You’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and planning your event. But the most important factor to its success is getting people to attend – and getting the RIGHT people to attend! But how do you make sure that all of your time and effort will be worth it? Here are my top 10 tips to a sold-out event.
1) Get clear on your audience and your “why”
Who is your event most suited for? Who should attend and why? People won’t attend an event if they don’t think they’ll get anything out of it. You need to be clear on why you’re holding the event and what your audience will take away from it. What transformation will take place? What lessons will they learn? What actions can they take to move their business or situation forward?
You need to define all of this so you’re able to communicate it clearly. If your messaging isn’t clear then your audience won’t know why they should attend. And they won’t realize it’s the right event for them. But if you can clearly spell out who is right for the event, and what transformation will take place and how they’ll feel afterward, then your audience will realize they need to be there!
2) Build the right content
When you’re clear on the audience and transformation, then it will be easy to figure out what sort of content you’ll need at your event. Keep in mind, content does not have to mean prepared PowerPoint presentations. It can be guided conversations, roundtable discussions, or indeed presentations. But it should be planned.
Don’t assume that just because you’re bringing a group together and you want to have free-flowing discussions that you don’t need to plan it out. You’ll still need to organize the time and have an idea of how the event will run and what topics will be discussed.
It may also be good for your audience to hear another voice by bringing in other speakers. Again, this will depend on your audience and your “why”, but having a guest speaker, especially one who’s an expert on a certain topic of interest to your group, can add a lot of value to your event and help sell it.
Your guest speaker can also help market your event by promoting it to her or his own audience.
3) Find partners for your event
An ideal partner for your event is someone with a complimentary audience. For example, as an event planner an ideal partner for me would be a photographer. My audience is female entrepreneurs who are wanting to uplevel their business by hosting events and retreats. Quite often these same entrepreneurs are looking for better headshots or other images for use in their business. For a photographer looking to market to this audience as well, a partnership with me would be a win-win.
This partner could provide a freebie for your audience, say headshots for my group, in exchange for getting in front of some of their ideal client base. Another benefit to them is being part of any promotion that you’re doing, so you’re increasing their exposure.
These freebie extras that are added to your event as a side benefit will also increase the value of attending. Who wouldn’t want new headshots?
Partners can collaborate with you and increase the reach of your event marketing. As part of your agreement, have them promote your event through their marketing efforts. By providing content to them, including social media posts and images, you’re making it easy for them to do that.
They can also provide content for you, bulking up your own promotional efforts. Conduct an interview with them beforehand, and upload that to Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube – wherever your audience gathers.
Get them to interact with your attendees before the event. Have them write a guest post on your blog. There are so many ways that they can help promote your event, from their side and from yours.
By building connections before the event it will make the on-site experience for everyone that much better. Plus, if you hold these conversations publicly, others who are on the fence about whether or not to attend will see them and develop FOMO (fear of missing out). They’ll want to be part of those engagements and the atmosphere that you’re creating.
4) Price it right
If this is your first event, do some research into similar events and pricing. You want to make it affordable, but you don’t want to price it too low. People relate value to price, so they usually won’t place as much value on a very cheap event. If this is not your first event you’ll have some numbers to base it on.
Even if you’ve held events before it’s always a good idea to do some market research. Contact some existing clients or friends or acquaintances who would represent your target audience. Ask them what it’d be worth to have the experience or gain what you are offering at your event.
Remember, you need to base the price on the value of the transformation or experience that you’re offering, not just your time spent or expenses. How much is that transformation worth to your audience?
Of course, take your expenses into account so you don’t lose money and do make the kind of profit you’d like.
5) Invite the right people
The best people to invite to your event are your most ardent supporters. These are usually clients for whom you’ve gone over and above and/or just love you and your services. They can do wonders promoting your event for you. Do the same as with your partners – provide them content they can use on their profiles. They will sing your praises before, during and after your event.
Research influencers in your niche, those with a large and engaged following. Include influencers outside of your niche who have a similar target market to you. Contact them and see if they’d be interested in attending. Maybe they can become a partner and help you market your event as well as offer something to your attendees.
If coming to your event won’t work for whatever reason, they can still help you promote it. Some may help you out of the goodness of their hearts, but most would want something in return. One idea is to swap guest posts. When posting on their site mention your event, and make sure you focus on a topic that relates to the transformation offered at your event.
6) Personalize invitations
In my first tip, I mentioned getting clarity on your audience and messaging. Use what you learned there to personalize your invitations. Target your message so that your audience will really understand the benefit of attending your event. And really speak to THEM.
Do your homework and learn something about each person that you can reference in your communications. This is hard for large events but the key to small ones. For large events, you could do this with a handful of people, though, like with the influencers you want to attract.
You’ll get the best response using personal outreach, such as emails, direct messages, phone calls, and in-person.
7) Increase your visibility
Hopefully, you have a marketing plan for your business. Make sure you create a separate one for your event as there will be specific tasks you’ll want to do just for this event.
The key to getting visible is to be active where your audience is active. And remember, your event audience may be slightly different from your regular target audience. That’s why it’s good to have a separate marketing plan.
In your marketing plan, you’ll want to create a schedule for consistent posting and outreach. Use a variety of content. This could include blog posts, social media posts, videos, testimonials, and inspiring quotes related to your outcome. You could also create an event hashtag and start using that to build awareness. And don’t forget some of your best real estate: your social media bios and email signature. Update those with information and links to your event.
In your posts, several weeks out from your registration opening, start talking about topics or issues that you’ll cover at your event. This will make it a natural transition to promoting their attendance so that they can get answers to their problems.
There are many other ways to get visible: submitting news to your local media, guest posting or podcasting on others’ sites, collaborating with an industry association. Think about where your audience is and where you can get in front of them. Showcase your expertise and how you can help them with a specific problem or issue. And why attending your event can provide them with the solution.
8) Create an event website
With successful marketing, you’ll be attracting an audience to your content. Where do you want them to go? It’s good to have one place where attendees can find information and answers to their questions, like why they should attend, when and where it is, and how much it costs.
With an event website, you can cater all of the information to that specific event. You can target your messaging to that particular audience and highlight what affect the event will have on their business, health, pocket, etc.
Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as another way to get organic traffic to the site. Find out what keywords people are using around your main topic and make sure to use them throughout the site. This will drive your audience there when they are searching for that topic and looking for answers.
Besides promotional content, include third-party endorsements where you can on the event website. Nothing will boost your credibility more than having statements from others, especially peers to your audience, saying how much your event helped them or how much their business/health/pocket/etc was improved after implementing your solution.
9) Build a community
Strengthen your message, and further promote your event, by building a community beforehand. Pre-event, connect your attendees with each other, as well as with speakers, sponsors, etc., through a private group. Whether it be a Facebook group or Slack or some other network, bring them together, even if it’s just to discuss travel plans. This accomplishes two things: 1) it makes your attendees feel part of something bigger than themselves, and adds another level to the overall experience they will have at your event, and 2) it provides greater promotion of your event as it increases the FOMO (fear of missing out) of others when they see this group getting to know each other and building relationships. Your participants, speakers, and sponsors will also further promote your event since they are getting such value out of the interactions even before the event starts.
10) Promote during and after the event
You’ll do a lot of promotion before your event, but don’t forget to set yourself up for success for your next event by promoting during and after this one.
There are those who were not able to attend your event, for whatever reason, and they’ll be wondering what happened. Keep them in the know, and wanting to attend next time, by tweeting or live streaming fun, informative snippets during your event. Also encourage your attendees, speaker, and sponsors to do the same and share it out to their audiences, further expanding your reach.
Continue the conversation afterward and build up excitement and anticipation for the next event. This will make sales easier for your next one since you’ll already have a built-in audience for your promotions.
Top 10 keys to a sold out event
- Get clear on your audience and your “why”
- Build the right content
- Find partners for your event
- Price it right
- Invite the right people
- Personalize invitations
- Increase your visibility
- Create an event website
- Build a community
- Promote during and after the event
Hosting an event takes a lot of time and effort, and you want to make sure it’s going to be worth it. Don’t just plan an event on a whim. Unless you’re Oprah, you probably can’t plan an event and sell it out within minutes without any effort. But, if you work through the 10 points above, chances are your event will not only be a valuable and enjoyable experience for your attendees but it will successful and profitable for you!