Here's an ironic follow up to yesterday's email "When did you last Google your event?"
If you haven't already, please start by reading yesterday's advice. It will help contextualized what follows.
You're probably asking yourself, "how the heck can my event website being #1 in Google possibly be bad?" And yes, I do mean the number one organic or paid listing in Google search results. I'm not trying to be crafty here. As you probably know ... the number one search engine result position, almost always, gets the most clicks.
Here's an ironic follow up to yesterday's email "When did you last Google your event?"
When is the last time you "Googled" your own event? It seems like a silly question - until you do it!
About three weeks ago, I "Googled" a good friend's local event. The event is a debutante ball for the Ukrainian-American community. My friend is one of the volunteer organizers. Unfortunately, their Google search results were less than ideal. The top search result listing in Google wasn't for my friend's 2019 event, it was for 2017. When you clicked on the top search result link, you were taken to outdated information. If you’re an event organizer, that’s not good. Bad search listing costs events a ton of potential ticket sales!
In 1923, Claude Hopkins published Scientific Advertising. Though the language is dated, nearly every principal is still applicable today! If you're serious about marketing, you must read Claude's book. Here's an excerpt from Hopkins' Scientific Advertising featuring a "95-Year Old Marketing Trick" ...
"To track the results of his advertising he used key-coded coupons and then tested headlines, offers and propositions against one another. He used the analysis of these measurements to continually improve his ad results, driving responses and the cost effectiveness of his client’s advertising spend."
In 1923, they were called a key-coded coupon. Today we call them promo codes. By using something as simple as a promo code, you get massive advertising insight. In many cases, advertising insights that trump Google Analytics! Yet for some reason, people consider promo codes a marketing gimmick and dismiss them. That's a massive mistake!
Someone has been emailing out my super-secret ADVANCE TICKET FORMULATM. Previously it was only available to paying clients. The culprit is my "good friend" Roman Yako. He's one of those pompous (self-anointed) super-genius MBA types. And of course, a genuine blow-hard! :-pHey Roman, if you're reading this ... "BUSTED!"
Before I haul him into federal court for stealing and distributing one of my prized trade secrets, read below. Roman’s email contains critical info, he STOLE from me, on selling out any event.
Before you think of me as some heartless bastard, I've had cancer take my Maternal Grandmother and my Father. No family should have to go through the ravages of such a horrible disease … let alone a child!
Now that I have your attention - let's get to the point. This might be the most important advice to date. It is also going to be brutally direct. If you're a not for profit event organizer, you need to pay careful attention to what follows!
David Ogilvy was considered to be one of the greatest advertising minds in history. His U.S. firm of Ogilvy and Mather launched numerous successful advertising campaigns for companies such as Schweppes, Dove, Rolls Royce and Shell just to name a few. Ogilvy is also considered by many to be the “father of advertising.” He also had a “secret weapon” he used for advertising.
Here’s a 7-minute video from Mr. Ogilvy himself, it’s well worth your time to watch (1,381 Likes / 8 Dislikes):
The Ogilvy Way on Advertising and Marketing
What made Ogilvy truly unique in the advertising field was his focus on results-oriented advertising. Ogilvy’s advertising philosophy – and one that thrives today – is rooted in direct response marketing. In its simplest form, direct response marketing correlates the money you spend on advertising with a direct return on investment or ROI. This was done in a time without the Internet! That means, today it’s never been easier to track your return on advertising spend!
What is the American inventor Thomas Edison best known for?
Most people respond with, “inventing the light bulb!” The incandescent light bulb is an extraordinary achievement that still shapes our modern day world. Ironically, most people are unaware that Edison did not invent the light bulb. A British man, Frederick de Moleyns, filed a patented for the light bulb almost 40 years before Edison. Some people also credit Joseph Swan.
It was during the checkout process at Hershey’s Chocolate World that something clicked for me. A very polite cashier was ringing out my purchase and asked, “Would you like to purchase one of our special unreleased bags of chocolate? They are buy one get one free.” When asked the question - my first internal thought was, “no, I just want to pay and get out of here quickly!” I politely declined the upsell offer.
Thankfully my marketing detective mind quickly clicked on. I was curious and asked the cashier, “How many people take you up on that offer?” She happily answered, “About half the people.” That’s amazing! Consider how many people check out every day at your local grocer. People also move through food lines at ethnic festivals. Add in one simple upsell question, and that could mean significant additional revenue. “Would you like fries with that?” (McDonalds)
This "poisonous" website metric continues to eviscerate event websites. And little has changed in almost 20 years!
What is the “poison”? A statistic that shows most people ONLY visit your event website ONCE. When I say MOST people only visit once … that means 60% and even up to 70% or more of your website visitors never return!
Do you know exactly how many people visit your web site only once? It’s imperative that you know and understand what this means!
Last Thursday, I had a great training session with a Belgian client. During our meeting, the topic of data security was discussed. Not a week goes by where another company isn’t making international news for an online data security breach. Today’s email is long and essential, so please bear with me!
“Eugene, why are we talking about data security?!?! I signed up for event promotion advice!”
Please consider the following: “If your event’s customer data is compromised, who gets the blame?” You and your organization are going to be in the news! Your customer won’t care what vendor you hired or who’s fault it is. They will blame you!
“You Can’t Handle the Truth!” Those infamous words were delivered with spite by Colonel Jessup in the 1992 movie “A Few Good Men.” The same words and his speech on the courtroom stand ultimately lead to his conviction. Today we’re going to take a hard look at “the truth” and event promotion advertising spend. Because it’s paramount to your event’s success! You need to be able to handle the truth.
Let’s start with a question. Are you and your team being truthful about your event promotion results? Because most event organizers can’t handle the truth. It's like ripping a scab off - it isn't easy, and it hurts like hell!
It was 2011 and Rochester, New York had some of the first digital billboards.
For the billboard companies digital was great! Instead of one ad every 30-60 days, plus production costs … they could run several ads in 6-8 second rotations. Based on placements and total display time, I believe the digital billboard pricing, at that time, was around $7,500 for a 30 or 60-day run. (FYI – My figures might be off a little – it was 8 years ago.)
In 2011, a client decided to use the new fancy digital billboards to promote their upcoming event. The client had called me to tell me that the digital billboard had been up for a few days. That was a surprise to me - because I hadn’t seen anything.
Since it’s me, I drove back and forth on the interstate until the client’s ad displayed! Finally, “there it is!!” New and exciting! Then, after a second or two, my marketing brain kicked in.
"Yeah, that won't work for us." That is what I was told by an event operations manager. Those words were in response to a new offer for an ultra-exclusive VIP ticket. For this story, let’s refer to them as “Event A.” At the same time, another event organizer at “Event B” attempted to implement the very same VIP ticket and event promotion plan at their upcoming event.
In this instance, we are talking about a ticket and marketing process that had been tested and proven across North America and Europe. Both events “A & B” are in the same vertical marketplace. They also share the same customer demographic and psychographic profile.
All told, over one million dollars of the same kind of ultra-exclusive VIP tickets, using a similar marketing strategy, had previously been sold at other events. After a million dollars of sales, one could argue: tested & proven.
(In case you’re wondering … I'm somewhat vague here on details. My goal isn’t to trash events or event organizers. It is to convey an important take away.)
After it happened in 2017, I tried to comb through all the news reports on the Fyre Festival. It was intended to be a “luxury music festival” on Exuma, in the Bahamas. In the end, it was a complete disaster and the organizer sent to jail. It's also a cautionary tale on event promotion gone too far! If you're going to promote your event with hype - your customer experience better match!
Recently, two documentaries have been released on what many people consider one of the most significant event frauds in history. “Fyre Fraud” can be found on Hulu and “Fyre The Greatest Party that Never Happened” on Netflix. Please make the time to watch at least one of these documentaries.
Why watch a documentary on the Fyre Festival?
Over the past several years, clients have increasingly asked me to help them negotiate and review potential advertising buys. With a little knowledge, it’s relatively easy to identify multiple places to cut out ineffective advertising.
Unfortunately, most advertising account executives (a.k.a. advertising salespeople) despise me. Why? Because I refuse to allow clients to pay for anything LESS THAN positive return on ad spend. It’s not personal, just business. In one case … a client did some simple marketing math and discovered that they’d be paying $420 in advertising to generate a $52.81 ticket sale. No thank you!
Most events can reduce their advertising budgets by 50% or more and still sell the same amount of tickets. How is that possible?
You’re probably asking yourself - what the heck is going on with that TITLE?!?! The answer: A very accurate description that carries a valuable event marketing lesson.
Years ago, my fantastic girlfriend convinced me to go to a cat show. To be honest, not my first choice. But, it’s an event field trip and chance to learn something new. I said, “yes, let’s go!” Little did I know what was about to transpire! As we walked into the building hosting the cat show, the stench of cat urine hit me like a ton of bricks.
My first thought, “I’m going to need a gas mask to survive this!” After regaining consciousness, I noticed something interesting … People are gladly paying $10 to go into a room that smells like cat pee! To be fair, the show featured cats that are supermodels of the feline kingdom. They were absolutely stunning!
My second observation track was that of astonishment and pride …
One of the most common questions I receive is … “Eugene, how do I SELL OUT my event?”
The answer is complex. So, let’s start with some easy to implement suggestions. I’ll break the simple suggestions into two parts.
Full disclosure, I’m a huge Marvel (Disney) fan for several reasons. One of my biggest "fan boy" reasons is their marketing style. Just in case you’re thinking, “I’m NOT a comic book fan, this isn’t for me!” Today’s suggestion has nothing to do with comic books. It has everything to do with how you market your event. And movies are events.
The "we have to tell everyone everything at once" approach = BAD!
Far too many event organizers want to tell everyone everything about their event. They insist on doing so, all at once. This marketing approach is prevalent in the air show world. You hear things like, “we want everyone to know all our great acts, right from the get-go!” On the surface, this seems perfectly logical. But it works against marketing your event.
What?!?!? Why? Because once you release the best information out about your event, you lose your audience’s attention. If your best stuff is already out in public, then there isn’t much more to say. What can I do differently? Tease them!
Shiny object or shiny object syndrome distract even the best event organizers. In some cases, it has led to events being killed off.
To keep things easy to digest, lets group most shiny objects into two basic categories. New marketing/advertising technology and fresh (never tried before) event ideas. There are actually numerous additional distractions. Today, we'll do a little marketing detective work.
Of all the shiny objects clients have insisted on using (and it’s entirely their call - because it’s THEIR event) … I can’t recall one shiny object that produced a significant result. That doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen - I'm NOT omnipotent (far from it).
When it comes to advertising and event marketing, we need to spin the old broken record, yet again … “If you can’t track it, don’t do it!”
Most events waste mountains of money on ineffective advertising and marketing. How is this possible? The answer is that most events fail to track the effectiveness of their advertising and marketing at the most basic level.