How To Fill Your Live Events

In the latest episode of the Rocket Cast, Nick James – of the Bums-on-Seats Boot-camp – are talking about the ins-and-outs of how to approach, organise and market your live events to get the best out of it.

How do you gather leads, convert them to attend the event and what is the right time frame to properly market your live event? All of these questions get answered in this podcast!

With a Live Event you are committing your face and reputation to a live audience, so you need to know that your business gets put on the map – for the right reasons.

e lessons in my events and other peoples events as well.

James: Yeah.

Nick: So I think I’ve learnt more probably in the past 12-months working with people closely like you, on the events specifically, before it was more generic, business sales and marketing, mentoring and education – now it’s events specific. I’ve learnt more in the last 12-months than I probably did in the last 7-or-8 years of running my own events because I’ve been working on so many projects – it’s been really exciting.

James: Good, good – last couple of questions are from Pankaj Chuklah – Pankaj is saying about joint ventures – obviously this will vary on different events but;

“Who would be getting more people into the room – advertising or joint venture partners?”

Nick: Good question. For me – you’re speaking to somebody here who built their entire business from scratch 8 years ago on joint ventures, so I’m very romantic about joint ventures and obsessive about that as a strategy and the ‘main’ reason I love it is because it’s built on relationships and I think all business is built on strong, solid, good-quality relationships.

So I’ve built everything on the strength of these joint ventures. I have bias to that – it isn’t always healthy – it’s just because it’s my skill set. Something I’ve always been good at is building relationships and connecting with people and – clearly because that’s the skill that I possess – that’s going to be the thing that I default to most. So I’m probably ‘over’-biased on joint ventures as my strategy of choice to grow my business, get leads and fill rooms.

Advertising – running Facebook Ads, running other ads – we do that as well. Percentage wise – I’m picking figures out of thin air but, I would suspect, no-more than 20%-30% of our leads, customers and event attendees will come from our advertising – paid advertising – a lot of it will come from joint ventures. But bear in mind that’s from good-will and equity that’s been built up over 8 years – so if you’re looking to get into the event business, the quickest way to crack into it is to get straight in to the advertising, because joint-ventures are a long-term game, their not *click* quick-fix, make a phone-call, get a joint-venture lined-up, get the mail out and get the tickets sold in the next few days; it’s a long term game – as you know, James, over the last few months with your events.

James: Yeah.

Nick: Obviously if you have an event where you’ve got certain people speaking, like you do, you know like certain people that have high profile and have audiences they can introduce you and your event to – you’re probably going to be more reliant upon joint-ventures – if you’ve got that. if you’re an event that it’s you only – like I do with the Bums-on-Seats Bootcamp, where it’s just me – then obviously you’re less able to rely on other speakers to promote for you.

I still get a good quality, on-vine of leads from joint-ventures because I’ve built them up over time – but we’re always testing; always investing money in advertising as well. That way you’re solely responsible for the result, where-as if you’re relying on joint-ventures to always fill the room for you – that’s not healthy, I don’t think.

James: Cool, good answer. Now obviously you run lots of different funnels in your business, because you’re testing stuff, but;

“What would be a typical Sales Funnel to buy a ticket? Obviously there’s different types of events, but what funnel do you think people to focus on first?”

Nick: Good question – well I say good question but, in my head I’m going ‘that’s the wrong question really’ because the right question is – well the it’s not the funnel that makes the sale, necessarily, now the funnel is important, but then, you can have the best funnel in the world, but if your concept for the event is … can I swear on this?

James: Yep *laughs*

Nick: If you’re concept is a sack of shit, no-ones gonna buy a ticket – doesn’t matter how good your funnel is. Again, I’m kind going into deep content here but if the angle you’ve got for your event – the thing that makes your event stand out or doesn’t, for that matter – is a sack of shit, you’re not gonna sell any tickets.
The first thing I talked to people about is having a unique angle – it was the first conversation we had James when we came up with the Traffic & Lead Gen Bootcamp – there are so many events happening all-the-time; why would someone spend their time and their money coming to yours rather than somebody else’s? It’s not about having the best funnel, although that’s important – to convert well. It’s about having that angle in the first place that makes people go ‘that’s important and that’s something I’m going to spend my time and money going to and learning’.

That’s why when I formed this business in July of last year, I went; ‘what’s the thing that A, that thing that people want to learn most from me, and B, What’s the thing I’m best at and love most? For me it was filling rooms and running events. That was why I focused in on that things specifically. If I went ‘okay I’m going to cover general business growth/marketing/sales’, would I have done as well? Maybe? I don’t think so – I really don’t.

I strongly believe that the success that I have had these last 6 months with this new business has come from this speciality; this niche, this area of expertise I focused on. So having the angle first, that’s the first thing you’ve got to get right. Something that’s just special about the event, rather than it just being ‘me too’ kind of stuff.

Now we can talk about the funnel or we can talk about the process of capturing the leads and converting them into sales. At a high level, sending people to ‘a’ sales page to buy a ticket for an event just doesn’t work anymore or, at least, doesn’t work as effectively as it once did – so I’m very strongly of the opinion you have to do whatever you can to capture the lead first – this is marketing 101; capture the lead then try and convert and follow-up.

Especially with events – more so than anything – more so than with any other product or service that you can sell online – events are a slow burn. You can build up an audience – coming back to Jody’s question of how many people you need in your audience before you can fill a room. You can build a great big audience, but I don’t care how big your audience is – first if you haven’t got a good angle for the event, it’s not gonna work but even if you do, it’s a slow burn – it’s not that common that you’ll sell a truck-load of tickets on day 01.

Because when you announce the dates for the event, and put them on sale and things like that – some people will be early adopters and they’ll go straight in and they’ll buy – most people will be like ‘great, now I know the dates, now I know where it is, now I know what it’s about – yeah I’d like to attend but now I need to go and arrange child care, speak to my spouse or business partner, travel, accommodation blah-blah-blah-blah; all of that stuff, right?

James: Yeah.

Nick: It takes time – so generally speaking it is a slow-burner and that’s why it’s so important to have that first step in the funnel – capture the leads, get the people who are interested and follow-up in every-which-way necessary. Capture the lead – present them with the offer, of course, put some urgency in the email that’s really really important. Then from that there should follow-up like crazy with – well, if you’ve ever expressed any interest in our events then there’s follow-up via email, SMS, telesales, sometimes direct mail, webinars; you name it – we have lots and lots of bites of the cherry.

And their not all hardcore ‘buy-from-us’ messages, a lot of them are ‘hey you know what? He’s a video you might find useful’ or ‘hey come on this webinar, learn some cool stuff’ and then of the back of we go ‘by the way, we’re going to talk to you more about this at our next event’ – we give them all the details and we give them offer.

So I think it’s not necessarily about having one, slick funnel – it’s about having the philosophy of having a strong angle for the event, capture the leads and then consistently provide value to those leads over time and provide urgency about the great offer.

My final bit of advice, which compliments that, about multi-media – if you’re relying upon email marketing solely – I’m not saying you’re going to fail – but you’re going to struggle if you’re relying on email marketing. It’s so difficult now. Email rates are going through the floor. If you’re going to successful filling events you cannot be a one-trick pony of sending out emails, to a sales page to sell tickets. You have to be better than that.

By the way, I love the fact that people are lazy and just going for email marketing to a sales page, because they struggle and it makes me look really good because I’m able to fill an event with 800 people because I’ve got telesales, SMS, webinar, direct mail, you name it – all the extras – and it means because I go the extra mile, I get better results than everyone else.

James: Yeah, cool, good – last question. Pankaj is asking;

“What’s a typical cost to put a bum on a seat in the current market?”

Obviously depends on who the speakers are, but I know it seems like another ‘how longs a piece of string’ question, but what sort of averages are you seeing across you’re clients?

Nick: Well I mean, again, it is a bit of a how ‘long is a piece of string’ question because the cost could be zero if you’ve already got a crazy loyal community of people who you engage with and love you. It’s not gonna cost you anything because you’ve already spent the money to build the community and you literally market to them and fill the room. It costs you zero – obviously you’ve got the cost of running the event but that’s a different question.

Versus having none of that and you’ve got to go out and do the marketing – and it’ll vary because it depends upon how many people you want to put in the room, how much a ticket costs – all that. But I do want to give Pankaj something that resembles an answer to the question.

So, for example, we run lots of different types of events for ourselves and with our clients – let’s say you doing a relatively low-cost event … let’s just use the example we said before; you want to put 100 people in the room, and it’s a £100 a ticket. So if you’re going to put 100 people in the room at a 100 quid a ticket, how much is it going to cost you to do that – assuming you’ve got no community, you’ve got no database, you’ve got no joint-ventures lined up cause obviouslyy joint-ventures and using the own list; it isn’t gonna cost you a lot to do that – but assuming you’re talking marketing spend on like Facebook Ads and stuff like that.

My goal is usually just to break even. Normally. Like if I can spend £100 a ticket, and I can spend £100 per ticket to get those people in the room I’m going to be happy because – as you know James – there are 9 different ways you can monetise and generate revenue and profit from an event and only 1 of them is ticket sales.

You’ve got 8 other ways to make that event pay – so if you can just get people in the room at break-even or better – you’ve got 8 other ways to monetise that event. That said, if you’re goung for a low numbers, high-price – for 2,000-3,000 pound a ticket with a low number of people in the room, let’s say – then the dynamics of the event change completely.

But generally speaking if you’re using events as a front-end, entry-level offering – if you can break even on that front-end you’re doing something right, you’re doing okay – and if you can make a profit on that front-end you’re doing even better.

James: Sounds good – perfect – well, thank you for your time today.

Nick: Nice one.

James: Good answers – interesting for me as well, because I’m running events now so it’s really good to get other peoples because sometimes I don’t have all the questions so good to see those. You’ve got an event coming yourself, you not only helping people like me putting on events you’re putting on your own events which keeps you guys very, very busy – so do you want to tell us little bit about the event that you’ve got coming up in the next few weeks?

Nick: Yeah sure-sure, so well first-and-foremost, yes, of course I run events … again – can I get a little rant-ty on you? The thing that really pisses me off in our industry that there are people – not naming names – but there are people that theorists – they don’t practice what they preach.

For me to be able to deliver the best answers to questions like I have today, or the best content at my events, or the best content and advice to my clients I have to be practicing it; I have to be doing it.

So we’re running our flagship event which got coming up in a few weeks called our Bums-on-Seats Bootcamp. We run those fairly regularly – about 3 time a year we do those – and their always fresh and always new because I’m always testing out new things and bringing in that content; those learnings to the table at those events. So yes, of course, I run events.

We run 3 events where we teach you to how to do events, but we also have 1 event where it has nothing to do with that whatsoever because I also think you should practice what you preach outside of just teaching it, and just selling what you teach and teaching what you sell, if that makes sense?

James: Yeah.

Nick: So yeah we do Bums-on-Seats Bootcamp a few times a year – it’s a three day event where we go into massive detail on all the pieces – we talked about a couple of things like how do you get an angle for your event, what’s the funnel look like, how do you capture the leads, how do you get people to buy tickets, how do you maximise attendance in the room and how do you maximise revenue & profit from the event – all that stuff; we’ve got 3-days worth. It used to be 2 it’s now 3 but I just couldn’t fit all the stuff that I know into 2 days. So it’s a 3-day event.

The next we’ve got coming up is 13th to 15th of May, and it’s Central London, Holiday Inn, Gloomsbury and if you guys want to come along I’d love to have you there. We’ve got a special offer running for Rocket Marketing Hub community – tickets are £300 for a general, and £500 quid for a VIP – but for you guys we’ve got a significantly discount – £97 for a general and £197 for a VIP. You can go check out all the details, I can’t possibly give you everything we’re going to cover at that bootcamp in May – I cannot possible explain it now – so get along to and the rocket bit is where you get the discount and there you’ll get all the details.

James: I’ll put that link below the video as well, so people can check it out. Just as a testimonial for Nick – my event would never have happened if I hadn’t had gone to the Bums on Seats Bootcamp, so, if you are going – not just to get Nicks content alone, but it’s really good to be a room with other people that are eager to put on their own live events.

Nick: Joint ventures, man! You’ve got like 100-200 people in a room going ‘I want to run events’ and they’ve got databases and contacts that are ideal – I know that you’ve been to our events James and sourced joint venture partners and potential speakers for you events. So that’s a side-benefit – a very big one of course – and, yeah, I like to think the content is pretty good as well.

James: So I highly suggest you guys check that out – Nick, thanks to your time again; really appreciate it.

Nick: I always enjoy it and I look forward to attending you event in June!

James: Thanks a lot Nick, Bye!

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