A company event with a sold-out status is any event planner’s wildest dreams. Sometimes, it does happen; other times, the numbers fall short of expectation. While turnout isn’t always predictable, you can turn the odds in your favor by employing a few tried and proven marketing tips for selling more tickets.
1. Rely on Previous Event Attendees
Anyone in business management has heard of the saying, “80% of business comes from 20% of the clients.” This 80/20 rule is a good one to follow. Sure, you need to focus on recruiting new attendees, but more resources should be directed at current customers. Since they are already familiar with your brand, there is less lead nurturing required on your end.
So how do you convince previous attendees to return for subsequent events? One of the keys is to reward them and offer incentives exclusive to them alone. The simplest way to do this is through a discount on the tickets and giving them a chance to reserve their ticket early so that they’re practically guaranteed a spot.
It’s important that you give returning customers first dibs and a discount even more generous than any other offer you may provide, such as early bird sales. This gives returning guests the sense that their loyalty is acknowledged and appreciated.
2. Ask Your Sponsors for Help
It’s understandable if you’re hesitant about approaching your sponsors for help. They are, after all, the ones funding your event, so it may not appear to be a good first impression on your end. Remember, however, that sponsors benefit just as much from a successful event as you do since you are cross promoting their brand.
Also, keep in mind that your sponsors are more established than you are, hence why you are turning to them for funding and not the other way around. As such, they likely have a bigger following than you do. That is a whole field of untapped consumers.
Get your sponsors involved and help them help you by extending any offers and deals to your sponsors’ followers that you offer to your own customers. If your sponsors are active in any online groups on social media or discussion forums, have them introduce you as a new member so you can promote your event.
3. Ask Your Own Customers for Help
Just as you should ask sponsors for help, you shouldn’t also be shy about asking your own customer base to lend you a hand. Businesses actually do this all the time. The way to get people involved is by incentivizing them for their efforts, which is normally done through some sort of tiered referral program. Here is what a referral system may look like:
- 3 referrals – free ticket
- 5 referrals – two free tickets
- 10 referrals – free six month company membership, or upgrade to platinum membership if they’re already a member
- 20 referrals – free ticket for all events for the next five years
By having a tiered system with rewards proportional to the number of referrals, customers have a goal to shoot for.
4. Have Multiple Ticket Options
When people turn down your event, it’s usually due to time constraints and not because they’re not interested. Customers may also not feel inclined to buy a ticket at full price when they just want to attend for a single presentation or workshop. To make it worthwhile for these people, offer ticket options that make attending possible. If the event is over the weekend, then consider creating a cheaper ticket that is only good for one day, or a ticket that’s good for a single lecture or workshop.
Here’s another idea: create online access for those who can’t attend in person. For a small payment, allow people to access the main presentation or conference via live stream.
5. Create Social Media Contests
You are way underutilizing social media if all you’re doing is sending out a few posts. Get creative and host some form of social network contest with prizes (such as a free ticket or two) as giveaways. The whole contest itself serves as an interactive form of promotion that gets word-of-mouth spreading much faster than a tweet or Facebook post.
You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to social media contests. One great and fairly simple idea is a selfie photo shop contest. Have participants take a selfie (or use an existing one) and edit the image someway by adding your company and event logo in the pic. Reward points for creativity, which may include the use of speech bubbles, captions, annotations, etc. Be sure to provide some sort of consolation prize to participants, such as a discount or promotional t-shirt.
6. Create Anticipation Through a “Pre-Event Event”
What is a pre-event event? It’s simply a smaller event held days before the main event. This can be a small get-together to get people excited about the event that is just days away. This may just be the deciding factor for those who are still on the fences about attending.
So what do you provide at a pre-event event? For the most part, it could consist of what the main event will include, just at a much smaller scale. Guests can be served light refreshments and have the opportunity to hear from a speaker who will be at the event. Essentially, this miniature event, for the lack of a better term, provides a snippet of what’s to come, and people will have to attend the big event if they want to reap the whole benefit.
Ideally, the pre-event event should be scheduled a week or two before the big one. If you don’t anticipate a big turnout or if it’s just not feasible, then you may elect to have the small event online through a live stream. In this instance, it will just be a speaker or two providing a sneak peek.
7. Use the Scarcity Tactic
The scarcity trick is a great way to sell last minute tickets. About a week or two before the event, evoke a sense of urgency that NOW is the time to secure your ticket if you haven’t already because only a few left remain.
You can even install a widget on the event’s main home page with a ticker that displays the remaining number of tickets left. The number will drop whenever a ticket is sold. A widget displaying a timer can also be added when providing a limited-time special offer.
The ticker will show the time remaining before the offer ends and the tickets return to normal price. What this does is that it creates a sense of urgency, thus propelling customers to act now before they miss out on their chance.
Don’t Over Think It
Yes, selling tickets does require a smart approach, but the implementation is really quite simple. There is no need to think too deeply into it. Just put the ideas into practice and let the result take care of itself.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Ultimate Experience, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.