Your Opt-in Offer and Using Specific Words

Words_target_market


Getting people to subscribe or sign up to an email list can be a challenge. In “Form Placement and Growing Your List,” I examined the importance of opt-in box placement and prominence.  It is in your best interest to make your opt-in box as obvious as possible. Regardless of opt-in box size and placement, there is one very important factor to more subscribers.  That factor is the use of powerful words. Is your sign up verbiage enticing to your target market? Specific wording, for your target market, can be a catalyst for big list growth. The words you use should be crafted into a customer centric offer. When people sign up to your list they’re saying, “Yes, I’m interested in your event and please send me more information!” A highly targeted email list is your single best event marketing and promotion resource. If you get your list big enough, you might be able to avoid traditional marketing altogether.

What’s Your Offer?
Telling someone to subscribe to your email list isn’t reason enough for them to sign up. Always keep in mind how apprehensive users have become in giving up their personal information. You have to make sure your sign up offer addresses the benefits and desires of your target market. Shine the spotlight on your target market at all times.  It’s amazing to see the difference a few words can make in subscriber sign up rates.

Sample Opt-in Offer
Instead of getting too heavy on the theory side, I’ve decided to share with you a real world example. The example below was used on a client’s event web site. We were able to grow a list of subscribers, using a similar offer, from zero to 3200 people in less than eight months.  Feel free modify the verbiage to fit your event.  Most importantly, create a customer centric offer that gets people to sign up.  

Become (Your Event Name) - Insider!

Only Insider members get special ticket discounts and insider information before any details are released publicly on this web site. It cost you nothing to join. We firmly believe in providing our Insider members useful and valuable information. We’ll never SPAM you. You can unsubscribe from the list at any time with just one click.

First Name: [FORM]
Primary Email: [FORM]

Privacy Policy
Always include a privacy policy after your sign up box. Let people know you’re serious about keeping their information private. Never sell or rent your list to third parties.

Use the example above and see if you can’t get a few more people to opt into your list. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the offer and see if you can get a few more sign ups. Think of your list building process as evolutionary. You can always make changes and get better results.

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Usability Dilemma: Too Many Online Choices

In a previous post, “The Danger of Too Much Event Marketing Technology,” I briefly explored the challenges of choosing the best technology for one’s event web site. Today we’re faced with so many technological and marketing choices that we don’t even know where to start.  I’ve been caught in the technological choice trap on a number of occasions and it’s not fun. The same challenge of practically unlimited choices also plays out on the user’s side of the spectrum. When users come to a web site they’re frequently faced with so many choices they don’t know where to start or finish. The end result is that users frequently leave a web site without taking any action beneficial to the web site owner.

Analysis Paralysis and Dissatisfaction
Below is an interesting presentation by Dr. Barry Schwartz called “the Paradox of Choice.” He breaks down the virtues and vices of free choice.  Most people assume that freedom of choice can be nothing less than a virtue. Unfortunately, freedom of choice can also make all of us suffer analysis paralysis and create a dissatisfying purchasing experience. If you can’t dedicate 20 minutes to watching the entire video, just watch the first 8 minutes.  It will make you think a little about your own freedom of choice.

The Paradox of Choice

The scenario presented in the video above also plays out in regards to online choice. There are critical questions every web site owner should ask. Are you better off offering the widest variety of product or the best single product for the consumer on your web site?  A similar scenario plays out in the event marketing world. As an event organizer do you offer as many ticket options as possible or a limited number of options?

Goals and Well Defined Paths
One recommendation to web site owners is to consider having a clearly defined set of goals for your web site. In tandem with your web site goals you should also have a well defined path you expect web site users to follow.  If users fall off the path is your web site intuitive enough for them to self correct their course?

The challenges above aren’t always easy to solve. You can at least start with well defined goals for you web site. Most people never set goals for their web site and therefore never find success online. Where do you fall on the issue?

Here are some additional resources:

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Form Placement and Growing Your List

Subscriber_box Have you every tried to get someone to opt-in to one of your online forms?  Traditionally you ask your web site user for their first name and email address.  Today users are very hesitant to give out any personal information.  Their mindset is, “The moment I sign up they’ll start spamming me with useless information.” In most instances the users are absolutely correct in their bleak assessment. Too many web sites have abused people’s good will. You don’t have to let the same mindset prevail with your opt-in form. There are small nuances that make a world of difference when trying to build a subscriber list. Your subscriber list is a critical link in your event marketing and promotion efforts. Event organizers with highly responsive lists save a ton of money on advertising and sell out their events well in advance. Today we’ll look at the importance of opt-in box placement and prominence.

Placement - Above the Fold
In two previous posts, “Building Your List Above the Fold” and “Are You Opting-In Above the Fold?” I explored the importance of putting your opt-in box above the fold. The fold is the initial area that appears on your web site and requires no vertical scrolling to see. On a web site, anything that requires vertical scrolling downward is considered below the fold.  The analogy is borrowed from the newspaper industry. If your sign up box is above the fold, you will get more voluntary opt-ins. Read through the posts above for more information.

Prominence – How Obvious are You Making Your Opt-In Box?
How obvious and prominent you make your opt-in box accounts for a difference in sign ups. Recently I had access to comprehensive web stats for two events in the same niche market.  One event web site had 56,000 unique visitors for the year and the other site had 80,000 unique visitors in just one weekend.  Both web sites had subscriber opt-in boxes. One web site collected 3200 email addresses and the other collected a little more than 200 email addresses. More email addresses were collected by the event web site with significantly less visitors. The difference was in how prominently the opt-in in box was displayed.

Don’t be afraid to make things a little ugly. One of my coaching clients moved his opt-in from the left hand column of his site to a huge box at the center of his site.  The new opt-in box is ugly and intrusive on the web page.  Initially my client was very hesitant to make the change.  We both agreed to test the results for thirty days to measure the impact.  At the end of thirty days we tripled the number of new newsletter subscribers from an average of three a day to over nine new subscribers per day. He doesn’t seem to mind the big ugly opt-in box anymore. Of all the people becoming subscribers on his web site, 30% buy from him within 30 days of sign up.

If you don’t attract enough attention to your opt-in box people aren’t going to sign up. The higher your opt-in box above the fold, the more likely people are to opt-in. In addition to keeping your opt-in box well above the fold, make sure that it is also very prominent.

Here are some additional list building resources:

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JPGs & GIFs: Optimizing Your Graphics and Images

Have you every waited too long for a web page to load up? Did the wait frustrate you? Today I’d like to dig into some old school web site usability advice on optimizing web graphics and images.  Some people might be thinking “this is newbie advice or old news.” I’d ask the question, “are you optimizing your web site graphics?” A quick look at a majority of the web sites online would show most web site owners aren’t optimizing their graphics and images.

Web_page_optimization Way Back When
Back in the day optimizing web graphics was pretty standard practice. Just a few years ago dial up access was the primary way people accessed the Internet. Web page graphics had to be optimized because people didn’t want to wait for pages to load. If a web page didn’t load in a certain amount of time people would abandon the page.  Remember that the average attention span of the typical web user is about 8 seconds. Just because dial up is on the wane, doesn’t mean you can abandon optimizing your web site graphics. In today’s high speed world attention spans are even shorter. This advice is especially important to event web sites. The number of event photos and photo galleries that aren’t optimized on various event web sites is pretty scary.

Optimizing is More Important Than Ever
Regardless of high speed internet connections you still need to ensure that your page loads as quickly as possible. One of the main ways to get your web site to load quicker is by optimizing your graphics. Anything that’s in an image format like .gif or .jpg (.jpeg) can be optimized. In short, optimization involves taking away some of the image’s information to make it smaller and more compact.  You want to significantly reduce the file size of the graphics (not appearance size or dimensions) without the user noticing. 

This Page as an Example
If you’re reading this page on my web site’s home page, take a look at all the graphics by scrolling up and down the entire page. There are at least 10-15 different images. Each of the images on this page have been optimized. I’ve reduced the file size of each graphic by almost 90%. If all of the graphics you see on this page weren’t optimized they would total over 1.5 Megabytes.  By optimizing all the graphics on this page I’ve reduced the load time by 4 - 10 seconds on a high speed connection. A few seconds might not seem like a lot, but people just don’t have online patience anyone.

Your web site users will never complain if your web site loads too quickly, but they will leave if it takes too long to load.  By optimizing the graphics on your web site you can double or triple the speed that your current web page loads up. Optimizing goes well beyond just graphics, it can include video, layout, and programming.  Always strive to make sure you website loads as quickly as possible. Below are some resources for optimizing your web graphics.

Web Graphic Optimization Resources

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Sage Economic Advice for Desperate Times

by Eugene Loj

First Published: January 14, 2009
Last updated: January 30, 2014

Drayton_bird A few days ago, I stumbled upon some YouTube videos of Drayton Bird.  A quick search on YouTube will pull up some of his videos. I encourage you to take a look. Drayton is a world renowned direct marketing expert from the UK ... Thirty years ago he was completely broke and in massive debt. He owed so much money that he was living under a false name.  At the time Drayton decided to start a direct marketing firm with two other partners, who were also broke. 

Three years after launching, Drayton’s firm was the largest direct marketing agency in Britain. Five years later his firm was bought out by the juggernaut Ogilvy & Mather for millions of dollars.

Some Sage Economic Advice
I understand that not everyone will be able to live Drayton's rags to riches story. But, there is always a lesson to be learned. Last year, Drayton was addressing a group of marketers at the Baltic Direct Marketing conference.  During his presentation Drayton shared some enlightening words on how one should view the economy and the current economic conditions (or any times of economic dispair).

There is no such thing as the Economy. There is only your economy. The only economy that matters is your economy. Let everyone else worry about thee economy. All you need is a great idea, it doesn't matter what the economy is doing.

– Drayton Bird

I understand that a number of people are facing tough times in a bad economy. But there is one of two ways to face a bad economic situation ...

  • You can either do something about your economy or let the economy do things to you or your business - what are you doing right now?




Your Event & The Economy
I've stated this previously but it warrants repeating. In the last six months, I know event organizers in various industries that have SOLD OUT their events in spite of the economy. Most people would say "They shouldn't have been able to do that!" The different events focused on leisure activities, not furthering education or knowledge based event. People still want to have fun, regardless of economics. Are you giving people a very compelling reason to open their wallet and spend their hard earned money with you?

Direct Response Advice
You can get more sound direct marketing advice from Drayton by visiting his web site or his blog. There are plenty of direct marketing tidbits to be found on his web site. Below I've included some direct marketing features on the late-great David Ogilvy.

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The World’s Best Event Promoter Is . . .

Event_promoter_barnum


When it comes to marketing or promoting an event, there is one person best suited for the job.  In almost all circumstances, it’s you.  If you’re organizing an event, you probably know more about your event than anyone else. You also possess one attribute that others on your team might share with you. That unique attribute is an unbridled passion for your event. Most event organizers plan to the ‘Nth degree when it comes to executing an event. At the same time they usually under plan and under execute when it comes to marketing their event. The end result is a perfectly planned event that nobody attends. I strongly encourage you to look over the post “Why Well Planned Events Fail . . .

The Right Passion and Marketing Mix
Possessing a high degree of passion isn’t enough to get people to come to your event. Have you ever seen some of the contestants on American Idol who think they have what it takes? Those same people get up to audition and they’re signing is atrocious. I call it American Idol Syndrome, lots of passion and no talent. Don’t be like that! You need to couple your passion with sound marketing principles.  You need to know how and why marketing works. The best marketers have a tremendous amount of experience. They also know the intrinsic needs of their target market.  If you feel like you need to polish your marketing skills you can do it for free. Go to your local book story, library, or Amazon.com and check out top rated marketing books. Check out “Get a Free College Education” for more details.

Hiring Out Event Promoters
Even if you hire someone out to market or promote your event, you should have a better than average understanding of marketing.  Be highly selective in your choice of people to market your event. Find someone you can trust implicitly and who has a proven track record.  Make sure you personally check their references. After you’ve hired someone, give your event promoter your goals and expectations then let them loose. If you’re going to micromanage someone, you’re better off not hiring them.

The one person who sums up all of the above is P.T. Barnum. His skills in both event promotion and event organization were extremely high.  If you’re looking to emulate someone, Barnum is a superb model. A simple Google search will unearth a bevy of some of his strategies you can start using today. I’ve included some links below as additional resources.

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When Do I Start Promoting My Event?

Have you ever thought to yourself, “When should I start marketing my event?” It’s one of the quintessential questions event organizers constantly ask.  In many cases the mere question causes great mental stress and agony to the person pondering. Event organizers try to think up of ideal time frames and ideal methods to get their message out. The best time frame to promote your event is as early as possible.

Event_announcement You Still Need to Advertise
Regardless of how reputable your event, don’t wait to advertise.  In 2005 I provided online ticketing service to a very big recurring event.  Their radio, television, and print advertising didn’t start until 10 days before the event. The organizer thought since the event was well known that “we didn’t need to advertise early or with as much volume.” The attendance and online ticketing numbers showed the outcome of the decision. Attendance was down significantly and online ticket sales dropped over 50% from the prior year’s event. Regardless of how big or reputable your event you need to advertise early.    

The Movie Industry
Take into consideration the movie industry. They release trailers for upcoming movies months in advance. In some cases potential blockbusters get trailers released almost a year in advance. There is tremendous benefit to creating an early buzz about your event. If you can get people talking about your event early you can enjoy the benefit of word of mouth advertising. If you have videos or other information, people might spread your event information around using social media.    

Recurring Events
If you have a recurring event, start advertising your next event at your current event. Consider selling tickets for your next event for your current event.  The people most likely to buy from you are those people who have already bought. Even if you offer a big discount, it’s still money in your bank account.  If you don’t know concrete details about your next event, don’t let them leave without knowing your web address. Encourage people to visit your web site for details about your next event.

As a general rule of thumb I recommend promoting your event at least 90-180 days in advance. You need to decide what’s most appropriate for your event. One important thing to do is build your advertising and event marketing campaign from the time of announcement. Don’t just announce your event and wait a few months until you release additional information or advertising. Don’t let people forget. What starts a trickle should turn into a steady stream of information and advertising about your event. Just like sales, the fortune is in the follow up.

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A Great Event Marketing & Promotion Idea

Event_Presentation_Idea Have you ever faced the dilemma of having too much content for your conference, seminar, or workshop? Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with a not for profit organization to try and build some anticipation for their upcoming annual conference. Each year the organization brings in a number of speakers for various educational sessions. This year the organization has too many speakers for their allotted program slots. The situation is frustrating because all of the speakers have valuable information to share. What if you could feature a great speaker for your event without taking up a valuable time slots at your event?

Feature Your Speakers Before Your Event
If you can’t support speakers at your event, consider featuring them before your event. You could take your extra speakers and have them prepare materials to present before your event. This can be done through a virtual presentation. It’s never been easier to create virtual presentations.  A program that I recommend is Camtasia Studio.  It allows anyone to take a PowerPoint presentation and turn it into an easy to access computer file, complete with audio and video.  You could also use a program like GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar to present a live teleseminar before the event. Maybe you want to consider doing a series of teleseminars. The ‘GoTo’ family of products allow you to do audio and video presentations live.  The participants just need a telephone and high speed internet connection. The above idea falls into the concept of front loading event value.

Do the Simple Stuff
Don’t want to do something as involved as the above suggestions? Ask your prospective speakers to prepare an audio program or downloadable PDF report. Focus on getting people excited before they even show up to your event. The best way to do this is by sharing information that's valuable to your target market. Just make sure that the information you share beforehand isn’t better than what you’re going to have at your event. Don’t get too caught up in the ‘cool’ technology. Useful is always better than cool.

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The Danger of Too Much Event Marketing Technology

Event_promotion_choices Last month I attended the International Council of Air Show’s annual convention in Las Vegas.  During the convention attendees had the option of participating in numerous educational sessions. This year, one of the convention’s educational sessions focused on cutting edge event marketing trends.  All of the presenters had a number of really great event marketing ideas. After the presentation, I spoke with a few of the session attendees. Their consensus was that the information being presented was highly informative, but the myriad of technological suggestions was mind numbing. The presenters suggested using Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, online video, etc.  Have you ever had so many great options you didn’t know where to start?

The Danger of Having Too Many Choices
In today’s technology rich business environment, we tend to get caught up with too many choices. Every day the growth of high tech marketing options increases exponentially. I think event organizers get lost trying to find the latest and greatest technology to promote their events. Most people get distracted by shiny things (technology). You spread yourself thin if you try to integrate too much technology. You’re better off adopting one or two simple technologies into your event marketing.  Get good at leveraging the one or two technologies before adopting something else.

Technology versus Systems
Too many event organizers and marketers start with technology and try to figure out a marketing system later. When you try to integrate the latest technology you tend to get bogged down in the minutia. This has happened to me on numerous occasions and it’s extremely time consuming. In the end you’re usually left stress out and with far less money in your pocket. You’re much better off finding a proven marketing system that easily integrates with the technology. The best technology option is the one that is easy to implement, brings you the greatest return on investment, all at the lowest cost. Remember to only adopt one or two pieces of marketing technology at a time. You might want to consider hiring outside help or getting a responsible college intern to integrate technology into your event marketing. Focus on the big picture!

When it comes to leveraging technology like social media, you’re better off taking a macro focus. A marketing system is macro. Technology is macro. Adopt a good system and then add the technological trinkets later. Master the technology trinkets one at a time.

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A Guitar and Event Marketing

During my previous magazine adventure I purchased the current issue of Guitar World. The February 2009 issue of Guitar World features Eddie Van Halen. Eddie is one of my all time favorite rock guitarists. He bridges the gap between music and emotion. The article and DVD feature are about Eddie’s new guitar. As Eddie puts it, “This is the culmination of my 35 years with Guitars!” On the surface the article and video are pretty straight forward. Below the surface the feature is another great example of positioning and psychological influence. It’s like an infomercial no over sales pitch. If you’re a guitar enthusiast or aficionado, it’s hard not to get through the feature without saying “That’s pretty cool, I’d like one of those guitars.” And that’s the point. I’ve included a YouTube link to the featured video below:

Eddie's New Guitar Video


Connecting the Dots
You might be asking, “What do guitars have to do with marketing and promoting events?” In my humble opinion, a great deal.  The feature on Eddie Van Halen is a superb example of building psychological value around a product or service. You should be doing the same with your event. In the video, pay attention to how it’s not just Eddie talking about the guitar. The people in the video have nothing but good things to say about the guitar. They might be getting paid to say that, but they people come off fairly authentic and genuine. The video is a great example of social proof. If you think something is great, that’s one thing. If other people think what you have is great, that’s far more powerful. The article and video make you want to buy the guitar.

Use the Idea for Your Event
The same overall process can be used to promote your event. You have something (an event) that will bring people value or joy. Do an interview and get a few people involved with your event to give insight. Recording the interview session and turn it into an article or video. Use the event article and video for your own event promotion and marketing. 

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Event Marketing from the Magazine Rack

Event_Marketing_Magazine_Rack


Next time you’re in your favorite book store or grocery store, take a closer look at the magazine rack. There are more than a few good event marketing and promotion ideas waiting for you in the magazine section.  Pay specific attention to the cover of your favorite magazine. Notice all the various headlines on the front cover of magazines?  The purpose of a good headline is to attract your attention and get you to want more information.  In the case of magazines, it’s to get you to open up the magazine and hopefully buy it. You can use the same headline methodology to get people to read your various pieces of event promotion.

Reverse Engineering a Great Headline
Every event should have a compelling headline that draws in their target market. Are there any magazines in the same market as your event?  Could you take one of the headlines from an industry magazine and reword it (be careful not plagiarize)? 

Keep a Swap File
You might want to consider keeping a swap file of various headlines that could be used to advertise your event. A swap file is a physical or digital collect of great headlines that can be reworded for your own marketing purposes. One piece of advice, don’t just swap out words. Your new headline needs to make perfect sense to your target market. Too many people make the mistake of just rewording classic headlines. Make sure that the context of your new wording makes sense.

Test Your Event Headlines

If you really want to go the distance, test your headline with some people from the event’s target market.  If a test subject reads your headline and gives you good feedback, you’re reasonably assured that you have a good headline. Never assume that just because you think it’s great that your target market will agree with you. Always test your marketing!

Multiple Uses for Your Event Headlines
You could probably use your re-engineered headline for a number of various marketing materials for you event including: billboards, posters, online marketing, newspaper ads, etc. For all the cool technology we have in this world, words still sell. Having a great headline or two can really boost your event marketing and promotion efforts. If you don’t believe that headlines are that powerful, I invite you to Google something.  Google makes billions of dollars on its’ Adwords advertising engine. Google’s ads are predominately simple text ads.

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Email Event Marketing and SPAM

Event_Marketing_SPAM Whenever I mention email marketing people tend to roll their eyes. More often than not the simple suggestion of email marketing garners the almost immediate response of, “I don’t want to SPAM people.” I believe that the rapid decline in email marketing effectiveness is directly linked to businesses inundating their prospects with sale pitch emails.  The essence of the email is "buy this, NOW!" Such practices become quiet annoying to the people receiving the email.  You can still use email to effectively market your event. People are still responsive to email marketing if it’s done the right way. Here is the blatantly obvious secret to effectively marketing your event via email; focus on delivering value with each email you send, not sales pitch.

Real World Example
Last year, I created a 15 piece email campaign for one of my event marketing clients. The emails were ridiculously simple, plain text with a few HTML links. The none of the 15 emails asked the recipient to buy anything until the very end of the campaign. Focus on building trust and credibility with your target market first. People were so excited for the event that they were sending emails complaining about not being able to buy tickets online weeks before the event. (The online ticketing system wasn’t setup yet.) You can also create the same kind of anticipation for your event. If you delay asking people to buy first, they're likely to buy in hordes later.

Get Them Excited About Your Event
Can you think of anything you can send your target market to get them excited about your event?  Make the recipient want to open each email they receive from you. Your subject lines isn't nearly as important as the from line. It helps to know the wants and desires of your target market. Concentrate on what your target market wants, not what you think they want.

Everyone loves to know a secret. You can arouse your target market's curiosity. Consider sharing special insider information about the event not available to the public. With all the technology out there the possibilities to share information in interesting ways is almost endless.

Value Translates Into Success
People still read emails that capture their attention. Always try to build trust, credibility and rapport with your prospect first. If you focus on delivering valuable content first you can do some pretty amazing things. Two of my clients achieved over a 30% conversion rate on their home grown email lists. I strongly believe their high response rates were a direct result of delivering value before asking for the sale.

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Event Marketing with an Autoresponder

Event_autoresponder_marketing In the previous post, “Reason Why Event Promotion,” I wrote about giving your target market a very compelling reason to attend your event. It’s important to remember that people aren’t interested in the details of your event if you don’t give them a good reason to attend. I can’t stress how important it is that your “reason to attend” messaging resonates with your target market.

Too many event organizers come up with lots of reasons that they think people should attend their event, yet their reasons are a complete disconnect from their target market.

After you have a few good reasons, you can take your event marketing one step further.  Take each of your reasons and craft them into a short compelling email. Your emails can include links to videos, photos, or just plain text. Ideally the emails should get someone excited to attend your event. You’re going to take those emails and send them out sequentially in advance of your event.

Leveraging an Autoresponder
There are very affordable web services that allow you to send emails automatically to a set of email addresses. The services also allow you to collect emails from prospective leads and store them in custom databases. These services are known as autoresponders.  Two popular autoresponders are AWeber and 1ShoppingCart.  Autresponders can automate your event marketing and promotion.  By using the Autoresponder you build the value of your event before it ever takes place.  I call this front loading the value of your event.

Collecting Email Addresses
The entire process starts with collecting email addresses. You should have an opt-in box, above the fold, that allows people to voluntarily enter their first name and email address. I recommend a double opt-in when collecting email addresses. Make sure all your email collection is in compliance with CAN-SPAM legislation. After you have email addresses for people in your target market, use the Autoresponder to send emails. Remember, you’re trying to build value for your event so people attend.

I would consider the above topic one of the best kept secrets in event marketing and promotion.  As fair warning, the overall topic of autoresponders and email marketing is pretty complex. What’s above is an excruciating simplistic overview of a very powerful and detailed process.  

Event organizers who have implemented the outlined concept generate unbelievable results. Results include 30% conversion rate on home grown email lists and $55,000 in advance event ticket sales. If you're not leveraging email marketing to promote your event, you're leaving gobs of money on the table.

Email Marketing & Autoresponder Resources:

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“Reason Why” Event Promotion

Reason_why You need to build perceived value for your event before it happens. I cannot emphasize this point enough.  A crucial component that most event promotion and marketing lacks is a good reason why.  Telling someone to do something versus giving them a good reason to do something (“Reason Why”) are two very different things. We love to tell people that we’re having an event, “Hey, you! Come and do this!” Promoters and Marketers give details that include dates, times, performers, ticket prices, etc. At the same time, promoters completely miss giving their target audience a truly good reason why to attend their event. I’d argue that you want to focus on the “reason why” more than anything else.  Event dates, times, and ticket prices become irrelevant if people aren’t interested in what you have to offer them.

Below are a series of article links for building a compelling “reason why” people should attend your event. Browse a few of the articles below and see if there is something you can integrate into your event promotion.

When creating any type of promotional material for your event focus on the “reason why” before getting into the details of your event.  If people aren't interested in what you have to offer, they surely won't be interested in dates and times. In the next post we'll look at how you can take the above process and automate your event promotion for your target market.

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The Holidays & Advance Ticket Sales

Holiday_Advance_Tickets Do you have an event that is still months or weeks away?  It’s never too early to start selling tickets for your event. Always look for opportunities to sell advance sale tickets.  The holiday season is an excellent opportunity.  Below I’ve included some simple ideas that you easily integrate into a holiday ticket campaign.

Offer a Deep Discount
Most event organizers don’t want to discount their tickets. Based on experience, you need to discount your ticket price to about 50% to get people to buy months or weeks in advance. Such a discount isn’t feasible if don’t have a decent profit margin built into your ticket price. If there is little or no margin in your ticket price you’re leaving yourself in a bad financial position.  No margins leave you with zero room for discounts. When you have a large yet fair profit margin, you can offer deep discounts without worry.  Always make sure you have a decent profit margin build into every single ticket you sell.

Discount by Raising Your Ticket Price
If you’re considering raising ticket prices from one year to the next, offer your target market an opportunity to pay the previous year’s price. “Our ticket prices are going up in 2009, but you can still buy at 2008 prices. This special offer is only good until the end of this year.” It’s a limited time offer that gives your target market the opportunity buy early.

Partner with Sponsors
It isn’t enough to let your target market know it’s a holiday special.  Is there something else you can do to add value to people buying a ticket early? Could you cross promote with one of your sponsors and have the sponsor include holiday coupon? Always look for unique opportunities.  The cross promotion needs to resonate with your target market. See if you can get one of your sponsors to market your tickets to their list. You can’t just add something because you think your target market will enjoy it. Look for cross promotions that will get your target market to act promptly.

Engage Them Over Email
Do you have an email list of previous buyers? Provided you met or exceeded their expectations, your list is the single best resource for future ticket sales.  Send a specific email to all the people who previously purchased tickets for your event and make them a great offer.  Integrate some of the ideas above into your offer.

You can combine holiday offers so many different ways. Try a few and see what works.

Your Ideas
Do you have ideas for advance sale tickets during the holidays?
Leave a comment and share your ideas below.

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Your Event & Video Testimonials

In “Let Other People Sell Your Event for You,” I wrote about the importance of letting others sell your event for you. In the post I featured a powerful quote by Dan Kennedy:

“What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1,000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2,000 times more eloquent.”

The best video you could ever capture about your event is patron video testimonials.  Having a patron talk into the camera about how great you event is while using the actual event as a backdrop is priceless. Today I’d like to share with you what one can do with a decent video camera and decent video editing. The video below was filmed by a third-party which gives it even more credibility.

Flour City Brewers' Fest 2008


Don't Forget This Important Point
Regardless of who is shooting video for your event, make sure they get some video testimonials of event patrons during your event.  You can use the testimonials as promotion and marketing piece next time you have an event.  If you look at most events little attention is paid to event patrons. Make sure you’re not making that same mistake.

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Red Bull Air Race - Exciting Viral Video

Last week I attended the International Council of Air Shows’ Annual (ICAS) convention in Las Vegas.  During the convention representatives from the Red Bull Air Race made a convention appearance. You can think of the Red Bull air races like NASCAR in the sky. During a break from their air racing they frequently use air show performers as intermission acts, hence their attendance at the ICAS convention. Red Bull really caught my attention after I participated in one of their air races.  As an organization they excel at both promoting and producing events. Red Bull’s presence at the convention prompted me to check out their web site and find a really cool video.

Video Highlights of Your Event
Below you will find a short highlight video from Red Bull’s 2008 Air Race season.  The music might not be for everyone, but the video footage is astonishing.  If you’re looking for an exciting event video you want to emulate, don’t look any further than Red Bull. You know you have a winning video to promote your event when people say out loud “That looks awesome, I want to attend one of those.”

2008 Red Bull Highlight Video


Going Viral

Red Bull leverages social media to get their videos distributed all over the world. All it takes is one really great video and rabid fans do the rest of the work for you. This is where a site like YouTube comes in handy. You can post one video and then have hundreds of other people post that same video to their web site. It’s like hiring an army of free promoters for your event. Are you taking advantage of a great promotional video for your event and viral marketing?

If you have a cool video of your event, post it to YouTube or any of the other online video resources. Use online champions to get your videos out to the masses. It’s one of the easiest and least expensive ways to promote your event.

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Using Scarcity with Free Events

Free_Event_Ticket Yesterday I had an interesting discussion regarding free events. For those that don’t know, I’m not a big fan of free events. There are too many event organizers who think just because their event is free that masses of people will automatically attend their event. Be sure you check out “the danger of free event thinking.” The discussion about free events gets even more tedious when the same event organizers proceed to tell me of their budget shortfalls. I’m not economic genius but if you want to have a free event, don’t complain to other people about not having enough money to put on your event.  Now that I have that out of my system . . . I’d like to focus on the positive. Yes, it is possible to be very successful with free events. Let me try to get you one idea that might help.

The Double Edged Sword
For today I’m going to focus what one can do to get more people to their free event. If you have a free event, inject a little scarcity. Free events are a double edged sword. A friend of mine who did event promotion for a local radio station told me about ticket giveaways for various concerts his station promoted. Here is an interesting statistic he shared.  Less than 15% of the people who the station gave free concert tickets to actually went to the concert. It’s psychology at work. If you don’t spent money on something you aren’t really vested in it. It’s as easy to say yes as it is to say no.

Using Scarcity
Let your target market know that because you are having a free event, you’re only allowing a certain number of people to attend. As soon as your event is full no one else will be admitted. This scarcity should be emphasized throughout all your marketing and event promotion. One of my mentors, Eben Pagen has a great line to sum up the idea above, “there is nothing more motivating than a rapidly diminishing supply of something you want.” You can use the concept of scarcity to change people's perception of you event.

If you’re going to have a free event, you need to make sure that you’re protecting your own interests. By using scarcity you can insure that some value is placed on the tickets to your event.

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Great Stories & Event Marketing

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

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

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

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

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Charging a Premium Event Ticket Price

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

Yanik illustrates Rule #3 as follows:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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