When I worked at E-Web Marketing, my first event marketing assignment was to fill up two seminars full of people interested in online event marketing. One of the seminars was to be in Sydney, and the other was to be in Melbourne. The rooms could each hold 200 people. E-Web Marketing had booked the two rooms, but so far only two people had registered for the first seminar and ten people for the second seminar. Gulp.
Gary Ng (E-Web Marketing’s CEO) asked me whether I thought I could fill up the rooms.
“Of course,” I said.
Five minutes later, I realised the enormity of this task.
The first seminar was in Melbourne, starting in ten days.
And the clock was ticking.
How was I going to do event marketing and get the first 200 people to pay $47 and turn up for our seminar?
When your back is against the wall like this, you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. This seminar had to succeed!
The first thing I did was get a whiteboard and write up two numbers: Melbourne (2) and Sydney (10).
And then I thought, “It is going to be too hard to fill up Melbourne. For Sydney, I have three weeks for event marketing so I think I have a better chance, but Melbourne is too hard.”
I went to Gary and recommended we cancel Melbourne and just focus on Sydney.
Well. Was that a mistake or what?
“Melbourne’s already paid for and it’s an important first test so we can get Sydney right. If we give up in Melbourne, it’s a domino effect. We’re saying that failure is okay. Melbourne’s going ahead. Do whatever you need to fill the room.”
Phew. As Gene Kranz said in Apollo 13: “Failure is not an option.”
I went back to my desk, took a deep breath, and pondered how I would do this.
All of these negative thoughts started coming up for me. Was I good enough to do this gig? Did I oversell myself? What if I failed?
At this time, I had a lightbulb go off in my head. I remembered a book I read a few years ago. This legendary book was written by Frank Pacetta, and it was called Don’t Fire Them, Fire Them Up.
Essentially, the book was about sales management, and how Pacetta took over the worst performing district in Xerox and turned it into the best within twelve months, without firing any staff. The crux of the story was that he set higher expectations, didn’t take any excuses, and celebrated every sale by ringing the bell.
If it worked for Pacetta in the early ’90s, then it could work for me here.
There was no point being miserable anymore; I had two rooms to fill and not a lot of time to do event marketing.
I added my email address to the form alert so I would get notified every time we made a sale. Anytime we made a sale, the “dong” was to be rung. No exceptions.
And then I thought, “What are all of the cheap, fast, and easy event marketing strategies we can get people registered? How can we get this dong ringing quickly?”
- We could email our customer list (even though nearly all of them were in Sydney, maybe they had friends in Melbourne).
- All staff could write Facebook and LinkedIn posts to their connections—we had forty staff, so if everyone blasted at the same time, that could help, surely.
I found an affiliate broker who agreed to let us mail to its business database.
We had a friend at a widely read business blog, who agreed to write up an article about our event and share a link.
In short—we tried stuff! Lots of event marketing strategies. Many things we tried failed. The blog link sent no traffic and the social media posts were marginal. But the other tactics actually worked…and we got the rooms filled. Watson’s theory of success rang true!
Now with a lot more experience, I would have filled the rooms a lot differently and with significantly less stress, but that’s not the point.
The point is, even though we had to get down and dirty, we got the job done. The website wasn’t pretty. The payments went through PayPal and we manually had to cross-check registrations to payments. The Google Analytics tracking was playing up.
I mean, there were so many mistakes, and if I did that today, I would be embarrassed, but you know what?
We got the rooms filled.
That’s my message for this article: There are many different ways to launch a campaign.
- You can do a webinar launch
- You can run a four-video Jeff Walker style launch
- You can launch through social media
- You can launch using PR and traditional media
- The sky is the limit.
I’m including strategies and case studies of each of these launches below.
Again, the way you launch using event marketing is not that important. What is most important is to have the mindset of “Failure is not an option” and do whatever it takes to be successful. Once you have that mindset, nothing can stop you.
How to do your event marketing launch if you have no budget, no list, and no product
So by now, you have your niche selected and a name for your product. But if you’ve got no customer list, your product isn’t built yet, and of course, there’s no budget to promote it, so what should you do next?
I’ve been there and I’ve felt that pain. The good news is that I’ve discovered a way to pull this off. Although there is a caveat. This type of launch isn’t going to be a million dollar launch, unfortunately! But at least you will make some revenue and validate that your product idea works. Then with the revenue you make, you can start to re-invest that budget and take it further.
This type of launch works best for information products, where you are sharing your expertise. I did this a while back when I launched our E-Web online training portal. We wondered whether if we put all of our training videos up in a portal, would there be a starving crowd to buy it?
Here are the steps I took:
I compiled a list of everyone who had subscribed to our email newsletter. (Note: If you don’t have a list, go to your LinkedIn and export anyone who looks like he or she could be interested. Also look through any old business cards you have, your Facebook friends, your mobile phone contacts, anyone who could be interested. Don’t be shy here; you need to scrape and scrounge every possible chance for making a sale! It’s perfectly okay to email your personal contacts once to let them know what you’re up to. Any more than that gets annoying.)
I secured the right to blast an affiliate’s email database to get more signups. If you can find someone who has an email list with your ideal types of clients, then you can also do this event marketing strategy. See Chapter 6 for a whole chapter devoted to this topic.
I then emailed people from these two sources with the pre-launch offer, inviting them to a free webinar. The webinar is all good content for fifty-five minutes and a five-minute offer at the end. The offer I made was a five-week online training course, in which I deliver five live webinars with Q&A at the end. The price I charged was $997. They would also get full access to any future training videos.
Five hundred people attended and eight people bought. Not the greatest conversion rate in the world, but not the worst either.
I spent about forty hours on this whole project, including delivering the training. Total revenue was $7,976, which is $199/hour. Not bad. Again, could be better but not the worst either.
The good news is I recorded the five training calls, so now I can also give them away as a bonus when we do other launches.
As you can see, this was a very valid strategy and an easy way to get started.
Since running this first webinar, I’ve gone on to run dozens of webinars, and I’ve sold products by the bucket load through webinars. In fact, for one client’s webinar, I managed to get 8,000 people registered—enough people to fill up a stadium! It was so many people that it actually crashed the server—some would say that’s a high quality problem.
How a Business Coach sold-out a multi-million dollar training event without any paid advertising
Eben Pagan recently executed one of the best launches I have seen. He sold out a $10,000 ticket training event using just online marketing and without any paid advertising. Most people struggle to fill up any type of paid event without a telephone sales team. Eben filled a room of 400 people. Pretty amazing! Here’s how he did it:
Over a two-week period, he blasted out four videos (one every four days). All of the email marketing goes to one mega launch page.
In Video 1, Eben shared some great content about productivity. He then encouraged viewers to download a PDF report and some exercises about productivity. And here’s the brilliant part. The hardest thing to do with these launches is to keep people engaged. Eben achieved this engagement by creating a competition. The competition gave viewers the chance to win a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or an iPad mini, just by submitting the exercises through social media.
This idea was brilliant for three reasons:
- People actually stayed engaged through the launch to see whether they had won.
- People actually did the work, got a good result in advance, and were more likely to think Eben was a brilliant teacher so they wanted to register for the event.
- People were sharing their homework on social media and it got spread out to all of their fans—more social proof and virality.
Eben emailed the list three times about Video 1—one initial email and two reminder emails to participate. In fact, he sent out around thirty emails promoting this launch to his list. Some may say that is excessive, but others would say, “Model what works!”
Then came Video 2, which revealed content about marketing. Again, Eben provided a PDF report, exercises, and a competition. This time, he sent one email to start and one reminder email.
The topic of Video 3 was hiring superstars and “A-grade” players. Again, the report and exercises and competition formula. Again, one email to start and two reminder emails.
And finally, we get to Video 4, which was a sales video, followed by a live webinar. There were three emails to remind about the webinar and one email to launch the “early bird” cart. The sales video went for one hour and went into immense detail about what you would get at the training event.
If you were on Eben’s email list at the time, you couldn’t complain about not knowing the event was coming…. He sent twelve more follow-up emails over nine days. The “Early bird” cart to register for the training event was open for seven days and offered 50 percent off the training. An early bird cart is a great way to give an event marketing discount without it seeming to devalue your offering.
How Eben was able to get massive affiliates on board using event marketing
Eben also got massive affiliates on board. He’s been in the industry a long time and has great personal connections. Another reason he got a lot of affiliates on board is because of hard work! His affiliate managers attend many marketing conferences, and they network well and make new connections. He built a dedicated affiliate site and gave his affiliates all the details (swipe copy to send to their list, dates and times for each blast).
To get people on board as an affiliate, it’s very helpful if you can demonstrate past performance of product launches and if you have awesome prizes. Prizes make affiliates fight hard to sell your product. Eben’s top five affiliates got a MacBook Pro. The top ten got iPads. All along, Eben kept the leaderboard tally public, so as the affiliates went along, they had a push to get them a top spot.
The top person got a $50,000 cash prize. The second person got a $25,000 cash prize. And here’s the kicker—anyone who mailed all three mailings for pre-launch videos got double the prize—that’s $100,000 as the top prize. There were two contests: a lead contest and a sales contest. One contest to see how many leads you could deliver, and one contest to see how many sales you could deliver.
With all of these incentives, it’s no wonder the affiliates were so hungry to mail.
In Chapter 6 of my book Feed A Starving Crowd, I show you how to contact these affiliates in the best way possible, but for now, just write down your list. (Note: you can get a free copy of the book at feedastarvingcrowd.com)
How an online membership site did $100,000 launch through Facebook posts only
This is a great story about two young guys, Jared Hopping (twenty-three years old) and Brett Cosgriff (twenty-five years old). These guys had an uncanny knack of being brilliant tipsters for sporting events. As an example, they were able to pick the most valuable player for the Australian Rules football grand finale a full two weeks before the game. They created a Facebook page and got 9,000 Likes in just two weeks.
Sensing an opportunity here, the two men then contacted entrepreneurs Nathan Rothschild and Jonathan Weinstock to turn their sports tipping skills into a proper business. And “MVP Genius” was born.
For two weeks before the launch of the business, they continually posted Facebook messages with great sporting tips and general hype-building. And then it came to launch day. Would this business be a “green-light” or would it be a whimpering failure? People loved their free tips, but would they be prepared to pay for them? Only one way to find out.
They hit the “go” button on launch. And held their breath.
In the first forty-five minutes, they sold seventeen annual packages at $699 each. In the first two days, they sold $50,000 of advice, and by the end of the launch, they hit $100,000 in revenue. Not bad for a few Facebook posts!
Note—their first website was awful! And they still managed to hit $100,000 in revenue. Goes to show you—if you’re selling something that people want, you can do well, in spite of having an ugly website.
This was a great campaign that demonstrates how to feed a starving crowd through social media.
PR Launch: How a brand new e-commerce site got 2.6 million visitors in 24 hours using only PR and no advertising using event marketing
Imagine getting 2.6 million visitors to your site in twenty-four hours. Actually, those numbers are so staggering they’re hard to fathom. It’s like all the adults in a major city going to your website at the same time.
That’s what happened to Click Frenzy: Australia’s answer to online shopping. The twenty-four-hour online sales event first took place on November 20, 2012. Click Frenzy gained an extraordinary level of attention across all facets of media—television, radio, print, and online publications—both in Australia and overseas.
According to Media Monitors, the campaign received 900+ mentions in the media. Every major newspaper, TV station, radio station, and online business blog reported the story.
Initially, the media hype centered on the new “mega sale” concept, which had never been seen in the Australian online shopping landscape. Click Frenzy is modeled closely on the U.S.’s successful Cyber Monday event, which was launched in 2006 by the American ecommerce industry as a way for online retailers to capitalise on the Thanksgiving holiday Black Friday phenomenon. Black Friday (following the Thanksgiving Day feast on the fourth Thursday in November) is the biggest retail sales day on the U.S. calendar. Now, Cyber Monday (following that weekend) is the biggest online sales event in the U.S., growing explosively every year.
The consumer hunger for Click Frenzy was so intense it caused website crashes for some of the participating retailers, including the Click Frenzy site. How unlucky is that? So many people hit the website that it crashed….
The site infrastructure was unable to handle the high volume of site visitors logging into the site at the same time. Despite the technical glitches, though, many of the retailers participating in the event overcame the initial performance woes and registered record online sales figures. The below table quantifies Click Frenzy’s staggering traffic volumes during the initial twenty-four-hour period.
Deconstructing the PR event marketing campaign
The Click Frenzy event marketing campaign really took hold when the Australian mainstream television and print media got behind the story. Channel Nine’s A Current Affair was the first to include an exclusive feature on Click Frenzy. An “exclusive” is always attractive to journalists because they know they’re being given unique, juicy content that won’t be available anywhere else. While other media publications had been covering the story, A Current Affair was given access to the backend site before the event began, so it was able to share with its viewers “sneak peek” deals in readiness for the sales event. A similar strategy was used with newspaper and online publications across Australia with a separate array of deals shared. The producers and editors of these news outlets recognised the Australian consumer’s appetite for a bargain.
The production of these media features was the tip of the iceberg. What followed was media publicity on steroids. Just about every media outlet in Australia was covering the story, from technology outlets to niche marketing and business news companies; they all had their angles on Click Frenzy. Some marvelled at the concept, while other “experts” predicted the technology hitches. Press releases were sent out to the huge media database that continued to grow as attention for the event did. A substantial media contact list had been created by the PR manager in the lead-up to the event, and it continued to grow as more media outlets contacted the company. The Click Frenzy website also included a press section where media kits and contact details were accessible for journalists and editors.
The anatomy of the press releases included background information on the Click Frenzy idea—inspiration, goals, and targets, as well as testimonials from participating retailers and business leaders in the retail and ecommerce space. Participating retailers or “ambassadors” also took part in the media stir, agreeing to be profiled in media releases and featured in the news programs. These companies gained a lot of brand exposure in the process. Having well-known, household retail companies acting as advocates also did a lot for the Click Frenzy brand credibility.
Post event marketing press releases included facts and figures from the sales event, as well as the results from some of the participating retailers. When the technology glitches occurred, Click Frenzy had to issue formal press statements explaining the situation, while not having the complete answers yet itself. The social media fallout was also severe.
Bursting the PR Bubble
Reputations can be fostered and burst in a moment’s time. Facebook and Twitter can be a great form of promotion and engagement, but these channels can also become a platform for word-of-mouth steroids, with negative commentary having the potential to spiral into an out-of-control viral attack that can tarnish brand reputations. Click Frenzy was no different.
When the site crashed during the first sales event, consumers took to the social media channels and forums in anger. The social pages were full of negative commentary, and there were even social “trolls” out looking for an opportunity to attack. Click Frenzy personnel tried their best to monitor the channels and respond to the complaints. There were also some instances where content had to be pulled from the pages because it was too offensive.
Personally, I don’t know why people go to so much trouble to write negative comments. They’re better off investing that time and energy into something better…. But regardless, in the age of social media, businesses need to be prepared for this kind of response.
Anyway, the good news for Click Frenzy is that it now has a massive database of users interested in deals, and it’s run a number of events since then with the servers holding up well.
And the good news for you is that if your idea is interesting enough, the media has the potential to send a “frenzy” of traffic to your site.
Click Frenzy was a phenomenal success in terms of the PR element. Spurred on by the Australian public’s hungry appetite for online shopping, it proved the power that media has in creating interest and controversy. The media hype surrounding the event was amazing, and it exceeded the organiser’s expectations like nothing else. For an event that had been previously unknown, Click Frenzy shifted to become an Australian household name. There’s no denying the PR traction worked.
1. Are there any new products/services you’d like to try to see whether anyone will buy them? List your top five ideas and event marketing strategies.
2. If you don’t have a list already, find at least 200 people and add them to your list. You can use your address book and your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter contacts. Now set up a webinar and invite your list to come!
3. Write down the names of twenty potential affiliates to help with your event marketing. The best way to think of who is a good match is any person or company who is also selling to your market. For example, for Eben’s seminar about business, any company that sells business advice to its customers is a natural affiliate.
4. Are there any media outlets that would be a natural fit for what your event marketing? Create a list of ten of them. Then put together a short pitch and send it to the relevant journalist at each of the ten media outlets you’ve chosen. See what the journalists’ feedback is and go from there.
5. Can you apply the Click Frenzy “mega sale” concept to your niche? Are there a list of businesses you could contact to conduct a mega sale?
I’m looking forward to hearing your event marketing success stories. These event marketing tips came from Chapter one of my latest book Feed A Starving Crowd: More than 200 Hot and Fresh Marketing Strategies to Help you Find Hungry Customers. You can get a free copy of this book fromwww.feedastarvingcrowd.com