Talk to your audience and be ready to change everything.

 

I’m speaking from very recent experience here: if your audience is not buying tickets, talk to them, ask them why, and incorporate their feedback even if it goes against your plan for the event.

Successful event management is all about being able to adapt to change quickly. The best laid plans of mice and event planners often go awry. It’s how you respond to those road bumps that will dictate whether you pull your event off successfully or pull your hair out trying.

Kramer from Seinfeld says
Kramer knows.

What happens when you feel like those road bumps just shouldn’t exist? I’m talking about when you have a amazing graphic design, the coolest promo video, expertly crafted descriptions of your event, but a week after launching your SuchCrowd you still don’t have a single ticket sold. That’s exactly the situation I found myself in.

The event was a super elaborate halloween party I’ve been conjuring and concocting for a year with a large cross-disciplinary team of talented people. It’s somewhere between a dark magic art-rave and an immersive participatory theatre and circus show. We spent the last month shooting a beautiful promo video complete with full costumes, props, special effects makeup, and pyrotechnics, which blasted around social media like wildfire.

Everyone loved it… but no one bought a single ticket.

I sat there, refreshing the SuchCrowd page every day hoping to see that dreaded 0 turn into a 1. I hated that little zero. I felt like I was watching the dream I’d had for the last year go up in smoke.

 

Kramer from Seinfeld smoking a cigarette comedically

 

Then I started to think… what does it mean? WHAT IT IS THAT LITTLE ZERO TRYING TO TELL ME!? It was trying to tell me I needed to change something. But what, exactly?

The little zero couldn’t tell what I needed to change. For that I had to go out and talk to people.

 

Kramer and Jerry Seinfeld are ready to go.

I talked to people who were involved in the event and knew a lot about it. I talked to people who I thought were likely to want to go to the event. I talked to people who had no idea about it. I sent them links to our content and then asked to chat. I asked people to have a look right now and talk me through their reactions and comments. I took every opportunity I could to ask people “How much do you know about it? And how did you find that information out?” “What do you think it is?” “Would you recommend it to your friends? What would you tell them?” “Why haven’t you bought a ticket?”

The feedback was at times hard to hear, but ultimately really encouraging.

 

I learnt a whole bunch of things over the next few days of talking with customers

 

People who didn’t know anything about it before talking to me:

“This looks amazing… what is it? The video is beautiful, but it doesn’t tell me anything about what the event really is. The event page doesn’t tell me either, it just keeps talking in that mysterious kinda tone.”

Solution: Break out of our deeply mysterious voice that we’d been using for all of our external communications thus far, and tell people explicitly what the event is and what they’d be paying for with their tickets.

Kramer is stunned and shocked by that idea.
People who are involved in the event and are trying to get their friends to buy tickets:

“The ticket application process is way too long and way too intimidating. You’re asking for people to provide detailed explanations of the character they’re going to come to the event as. Most people don’t have a character idea at all yet, let alone a fully formed one. It seems like you need to be a super creative person with super creative answers for the questionnaire or you won’t be given a ticket.”

Solution:

We originally had a questionnaire that you had to fill out before you could buy a ticket. Now the questionnaire is optional. Originally, after filling out the ticket we’d have to send you a unique access code that allowed you to buy one ticket. Now anyone can buy tickets straight away.

Kramer is very surprised

People who are involved in the event and are trying to get their friends to buy tickets:

“There’s no incentive for my friends to buy right now. They all want to come, but they don’t see it as urgent to get tickets right now.”

Solution:

Put up earlybird tickets with a $10 discount.

Kramer has lots of money
What was the result of all of this listening and changes?

Within 5 minutes of implementing these changes we had our first 3 tickets gone. One week later we had sold 30% of our minimum ticket target.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

 

Kramer is a turkey

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