Are you looking for a good way to get face time with prospects and clients, but you just don’t know how? Hi, I’m Bryan Caplan, CEO of BJC branding. Today, I want to talk to you about using events to grow your business.
Choosing the Goal for Your Event
So why do we want to run an event? We don’t have time as it is; we’re already busy running our business, an event is just one more thing to add to the list. But there is a reason to it.
First off: you need to have a goal. Do you want to drive revenue or donations if you’re a non-profit? Do you want to engage and get face time with prospects, leads, and your current clients? Maybe you want to celebrate a milestone. Maybe it’s an anniversary you have for the company or even a sales record.
Do you want to boost loyalty, so all those people that have consistently, day in and day out, given you business and helped you feed your family and keep a roof over their heads?
Now it’s time to reward that. Maybe you just want to grow your email list, and you want to have a conference or an expo. Finally, maybe just maybe, you want to educate, because giving a little is going to get a lot in return.
What Type of Event Do You Want to Run?
Once you have your goal in mind, then you’re going to choose what type of event you want to run.
So if you’re a nonprofit looking to increase donations, then you’re going to look at a gala or a big event. Because then you can get higher ticket prices, you can get donations, you can have silent raffle or auction, and there’s plenty of ways to monetize it.
Now if you’re a small business owner, then maybe you’re going to have – not a grand opening, but a VIP party or a customer loyalty event. If you’re a realtor, then besides that open house, maybe you do something like Oktoberfest, or you can do a 5K to get the community involved.
These are all events that we can do and we want to do in order to get more people around our brand.
One of the most effective event types is the educational event. On a small scale you can do a workshop or class, larger scale you can do a seminar or lecture in front of tens or hundreds of people, and finally, you might be that keynote or breakout speaker that’s presenting in front of hundreds if not thousands of people.
Related: Give Presentations Like a Rock Star
Ultimately the educational event those you as a thought leader and a resource in the industry that people want to come to and learn from, and ultimately you might want to give you their money as well.
Don’t Be Afraid to Charge
When you’re running these events, don’t be afraid to charge.
Constant Contact did a research study and looked at 200,000 RSVPs to their online event registration system. Over 50% of people didn’t show up because of a date or time conflict. Over 10% of people didn’t show up because of a location conflict. Only .01% or 20 of those 200,000 registrants didn’t show up because they couldn’t or didn’t want to pay. So the proof is in the pudding: charge for your event and people will come.
Here’s a great example for you: have you ever gone to a timeshare? Someone’s given you a timeshare, or you’re taking that little weekend tour because they caught you in the mall, and when you get to the front desk, they say: “we’re going to give you a $100 gift card to this wonderful restaurant, but first, you need to give us $20 to come to breakfast tomorrow.” You get the $20, and you’re not even thinking. You say, $20 for $100, that makes total sense right? I’m getting five times my return.
Well, in actuality what you’ve just done is put your skin in the game. And when you get back to your room and you finally over that novelty of being at a new place you realize: “Oh my God, I’m going to lose $20 if I don’t go on this three-hour tour tomorrow.”
Well, it’s much the same thing. We’re not trying to trap people, but at the same time we want them to have skin in the game, so charging for the event makes total sense.
Planning for Event Success
Let’s fast-forward: you have your goal, you have your type of event, you’ve decided to charge or not. Now you have a venue, you have caterers, you have your staff lined up, your marketing materials decorations everything is in order. All you have to do is get those butts in the seats. How do we do it?
6 Weeks – Save the Date Email
So let’s backtrack: go six weeks out from your event. Now six weeks we want to send what we call a “Save the date” email. Now, the Save the date email is something that’s going to actually pique their interest, tell them what they can expect, give them a little sneak peek, but it’s not going to allow them away to register. The effectiveness of this is…
- Exclusivity – you can’t join yet, this is a secret thing. Listen, if you want to get in, you have to keep paying attention and looking at your inbox.
- Build Anticipation – What we’re doing is actually giving them some anticipation and excitement, we’re building it up. It’s what happens with everything; movie trailers are great example watch the trailer, this short little thing before that full feature-length film. This email is a little tiny trailer to that bigger email where they can register and join.
3-4 Weeks – Send an Email with All the Details
So now, we’re 3 to 4 weeks out. What were finding is that people have been replying or they’ve been calling, asking, “how can I sign up for this event?” This is where we’re going to try to increase registration. So we’re going to send them an email, we’re going to tell them all the expectations they can have: who are the presenters, where is it going to be, how is parking, how do we get there, what’s the cost? All of those things, so that we don’t leave any question unanswered. The more information you can provide them, the more they are apt to actually click the button and register.
2 Weeks – Increase Registration Numbers
Now we fast forward again we find ourselves two weeks out from the event. Registration’s coming in pretty well, we have about 50 to 75 people that are registered, but we need to get more. As a rule of thumb, if you’re running an event, imagine that about 40 to 50% of people aren’t going to show up. So you really want to get those registration numbers up – what do you do?
Send Another Email to All Unresponsive Recipients
We’re going to send out another email to all the people who have not opened our previous emails. We’re going to tweak the subject lines, maybe try it on a different day and time, and ultimately try to get them to open and click on the registration link.
Send an Email to Responsive but Unregistered Recipients
Now a weekend, a week before, that’s where we actually want to send an email to everyone who has opened, but hasn’t registered. Why do we want to do this? These people have opened your email, they know about the event, they just haven’t taken that next step. So we’re going to tweak the copy; we’re going to have an emphasized call to action, all the benefits they’re going to get by coming to this event, and we’re going to send it again.
The Day Before The Event
Send a Reminder Email
So we’ve done it; we made it to the day before the event. The big thing here we want to send a reminder email, because life happens. Things come up; stuff for the job, stuff for the family, personal matters. We still need to make sure that through all that noise, these people know that they have made a commitment to come to our event tomorrow. And, if you make it a little bit personal it’s even better.
Give him some of that guilt if they’re not going to attend. So in my email, I would say, “I’m really excited to see you, I can’t wait to share in this great event with you, here’s the information again, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Produce a Personal Video
You can even take a step further and use a video. You can have him click on the video, and it’s a nice welcome video it’s you talking to them in same way – how is someone going to say no when they see your face?
The Day of the Event
Great! Everything goes well. If you’re presenting, you kill it. if you’re doing a gala, it’s amazing; the acts were good, the food was good. Now, there are a couple things you want to do for follow-up.
Send out a Survey
One: consider sending out a survey. A survey is going to help you get feedback for your future events. It’s also going to tell you where things went right and where things went wrong at the event.
Send a Thank You Email
Also you want to send a thank you email. A thank you email is so important: these people have given you their time. Time is one thing that we do not get back. So if you can recognize and appreciate the fact that I’ve given you my time, then I’m all the more willing to come to your next event, because I know that means something to you.
About Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan helps businesses elevate their digital marketing. Award-winning CEO of BJC Branding and professional speaker, Bryan travels the country, presenting on a wide range of digital marketing topics.
Bryan has provided digital marketing strategy to well over 1,000 businesses since 2010 and is a guest lecturer at Suffolk University School of Business. He is also a contributing columnist to several publications including GoDaddy, BlueHost, Constant Contact, BusinessTown, and the Boston Business Journal.