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The Secrets to Planning Powerhouse Events - Part 1

 

Events are powerful. Especially in today’s always-on, hypersocial, last millisecond universe, having tangible touchpoints where you and your partners come face-to-face and really dig in can be the difference between a good brand experience and a life-altering one -- or, even, a powerhouse brand and just another business. I know which I want to be.

Think about it. When you go to a Tony Robbins seminar or event, you feel it. The guy is electric. He’s larger than life. Just being there makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself -- it’s other-worldly, life-changing and totally, totally inspiring. If I attend something like that -- something that big and so fully charged -- I practically float out of the room. I’m inspired. I’m engaged. And I am ready to take action. That’s why he’s been enormously successful and continues to command as much power, respect and, above all, sales as he does -- because everyone who walks in the room leaves feeling exactly the same way.

And that’s powerful. That’s the stuff that not only builds brands, but catapults them into the next stratosphere. If you can achieve that -- not the scope and size, per se, but the energy, excitement and magnetism -- than you can move mountains. And selling your products and systems? Done and done.

Events are so powerful because events are tangible -- plain and simple. Events encourage and reward loyalty -- you get something real or conceptual simply by sitting down and leaning in. Events inspire newcomers and existing advocates to commit -- or recommit -- to your program by plunking down a few dollars and a chunk of time, all in the name of elevating their experiences.

And, done right, you will make money -- lots of money -- on the event itself, as well as on the powerful, profitable ripple effect that ensues. What’s not to love?

Events, in short, can be that a ha moment for you and your clients. They can be the thing that catapults you, your business and your brand to new heights, no matter where you are in your professional journey.

That said, a few things to get out of the way. For starters, “event” is a term I’m using fairly loosely. You can have an event with 10 people and still move mountains -- or you have pack thousands into an auditorium. You can have an event without an enormous budget -- you could even host something in your home, office or, really, anywhere.

Or you can whisk attendees away to a remote locale for a powerhouse weekend they’ll never forget. As long as you and your audience are there and ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in, you’ve got the framework of a great event. The best part? You don’t even have to be an “event person” to excel at live programming -- you just need the right event strategies to make yours high value and highly successful.

And from there?

  1. Plan
  2. Promote
  3. Profit

Easy enough, right? Map your journey to a profitable, get the word out, and reap the benefits of your successful live event. Start here:

What am I trying to achieve?

You’ve mentally committed to hosting a live event -- it feels a bit like getting shot out of a canon, doesn’t it? Don’t get caught up in the self-doubt or second-guessing. Instead, focus on the key details that drove you to plan an event. Ask yourself why you’re doing this. What is the call-to-action and meaningful takeaway attendees will leave with? How do you see them growing as a direct result of attending your event? What’s tangible and what’s intangible?

It’s essential to determine your overarching goal and goal for attendees first -- when it comes to events, knowing where you want to land is essential to cultivating a comprehensive strategy to get from A to B. Think about what you’re actually selling and what, if you were a prospective ticket buyer, you’d want to gain from this high value interaction. And, from their, think about your beginning, middle and end goals. You want to, first, get them to request or buy a ticket to your event -- goal one. Then you want to engage them in your program and process -- goal two. Ultimately, you want to sell them a $1,000 program -- goal three.

A note about free vs. paid events

So that ticket they’re buying or requesting? That’s a big decision you’ll need to make upfront, once you’ve decided what you’re trying to achieve in your event programming. There are two ways events make money: ticket sales and product sales. There could be other revenue streams -- sponsor or speaker integration, for example, or post-event promotions -- but, typically, these are the two main buckets event planners focus on. The major perk? You have two opportunities to make serious money from your event -- and you don’t even have to employ both of those revenue streams to be successful. If you’re new to events, you may want to dip your toe in the water and try a free program first, with an emphasis on selling through your systems and solutions during the event and immediately after. Get people in seats, get them excited about you and your business, and drive them to buy

That said, free events do have one major challenge: drop off. If people don’t pay, they obviously don’t feel as invested in your event and are more likely to bail -- and that means visible empty seats come event day. Not ideal. To curb the drop off for free events, consider integrating an application process and “admitting” attendees to your program. You still aren’t charging them, but you are giving them a powerful sense of belonging -- they get to be here and, as a result, they’re more likely to feel committed today, tomorrow and down the road. And that’s extremely powerful from a conversion perspective -- they’ll show up, they’ll listen intently and, chances are, they’ll be primed to buy when the opportunity presents. This works particularly well with higher level programming, executive events and leadership seminars. These are the kind of people who want to feel chosen or exclusive, and this caters to that innate desire for greater value, self-worth and acknowledgement.

Other pro planners advocate integrating a seat deposit into their ticket request process. In order to get a “free” ticket, attendees need to pay a nominal amount -- let’s say $97. During the event you either give their seat deposits back if they show up, or offer them some high value exchange -- maybe it’s your entire program on a USB drive, that they can walk out with today. They’ve already invested the $97, and this is the spoils of that investment -- and it’s a very high value one. For them, the money’s spent -- it’s a sunk cost at this point. But that USB has endless value and, more often than not, they’ll opt for the promise of what’s in store over cash that’s long been spent.

Now SET A DATE (really…)

Got your goals and your attendees’ goals set? Decided on a fee -- or non-fee -- structure? This next step is critical. If you want to have an event, you need one very important thing above all else: you need a date. It sounds beyond intuitive, but I’ve seen countless people talk about their event, plan their event and take various steps to set the wheels in motion, but they never actually commit to a date. And guess what? Those events never ultimately happen.

There’s something incredibly powerful about setting a date. Things start happening. Deadlines are built. Details fall into place. Your brain acknowledges that this is happening, and gets you in gear. And, because the clock in continuously ticking, you force your hand on the rest -- you have to do something. You’ve got to get up and get this event going. It’s one of the things I love most about live events -- hard deadlines are one of the most powerful things in life! “Goals are dreams with deadlines.” If you’ve got sky-high ambitions, deadlines can and will be your best friend, especially in the events realm.

If no date leaps out at you, consider your marketplace. Thursdays are slow days for chiropractors, for example -- a Thursday seminar could make great sense if your core audience is chiropractors. Think about the peaks and lulls in your industry, be they seasonal, weekly or something in between. Also, be sure you’re noting all holidays -- checking your personal calendar isn’t enough. Consider, too, when last days of school fall, the popular graduation weeks, peak vacation times...these all fall under this umbrella as well. Chances are as you begin to weed out dates, the next few months will look shorter and shorter, and potential time slots will rise to the surface.

Still stumped? Do your homework, take a deep breath, and pick a date. If you’re new to events, set a date in the future -- far enough that you’ve got time to work through the details carefully and deliberately, but soon enough that you can’t, simply, but things off for another day. Funny thing about tomorrow -- there’s always another one waiting behind it, and it’s easier to just say tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow but never actually commit to today. Don’t give yourself that option. Pick a date, anchor yourself and put your planning wheels in motion -- give your dreams deadlines. Make them real, tangible goals you can reach out and touch. And then, get there.

Find a space for your event

You know why you’re doing this. You know how attendees will benefit. You have a date. You have some semblance of a plan. Now you need a SPACE. Lots goes into the search for a perfect space. Budget, of course -- what can you or can’t you afford? -- as well as identifying a spot that’s convenient for attendees and aligns with your brand persona and message. You wouldn’t present a personal coaching program in a parking lot, would you? Or a leadership system in a bar? Definitely not. Environment matters -- but that doesn’t mean environment has to break the bank, especially if you’re new to events. 

When choosing an event space, think about your prospective attendees -- their budgets, how much time they’ll be committing and the kinds of seminars and events they typically attend. High level entrepreneurs may want that fun, exotic beach locale. Make it a family getaway and time it right, and a whole separate breed of business leaders and dreamers may be that much more willing to jump on board. And  -- bonus! -- it’s elevated your event experience in a very big way. Even if you’re a launch with nothing tangible to sell -- no binders, no DVDs, no books -- hosting a successful event in an incredible spot will hands-down elevate and enhance your brand persona in a very big way, and that can spell serious short- and long-term success.

Planning something shorter-term -- maybe your event lasts just a day or a few hours, even? Keep it close to home and accessible for participants so they can get in, get the info and get out. Participants appreciate convenience -- we all have less time than ever, after all -- and will see this consideration as a plus to your system or service. You get me is what they’ll walk away saying, so it just makes sense to work together. Slam dunk!

[NOTE: This next piece could be a “content upgrade” -- maybe a downloadable PDF -- reader as to opt-in to get this -- great way to gain more subscribers]

All About AGENDAS

I get this question a lot -- what should my agenda include? Most of my events are three-day seminars and workshops designed to empower and elevate attendees’ entrepreneurial journeys. While my agendas vary based on the attendees and specifics of my event, I typically follow this format when building my agenda -- and, trust me, it works.

DAY ONE

Day one is all about the LOVE. If you’ve got a celebrity keynote, have him front-and-center, welcoming attendees and kicking off the weekend in style. This is the time for networking, for mixing and mingling, for cocktails and for purely enjoyable moments -- the live band, the giveaways, the high energy activities. Kick off your event on a super high note, and you’re setting yourself up for serious success over the next two days.

DAY TWO

The second day should focus on your flagship offer. What is it? How will attendees benefit? How will it all work? Ideally, deliver this critical information before lunch so people have time to mull things offer on their terms, and really begin to understand the value of what you’ve laid before them. They may want to find you at lunch and connect, or ask questions they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking in a group setting. Or they may want to consult with one another, and validate their enthusiasm and commitment. No matter the reason, pre-lunch has always been an incredibly important time and one I always deliver my most high value message.

DAY THREE

This is when outside speakers or other products and services tend to enter the mix. You’re through the meat and potatoes of the program. Everyone’s feeling the love. People are committing or are primed to buy. Day three closes things out and ensures everyone leaves on a high note. Offer ample time for questions -- both audience-generated and one-on-one -- and ample time for onsite purchases and registrations. While you can reach attendees once they leave, it’s infinitely easier to close the deal now, on site, when their minds are totally focused on the message and the offer you’ve just delivered.

I can’t emphasize this enough: there is so much money to be made in live events. Whether you’re a pro or just starting in events -- or just starting out with your brand, even -- you’ve got nothing but potential when it comes to hosting live programming. Not only is the profit unparalleled, but you also have a tremendous ability to transform lives through you’re programming -- and that’s beyond powerful. You’re selling something -- tickets, systems, solutions -- that will no doubt benefit attendees now and in the future. You are offering them an ability to take their lives, their businesses and their personal journeys to new heights -- all they have to do is walk through the door ready to be transformed.

Events are mechanisms for change. Unlike any other platform, you’re involving yourself directly in your customers’ and clients’ lives in a very real, very one-on-one way, and inspiring them to take that next step. It’s powerful, it’s palpable and it’s something I can help you dig into, with a complimentary strategy session. Click here to learn more, and together, we can help build a powerhouse event strategy for you and your business -- one that transforms, one that inspires and one that generates massive revenue for your brand now.

 

 

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