Earlier this month, the 48th Super Bowl marked only the second time in twenty seasons that the National Football League's No. 1 seeds from each conference met in the league championship game. As the Seattle Seahawks, the top defensive team, prepared to take on the Denver Broncos, the top offensive team, fans were poised for an epic battle.
The only problem? The Denver Broncos, never really showed up, and the Seahawks handily defeated them in what would become the third largest point differential in Super Bowl history.
At some point, most of us have probably felt a little like Peyton Manning did on Super Bowl Sunday. Maybe you've planned a big event, done all the preparation, spent significant money on direct mail, and picked out a nice venue only to have your prospects not show up.
Avoiding this type of situation is critical to maintaining your credibility and protecting your opportunity costs. You don't want to host a seminar where the room is half empty. A packed room makes you look “in demand” and helps create a high-energy atmosphere, while the opposite scenario tends to have the reverse effect.
Below are some ideas of how to generate a backup plan that will ensure you aren't talking to an empty room come game day.
Send an e-blast
Printed invitations are great, but not everyone gets around to reading snail mail anymore. E-blast an invitation to your existing database to ensure you hit those that are “chained to their devices.” My clients routinely pick up an extra two to four attendees after sending an e-mail blast.
Make it urgent
Make sure you create urgency to attend. Headings like “Last call — only five seats remaining!” grab attention and create that urgency people often need to prod them into action.
Make it timely
Make your invitation or e-mail timely by incorporating current headlines into your topics. For example, “How will the fiscal cliff affect your retirement plans?” Your prospects are already watching Fox Business and CNN. Make TV and talk radio your marketing allies by focusing on topics that are top of mind.
Make it personal
The personal touch can have a significant impact. Take the top 10 qualified prospects out of your database and have a member of your staff send them a handwritten invitation.
Have a staff member keep a “call wait” list handy of people that couldn't attend past events, were overbooked, or had to cancel last minute. Based on my experience, 50 percent of these folks consistently accept.
Keep it fresh
As you get closer to the event, drop a postcard in the mail titled, “Last chance reminder.” This serves not only to keep the event fresh in your prospect's minds, but also reinforces that urgency.
Call TV/radio leads
If you have a radio or TV show, call the leads you have cultivated via those activities to invite them to your live event. For example, if a potential client requested a white paper on a specific topic in the past, and you are planning an event on that topic (or something closely related), call that prospect and personally invite them to attend.
Live events can be expensive. It takes hard work and follow-up to make sure your events are filled to capacity. Not making the effort and taking the extra steps to ensure your event is well-attended can be an expensive mistake. By taking the time to create and implement a backup plan, you can help ensure you aren't left feeling like Peyton Manning did after the Super Bowl.
Sometimes, even with all the preparation in the world, you may still bomb. If it happens, don't give up. One of the keys to success with client events is marketing consistency and knowing your numbers. Based on a breakdown of our top clients, seminars work, regardless of the market. Don't let one bad event discourage you!
Brad Johnson is a vice president at Advisors Excel and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org