Essays, Featured

Why No One Goes to Your Events

Many of us have been there. You’ve planned the perfect party, thought of all the details, decorated to the nines and picked the perfect outfit for your all-out themed event, but then the day comes and you end up with an empty house. Your party attendee list is significantly smaller than you had projected, and you’re left with enough left over potato salad to feed a small village in Namibia.

From bad weather to bad timing, there are many reasons for an event to fail. After many years behind the scenes as a promoter or organizer, and many many more on the other side of the curtain an an attendee, it’s easy to spot the reason why your even just isn’t pulling the numbers you want it to. 

1. You chose the wrong market

When you begin to visualize your event, you have a sense of the audience that you expect to attend. These expectations may be based on previous events that you have attended, or they may be based on the type of event that you were throwing, but they also have been wrong.

When choosing your target market, you have to take into account several factors. Location, the pricing of your event, the amenities you are offering, are all things that are going to be shaped by who you want to attract, and not always the other way around (see point #3). Just like when you are launching a product or a service, defining your target market is an important step to success. If you get your customer base wrong, then you’ll be targeting customers who have no interest in buying your product, which in this case, are tickets to your event.

2. You failed to understand your audience

Maybe you did chose the correct target market, but regardless your ticket sales and attendance are abysmal. This could be because you didnt spend enough time getting to know your audience, and didn’t fully grasp what it is they needed to incentivize their attendance.

There are, however, plenty of tools that you can use to get a feel for how your market thinks. Google, in fact is an excellent source of data, as it is uniquely capable of capturing tons of data on various markets. Think with Google’s marketer’s almanac, for example, is an excellent resource for marketers and event promoters to learn how to take advantage of seasonal events to boost their presence. Tailoring your event to a specific industry? Then take advantage of the US Census bureaus’ County Business Patterns page. Nielsen’s MyBestSegments service is another great arsenal every promoter and marketer should keep in their arsenal. They site provides researchers with tools to understand the demographics and lifestyle habits of any given area. Last but not least, search your own networks. Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram make it easy to find groups and members of those groups. Spend a little time to get to know how they communicate, what they communicate about, and what they are looking for. Then, armed with this new and complete knowledge, you can create marketing campaigns and ads that truly to speak to your future guests and keep them engaged in the crucial promotions phase prior to your event.

3. You chose the wrong location or venue

In the planning phases of a wedding, a lot rides on the location. Brides have been known to change their date and make financial secessions to secure their dream location. Why? Because location matters. If you’re appealing to a group of C-level executives for a corporate fundraiser, it doesn’t make sense to bring them to a warehouse better suited for more casual events.

When choosing your location, keep in mind the demographic and lifestyle data that you learned about your audience, and apply it to your venue choice. Will your guests be comfortable there? Is there enough parking? Is it a safe area that won’t scare people from attending? Are the facilities adequately staffed and furnished? These are all questions that you should ask yourself before you commit to your location. If the answer to any of them is ‘no’, then consider a new venue that is more appropriate to your need.

4. You didn’t offer anything new

Sure, everyone loves a free cocktail, but unless you’re bringing something of value to the table, attendees could easily skip your event if they are going to get the same things out of another one next week. Offering your patrons something new is a surefire way to get their attention, and can be easily accomplished in a number of ways.

Think of it this way: You frequented the same weekly dance event for a few months, but it soon started to get stale and repetitive. Now, you only attend when there is a headliner, because otherwise you couldn’t be bothered to leave your house. This situation applies across the board, so finding a unique angle to promote is important in packing your house. Spend some time looking for local experts to serve as guest speakers for your business event, invite established business leaders to your networking event, and book unique entertainers for your party. Your guests will not only look forward to the new experience, they will take more away from your event, increasing your word mouth marketing potential for your next event.

5. You picked the wrong date

Sometimes, you can do everything correct and still end up with an empty room, all because you picked the wrong date. Sure it seems obvious that you wouldn’t host a bbq in early January, but being weary of seasonal trends is also important in event planning and marketing. Certain seasons and holidays are jam packed with things to do and special events, with promoters scrambling to grab a big enough share of their market to make a profit.

For event promoters that are just starting out, this is especially important, as many potential attendees will steer towards events organized by promoters they trust, or at a venue that they are comfortable attending. Choose your date carefully, taking into consideration everything else that is going on that may serve as competition to you.

6. You didn’t put enough effort into marketing

Marketing, whether its for an event, a product or a service, is a long road to success; one that if nothing else, takes time and dedication. Months before your event takes place, your marketing plan should be in place, your targets should be defined and your goals should be in place. Beginning your efforts as early as possible is a great way to boost your attendance. Think of any major annual music festival or conference; as soon as one year’s event is complete, the marketing begins to drum up interest for next year’s event. You should be doing the same for your event, even if your earlier marketing campaigns serve only to whet the appetite of potential attendees and get them excited to attend.

Content marketing campaigns are great for this, as they don’t necessarily have to deal directly with your product, and don’t cost much to execute. Create a video that will spark the interest of attendees, look for blogs to contribute content to that will help establish your authority, or start a social media driven campaign to ramp up your hashtag recognition – there are literally dozens of ways you can begin marketing early to ensure success in the long run of your event.