The Secret to High Event Turnout

by | Jan 14, 2020

We’ve been holding events at The Newsletter Pro for a while now, and after some imperfect attempts, we’ve finally found our rhythm. However, in hindsight, I think the events we struggled with were actually blessings in disguise. They taught me and my team what not to do in the future, and I’ve carried those lessons with me ever since. The first event we ever held, a marketing bootcamp, may have taught me the most! Needless to say, it didn’t go quite as planned.

The marketing bootcamps The Newsletter Pro held in the past were small training sessions that I personally hosted at my office in Boise. During each one, I spent two days teaching advanced sales, marketing, and operations tactics to entrepreneurs to help them grow smarter and faster than ever before. I focused on things I’d learned over the last 20 years of buying, selling, and growing businesses, and it was a blast to share my pitfalls and successes. Though we’re not holding bootcamps at The Newsletter Pro anymore, they were valuable for me and my clients and laid the groundwork for the exciting training and events we have coming up this year! 

An Uphill Battle

meetingSo, back to this first bootcamp. Since we only have 25 seats in my conference room, I thought filling chairs for that first bootcamp would be easy. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t. We tried to fill the room by sending a few emails and dropping a couple of mentions in our newsletter. We did pretty well on that front, but it didn’t look like we’d get the full 25 people, and I was frustrated with myself for not creating a better marketing strategy. The only thing left to do was to sit down with my team in the eleventh hour to brainstorm how to fill those last few seats. 

Before long, we realized we had enough time for just three things: making phone calls, sending emails, and inviting people who lived nearby via phone and direct mail. With that in mind, we created a script and started calling. Lo and behold, we filled the event, even though we never got the direct-mail portion of the marketing plan out the door. I was happy the event was full, but in the end I felt that the whole thing had taken too long and had been much, much more work for my team than it should have been. 

Take 2

take 2When it came time to sell seats for our next bootcamp, I was determined to focus on the marketing strategy right away and make sure we reached our goal without having to do extra work. This time, we took a 5-pronged multimedia marketing approach. 

First, we slotted inserts into our newsletters and mentioned the event several times throughout the content.

Second, we looked at our contacts, created a focused list of people to market to, and used Facebook ads to target as many of those people as possible. Our goal with that move wasn’t conversion; it was awareness. 

Third, we sent the same number of emails as last time.

Finally, we mailed a direct-mail letter and postcard. Shortly before we sent the sales letters out, we decided to make one change to the letter. As a fifth step, we added a fax-back form to see if we’d get any response. Shockingly, we got four clients to register via fax back!

With this 5-step strategy, we filled the 25 seats we had for that bootcamp and sold almost half of the tickets to the next one. 

Lessons Learned

lessonsThe campaign was a success, and we learned an important lesson: These days, it takes a full-on multimedia campaign to build a successful event turnout. You have to hit people up multiple times on multiple platforms to get them to convert. Had we just used emails again, we’d likely have struggled to fill the event, and I doubt anyone would have gone the extra mile to register for the third bootcamp. 

Another big takeaway for me was that even a fax — something that many would say is old-school and outdated — yielded 4 registrations. Clearly, it doesn’t matter how I (or you) feel about a particular communication method or media platform. What matters is how the prospect feels and how they respond.

I hope you learned a little something from this story. I certainly learned a lot by living it! If you want to take the next step up from reading my blog posts and actually see me in person to learn more about marketing, keep an eye on your inbox for my future trainings and events. 

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