You may have the perfect speaker, the right marketing and the ideal venue, but are you offering your audience enough?
How do you engage them and offer them enough value to give you their precious time?
By flaky, I mean more unreliable. It's a curious thing to write as a title, but hear me out.
Recently, I organised one of the most prominent speakers of the Australian Real Estate circuit (who people ordinarily pay significant amounts to see), to come to a local event and talk about getting the most out of investing in the turbulent Sydney market. It's a booming and ludicrous industry for sure and one that everyone is extremely interested in because it makes people very wealthy.
The topic was strong and the strategy was set.
Given that I wanted my client to be positioned as a key opinion leader in their local market, I made the decision to offer it for free, with a maximum capacity of 500 people, and a target of 200. So, one would expect it to have been a raging success! And it appeared that way at first! I had print and social media advertising running which was promoting the speaker and the event, I had excellent copy with a strong call to action, a trackable and memorable URL, relevant imagery, the right venue, a short agenda so as to not take up people's evening, a current client list of ten-thousand- I mean, what could go wrong?
So, an hour before the event, we had hundreds signed up... only to have 75% no-show. I don't even need to begin to explain my disappointment.
I had my first real taste of the culture of maybe.
Everyone has friends that do it, but to this kind of event, I was absolutely floored! People today are non-committal, always waiting for the bigger, better deal. This was a hot topic, a prominent speaker, a great event and a strong marketing campaign behind it- why, on the night, did it fail?
I have my theories. One was that it was free. I figured that 'free' would be the ultimate carrot to attract interested parties and lower the fear of commitment; and it did work, according to the invite software. However, on this night, it seemed that people just didn't bother to show because they had no money involved and therefore nothing to lose. The next event, I will charge a fee for each ticket and see if that makes a difference.
The other was, there was no promise of freebies. We provided light refreshments, but the main offering was the free education, and it seemed that, for this audience, it wasn't enough. That is disappointing in and of itself - the information provided by the speaker that night was absolutely groundbreaking, and for real estate investors, home buyers and landlords, this was such a missed opportunity. Perhaps with the ticket price next time, I will fund a show bag or dinner.
I certainly learned a lot from this experience. Apart from the 'maybe' frame of mind, it's just such a shame that we live in a culture of incentive now, too. We all do it, and I'm no different, but where has this behaviour come from? People pay hundreds for consulting services, however offer it for free, with no promise of anything else, and suddenly, watching "Married At First Sight" or "I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Outta Here" seems like a better option than complimentary investment advice which could make you hundreds of thousands of dollars.