You need to have at least 500 people attend.
It should be a conference at a big hotel.
It needs to be in the summer.
Providing a meal is a must.
There has to be at least one high profile speaker.
It should be promoted six months in advance.
Yada yada yada. Does any of this sound familiar? These are all suggestions (demands even) I’ve heard or read from “experts” and newbies alike, about putting on an awesome live event. Here is the thing…
None of it is true. And I’m talking about live, physical events – not virtual.
Sure these scenarios can help – maybe. On the surface, it may appear these things are some kind of rules that should be followed to ensure success. They are not.
Live events can be extremely lucrative and go a long way in building your brand. Whether hosted by a corporation, small business, non-profit, or solopreneur, live events can add to the bottom line and serve as a catalyst for the coveted know-like-trust factor. That is if they’re done right.
Not just right, but strategically, beginning with the end in mind and with a plan to leverage the event(s) beyond its completion.
This is what I am doing for my own live event, a master class and workshop I’m doing on Feb. 20 in Ft. Worth, TX. It’s called “Make Your Side Gig Your Front Gig” and promises to be epic (and I’m not just saying that because “epic” sounds so impressive and has become a thing online…I’m saying it because that’s the kind of results I plan to deliver).
You entrepreneurs, part-time, full-time, and (seriously) aspiring in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area will want to join me. You especially want to join me if you want to stop trading hours/days/months for dollars, you know you’re awesome at what you do but your bank account does not reflect that, you desperately want more clarity surrounding your ideal client, brand, or how to price your offerings. You will get some of the same coaching and training I provide my private clients for a fraction of a fraction of the cost (yes I meant to say fraction twice).
Here are 7 things you can do to have a super successful live event:
1. Keep your costs low by choosing a low-cost venue.
No, your event does not have to be at a hotel. If you can negotiate a great rate, have some connections at the hotel, then great. Otherwise, expand your mind. Do you have a great community/amenities center in your sub-division? Typically, residents pay little-to-nothing to use this facility. The one in my own subdivision is only $150 along with a refundable $200 deposit for up to six hours. Or find someone with a great venue who is willing to either charge you on the back-end or split revenue with you, vs. charging you a rental fee up front (if at all). This is what I’m doing for my event in Ft. Worth. Keep in mind this tactic may not work with everyone. My collaboration partner sat in on one of my break-out sessions at a conference last year and was thoroughly impressed. He was familiar with my speaking, etc. There are restaurants with private rooms for which there is no charge, other than for food. That leads us to the next possibility…
2. Your live event does not to be big or extended. Go for short and sweet!
Often when we think of live events, we think major events with hundreds of people. We think conference, symposium, retreat. How about an executive round table? What about a luncheon or brunch? Of course there is the ever popular workshop or seminar. I understand that many entrepreneurs, experts, and connectors dream of hosting these mega conferences where hundreds, if not thousands of people come from near and far to adore them, invest in their products and programs, and tweet non-stop about what a a wonderful time they’re having (along with pictures and video of course). While that’s pretty darn cool, it’s not required for a profitable event. It’s not required to create buzz and grow your brand. If you have never done your event or helped plan a big event, I especially suggest you start small. Before you try to host a 3-4 day conference, try a more intimate luncheon or one-day boot camp. Less moving parts, less expense, still with great potential.
3. If your target audience is mostly, or includes millennials, Instagram should be part of your marketing strategy.
Do you know the percentage of Instagram users that are under the age of 35? Want to guess? Ok, ok I’ll tell you: 90%. Yes you read that right. The overwhelming majority of Instagram users are Millennials. If you’re looking to reach a younger audience, specifically 18-34, you should be leveraging “the Gram.”
4. Some old school marketing and promo still works like crazy.
Flyers and postcards, if done right, with great copy that resonates with your target audience, distributed strategically, can fill seats. Sure Facebook ads are sexy and cool (until you cannot get the targeting, image, copy, or Power Editor to work for you). You Tube videos are fun (until you need to edit them and that takes you a couple hours). Then there are those effective online sales funnels. I could go on. While these tools can generate some impressive results, they’ve also been known to crash and burn in the wrong hands. It’s harder to screw up a flyer, postcard, or making phone calls. These strategies can become even more effective when used with organizations vs. individuals. If you’re doing an event for realtors, there are only a ton of associations, networking groups, etc that serve realtors. Connect with and leverage those groups to promote your event.
5. Consider offering a series of events
This works better with workshops, seminars, and other one-day events. If you’ve done your research and/or conducted a similar event in the past, perhaps you should plan to do a series. You can do 3, 4, or 5 events that support the same theme or build upon each other. This can be an excellent way to build a relationship with your audience. They get to spend more time with you, so they get to know you better, possibly in a short period of time (a series of events in a month or quarter). You can package these events together for one great price, or give a discount for attending other events in the series. We know, in sales, it can take 7-10 touches/experiences before someone buys. A series of events is similar to a sales funnel. If you are much better speaking in person than via email, the series will be a lot more effective.
6. Consider using sponsors.
If you have something of value to offer – this is critical – leverage sponsors. If you have a really engaged audience, a big audience, access to the media, etc., you can attract sponsors. It’s another way to use OPM – other people’s money. This lowers (sometimes eliminates) your cost and may even boost your profit. It can also help you to make your attendees’ experience unforgettable! Bonus tip: allow extra planning time if using sponsors.
7. Get help…from the beginning
Ok folks, I cannot say this enough. You need help. You need help. You. need. help. Let me say that again. Ok, I won’t but want you to really get this. I added “from the beginning” because I don’t want you to begin planning the event, then three weeks (or three months in) you’re overwhelmed and going out of your mind. Then you think, “this is too much. I think I could use some help.” It will not be as easy to bring on someone at that point. You’ll have to take time to bring them up to speed, make sure they’re the right fit, and there is less room for error then if they end up being clueless. You don’t necessarily need a team. You don’t need an entourage. You just need solid, results-driven, in-sync-with-your-brand-and-audience help. That may be an assistant. It may be an events planner. It may be your spouse or a college intern. Whomever that person is, make sure they’re a good fit. If you’re new in business and don’t have a big budget, it’s ok. Wonderful results have been known to come from bootstrapping.
If you’re in the Dallas or Ft. Worth area, join us on Feb. 20 at 9:00 AM CST for Make Your Side Gig Your Front Gig. Learn more and register at www.sidegigtofrontgig.com Share with other visionary entrepreneurs and wanna-be entrepreneurs you know in the area.
You can also take advantage of a complimentary Wealthy Brand Discovery call here.