Judith: Okay Nicola, now to our Business Challenge of the week, and today I’ve chosen – I’m working with a client at the moment who is marketing her first ever event where you need bums on seats, so people will actually come to a physical place rather than a digital one, although actually, I don’t think it makes any difference, and she’s doing it across Christmas, so she had an early bird period of time which expired on something like the seventh of December I think, and the actual event doesn’t start until January. You know what it’s like when clients are marketing their first ever thing.
Nicola: Yeah I do.
Judith: Their list isn’t big enough, they’re not particularly well known, so therefore, if it doesn’t succeed, they believe it’s a failure, therefore they pull it too quickly, therefore it doesn’t happen and they go into a tailspin – “What’s wrong with my offering?”
Whereas, I think there’s two challenges here, and bums on seats, I hate to lay this – I don’t want to educate my clients that this is the hardest thing they’ll ever do – but it’s the hardest thing they’ll ever do. It’s a challenge, and early bird is nice, and pricing is just one of the ways of persuading people that they want to buy now, but you and I both know because we’ve done this a lot together and separately, that when you’re a newbie and not very well known, and you don’t have a very good list, and people don’t understand who you are yet, this is an impossibly difficult challenge, and if you factor in Christmas as well, so marketing, and I don’t know about you, but nobody can think about anything this week and next week, because we’re so busy thinking about nativity plays and turkeys and trees …
Nicola: Not you and me obviously, but most people.
Judith: Not for you and me, but most people who have got families and the end of term. Your children are grown up now, but when I first knew you, and there’s a lot of activity for a wife and mother, and father even, in these days to do in the end of term.
I think of it as madness in a way, the timing of it, but I don’t think it’s over. I think people, you know, one of the favourite times of year for selling things is between Christmas and New Year when people are thinking about, “New year, new me, what am I going to step up to?” This lady’s field of expertise is around the way people eat, so January is the perfect time for people to be addressing that. Really, what I’m bringing to the table this week is, what advice would we give people who are marketing their first ever event, whether a real life event or a digital one?
Nicola: Do it online, don’t go anywhere near a real life event for the first time, because like you say, when I think back to our Money Gym days, we used to do six to eight week launch periods for every single event, and Jeff Walker actually – you know I used to use product launch formula as our template – Jeff Walker’s just put out a great book called “Launch” and it does set out his – it’s very top level obviously, not as detailed as his training courses are – but it does set out the sequence of events that have to happen for you to have any chance of launching a successful event, and it’s things like, you start off with anticipation, social proof, you give value in advance… It’s a sequence and a process, and if you know it makes life a lot easier.
You’re absolutely right, they’ve never got enough of a mailing list, although having said that, Facebook ads does make that a little bit easier now, because even if you don’t have a mailing list you can advertise your event. The thing I like about that particularly is that it’s inexpensive and it does tell you if there’s any interest in your event.
Marketing an event where it’s all about eating to people who overeat or have emotional eating problems over the Christmas period when nobody wants to feel guilty about it, and we’re all saying, “come first of January it’ll be different”, she’s doing it at absolutely the wrong time of year. She should start after Christmas and make it really much more intense, but if she hasn’t got a list to launch to, she hasn’t got a hope in hell, I’m afraid.
Judith: I do think it’s a bit bigger than that, because I think what we all have to be prepared to do, and certainly this is what I’ve done, and you and I have done it together as well, I think you have to, when it’s your first event, be prepared to run it under subscribed. Let’s say you want ten or twelve or fifteen people and you get four, you’ve got to run it, and you’re going to run it next time with five, and you’re going to run it the time after that with seven, you’re going to run it the time after that with eleven, and eventually enough people will know about it that you’ll be full up each time.
Pull it. They pull it because they think, “it’s going to cost me money to have the venue” so they pull it. Now we don’t know, was there an event wasn’t there an event? But if you run it with four and they tell four, you’ve got to be prepared for it not to meet your maximum expectations the first time I think.
Nicola: That’s why I say do a digital event first, because you’re not so financially invested in it in that you haven’t had to travel, stay overnight, hire the venue, print the hand-outs out, all that stuff. It does definitely get easier marketing an event when you’ve had one before. Even if there are only three or four people on it, then you’ve got the testimonials of those three or four people in which to market the next one.
Judith: You’ve had practice at delivering it, haven’t you? I think even with an online one you’ve got to run it under subscribed as well. You’ve got to run with whoever comes.
Nicola: In a way, it’s almost a better idea to make your first event completely free of charge, because you’ll get a lot of people who may or may not turn up, and you’d be surprised actually how many people who come to free of charge things turn into paying clients. You’re giving yourself a really good chance of getting a great pool of people in, your first bunch of people who give you testimonials, who give you case studies, who give you success stories, and then make it so much easier to do the next one which is paid.
Judith: I’ll tell you whenever anybody wants me to help them do this, I really don’t want to say to them, “getting bums on seats is the hardest thing you’ll ever do”. I don’t want to lay that down as a limiting belief or a fact, it isn’t a fact. You and I both know that we’ve run events with two hundred people in it and we’ve run them with two in it.
Nicola: And how much work did we do for that? We had to work our socks off to do that.
Judith: Exactly, to get two hundred people in the room you do. It took us three months, you did it once, and then I did it the next time. And I can remember where we were when you taught me how to do it the second time, but I love it. I suppose that’s the answer – you’ve got to love marketing; you’ve got to love the challenge.
The time I did it when we wanted two hundred, that morning when we left home there were one hundred and eighty six, and when we got to the venue, there were fourteen people standing outside wanting to come in who hadn’t pre-booked. I do know you can do it because we’ve done it, but, I think my key message is, you’ve got to run it with whoever comes at the beginning, and then a bit more and a bit more and a bit more and inch it up each time, and then in the end you’ve got a massive great big thing.
Nicola: I would say you’ve got to work ten times as hard as you think you’re going to in terms of, that’s a good timesing actually, in terms of sending out emails, in terms of mentioning it on Facebook, in terms of tweeting it, in terms of just … and most people initially, when they start out on their marketing journey, they’re very, very, reluctant to bother people, and to bug people, and to be banging on about the same thing all the time, but if you really want to get bums on seats, you’re going to have to bang your drum ten times harder than you think you’re going to have to.
Judith: What’s really interesting is in that sense it’s using a lot of words that begin with the letter B, and the word my clients always use is exactly the same, I don’t want to bombard people. But I learned something really interesting from a client, which I’ve been implementing ever since she told it to me, she said, “we asked one more time than we were comfortable with, and that was the one that we got a lot of traction with” so I always now ask myself, “have I asked them one more time than I’m comfortable with?”
Nicola: It’s similar to me not wanting to send out emails unless they’re going from my list host, isn’t it? I feel more vulnerable sending them from my personal email address. Just the final truth about organising events, and the thing is, if you know these fundamental truths about event organising it makes life a lot easier and you don’t feel quite so terrified about the whole thing. Half of your attendees will book in the last two weeks, so you have to have a structured way to encourage people to want to book earlier, and that works very well, but, as I say, be prepared to be banging your drum ten times harder than you think you should have to, or even want to.
Judith: I do remember once we ran an event that started at 9:00 in the morning andsomebody bought a ticket at 8:36 and walked around to the venue.
Nicola: I know, it’s bizarre, isn’t it? People don’t like to commit themselves, but if you know that half of the people are going to book in the last two weeks, and you’re going to have to work hard to get the other half to book in advance, it’s not so scary then, is it, if you know these things.
Judith: I though you were going to say shorter than that; I though you were going to say in the last two or three days.
Nicola: I’m usually on to thinking about the presentation by then, so the attentions at the last minute are rival. It’s a big scary thing, and it’s not so scary doing it online, and it can be done and it gets easier the more you do it, that’s for sure.
Judith: That’s the key message – keep doing it.