In this episode:
01:22 – Why run an event?
03:00 – Who will come to your event?
04:05 – Identifying your target audience
05:28 – The type of event you should run
07:19 – The planning phase
08:31 – A pre-event checklist
11:09 – Think about staging
13:18 – Getting the word out
16:49 – Ensuring quality recording
19:00 – Have some fun
19:25 – Keeping it low-impact
20:42 – Some of the challenges
22:54 – How to innovate for the next one
24:49 – What surveys are for
25:18 – Offering long-term value
26:41 – Time to take action
Access videos from all previous SuperFastBusiness Live events HERE
James Schramko here, welcome to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today’s episode is how to run your own live customer experience event.
Why would an online marketing business be talking about running a live event? Well, it’s an integral part of running an online business. You don’t have to look too far to see that many companies are doing this. Ontraport have their Ontrapalooza, Wistia have their Wistiafest, Infusionsoft have Infusioncon. So you’ll see that with any good online service you’re going to have an offline element, and the more that you can strengthen that, the better your brand in the marketplace.
So a live event is an opportunity to earn money and promote products for sure, however your event really should be a place where people can converse and exchange ideas, and it should have actionable information that they can go and plug into their business. It also should be a high-caliber event where people can learn things that they will not find about in other places or for quite some time.
In this episode, find out what goes into holding a great live event for your customers and the many benefits that you can gain from having one.
The benefits of running an event
Why run a live event? Well, it’s a chance for you and your people to meet up and socialize, and it helps retain people in your community. It generates a profit before, during and after, if you run it properly, and we’ll talk about how to do that in just a moment.
You can actually get an output from the event. In the case of my SuperFastBusiness live events, I actually record the sessions. You can actually offer that and sell them either as individual packages, DVDs, or the way that I prefer people to get their education, which is to put it inside a membership, where I can actually support and coach and nurture them, with checklists and frameworks.
It also attracts new people to your brand, because it is an event-based marketing activity. Now you’ll know from my previous podcasts that I’m a big fan of the subscription model, and not such a big fan of launch event marketing if that is your only model. But in this case a live event is just plugged on to the top of a subscription business and it feeds a subscription business. You’ll actually introduce new customers to your business, a good portion of them will actually take on a subscription so that they can be coached after the event.
And at the event, if you’re so inclined, you could actually make recommendations. You could sell something, you could offer affiliate promotions, you could have stalls or sponsorships where you can either get paid upfront or you can take a split on anything sold. Or, in combination with all that or just one or two elements of that, you could sell the idea that people should stick around in your community and come to next year’s event.
Who are they for?
So who are these events for? Typically, someone will come to an event if they want to learn what you know. So putting out podcasts and good content is a great way to help people understand what it is that you do. It’s also for people who want to replicate your success. It makes sense if they want to be able to do what you’re doing that they could come and learn it directly from you. So if you’re the expert in your field, and you run a live customer experience, then they’re going to get a concentrated, accelerated pathway to the results you’re getting.
It’s also for people who aren’t getting the success they want, and they want to invest in themselves and get a solution to speed that up. And it’s for people who want to spend money on a course that gets them somewhere. In fact, some companies even have a training budget and the employees are encouraged to go out and educate themselves at the top level in their field. So you might want to be marketing to associations and to industry bodies so that you can actually get known as being the benchmark course or event to attend in your industry.
Who you want there
So who should you attract to these events? I think it’s worth considering who you really want at your events, because the way that your market’s really going to dictate who you’re going to get. I like the following types of people, because they already have things in play. I like intermediate marketers, I like advanced marketers and I like hyper-advanced marketers.
The event that I run is best suited to someone with an intermediate to advanced level. And that’s deliberate, and that’s the kind of person that I get. The benefit, of course, is that I’m getting hundreds of people in a room who are already doing something. Now, it’s OK for startups to come, however a lot of the things we talk about are going to be pretty heavy concepts for them.
But there’s plenty of groups catering for brand-new startups, and if that’s your market, fine. I just find that that stuff’s a little bit tedious to talk about; very, very basic stuff, when I’d rather just get on with the business. So I cater for people in the intermediate to advanced segment.
The other thing is, if you are targeting absolute new people, then it’s going to open up the types of methods you might market. I’ve seen some people actually put on what they think might be a competitor event to mine, but then they advertise it in Groupon, and they’re attracting price buyers who probably are very unsophisticated, have no clue what’s going on and literally bought a ticket just because it was cheap. That’s bad targeting in my book.
The type of event
What type of event should you be running? Well, some people run events as a full on event company, and that’s great, and there’s always those people in the marketplace. But I’m not an event company, I’m an online business with coaching, websites, and search engine traffic services.
Now the industry-run events are often very boring and stuffy with a very commercial approach. You can really dull down the feel of an event. Some examples are they’re going to be really nitpicking over their venue overheads. They’re going to have it down to a fine art and a hardcore spreadsheet. They probably won’t offer catering and in many cases, not even tea or coffee. And they’ll be pumping sponsorships, they’ll be really trying to cram the halls with sponsors and selling packages and selling tables of 10.
So they’ll actually fill the room up with clutter. People are paying to be there who aren’t necessarily the type of person you want to rub shoulders with. In fact, they’re probably going to sell you something.
So think about the approach that you want. Your event does not have to be solely about the commerciality of running that particular event. It should be about the customer experience. Think about it as more of a long-term play. You should be able to give a good experience to the marketplace, and it shouldn’t cost you any money. In fact, you’ll probably make a profit if you do it right.
Running a lifestyle event like SuperFastBusiness Live each year is giving people a chance to have a little bit of fun. They get to eat meals which we provide, they surf, they get to cruise around in a summer atmosphere and enjoy a very relaxed schedule. For example, we start a little bit later, we finish a little bit earlier, and we have nice long breaks, and that is on purpose, it’s by design. It’s so that the couple of hundred people who are at an intermediate to advanced level can talk to each other and get the real power of the connection and the community when they do that.
The part where you plan
Let’s talk about planning your event. Take it one day at a time. It can be overwhelming if you want to run your own event, but I am pleased to say that I’m able to run my own event for several hundred people with minimal support just by using a checklist, and I’m about to go through that with you.
You will need to book your venue for your event. Set the date, and work on having the content that you want. When your booking is confirmed, you’ll probably be asked to make a deposit and sign contracts. So just read through that and make sure you’re comfortable with that risk. Then you can start selling tickets, and immediately get your venue costs back. Make sure you sell enough tickets to cover your costs. You need to know what your break-even point is. When you sell X number of tickets, your event is paid for.
Now in terms of scale, you could literally run an event for 2 or 3 people in a very small room at a hotel, which might cost you hundreds of dollars or a thousand dollars. It’s not a huge overhead. When you start running events in ballrooms with meals, then you’re going to be starting to talk tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands if you’re running an event for 1,500 people or 2,000 people. So pick your scale that is comfortable for your business.
Before the event
Here are a few things to do before the event: Come up with a theme for the event. What’s the message? What do you want to focus on? Work out what that is, because everything you do must be consistent with that. Anyone following along the SuperFastBusiness Live theme will get a feel that it is for intermediate and advanced, that it is about lifestyle, that it is a great way to combine a holiday with a business trip, that the power of the connections and the quality of the experts is really what makes the event.