Whether you’re hosting an online webinar or live event, the right strategies can make or break attendance. We can help.
How Can A Small Business Owner “Sell From The Stage”?
Be a speaker at someone else’s event
Speaking to a group of people someone else has gathered provides the obvious benefit that you didn’t have to gather them. Examples include membership groups, networking groups, someone else’s event, Chambers of Commerce, BNI, Meetup Groups, Universities and Board Meetings. Here we use the term “selling from the stage” loosely, as this is not a sales pitch, rather it is an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and make connections that will allow you to be more sought after when it come to selling your services.
So how do you land one of these events? Some, like Chambers of Commerce, require becoming a paid member and often a sponsor. Others, such as Boards and community associations, favor membership and active ongoing involvement, while others require the right networking and PR efforts to promote your personal brand as a favored speaker.
With a live workshop, you are responsible for booking the space and filling the room. The benefit is that you are in complete control of the setting and how you wish to target your audience. Even small group workshops can be an effective means of converting prospects to clients due to the intimate setting and your ability to make adjustments to your approach or content to best suit the audience.
A webinar is a great option for demonstrating your expertise in front of a live audience, but without the overhead cost of booking a room. It is an increasingly popular method of reaching your audience, especially in today’s time-pressured world where asking people to get into their cars to drive across town through traffic to attend an event may not be feasible. It provides the added bonus of recording the event and making it available to those who could not attend during the originally scheduled time, as well as a wealth of sound bytes that can be edited for your YouTube channel or social media.
A live stream can be anything from a short presentation or discussion of a topic (or of your upcoming event), to a longer virtual workshop. Unlike a webinar, a live stream uses your webcam, smartphone or more professional video equipment and is focused on the people talking rather than showing Powerpoint slides.
Facebook Live and Snapchat are making live streaming more popular, and experts are finding creative ways to share their content including discussing business tips while driving their car, live Google Hangouts, giving followers “front row” seats to a live event, interviewing industry experts (this is a big one!), demonstrating something, presenting something while sketching on a whiteboard, and going “behind the scenes” of a business.
How Will You Fill The Seats At Your Event?
Using your email list is a great way to let your audience know about your upcoming event. However, if you tend to hold a number of events, do be careful about allowing your list to get tired. No one wants to receive a constant stream of emails about an event they can’t or don’t want to attend. If they don’t unsubscribe or flag you for spam, they will certainly disengage. Watch your open and clickthrough rates to see if this is becoming an issue. Find creative ways to add new people to your list, for example by offering a lead magnet such as a guide or whitepaper on your website in exchange for an email. And don’t just stick to your own email list, ask your partners to forward to their lists also.
Of course you’ll post your event to social media, but don’t stop there. A successful event begins months prior by networking on social media the way you do offline. You’ll want to start to create buzz for the event by posting videos and other value added content. You’ll connect with micro and macro influencers of your target market, join groups where your target market and influencers frequent, and you may even run contests and promos. Social media ads are a “must” to gain attention.
Unless you’re hosting a small event, you’ll want to include Google Adwords in your strategy. This can be a incredibly effective and targeted way of letting your ideal audience know about your event. Start by researching the keywords they search on to find events within your area of expertise. Setup campaigns to include retargeting in case they get distracted and move on. This way your banner adds will follow them to other websites and remind them to register.
You’ll want to include a landing page about your event either on your website or via your CRM tool. The idea is that paid ad traffic should direct your audience to a page focused solely on your event and either have a call-to-action to “date” or “get married” (you can A/B test both for conversions). The “dating option” should be focused on capturing their email address by offering a lead magnet such as a guide or white paper, while the “marriage option” will allow for registering for the event. This is a great list building strategy that will allow you to conduct follow up drip marketing campaigns, giving you multiple touch points rather than a 1-click and done. To be effective, this type of campaign must start early so you’ll have time to gently provide value after they sign up and not hit them right away with an offer to register.
You’ll want to test multiple landing pages via A/B testing to see which titles, text, images and call-to-action outperforms. Once you have a winner you’ll test new challengers against the winner in an ongoing attempt to optimize the campaign conversions.
Since you’ll be directing more traffic to your website, it must be SEO optimized to handle the traffic. Pages must load quickly and be mobile responsive and ready to handle delivery of your lead magnet or registrations.
We like Eventbrite for several reasons. First, if you don’t have a high performing website landing page, Eventbrite can serve as the landing page for your pay-per-click campaign. Second, it integrates nicely with Facebook, which means you can promote your event via Facebook and people can register and pay via Eventbrite without needing to leave your Facebook page. If you have a website landing page you can also make your checkout through Eventbrite. Finally, Eventbrite is a searchable events platform in its own right which means that complete strangers may find and register for your event if you use the right keywords. You can A/B test directing paid ad traffic to your Eventbrite page vs. your website landing page to see which is better at converting.
You’ll want to make tickets available to affiliate partners to distribute in order to allow people they refer to register for the event.
There are multiple free resources that will allow you to gain additional exposure for your event. These include listings in community newspapers, local online event guides and community bulletin boards. Look for targeted niche opportunities where your ideal audience frequent.
Don’t forget the value of good old fashioned face to face networking. Print up some postcards about your event and hit the streets (or at least the meetings). Visit your local chamber of commerce, BNI and community association meetings and talk up your event. This is much more effective if you have an ongoing relationship of delivering value to these organizations rather than just showing up to sell them stuff.