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 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, Fright-Rags.com. 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. (Fright-Rags.com 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.

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

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.

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

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?

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

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.

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

P.T. Barnum on Advertising

Want to learn a thing or two about really great event marketing and promotion? Consider investing some time in reading up on P.T. Barnum.  During the 1800, he was the king of promoting events. Even though his advertisements and books were published over 125 years ago, they contain lessons that can still be used today.  You can find most of Barnum's writing and a number of advertisements with a simple Google search. Below is an excerpt from the Advertise Your Business chapter in Barnum’s ‘Art of Money Getting.' The excerpt below focuses on the importance of repetition in your advertising.


You may advertise a spurious article, and induce many people to call and buy it once, but they will denounce you as an imposter and swindler, and your business will gradually die out and leave you poor. This is right. Few people can safely depend upon chance custom. You all need to have your customers return and purchase again. A man said to me, "I have tried advertising and did not succeed; yet I have a good article."

I replied, "My friend, there may be exceptions to a general rule. But how do you advertise?"
"I put it in a weekly newspaper three times, and paid a dollar and a half for it."

I replied: "Sir, advertising is like learning--`a little is a dangerous thing!'"

A French writer says that "The reader of a newspaper does not see the first mention of an ordinary advertisement; the second insertion he sees, but does not read; the third insertion he reads; the fourth insertion, he looks at the price; the fifth insertion, he speaks of it to his wife; the sixth insertion, he is ready to purchase, and the seventh insertion, he purchases." Your object in advertising is to make the public understand what you have got to sell, and if you have not the pluck to keep advertising, until you have imparted that information, all the money you have spent is lost. You are like the fellow who told the gentleman if he would give him ten cents it would save him a dollar. "How can I help you so much with so small a sum?" asked the gentleman in surprise. "I started out this morning (hiccupped the fellow) with the full determination to get drunk, and I have spent my only dollar to accomplish the object, and it has not quite done it. Ten cents worth more of whiskey would just do it, and in this manner I should save the dollar already expended.

In the above example, Barnum points out the importance of delivering value and repetition in your advertising. If you have an event, delivering value and constant advertising should be near the top of your priority list.  Take some time to look over Barnum’s advertisements. Look for ideas that you might be able to integrate in your own event advertising. I’ve included some links below. 

P.T. Barnum Advertisements from the 1800s

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Modeling Other Event Marketing and Promotions

One of the best things you can do for your event is model your event marketing and promotions on other successful events. You’d be surprised how willing other event organizers are in sharing some of their proven secrets.

Just yesterday, I called up an event organizer in Buffalo, New York.  I heard a rumor that he sold out 7000 tickets to his fundraising event in less than 20 minutes.  He was gracious enough to give me 30 minutes of his time over the telephone and share details. The information he shared with me was an information gold mine. When I asked if he consulted for a fee to other events organizers, he said that he was happy to share the information with anyone interested at no charge.  You would be surprised how many good people there are willing to share their event success secrets. But it is up to you to be proactive and ask.

Just Listen
If you’re going to get in contact with another event organizer, be prepared to listen carefully and not over judge their ideas.  Way too many event organizers will convince themselves with logic why they can’t do something potentially beneficial for their event. I hear it all the time, “We can’t do that, because . . . (insert excuse here).”

You’re Might Not Hear What You Want
Be prepared to ask your questions and NOT get the answers that you’d expect.  Some of the best event organizers I’ve studied do things that others would consider highly counterintuitive.  If you want a really successful event, you’re going to need to lay down some of your ideologies of event marketing and promoting. What you hear might not make immediate sense.  You have to ultimately decide what works best for your event. Do yourself a favor and at least consider trying something different.

There are really successful event organizers out there willing to help you.  Make it a point try to speak to at least one a week.  Taking 15 or 30 minutes a week could revolutionize your event.

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Print Advertising Still Works . . . (Outrageous Story)


If you ask the average business person about traditional advertising (television, print, & radio), you’d think it went the way of the Dodo Bird. Businesses are abandoning ship for new media like the web, text messaging, and social media.  My advice - don’t abandon traditional media quite yet.  I know the previous statement seems ironic coming from an Internet guy, but I still believe you can make a lot of money with traditional media.

Traditional media is still alive and extremely profitable for those who know the fundamentals of great marketing. The problem is that few businesses really know how to create an ad that resonates with their market, offers a perceived benefit, and gets the prospect to take action. The result is that businesses have taken their lousy advertisements from traditional media and ported it over to the Internet.  The same lousy advertising is now online caked with lots of multimedia and still woefully ineffective. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you can get the marketing fundamentals right, you can have really effective advertising online or off.  

Some of the very basic fundamentals of good advertising include the right offer, to the right market, with a well defined call to action.
Last Friday a friend of mine shared a story that shows that traditional media is still alive and well, if you get the fundamentals right.

Almost a Hundred Women Call Him Out of the Blue
A few weeks ago a friend of mine began to receive unsolicited telephone calls from women inquiring about an extravagant vacation opportunity with him. By the time it was over he estimates that he had received around 100 phone calls from all sorts of women.  Eventually the phone calls became a burden. Women kept asking details about his extravagant vacation opportunity.  The problem was that there was no vacation opportunity and he wasn’t looking for an older woman to accompany him anywhere.

The News Paper Ad
After some investigation he found out that there was a newspaper ad with his cell phone number listed. The text ad basically stated “Man seeks 62 year old woman who will accompany him on an all expenses paid trip to Florida from November until May. Call 201-555-5555.” Something that simple prompted him to get almost a hundred telephone calls. There were no fancy graphics or pictures, just words in a simple newspaper ad.

Get Your Message and Market Right
There is an important lesson to be learned and can it be applied to almost any business or event. The ad example from above illustrates some very basic, yet powerful marketing fundamentals. The ad was for a very specific prospect, “a 62 year old woman.”  There were clear benefits for the prospect, “All expenses paid trip to Florida.“ And a clear call to action, “Call 201-555-5555.” The ad was devastatingly simple and super effective. Unfortunately in today’s advertising world businesses either cloud their message with too many details or don’t give the right details to get someone to act.  As the old adage goes, “keep it simple stupid!”  Next time you go to create an ad, make sure you are hitting on the basic fundamentals of a great advertisement.

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Building Your List – Above the Fold

If you aren't getting enough opt-ins on your web site and you have a reasonably compelling offer, you might want to check the location of your opt-in box. Recently I spoke to a group of sports event organizers. A number of them had been building email lists.  When I looked at their individual web sites there was an interesting correlation that popped up.  Those web sites that made it easy and obvious to opt-in had much larger email lists than those that didn’t.  It’s pretty straight forward. If people have to dig to find your email opt-in box, you’re probably not going to have as many sign ups.

How I Upset a Client
This past year I experienced an interesting quandary with an event marketing client over the opt-in box location on their web site. The client did not like where we put the opt-in box on their home page.  It was located as high as you could get on the home page, above almost all the information. I was told more than a few times, and in no uncertain terms, to move the opt-in further down the page.  After some delicate negotiation the opt-in stayed at the top of the page. In the end my client made a lot of money and created a very good list from scratch. After that, I never again heard another request to move the opt-in box. My advice is that you put your opt-in box front and center for your visitor.

The “Fold” Can Vary
You can do yourself a world of good, just by making sure you opt-in box is above the fold.  You want the opt-in box to appear on the portion of your web site that is initially viewable without scrolling. Remember that the “fold” is variable depending on someone’s monitor size and screen resolution.  Ask some friends to test out your site and let you know if there are discrepancies.

If They’re There - They’ll probably Consider
Remember that most of the people who visit your web site are typically predisposed to at least considering what you have to offer. Someone who is interested in pottery probably isn’t going to show up to an air show web site.  A person who does like air shows and gets onto an air show web site will at least consider signing up for additional information.

You Still Need a Great Offer
There is one additional factor you need to consider.  As important as having your opt-in box above the fold is having a compelling and trustworthy offer.  You need to give your prospect a very good reason to give up their first name and email address.  Unfortunately too many people have abuse the trust of the consumer. If they think they’re going to get spammed, they’re no going to sign up. Do things to build trust and credibility with your prospect right from the start.

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Social Media, Social Networking, and Event Promotion

Some Practical Social Media Advice
While digging around the Net, I found an interesting post on social media and event promotion. The article comes from Switzerland's Stephanie Booth. In "5 Lessons in Promoting Events Using Social Media," Stephanie writes about the trails and tribulations she experienced in promoting an event with social media. Her post is well worth the read. It will give you interesting insight and ideas for promoting your upcoming event with social media.

Strike a Balance
It's hard to miss the buzz about social media and event promotion. In "Web 2.0, Social Media, and Event Promotion" I advocate striking a balance between social media and the web centric style. I really think the core of any advertising and promotion boils down to making a meaningful connection with your prospect.  It doesn't matter if you use video, blogs, or the latest technology. If you can't send out a message that quickly connects with the individual reader, you’re up the creek.

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Using Video to Promote Your Event

There is the populist view when it comes to utilizing technology online. It can be summed up with the words, “that’s cool, we need that!”  Ask most businesses why they have a web site and you’ll probably get one of two answers.  First, they have a web site because everyone else has one. Or, they have a web site because their competition has a site.  The same analogy applies to using video to support or promote your event. People have to have video on their site, because everyone else has video. It can be very expensive to follow other people online.

Content is Still King - Even in Video
If you’re going to put video online make sure it makes a connection with your prospect.   Put the emphasis on what the information can do for your prospect versus how good it makes you or your event look.  If you think about it, it’s not any different then content in other formats. Great videos are great content, they’re relevant to the viewer and they deliver something of value.

Give the Prospect What They Want
Regardless of how you’re going to deliver content, mine your information resources to see what your prospect really wants. You can conduct surveys or look at emails to find out what interests your event patron.  Create simple short videos around your prospect’s specific interests. You can leverage video to increase the number of people opt-ing in to your event’s promotion list. Video can be used to tease the viewer on certain highlights from your event. Make sure the people in your videos are authentic. Authenticity is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your prospect.

Where to Start
If you’re going to utilize video to promote your event, start by producing it in house.  I’ve seen people do more with a $150 video camera and great customer focused content than companies that spend thousands of dollars on high end video production. Keep it simple and focused on what it can do for your prospect.

Let Them Sell it For You
Do you want to know the best way to promote your event using video? Use video testimonials. One of my clients did a very smart thing at their event this past year.  They hired a video production crew to record customer testimonials during their event.  People would talk into the camera with the backdrop of other people having a great time. If you watch the video it’s difficult not to say to yourself, “Holy smokes, that looks awesome, I have to check that event out.”  Other people selling your event in their own words is very compelling!

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Virtual Events versus Live Events

I recently returned from Eben Pagan’s Conversion Summit in Los Angeles.  During the summit Eben talked about a statistic that indicated most people have an average of 0.75 very close friends.  It is a little bit scary if you think about it. Thanks to the Internet humanity has never been so connected and ‘unconnected’ at the same time.  Today it’s far easier to write an email than it is to pick up the telephone or meet someone in person.  Yes there are advantages to doing things online, but there are also disadvantages.  Have you ever written an email that someone took the wrong way? You probably had to call that person up and explain what you meant over the phone or even in person.  Eben’s “close friends” statistic got me thinking about the increase use of virtual events and their role in the future.

Online Events
Admittedly, I have little experience with promoting or managing online events.  The concept of an online event is fascinating and definitely has a number of advantages over traditional live events.  Yet, one place where live events will always prevail is at the human level. There are just some experiences that you can never replicate online.

Watching the Space Shuttle Live versus Online
In “Do You Have an Awe Inspiring Event?” I talk a little about watching a space shuttle launch.  I’m a big space shuttle buff.  I probably have watched at least 40 launches live on television and seen various HD clips with surround sound. Absolutely nothing I’ve seen online or on television can compare with actually being at a live space shuttle launch.  Live events engage more parts of your brain.

Your Senses and Emotions
Live events offer something for all five senses.  There is also an emotional and tactile part that you can’t replicate with virtual events.  If you are a member of Eben’s Guru Mastermind you can access all his live training online at your convenience. But Eben’s event was made even more extraordinary by virtue of all the people you could talk to and interact with in person.  The human experience was as important as the training.  You can’t replicate the personal human interaction experience with online events. That interaction is what makes live events so great.

There are times when it is far easier and cost effect to have an event online. But online events will never be able to replace the experience of actually “being there.” If you’re headed in the direction of more online events throw in a live event every once in a while for good measure.  Meeting great people is far better in person than online.

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Max Out Your Event Promotion Budget

Have you ever asked yourself, “How much should I spent on advertising my event?” It’s a question that plagues almost every event organizer.  Ironically the question of how much to spend on advertising might be the most important question of all in determining the success of your event.

“This is the most we’ve ever spent on advertising”

Recently one of my clients spent the most they’ve ever spent on advertising their event.  Their advertising budget was almost double what they spent the previous year their event was held.  The event was outdoors and weather is a huge factor in a patron’s decision to attend. The weather forecast didn’t look promising for at least one day of the two day event. To further complicate matters the client didn’t have their “ace in the hole” performer. It was a very stressful situation for my client. Yet, in spite of all the potential downsides, the client had the largest attendance in the history of their event.  I firmly believe that their decision to spend (responsibly) as much as they did on advertising was the biggest factor in the event’s success.

Looking Back
I can’t think of one single example, over the last ten years, where someone has spent “too much” to market or promote their event.  Yes, there have been people who irresponsibly spent too much money advertising their event, but that’s another story. There are too many examples where people didn’t spend enough money on advertising great events.

If someone asks me “How much should I spent on advertising my event?” My reply is “the most money you can afford to spend.”  I understand that many events have humble marketing budgets.  In that case you need to ensure that you’re getting the maximum effectiveness from your marketing. I honestly don’t think you can spend enough money advertising a great event.  If you can deliver value, you owe it to yourself and to your patron to hype up your event as much as possible.

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