service pie!"

It applies to emails about your event, social media comments, event reviews, etc. It's also one of the most important pieces of advice I've shared to date.

With several client projects, I volunteer a few hours every year to answer customer emails. (Some of my biggest clients are non-profit organizations.) My reason for doing this is an attempt to understand where people are coming from ... getting into their ego and mindset.

Last year, I responded to an angry email for a non-profit client's event. The person was rude in their initial email. I attempted to answer calmly and professionally. Apparently, they didn't care.

A few months later, that same person decided to copy and paste my email response as a comment on a Facebook ad for the client's event. Of course, they used the Facebook comment with my email response to blast the event and trash talk me in the process. For some strange reason, they forgot to paste their initial email where they were a belligerent a-hole. I still stand 100% behind my email. No emotions or personal jab, just the facts. But this example isn't about me.

Have you ever heard the phrase ... "the Internet is forever!"

Anything you post and in some cases "do," is historically logged as 1's and 0's. It can be a social media comment or email to a customer.

Remember that people will take anything you say, do, or write on the Internet and potentially use it against you and your event. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. People could sit on what you've written for weeks, months, or years.

So here's the critical piece of advice for today ...

Next time you or a team member decide to respond to anything regarding your event, keep this simple phrase in mind:

"Whatever I write here will probably show up on the Internet someday."

That phrase with a dash of humility should keep you in the sweet spot. Even better, it's an excellent way to shut down the online haters. If the public sees your response that someone decides to try and use against you as fair, measured and emotion-free, you'll almost always end up on the positive side.

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


An (ALL CAPS) Angry Pants Event Email ...

Here's an entertaining ALL CAPS and "angry pants" email ...

It comes courtesy of an event client. Hence, I've [redacted] certain parts of the email below to protect the event and the overly opinionated. The ALL CAPS sections have NOT been edited in any way.

===========================
"Hey [NAME OF EVENT]...your ticket prices have gotten BEYOND RIDICULOUSLY HIGH. I'm one of the THOUSANDS watch the [EVENT] from [A PARK] - where we can bring in our own food and drinks ( and not get ripped off by the vendors on-site ) sit in our own comfortable chairs near our vehicle, and see the [EVENT] for FREE - FREE - FREE!

We quit getting ripped off by your high prices YEARS AGO. There are more of us scattered around outside the gate, than you have people inside the gate - and our numbers keep getting higher and higher each year. THAT SHOULD TELL YOU SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR RIDICULOUS TICKET PRICES AND VENDOR SCALPING PRICES."
===========================

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Including the person that wrote this lovely email.

As context, a single adult can buy an early-bird event ticket for less than $20 and bring up to 4 children (age 14 and under) at no additional fee. If you want to go the family route ... Mom and Dad, plus up to a total of 12 kids (age 14 and under) can attend the event for less than $40 USD, if they buy tickets early.

It doesn't appear that the person who wrote the email has recently purchased a ticket to the event. Their email was checked against the client's customer database. To be fair, they could have bought a gate ticket.

Which leads me to the question of the day ... how would you and your team respond to the email above?

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

 


Before responding to complaints about your event, do this ...

or some reason, online customer service has been a hot topic this week. Whatever the cause, clients seem to be dealing with a higher rate of online complaints than usual. Strangely enough, their events aren't until the fall.

So, instead of complaining myself, let me give you the first step in dealing with any complaint. It's the first thing you should do if someone writes you a criticism via email or posts something nasty on social media.

But before I get into the recommendation, allow me to ask the following:

Do you have a policy or procedure in place for dealing with complaints about your event? How do you or your team deal with people who complain? Do you log all your complaints?

Hopefully, you have a procedure in place. Even if you do or don't have a process, here's a recommended first step ...

If someone writes you an email or posts something to social media, before taking any action (or getting upset), do this ... check and see if they're a customer or previous customer. Doing so will at least give you a general idea of how to deal with the complaint.

If the person is a customer. You might want to dig a little deeper into their customer file. If you're not sure, you might want to ask them.

Why does it matter?

Because if they are a previous or current customer, that should impact how you handle their complaint. Personally, my goal is to turn every customer complaint into a win. And it works most of the time.

If they're not a customer, depending on their complaint, you might want to ask yourself, "do I really want this person as a customer?"

This is in no way to imply that you should treat anyone poorly or unprofessionally. But do you really want people who get all nasty with their complaints as a customer?

Ironically enough, I fired an Event Profit Report subscriber on Sunday. I tried to promptly address their concern, and they still went all unprofessional on me. Not someone I want as a customer! We all have our own limits, you need to decide what's right for you and your organization.

Remember - don't respond to them, don't get upset, do nothing ... until you see if they're a current or previous customer.

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


About all those ticket price whiners ...

Pop quiz ...

"How many event attendees complained about ticket prices at your last event?"

The question above might seem overly simplistic, but there is an essential word of note. And it's a word you and your event team need to pay careful attention to.

What do you think the critical word might be?

The word is "customers," not people.

What's the difference? If a "person" complains about your ticket price and never buys a ticket, do you really care? They're probably whiners. And whiners will never buy a ticket to your event. But they'll complain all over the place and suck the life out of you.

Let's dive in a little deeper on this topic ...

When I asked the customer ticket complaint question above to a client, their response was, "a lot of people complained on social media!" To which I returned to the important part of the original question, "how many customers complained?" They didn't know.

The complaint question was asked of another client. Their response, "not more than 10 people." Again, I asked, "were the people who complained customers?" They also didn't know.

My goal here isn't to rag on clients, because they're super awesome about implementing my insane requests. What's the goal? To focus on the takeaway ... who's really complaining about your ticket prices?

It's imperative that you ignore the whiners and focus on the people most essential to your event. They are your customers and potential customers.

Here's the icing on the takeaway cake. Both clients in today's email have events that sell tens of thousands of tickets. And yet for one client, less than 10 people complained about the price of their event tickets.

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


Where's your focus & "chopping up" event attendees

Matt writes the following ...

--------------------------------
"How can you manage expectations of the customers? Maybe some of my customers would like more info from us, but I don't want to send them stuff they don't want and lose customer's interest (and annoy them), or just get caught up in the piles of other forms of advertising that is constantly bombarding every one.

I want to make sure that our message sticks out from the crowd and would love some way to be able to separate the people based on their interests. We currently don't have any information tied to our e-mail or text listings to separate who wants what—or shouldn't I care?"
--------------------------------

First, Matt is doing something massively important.

Can you identify what it is?

Matt is using a customer-centric mindset, bravo!!! It's not about what he thinks. Matt is being very cognizant of his prospects and customers. It's a very mature event organizer approach. And it's missing from most events. If you want more people at your event, stop focusing on your ego ... and focus on their ego!

I'm going to amalgamate my response to Matt's series of questions with one strong suggestion. And to answer his last question, "Yes Matt, you should absolutely care!"

What follows applies to every single event, including free events.

My suggestion is that Matt segments his marketing target lists. In the purest sense, have one list for prospects and another list for customers (attendees).

Side note: even if you have a free event, you should be issuing tickets.

Once someone purchases a ticket (or becomes an attendee), put them on a customer only track. Fair warning, it is more work to use segmentation. But it alleviates many of the concerns Matt pointed out above.

Here's a hard data point to drive home the importance of segmentation. It comes directly from recent client work.

List "A" is a customer list and list "B" is a prospect list. The only notable variation is the P.S. copy was removed from list "A." Three event info messages were sent to both lists. List A's response rate was 3x more that of list B for each of the three messages sent. Again, same message. That's the power of segmentation!

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


How creativity destroys your event ticket sales

What?!? How could creativity have a downside?

Almost every time an event organizer has a new event, or recurring annual event, they feel compelled to create all new advertising and marketing.

This can involve everything from posters, radio ads, television ads, online banner ads, billboards, collateral materials, to redesigning event websites. And everything in between.

On the surface, the above approach seems perfectly logical.

I'm here to tell you, that the need to create something new approach, is most likely an enormous waste of your time and money! "Eugene, you're a heretic! How could you say something so mean?!"

Because creating something new, could hurt your ability to sell tickets to your event!

How is that possible?

You won't know for sure if you don't hold all your marketing and advertising ruthlessly accountable.

That means knowing the marketing effectiveness of at least your most prominent marketing and advertising assets: banner ads, your website, email marketing campaigns, social media posts, etc.

In marketing, specifically direct-response marketing, it's called a control. A control is a piece of advertising or marketing strategy that has a measurable result. e.g., You have a banner ad for your event that gets a .05% click-through rate each year it's run. That's your banner ad control.

When you create a new advertising or marketing piece, you test that new creative against an existing control. The goal is to beat the control and keep testing. There is a lot more too it than the rough description above but hopefully, you get the idea.

My challenge to you is to establish a control and run it for as long as possible. The cost and time to measure the effectiveness of your advertising and marketing controls will dwarf that of creating something new.

Until your controls fail to perform, why spend time and money to create something new? This isn't art class! Figuring out what advertising and marketing works (or if it actually works) is infinitely more important than creating something new. It will also make you more money, every time!

Most of my clients have been running the same advertising and marketing controls for years. And guess what? Not a single customer has ever complained about the same advertising and marketing being used, year after year. The result has been millions of dollars of ticket sales.

The suggestions above are guaranteed to boil the blood of most ad agencies and graphix designers. It's your money, and you should protect it like a valuable investment!

That said, if a designer or ad agencies can beat an existing control, they should be well compensated!

I'm tough on the creative types, but I'm also very fair. The best graphic designers will take you up on a control challenge. Because they know how to use design to drive ticket sales. The rest will run for the hills. Focus on finding those who understand the importance of results over art and you'll be set.

Additional Event Promotion Resources:


Lost revenue from exaggerated attendance

Years ago, my lady and I went to a local aviation safety event. Full disclosure: the event was a former pro-bono client.

During our walk around the exhibit hall, my lady saw a friend from a previous job. Her friend still worked for the same company. That company purchased an exhibitor booth at the event. The company's goal with their exhibitor booth was to try and generate membership leads.

As the ladies caught up, there were the usual pleasantries, "how are you? what's new?" And then the interesting part. The woman working the booth said, "they said that they would have a few thousand people at this event. They're lucky if there are 500!"

It got worse when the woman working the exhibitor booth said something along the lines of, "we'll never do this again! They don't get anywhere near the attendance we were told."

As with all events, attendance is going to vary. If you have an outdoor event, you're all too familiar with wild attendance swings. Hence, the phrase "estimated attendance." That said ...

Event organizers need to have very accurate estimated attendance numbers in their sponsorship/exhibitor packages. Why?
Because numerous companies that leverage events, especially large events, are very savvy about calculating attendance ... your attendance numbers!

In particular, companies who do product sampling. Some of these companies can calculate your attendance using the temperature outside (for an outdoor event) against on how many samples they distribute!

Those companies calculating your attendance could have a massive impact on your event. If you're estimated numbers are way off, sophisticated event exhibitors will know.

It's your event and your call. But if you're going to give estimated attendance numbers in marketing, exhibitor, or sponsorship packages, make sure you're as accurate as possible. If not, companies are bound to leave you and never return. Which means you lose future bank.


The Beer School rollercoaster ride

Every month a dedicated local group of beer enthusiasts put on a great event called "Beer School." This "school" is an opportunity to try beers that you'd never consider or even knew existed. Gose, Fruit Lambic, Kolsch, Dunkel, etc. The palette diversity is unbelievable.

Each month a different microbrewery or style of beer is featured. You show up and pay $10 to $15 USD per person. It's honestly a great value. With each beer sample, comes a fascinating (occasionally legendary) beer back story. The beers are often paired with complementing food. In short, lots of great stories and tasty useless calories!

Over the years we've invited friends, and they rave about their beer school experience.

For all the positives of Beer School, attendance is like a rollercoaster ride. There are months where you can't find a seat and then months where just a few people attend.

On the marketing side of the equation, they even have a Facebook page with 415 members. Most of their Facebook group members have previously attended the event. Each month, Facebook group members are asked to RSVP. Yet, for all the RSVPs and effort, there are numerous no-shows.

There is one crucial piece of the puzzle they're missing.

Would you like to guess what that might be?

It's a commitment to the event. As I wrote up top, you pay upon arriving. So a Facebook RSVP is doing little to help them. It's important to remember, the consumer "votes" with their wallet.

If you want people to commit to your event, get them to invest with their wallet! Event commitment can be in the form of purchasing an advance ticket or paid online pre-registration.

If you have an outdoor event, advance ticket sales are critical. I've seen air shows have over $100,000 of ticket revenue wiped out by a bad weather forecast! Bad weather forecast = the weather fortune tellers say, "it's going to rain this weekend" and there is nothing but clear blue skies. This is absolutely devastating to ticket sales!

You need to give your target market a good reason to invest their hard-earned money with you. So, go out there and get those advance ticket sales.

The single best form of "weather insurance" is lots of ticket sale money in your bank account!

Else, you're at the mercy of things you have zero control over, like dubious weather forecasters.

Want more advance ticket sale insights? Check out the articles below:


How to avoid a total event disconnect

Here's the irony of today's recommendation. For years, event organizers and clients insist that they know their event attendees. Yet, when they are given the same post-event survey as their event attendees, the answers are entirely different.

To be clear, the event organizers are asked to answer the post-event surveys as their event attendees.

Even more jaw-dropping, after years of reviewing post-event survey results by their own event attendees, the organizers still provide entirely different answers.

A few years ago, an event organizer angrily told me, "nobody is going to tell me what performers to hire at our event!" To which I responded, "what about your event attendee?" My inner a-hole voice continued (but not out loud to the angry event organizer) "you know ... the same people who make your paycheck possible!"

To be super successful with your event, you need to make sure you truly understand your event attendee.

As the late-great John Collier said, "enter into a conversation already occurring in your prospect's mind." That means putting aside your own personal beliefs and biases. And that's not easy to do! It's also key to hugely successful events.

I'm going to present a powerful marketing concept from two of my marketing mentors, Eben Pagan and John Carlton. It will help you better connect with your event attendee.

Years ago, Eben came up with the concept of a customer profile. He calls it a Customer Avatar. In the event world, your profile is the ideal prospect for your event. You use your customer profile to better plan and market your event.
Specifically, to laser target your marketing message and advertising placements.

Simple Questions to Build Your Event Customer Profile
Here are some quick questions that will help you create your customer profile for your event. The questions below are derived from John Carlton's Simple Writing System.

-Who is your ideal event attendee? (Demographics & Psychographics)

-What are your event attendee's wants, needs or desires regarding your event?

-Do they have an irrational fear or desire?

-What message can you present to your prospective event attendee that drives them toward action?

By answering the questions above, you will better understand what someone attending your event wants and how best to serve them. This is also tremendously powerful for making marketing and advertising decisions.

Over the years, I've seen several event marketing disasters that could have been prevented with a customer profile.

I realize that target market research isn't the most exciting activity, but its importance is paramount. There is zero benefit in planning or creating an event if people aren't going to attend.

Doing a little homework up front can save you a ton of money and agony down the road. If you alreadyhave an event, an attendee profile will help you grow to the next level.

Here are some additional articles on planning a successful event:

 

 


The Consequence of a $5 Ticket Decision

Have you ever contemplated having your event take a hiatus?

There are times when not having an event is an unfortunate necessity. If you're not going to have your event, please consider some of the potential consequences.

About six years ago, a client had to make the decision to either raise their gate price to cover unexpected costs or not have their event. Because the client had very accurate attendance figures, we did some financial forecasting. A $5 USD price increase, per ticket, would cover all their additional expenses and increase profits. The event organizer insisted that the consumer wouldn't tolerate such a ticket price increase.

My recommendation was to test the $5 ticket price increase. Their customers absolutely raved about the client's event. Ultimately, the client decided not to have their event.

At the time, I strongly disagreed with the client's decision and fought hard for the price increase. That said, it's their event and their butt on the line. Not mine!

Before that, numerous competitors refused to enter the same event marketplace. It was probably out of fear and respect. That left the client with nearly zero competition for their event.

What was once a consistent annual event, was no more. And the competition pounced!

Within a year, there were at least three similar events. Instead of one marquee event, the public now had multiple choices.

A few years later, the client decided to bring back their event. Whatever dominance they had established had been diluted with all the competition. They also raised their price $5 USD, with little to no blowback.

To be fair, I can't say that competition would not have entered into the marketplace. But, nobody can deny the dominance of being first to a given market.

In the book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout, it is stated: "the leading brand in any category is almost always the first brand into the prospect's mind. e.g., Hertz in rent-a-cars, IBM in computers, Coca-Cola in cola." With rare exception, the same adage applies to the event industry.

If you have domination in your event niche, not having your event could have dire consequences. Please carefully pro and con your choice. Most important of all, don't let your personal bias get in the way.

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


Lost revenue from exaggerated event attendance

Years ago, my lady and I went to a local aviation safety event. Full disclosure: the event was a former pro-bono client. 

During our walk around the exhibit hall, my lady saw a friend from a previous job. Her friend still worked for the same company. That company purchased an exhibitor booth at the event. The company's goal with their exhibitor booth was to try and generate membership leads.

As the ladies caught up, there were the usual pleasantries, "how are you? what's new?" And then the interesting part. The woman working the booth said, "they said that they would have a few thousand people at this event. They're lucky if there are 500!"

It got worse when the woman working the exhibitor booth said something along the lines of, "we'll never do this again! They don't get anywhere near the attendance we were told."

As with all events, attendance is going to vary. If you have an outdoor event, you're all too familiar with wild attendance swings. Hence, the phrase "estimated attendance." That said ...

Event organizers need to have very accurate estimated attendance numbers in their sponsorship/exhibitor packages. Why? 
Because numerous companies that leverage events, especially large events, are very savvy about calculating attendance ... your attendance numbers!

In particular, companies who do product sampling. Some of these companies can calculate your attendance using the temperature outside (for an outdoor event) against on how many samples they distribute!

Those companies calculating your attendance could have a massive impact on your event. If you're estimated numbers are way off, sophisticated event exhibitors will know.

It's your event and your call. But if you're going to give estimated attendance numbers in marketing, exhibitor, or sponsorship packages, make sure you're as accurate as possible. If not, companies are bound to leave you and never return. Which means you lose future bank.