At a time when Social Media and Internet Marketing are the buzzwords du jour, one business building strategy is working better than any other. The Live Event. It is the single most effective way to launch a seven-figure coaching or consulting business and quickly position yourself as an expert in your industry.
Social Media and Internet Marketing are a phenomenal way to gain exposure for your business – and for your live event. But, the live event transcends other delivery models with its unique ability to foster connection, interaction, and credibility. It allows you to connect with your audience, hold them in a controlled environment, and win their undivided attention.
We have always been passionate about live events and the magic you can create simply by bringing an empty ballroom to life. But, what really motivates us is how transformative the live event model can be. It has the ability to change lives – for the event host, the speakers, and the participants. For the last five years, we have helped entrepreneurs create highly charged sales environments where they can launch and sell products, services, and coaching. This is the reason we’re known as the premier event planners in our field. We built our referral-based business on a solid track record for delivering high dollar sales.
Our success rate is incredibly consistent because it is built on a simple five-step process that we know works. With the right systems in place, any entrepreneur, coach or consultant can launch a seven-figure business… in a weekend, via single live event. You don’t need a huge list or a massive room. You need a game plan.
Here are the five steps to put this model to work for you.
1. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
The first, and perhaps the most important, is to hire a professional event planner. Hiring an expert saves your resources and gives you time to focus on the two most important things leading into your event: marketing (putting “butts in seats”) and content (designed around your unique talents and message).
The right planner can make you money from the start. Here’s how: Most third party meeting and event planners take commission from vendors like the hotel, the AV company, the decorator, etc. Some make as much from commissions as they do from the fees they charge you. Think about it… if you were going to get a 10% kickback from the hotel on each room night sold, would you work hard to negotiate a $199 per night rate, or a $149 per night rate? In the age of Internet wholesalers, you want the lowest possible room rate to incentivize your participants to stay in the host hotel, and since it is you that is ultimately working hardest to fill those beds, you want to realize a reward for every ‘room night’ sold.
A good planner can also use volume buying to negotiate free room rental, upgrades and concessions that save you money (like reduced rate or ‘comped’ staff rooms), and liability-limiting terms (like paying based on profit margin for any shortfalls in rooms or food and beverage).
You also want to make sure your planner has experience planning the types of events you’re hosting. The atmosphere matters, the schedule matters, the rhythm of the event matters. Your planner needs to understand the ‘behind the scenes’ choreography of a live sales event.
Finally, you want to make sure there is a full disclosure on what the fees are going to be going in. Is the planner going to be charging you a flat rate, plus travel expenses so you know your fees are locked in well in advance – or an hourly rate, plus materials (meaning that the final fee may vary depending on hours expended)? Or, are they taking a cut of back end sales?
2. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
The next most important key for maximizing your revenue is setting realistic expectations of how many people will attend. The number you use as a marketing goal is not the same number you use as a planning goal. The difference is subtle, but important. For example, you don’t want your liability with the hotel to be based on your marketing goal of 250 people, if there is a chance you attract 200 people. Set your goals for big numbers, but book your venue based on a worst-case scenario.
Here are some general guidelines, based on our experience in the industry. For every 1000 people you have on your marketing list, you can expect approximately 10 attendees. This can vary based upon how aggressively you market to your list, how much you provide, how many previous buyers you have, how long have these people been on your list, and the geographic diversity of your list.
3. DESIGN A SENSIBLE TIMELINE
Plan your marketing, and market your plan. A good timeline for filling a live event (regardless of your target attendance) is a minimum of six months to promote your “signature” event. You’re also going to want to incorporate as many marketing vehicles as you can afford in the months leading up to your event; physical mailings, emails, price increases, bonuses for fast action, payment plans, preview tele-seminars, video marketing, social media, press releases, online advertising, contests, and more.
A current trend for filling live events is selling a product, and including the live event as a point-of-purchase bonus. This is a great marketing tool, as long as you remember – not everyone who receives a bonus ticket will attend the event. Take the time to design a registration method for tracking the gifted seats. We recommend attaching a small registration fee to the “free” ticket. Fifty to 100 dollars per ticket is enough. This is a token fee to claim your free space, and you refund the fee to the attendee upon registration.
Another top trend is hosting a “road tour” to fill your event. Plan several low cost, low liability half-day events in key markets, to allow people to get a taste of your message live. These are essentially mini live sales events.
4. DELIVER UNFORGETTABLE CONTENT
You need great content for your live event. Even if you borrow other concepts, your spin, your voice, and your delivery must be uniquely your own. It is your unique voice that drives the sale.
In many ways, these live events should be viewed as “Continuing Education for Entrepreneurs.” Entrepreneurs are coming to expand their knowledge base, fill the gaps, get motivated to take action, and avoid costly mistakes. The best way to establish your brand is to develop a unique value proposition that targets their points of pain, offers a solution, and ‘over delivers’ on content.
Ideally, your attendees should be able to leave your event, not buy a single thing, and go back to their business ready to use their newly acquired tools. Ideally, they’re also going home with your patented system. Your system can be as simple as a binder filled with printouts of your PowerPoint slides – as long as the slides are organized into a step-by-step system. This proprietary system is the hook for your marketing, the foundation of your content, and an extension of your unique brand.
5. SET THE STAGE FOR SALES
The last point is probably the most valuable; plan your content for the “ask.” The “ask” is the point in your program when you offer your attendees the opportunity to continue the learning process with you after the event. You present the opportunity, explain the benefits, and assuming you’ve done your job, they take you up on it.
An easy way to think about the sales act is to think of your event like a movie, a play, or a book. Whether you host a three or a four-day event, there are multiple acts within the program.
Act One is where you introduce yourself, tell your story, review your system, and tell them what they’re going to learn.
Act Two builds upon Act One with content – lots of content. Show them what you are teaching is complex, but achievable. This second act should show the audience they can achieve the success you have achieved. All it takes is time, dedication, and staying power.
Act Three is where you present your “ask,” or opportunity. Start with success stories of people who have followed your systems successfully, with one-on-one guidance from you. These success stories, or testimonials, will lead right into the “ask”. You are typically speaking to about twenty five percent of the room during this time. These are your core-buying units. Structure your “ask”, and what it is you are presenting to them, so you are speaking directly to that twenty five percent.
Act Four is for tying up loose ends, and giving the other seventy five percent of the people in the room the tools they need to implement what you’ve taught successfully.
These five tips are the cornerstones of designing an event that can change lives – yours and theirs. The live event is the best way to build a business, launch a brand, and position yourself as the preeminent expert in your field. We believe all entrepreneurs have a unique gift to share, and the live event is the most effective way to deliver that special gift. The added benefit is that along the way, you can launch YOUR own seven – figure business.
Blue Melnick, Sage Event Management
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