A Simple Formula to Pack Your Event

Over the last few years I've looked long and hard at killer tactics that sell out events. As an event planner or organizer, it's in your best interest to methodically look around your own industry and outside your industry for successful event marketing strategies that you can adopt. A casual look will show you that the simple things usually work better than the complex. Some of my best event marketing strategies (ideas that have made clients hundreds of thousands of dollars) have come from unrelated marketplaces. Through all my observations and experiences I've formulated a very simple formula that any event organizer can use to pack their event. Here is the formula:

 Hype + Massive Value = Monstrous Demand

The formula above might seem overly simplistic, but it works when you put into practice.

Hype
Event_marketing_formulaYes, it's extremely important to hype up your event!  Hype is a strategy right out of P.T. Barnum's playbook. Barnum was a master at using the right amount of hype to pack his events. Unfortunately, most event organizers, planners, and marketers completely screw up how they leverage hype. In most cases events are under hyped. Don't be afraid to be loud and proud trumpeting the benefits of your event! Let people know what's in it for them. This next part is really important . . . if you're going to hype your event, you damn well better make sure you exceed your patron's expectations. Yes, it is possible to over hype, but only if you don't deliver on the promises you make to the consumer in your advertising.

+ Massive Value
Your hype needs to be followed up with massive value. If you hype your event and then fall short of the consumers expectations, your dooming your event. Focus on delivering massive value with your event by exceeding your customer's expectations. You know you've nailed it when most of your customers leave your event saying "That was amazing!" Don't forget that you can also create value for your event before it even begins. Can you think of ways to let people experience your event before they've even attended? For more info on delivering value beforehand, check out "Front Loading Value for Your Next Event." The Internet has made "front loading value" easy and inexpensive. Value is such a powerful factor in your event marketing and promotion that it can create its' own demand. If you do nothing more than focus on providing massive value for your event, it's hard to go wrong.

= Monstrous Demand
Here is formula's payoff . . . When you couple hype for your event with massive value, you create monstrous demand. My favorite example of monstrous demand is the World's Largest Disco in Buffalo New York. In 2009, the "Disco" sold out over three months before the event takes place.  That's 7000+ tickets selling between $50-$150 that nobody can purchase anymore. You know you've hit it when people are lining up to attend your event like a pack of ravenously hungry wolves. Do everything you ethically can to stoke demand. Ridiculously high demand is the key doing really well with advance ticket sales.

Recurring Events
A big key to seeing success with the formula above is having a recurring event. I understand for some people having a recurring event isn't possible. If you aren't going to have a recurring event, it's even more important to deliver value on the front end. If you have a recurring event, make sure you're collecting feedback from attendees. Here is a counter intuitive way to collect feedback, World's Largest Disco style. Give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

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Event Planning: The Customer Avatar and Your Event

Event_planning_avatar I’m going to present a great marketing concept from two of my mentors, Eben Pagan and John Carlton.  A few years ago Eben Pagan came up with the concept of a customer Avatar.  An Avatar is the personification or manifestation of your ideal customer.  In the event marketing world your Avatar is the ideal prospect for your event.  You use your customer Avatar to better plan and market your event.

Your Ego = a Surefire Way to Sink Your Event
A cardinal sin committed by many event planners, organizers, and marketers is planning an event around their ego.  When planning your event keep in mind that people attend your event to satiate their wants, needs, and desires. I’ve seen far too many events fail miserably because an event planner or marketer thought they were smarter the people they were trying to serve. You can avoid the “ego” mistake by utilizing a customer Avatar.

Simple Questions to Build Your Event Avatar
Below are some quick questions that will help you in creating your customer Avatar for your event.  The questions below are derived from John Carlton’s Simple Writing System.

  • Who is your ideal customer? (Demographics & Psychographics)
  • What are your customer’s wants, needs, or desires regarding your event?
    (Do they have an irrational fear or desire?)
  • What message can you present to your prospect that drives them toward action?

By answering the questions above you will put yourself into a position to better understand what someone attending your event wants and how best to serve them.

Do a Survey
It has never been so easy to find out what your customer or prospect wants. The Internet gives you the ability to quickly collect information from your target market.  With a few hours of work you can quickly find out critical information about your customer and your event. Minus the details, here is what you can do . . . find online search phrases related to your event, start a PPC campaign, drive traffic to a landing/survey page, collect the data, and then compile the results.  If you have a recurring event, do a follow up survey before you start to plan your next event. 

An Already Done Avatar
If your market or industry has survey data on potential customers be sure to reference it.  You can build a very good Avatar from industry data. Most of the research might have already been done for you.

When you build your event around your customer’s wants, needs, and desires, you can’t go wrong. Having a customer Avatar to reference for your event planning and marketing is a huge step in the right direction.

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When to Start Selling Tickets for Your Event

Here is a classic question almost every event planner asks him or herself: “When should I start selling tickets for my event?” At first thought, one might think starting your ticket sales early is always better. In my experience longer ticket sale cycles almost never translate into bigger total ticket sales.  The biggest factor in determining when you should start selling tickets for your event is based on the level of ticket demand.

Event_planning_ticket_sales


Low Ticket Demand
If the ticket demand for your event is very low, it doesn’t matter how early you start ticket sales – people won’t buy.  In contrast, you can start selling tickets for your event (depending on the type of event) a few days before and sell the event out if the demand level is high enough. One good indicator for ticket demand is how many people contact your via telephone or email to inquire about tickets for your event.  If people are contacting you regarding tickets with the fervor of a hungry wolf pack that hasn’t eaten in a week, you’re in good shape.

Start Your Ticket Sales for Your Event When You Have High Demand
Ticket sales for your event should start when you’ve created enough sufficient demand to sell most of your tickets in a short period of time.  You might want to wait until you have created a sufficient level of demand before putting tickets for your event on sale.

As an example, one client recently ran a discounted advance ticket campaign that generated $15,890.00 of advance ticket revenue 58 days before their event.  The reason they were able to sell $15K+ of tickets almost two months before their event is because they made a great offer that was coupled with high ticket demand. Part of the offer included a limited number of premium level tickets to their event. The client’s total advance ticket sales paid for their event before a single person walked through the admission gate.

How would you feel if your entire event was paid for before a single person walked up to attend your event? When it comes to ticket sales, your focus needs to be on creating a high level of demand for your event.  Check out “How to Sell Out Your Event“ for a simple way to crank up to demand for almost any event.  If the demand is high enough for your ticket, then it doesn’t matter when you start to sell tickets.

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How to Sell Out Your Event

If you want to sell out your event, you need to set the demand level for your event higher than your supply of tickets. The previous suggestion might seem like it’s straight out of the book “Thank You Very Much, Dr. Obvious!" But, very few event organizers and planners ever focus on creating a high level of demand for their event. When it comes time to sell tickets for their event, the ticket sales fall miserably sort of expectations. You need to find ways to set the demand level for your event as high as ethically possible.

The P.T. Barnum Way
Sell_Out_EventOne of the easiest ways to set the demand level for your event higher is by hyping your event.  The suggestion is straight from the playbook of P.T. Barnum. You’re event marketing should never be humdrum. You need to inject excitement and intrigue into all your event marketing and promotion. Get the target market so excited for your event that they're running to get their wallets and buy from you.

Let me give you a quick example from the air show industry. Which of the following event headlines is more likely to catch an air show prospect’s attention?

Example #1: “Come Out and Enjoy the 2009 XYZ International Air Show.”

- OR -

Example #2:Experience Flight in a Way That Will Leave You in Awe! Come out and Enjoy 4 Hours of Aerial Spectacle & Heart Pounding Excitement, featuring the Best Pilots in the World.”

Don’t Make Your Event Sound Boring
How excited would you be to attend a BORING event? Too many event organizers promote and market their events in a boring manner. Don’t make the same mistake. Whenever you market or advertise your event, make it sound intriguing and exciting to your target market. I can’t remember who said it, but “the greatest sin in advertising is being boring.” Get your prospect to say to themselves “I want to do that!” If you're event organizer or planner, focus on your target market's wants and desires.

Balancing Event Marketing Hype & Delivering on the Promise!
If you’re really going to hype your event, the level of hype can’t be greater than your patron’s expectations or the level of service you can deliver. Over hyping your event and under delivering is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. It is very important that you do everything possible to under promise and over deliver.

Hype & Exceeding the Patron’s Expectations
If you exceed your event attendee’s expectations, regardless of the level of hype, the demand level for your event can go through the roof.
  Just one happy event attendee will tell a number of other people about their great experience at your event. It's word of mouth advertising and it costs you nothing!


One Man = $17,500.00 in Advance Ticket Sales
Last weekend a Toronto businessman paid $175.00 to get access to an exclusive VIP Chalet at a FREE air show. The $175 dollars he and others paid got him access to a very nice chalet with open bar and all you can eat catered food. Before the air show finished the businessman was so satisfied with his experience that he inquired about purchasing 100 VIP tickets (at $175 each) for next year’s air show. That's $17,500 of advance ticket sales! The business man wasn't the only person to inquire about tickets for next year's air show. Since the show ended, more attendees have already offered to buy tickets for next year's air show and it's still a year away. If you can get people to your event and show them an amazing time, they'll line up in droves to come again. 

Below you will find a small collection P.T. Barnum posts that will help you with hyping your event. There is at least one good idea waiting for you to use with your event. Please take the time to read through a few posts:

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Getting Detailed Feedback To Improve Your Event

Event_feedback_survey If you want to truly improve your event, you need to identify what people disliked about your event. At first thought the previous suggestion might seem a bit counter intuitive, if not scary. Too many event organizers and planners are apt to only be interested in positive feedback. Don’t be lured into the same trap! A few months ago I wrote a post “A Negative Question to Create a Better Event.” The post suggested a counterintuitive way of getting feedback for one’s event. You should honestly consider the advice outlined in the post. It came from a guy who sells out his event of 7,000+ people more than 30 days in advance. Last month, I had an opportunity to put into practice the advice from “A Negative Question to Create a Better Event.” Below is a brief synopsis of the surprising results.

The Negative Feedback Case Study – Not Expected
During the last weekend of May a local client held their annual air show. Immediately after the event, people started sending in their unsolicited feedback.  About 35 people sent in email feedback over a three day span. For the most part, the patron feedback was very positive and general in nature.

Four days after the event, I sent out a thank you email with a survey link.  The email included a link that brought visitors to a page with one simple survey question . . . “What DIDN’T you like about the event?” Below the survey question was a simple text box form.  In a little over a week’s time 375 people sent in their feedback. The survey results identified very specific issues people had with the event. That wasn’t the case with the unsolicited feedback. Here is something really interesting . . .  Even though the survey asked people what they didn’t like about the event, people still sent in a ton of positive feedback.  Because the event is recurring, all of the collected feedback can now be used to improve the event.

You Must Ask for Feedback
Here is one of the most important lessons I learned over the years regarding event marketing and promotion . . . you have to actively engage your patrons to send event feedback.  Never expect patrons to just email you feedback.  It never works that way. After two months only about 40 people sent in their unsolicited feedback. Compare that with the almost 400 people who sent into detailed feedback when prompted. If you’re truly dedicated to creating a great event (especially if it’s a recurring event) don’t be afraid to collect negative feedback.

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Getting More Opt-ins & Making More Money Online

A few weeks ago I was listening to an audio interview with Tim Ash.  Tim wrote an excellent book on Landing Page Optimization.  He’s an expert on getting people to take specific actions after they get to a web site.  During the interview, Tim gave one piece of very simple (yet highly effective) advice. His advice was especially important from a list building perspective.  Here is Tim's advice - "When you’re collecting information online, collect the minimum amount of information to complete the transaction." It’s important to think of Tim’s advice from the user’s perspective . . .

Opt-in_form_event_marketing

Remember – Upfront - They Don’t Know or Trust You!
Would you give a complete stranger personal information about yourself?  I’m guessing probably not. The previous question is directly applicable to collecting information online. A big mistake made when trying to collect personal information online is asking for too much information on the first visit. In most cases you have zero rapport with a prospect that just arrived at your web site. The more information you ask from a first time web visitor, the more difficult it is to collect information.  I’ve seen web sites that ask from full mailing addresses, fax number, and cell phone (all as required fields) up front.  As a result, less people are going to sign up.

Gain Some Trust
Your initial focus needs to be on establishing trust and credibility with your web site user. You can start to establish trust by offering your prospect something they perceive as valuable. It could be a free report, video, or audio.  You might offer some great articles for free or insider information. It is crucial to focus on the prospect’s wants and needs, NOT what you think is important to them.  The better you know your market, the better you can position information for them. The same advice rings true when planning an event . . . The best events are those built specifically for the target market – not for the event organizer’s ego.

Collecting Info Online - Where to Start
I suggest starting with the bare minimum for online data collection, first name and email address. Have any easy way for people to opt out of your list and have sound privacy policies in place. You can collect more information as you grow rapport with your prospect over time.  The best way to grow rapport over time is to give additional information that the prospect deems as valuable.

Seeing too many information can fields makes user apprehensive, regardless of those fields being required.  When collecting personal information online . . . Start with first name and email address, build trust, then go from there.

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Event Search Marketing and Your Description Tag

When it comes to search engine optimization and event promotion, simple things can have big impact. Search Engine Marketing is critical in your event marketing and promotion efforts. Check out "Leveraging Your Event Promotion with SEO." One easy SEO improvement, with a high level of impact, is crafting a compelling description tag. The description tag is used to tell an internet searcher what a particular page is all about. Each page on your event web site should have its’ own unique description tag. 

An Example
Below is a shameless self-promotion example. The section highlighted in Red is the description tag.

Event_Search_Marketing_Description

If They’re Searching - They’re at Least Curious About Your Event
Keep this in mind when writing a description tag . . . Most people searching for your event web site are at least curious about your event.  When is the last time you used a search engine to look up something of no interest to you?  If a searcher finds a search listing for your web site in the search engine you want them to click on your link, not the competitions. A strong description tags helps in getting people to click on your web site link.

Make Your Description Tags Compelling to Click
Description tags shouldn’t be boring or mundane.  Think of your description tag as a way to get people to click on your link on the search engine results page.  Does your description tag give someone a compelling reason to click? The best description tags give internet searchers a compelling reason to click.

A Bad Example
Here is an example of a bad or inaccurate description tag for an event or business. It gives the reader almost no incentive to click. Be sure you're not making the same mistake.

Event_Search_Description_Tag_Bad

Balance Click'ability and Search'ability
Some search marketing specialist might suggest that you try to include search relevant keywords in your description tag.  I would argue that the best tag for search relevant keywords is your title tag. Description tags don't carry as much importance as the title tags in search engine placement. Therefore keep your description tag focused on getting people to click on the link.  Think of your description tag as the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for individual web pages on your event site.

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Be Vigilant About Your Event Details and the Media

Do you have an upcoming event that could benefit from media coverage?  If you’re preparing to release information about your event publicly, you need to be extra vigilant right after information is released to the public.  All it takes is one little piece of inaccurate information to create a maelstrom of headaches.

Press_release_event_marketing Real World Example
Let me give you an example . . . A few months ago a client held a press conference to announce their upcoming air show.  In conjunction with the press conference, there was an official press release issued and great coverage by the media.  The press release contained one small inaccuracy (an event detail carried over from last year’s press release) that was no longer accurate. As a result, the media started reporting about the event with inaccurate information.  The local newspaper reported that the U.S. Navy Blue Angels were performing at the air show. In fact, the Blue Angels were not attending.  (When it comes to air shows, the Blue Angels attending an air show can make it or break it for event organizers.) The next day, local radio stations started to report the inaccurate information from the newspaper story. The radio station’s mindset was most likely . . . “If the newspaper is reporting it, it must be accurate.” One small piece of information created a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress for the event organizer.

Be Vigilant
When really important information about your event is released to the public (major performers, dates, times, ticket details, etc.) you must be extra vigilant. Despite the best efforts of everyone involved, honest mistakes can be made and information can be reported inaccurately. In today’s world of social media one inaccurate piece of information can get to the other side of the world in a matter of seconds.  You don’t need to go overboard, but a little vigilance can prevent hours or days worth of necessary headache. 

Quick Suggestions
There are a few simple things you can do to prevent inaccurate information from spreading through media outlets. The first place to start is to triple check any press releases that go out to the media. Have other people you know review your press release.  If you’re really invested in a project your objectivity goes down the more you look at something. In the example above, it was one simple sentence that resulted in a bunch of unnecessary stress. Get more info on - Press Releases and Your Event Marketing.

Online Champions
Another suggestion is to get members of your team to monitor the local media (television, radio, and print).  You might want to consider making use of an online championHave your online champion (trusted team member) monitor the local media. They can let you know if there are any discrepancies in information.

Setup a Google Alert
You should also consider setting up a Google Alert regarding your event. Google Alerts allow you to ability to automatically monitor what's going on with your event in cyberspace. Get more information about - Google Alerts and Your Event.

All it takes is one small piece of inaccurate information and you’ll be left with hours or days worth of headaches. By putting some simple controls in place and by being proactive in the process you can prevent a great deal of stress in your life.

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Leveraging Your Event Promotion with SEO

Search engine optimization is a critical part of your event marketing and promotion, especially if you have a recurring event. A properly optimized web site can drive tons of free traffic to your event web site. The more qualified people you have coming to your site the higher the user’s attention level.  Let’s face it . . . someone searching for “underwater basket weaving” isn’t going to show up to an air show event web site. A proper search engine strategy can also allow you to leverage your traditional marketing campaigns.  What’s more interesting is the interaction of search engine marketing with traditional advertising and promotion.

Here is a real life case study to consider. The event organizer spent in excess of $100,000 USD to advertise their local event. Their traditional advertising efforts included television, print, radio, and billboards. The brunt of their campaign started 30 days before the event date. For all of the money spent on traditional advertising, almost 50% of the traffic came as a result of search engine traffic. You can see a break down of the information below.

Seo_event_marketing_promotion

The graph above illustrates the importance that search engine optimization plays in your event marketing strategy. What’s even more interesting is that only about 28% of the traffic was a result of people directly typing in the domain name into the address bar. The event organizer put a tremendous amount of focus on driving people to the web site with their traditional advertising.  Additionally, the domain name for the event web site was very easy to remember. Yet, a majority of the people used the search engines to find the web site.

Below are some short articles to help you with search engine optimization ideas for your event web site.

Lost Opportunity - Seemingly Irrelevant Search Keywords . . .
Your event prospects aren’t always using obvious search terms to get to your web site. Check your web stats and see if you’re missing a search engine optimization opportunity.  One event planner that I recently started work with discovered that a large number of people were searching on a significant keyword that the event planner considered irrelevant. Seemingly irrelevant keywords are a huge opportunity cost. Make sure you optimize your web site for some of the valuable, yet obvious terms.

Your search engine optimization strategy is a crucial part of your overall event marketing and promotion strategy. If done properly, a well thought out search marketing strategy can significantly increase the effectiveness of all your traditional marketing.

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Automatically Generate Leads for Your Event Year Round

You need to think of your event marketing and promotion as a year long process. This is especially true if you have a recurring event.  Don't let the thought of year round event marketing scare you. There are simple things you can do to automate your event marketing. Let’s start by looking at the opportunity that most event planners are missing . . .

Visitor_graph_event_planning

The Graph Above
Take a look at the graph above. The graph is a 12 month web site visitor graph from the air show in Rochester, New York.  As you can see, most of the traffic comes to the web site in a time frame of 15 days before and after the event. The trend above is consistent with almost every web site I’ve ever seen. It’s important to note that 33% of total web site traffic comes in the 6 months before and after the event. Most event planners and organizers miss the opportunity to capitalize on the traffic coming to their web site. You need to look at any traffic to your web site as a year round event promotion opportunity.

Have a Simple Opt-in
One simple way to automate your event marketing is to setup a simple opt-in box on your home page.  Think of target market focused ways to get people to sign up for your event email list. Make an offer to give anyone who opts into your email list exclusive content about your event or discount ticket prices. In order to get people to opt-in, you’ll going to have to make them an offer that’s enticing to them. When you have a compelling offer, you can automatically collect email addresses from your target market year round. Have an autoresponder setup that automatically sends information about your event to the people on your email list.

Market Your Event Before and After
As your event approaches, use your email list to market your event.  A home grown list allows you to directly interact with your target market. If a person is signing up to your event email list, they’ve prequalified themselves as interested. Ask yourself, how many people are going to sign up to your event email list if they’re not at least curious about your event? After the event, follow up with your list to get feedback on ways to improve your event.  Recurring events can use the ideas above to grow their list year after year.   

Remember that most people only visit your web site once.
If you can collect someone’s email address – you have a pre-qualified list of people interested in your event.  Keep the focus of your marketing on delivering high quality content and establishing trust. Don’t sales pitch people as soon as you get their email address.

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Does Someone Else Own YOUR Web Address?

Domain_Name_Event

The other week I met with a new client over lunch.  During the client intake process we reviewed some information about the client's web site.  As part of the intake process I check up on web site ownership. When I did a registration look up on the client’s web site I noticed that the client didn’t own their domain name / web address. The client originally contracted with a local advertising agency when they first setup their web site. When I checked the domain registration for my client’s web site, it was registered with the sales rep for the advertising agency.  My client had no idea someone else owned their web address. This happens all the time. You need to ask yourself, right now, “is my business web site registered in my name?”

For those that don’t know . . . when registering a domain name (web address) you’re required to input a registrant or owner for the domain being registered.  I’m not an attorney . . . and this isn’t legal advice . . . but, if someone else is the domain registrant for your web site – they own your web address. Over the last few years I’ve had to tell several business owners that they didn’t own their own web address. In most instances the situation was easily remedied and the registration was corrected.  The whole situation can become a real pain if you need to change hosting providers or web development companies. It becomes worse if you've spent thousands of dollars on advertising that includes a web address that you think you own, but really don't . . . You can avoid the stress . . .

Quickly Check Domain Your Domain Ownership
The easiest way to determine if you own your domain is by doing a Whois look up.  A Whois lookup gives you ownership information about a given web address.  If you’re looking up your own web site, pay attention to the ‘registrant.’ If it’s your web site, you should be listed as the registrant. Go to the following link to do a Whois lookup . . . http://whois.domaintools.com/. Just input your domain name to get the registration information.

If Your Domain Isn’t Register to You
If you do a Whois lookup and notice that your domain isn’t registered in your name . . . don’t panic. The personal who initially setup your site probably automatically registered your domain using their information. This happens all the time and there is no fraudulent intent. If the person or business who setup your web site is the registrant, kindly ask them to transfer the registration into your name.  It takes 2 minutes to update the information. There are several businesses owners I know who took control of their domain without incident.

Avoid Domain Ownership Disputes for Less Than $10 Year
Be proactive about securing your online identity.  If you have an event or are considering holding an event, make sure you register a domain name. Less than ten dollars a year (the typical cost to register a domain name annually) is a small price to avoid a bunch of stress and frustration.

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Vicarious Event Marketing & Promotion - Be Edgy!

Has a friend ever tried to live vicariously through you? Being one of the unmarried guys - I find my friends (usually the men) telling me “I want to live vicariously through you!” It’s a bit ironic . . .  A large number of people I know what to settle down. But when they settle down (or for whatever reason) people tend to get incredibly bored.  Don’t get me wrong - There is nothing wrong with marriage and kids. But people still want some excitement in their life.

Stop_Be_Bored  

People are Bored Out of Their Gourd
Back in September I attended Eben Pagan’s GuruMastermind Conversion Summit in Los Angeles.  During one of the sessions Eben talked about how most people live incredibly boring lives. He illustrated the point with a simple example: People wake up bored, they go to work bored, come home – watch some T.V. and then go to bed bored. The next day the same boring process starts all over again. One could argue that Eben’s example is a pretty harsh assessment. Yet the more I think about it, the more he might be right. When I ask my friends “why do you want to live vicariously through me?” they usually respond with “because I’ve settled down and don’t get to have as much fun anymore.” You need to realize that most people are bored. If people are looking for a little excitement in their lives, give it to them!

Inject a Little Personality into Your Marketing
It’s never been so easy or inexpensive to capture the attention of your target market. The challenge is cutting through the all advertising people face. One simple way to overcome the standard advertising glut is by injecting a little personality into to your marketing. Eben recommends being “edgy authentic.” Being “Edgy Authentic” is a great way to capture the attention of someone who might be bored. By being edgy you cut through all the other pompous corporate style marketing.  Be authentic and genuine when you communicate with your target market. They’ll appreciate your candor.

Get Them Excited
Apathy, ambivalence, and indifference make the challenge of getting people to your event very difficult. The same goes for trying to sell a product or service.  You need to get your target market so excited that it’s difficult NOT to buy from you. As Jeffery Gitomer put it “people love to buy, but they hate to be sold.”

An Edgy Example
One of my friends, Chris McCombs, did the improbable. Chris’ blog KickBackLife.com became the number one fitness marketing blog in the world. He accomplished this feat by being edgy authentic. Chris knows his target market and how best to communicate with them. People write him all the time to compliment him on his open candor and marketing style.  If you’re looking for a super successful example of edgy authentic, check out Chris’ blog KickBackLife.com. When you look at the site, you need to go a little deeper. It might look like it's about scantly clad women and guns . . . but there is a lot more to it.

By applying an appropriate amount of edginess to your event marketing and promotion, you’ll stand out from the crowd. At first you’ll feel a bit uncomfortable . . . but with time you’ll see the benefits of not being like everyone else in marketing. Don’t be afraid to stand out!

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Email Marketing: Stop Cramming Too Much Info Into Your Email!

Cramming_Email Event planners and organizers have a tendency to try to include as much detail as possible in their promotion pieces.  Have you ever seen an event poster or ad filled to the brim with information? The same “cram as much as you can” mentality usually carries over to the email marketing of an event.  As a result – emails used to promote an event have so many details that that the reader doesn’t know where to begin. Cramming your emails full with too many details is a big event marketing mistake. You are far better off breaking the information down and focusing on one or two information points at a time.

What’s Important to Them?
Start by identifying the information most important to your prospect.  (Not what you think is important to your prospect.) Sending a bunch of irrelevant information to your target marketing isn’t going to do anything to promote your event. If you send useless information on a regular basis, people will consider you a SPAMMER. Spamming destroys your trust and credibility with prospects. Put the prospect and their informational wants and needs in the spotlight. Trust and credibility translates into more ticket buyers and people coming to your event.

One Main Point Per Email
If you have several points to convey to your prospect, send them over a series of emails. As long as you honestly try to convey information that people are interested in - you can send several emails in rapid succession.  I’ve sent emails every day for 5 days with an opt-OUT rate of less than 4.0%.

Limited Online Attention Spans
It’s important to remember that when people read information from a computer screen they tend to scan and skim as opposed to read word for word. The average attention span of an online reader is measured in seconds.  You can help the person reading your email by differentiating you writing.  Use bolds, italics, headers, and bullet points.  Make information stand out and ensure the document is easy to scan. Long emails can work, but you need to keep the interest of the reader very high.

Send Them to Your Site for Details
You can ensure your prospect gets specific details about your event by including a link to your event web site in each email. Give them a reason to click on the link . . . “For more details about our event, please visit our web site . . . (insert your link).”

Like the old adage goes . . . keep it simple stupid! Don’t overload your reader with too much information all at one time.

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Capitalize on Your Event Domain Name

Event_marketing_domain_caps A catchy domain name is always helpful in getting people to remember your web site. But when it comes to event marketing and promotion it is very easy for your domain name (even a catchy one) to get lost in all the details. I would argue that the most important piece of information that you want your prospect to remember from you advertising is your domain name.  If and when people are interested in getting more information about your event, they’ll probably go online to get additional details.  It’s much easier to remember your domain name than it is to remember plethora of advertising details such as dates, times, ticket details, performers, telephone numbers, etc.  When advertising your web address in print advertising there are simple things you can do to insure greater impact. One simple technique is using selective capitalization in your domain name.

Use Capitalization
Take a look at your domain name.  If you capitalize certain letters in your web address does it provide more visual impact? Consider the example below.

yourbigevent.com - YourBigEvent.com 

The capitalization doesn’t have to occur on the first letter of each word.  Play around with the idea. Find the right capitalization combination that works for your web address. By capitalizing key letters in your domain name, you also make your domain name more legible and easier to remember. The idea is also applicable to any other form of visual media where your target market is going to read words (billboards, posters, fliers, etc.) Don't forget to drop the 'www.' when advertising your domain name. Check out "Event Promotions and Shortening Your Domain Name" for more details.   

Capitalizing certain letters in a web address seems like a “no brainer,” but you’d be surprised at how few people make use of the practice. It's a simple technique that costs nothing to implement, yet brings you a high return on your investment. 

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How Long Before Social Media Gets Too Noisy?

Social_media_overload This was originally published in 2009, but the main question still persists ... "is social media getting too noisy?"

The other day I went to lunch with my good friend Todd.  After lunch (and the ensuing food coma), we stumbled back to Todd’s office for a few minutes.  While at Todd’s office, I had him log into Facebook account to show some interesting photos from the weekend. 

During our brief Facebook session the topic of “How many Facebook friends could one person possibly have?” was discussed.  I told Todd that I’ve seen some high Facebook friend numbers before - people with over a thousands friends. Yet Todd knows someone with the highest number of Facebook friends I’ve ever seen – 2,157 (note: April 2009)!

After leaving Todd’s office, I had to ask myself “How many friends are too many friends?” The more friends you have on Facebook the more requests, status updates, and messages you’ll get on your account.  Don't forget all paid advertising getting thrown into the mix.

Continue reading "How Long Before Social Media Gets Too Noisy?" »


Stop Losing Emails Subscribers to Double Opt-in

Email_opt_in_event_marketing

I’m a firm believer in using opt-in verification (double opt-in) whenever you collect email addresses online. Opt-in verification requires an email subscriber to click on a unique verification link that is emailed to them immediately after sign up. Your email list might not grow as large or as quickly if you require people to verify their subscription. But, requiring a double opt-in creates lists that are of higher quality and more responsive. Double Opt-in also significantly reduces your chances of being blacklisted as an email spammer, increases email deliverability, and makes your email databases more portable. You can significantly reduce your double opt-ins losses by having a well though out verification process.Below is a brief outline of my verification process. Feel free to integrate the ideas into your own list building efforts.

A Well Thought Out Thank You Page
Most services allow you the ability to redirect email subscribers to a thank you page after they submit their information. A well crafted post submission thank you page is your best chance at reducing the number of people you're losing to double opt-in verification. Be sure to be very direct in telling people what they need to do on the thank you page (e.g. - go check your email right now and click on the verification link). Make the instructions bold and as visually loud as possible.

Here is some of the text I use on my thank you page for this site:

IMPORTANT . . .

I can't send you any information until you verify your sign up. This is done to protect your privacy.

What you need to do, right now:
Please check your email and click on the confirmation link. (It's that simple.) More detailed instructions can be found below.

(Shameless self-promotion)
You can sign up to my list and see how the complete process works.

Before implementing a robust verification process, I was losing 25% of total email subscribers, across numerous web sites, to the double opt-in verification.  Recently I setup a simple one page event web site with the sole purpose of collecting email addresses. The web site included a thank you page with very direct instructions. In 12 days 486 people subscribed to the VIP email list for the event. By using a well thought out post opt-in thank you page I was able to reduce the loss of subscribers from 25% to 15%.

Having a dedicated email list is one of the single greatest marketing resources any event organizer or planner can possess. Unlike other forms of marketing for your event, lists allow you to directly interactive with your specific target market. People aren’t going to subscriber to your event email list unless they’re somewhat interested in your event. Be sure you have a well thought out email collection process in place before you start trying to collect email addresses.

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Satisfaction Guaranteed Events

Event_satisfaction_guarantee Does your event come with a satisfaction or money back guarantee? Whenever I ask event producers the previous question they get agitated and uncomfortable.  The usual response to the guarantee question is “We’d be crazy to offer a money back guarantee, everyone would ask for their money back.” Here is a follow up question . . . "Are you not willing to stand behind the quality of your event?"  A satisfaction guarantee is already built in to your event if an attendee purchased a ticket with a credit card. The consumer has the right to challenge any charges on their credit card. If a consumer feels like your event didn’t deliver on their expectations they can call the credit card company and dispute the charge. If the consumer can prove their case you need to return their money, plus a charge back fee.

People Always Ask for Their Money Back
No event has a 100.0% satisfaction rate. Even if you have a stellar event, there are people who will dispute the charges on their credit card.  Last year, I managed online ticket sales for a large event.  Over 7,000 tickets were purchased online for the event.  Of the over 7,000 tickets purchased less than 6 people called the credit card company to dispute the charges.  If people can already ask for their money back, why not just offer a guarantee?

Event Organizers Already Offering Guarantees
Guarantees are a great way to decrease someone's objections to making a purchase. I know numerous event organizers who offer a money back guarantee on their seminars, workshops, and events.  The money back guarantee is on events that cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. In one case an event organizer offered a "money back guarantee, plus we pay your travel expenses" on their event. There were 3 people who asked for their money back. Yet with the guarantee in place the same event organizer managed to increase their event revenue by over 50% from year to year.

Yes, there are people who have asked for their money back. But savvy event organizers still insist on having a satisfaction guarantee. Why?  It makes selling any event significantly easier.  As a consumer, would you be more or less inclined to purchase a ticket for an event of interest if it was backed up with a believable guarantee?

When planning your event, consider offering a money back guarantee.  It’s one of the easiest ways to increase revenue with little risk (provided you have a high quality event). You can mitigate the risk of refunds by properly executing your event. A strong guarantee tells your target market that you firmly stand behind the quality of your event. The whole idea of a event guarantee is much scarier than it seems. As soon as you do it once and see the results, I doubt you’ll have another event without a guarantee.

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Social Media Comments and Your Event

Social_media_event_comments Social Media can be a virtue or a vice for event organizers.  On the positive front, event organizers can interact with their target market like never before.  You can use target market interaction and feedback to build a better event.  On the negative side, social media can be used to leave disparaging comments about your event.  In some cases the comments might not be true or misrepresent your event.  Even worse, negative comments about your event can show up on web sites that you have no editorial control over. If comments appear on a popular web site (a local news agency web site) they will probably get indexed into the search engines. Today people are apt to read something online and take it as fact without checking the facts.

Below you will find some suggestions on dealing with social media comments regarding your event.

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Free Qualified Traffic For Your Site

This past Monday one of my clients held a press conference announcing their annual event. My big lesson from the announcement revolved around the importance of referral traffic. Any time another web site links to your web site and sends you traffic, it’s considered referral traffic. Referral traffic doesn't cost you any money to generate. Another nice part about referral traffic is that it’s usually highly qualified traffic. If people are at all curious about your event, they’ll click on the referring link. Below is an easy to implement suggestion to get free referral traffic for your event web site. It works best when done in conjunction with a press conference or press release for your event. Focus on getting referral links from local news outlets.  Local news web sites have higher traffic rates. If you can get national coverage, even better!

Event_referring_site

Compare and Contrast
Here is a quick comparison of the traffic to the web site supporting my client’s event. In 2007, 85 visitors went to the event web site within 24 hours of the announcement. There were few referring links back to the web site in 2007. After the press conference on Monday, 1,238 visitors (1,346 visits) went to the web site within 24 hours.  That’s a 1356% increase in traffic.  84% of the 1,238 visitors came as a result of referring traffic. One of the local news web sites accounted for almost 50% of all the traffic in the first 24 hours. In addition, over 400 people signed up to mailing list supporting the event within 72 hours. The last time we tried to collect email addresses it took 4 months to get 400 people on the mailing list.

The Media Forgets
Just because you include a web address in your media kit or press release doesn’t mean the media will automatically include it with their stories. It’s very easy for a writer on deadline to forget something as simple as your web site address.  Don’t take it personally. Whenever the media covers your event, you want them to include your web address. It’s free publicity that drives qualified traffic to your web site.

What You Can Do
The following suggestion might take 15 minutes to an hour of your time, but it is well worth the investment.  Call up your local media outlets (television, radio, & newspaper).  Concentrate your efforts on news outlets that have dedicated web sites.  When calling, you want to ask for someone at the news desk. Try to find out who might be covering the story on your event.  When you find the right person, kindly request that they include your web address with any stories they’re running. By doing so you’ll drive qualified traffic to your web site.

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Your Event Marketing on the Radio

Event_radio_advertising Over the weekend I heard a radio spot for an upcoming local event.  Any time I hear or see something event related my ears and eyes take notice. The first half of the radio spot was what one would expect; “come out to a great family event,” date, time, location, etc. But the second half of the commercial was the really interesting part. All of the information in the second half of commercial was dedicated to information on purchasing tickets.  That didn’t make any sense to me. Why dedicate half a radio commercial solely to ticket information?  There is little use in giving people ticketing information if they haven’t been convinced to attend your event.

Think Web Centric
In my opinion all your advertising should lead to your web site.  Think about the process people use today to find out more information on just about anything. If a person is interested in something, they’ll probably go online to get additional information. Integrate people’s behaviors into your event marketing strategy.  Whatever event advertising you’re running should give good incentive to get people back to your web site.  You can use something as “for more details visit our web site (insert web address).”

You Can't Change Their Mind
If I had to redo the radio spot from above, I would have dedicated more time to building curiosity or value about my event to the potential target market. Your event advertising, regardless of how good, is unlikely to change the mind of your target market. I can’t think of any event organizer who has a big enough advertising budget to change the public's mind.  People are predisposed to being interested in your event.  Keep your advertising efforts on those people most likely to attend.

Don't Try to Cram Every Last Detail
Don't overload the listener with details. "Less is More" is applicable to radio advertising. Too many event organizers try to cram every last iota of information into advertising. If listeners take away only one thing from your web site let it be the web address of your event web site.

Here is another article that includes additional advice on radio advertising:

Whatever advertising you’re doing, focus on delivering the value of your event before you ask for the sale. You’ll get a lot more people to your event.

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