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We’re planning a small event. How do we drum up interest, get registrations, get leads?

Nov 30, 2018

Accelerator liveYou want to run an event, but you aren’t delivering the next Xerocon.

There’s no zip line, no stage-the-size-of-a-football-stadium.

You’ll invite clients and a few prospects, but you’re not even sure you can get more than 10 or 15 people in the room on the day.

You don’t even have a massive budget at this stage.

How do you get people to come? Do you even bother at all?

1. Create a name and purpose for the event

The purpose comes first. WHY are you running this event? Who is it for, and what problem will you solve?

One of the problems accountants often have with an event is they decide to run an event based on something that’s important to them, the accountant. Making Tax Digital. Payroll. Inheritance taxes. R&D tax claims.

You know it’s important to your client too: but the name of the event centres around yourself. Your client doesn’t know much about Making Tax Digital and it’s not very exciting to them if they do know about it. How can you make it interesting? Relevant? What’s the reason-behind-the-reason?

Raedan created an event called “Making Tax Disco”, and explained to everyone that although MTD could seem boring, custom cocktails are always interesting, so at least come for the networking and the drinks. Then maybe you’ll learn something about taxes and digital accounting while you’re at it.

To do this, make a list of what Andy Bounds calls the ‘AFTERs’. How they will feel, what will happen after they attend the event. They will…

  • Understand why their accounts have to be digital now
  • Be aware of the penalties due if their accounts aren’t filed digitally
  • Decide to move their accounts to a cloud accounting software
  • …whatever else – come up with a long list!

Once you have your list, go through it and pick the reason that is the most “them” focused. What’s in it for them? How is it all about them? What will they gain by coming? Make that the central point of the event , and name it accordingly.

2. Pick a date and publish it.

The single best way to hold a successful event is, first, to actually hold it. If you keep waiting until the perfect time, perfect weather, perfect reason, you’ll never hold your event.

Pick a date, and share it with the world. Tell your clients it’s coming. Put it on social media. Write a blog about it. Record a quick video telling people to save the date.

This gives you the one thing that always helps you achieve goals: a deadline.

If I tell myself I want to do something, but it never seems to happen, it’s usually because there’s no deadline. Nothing to push me and push other things down the priority list.

When someone else is waiting on you and you’ve promised them you will do it, then it gets done. When you’ve given your word that the event is running on the date you set, you’ll feel rather stupid if you simply don’t make any effort towards it and it never happens.

This marketing tip is an example. It goes out every Friday, and I know it. The writing of it has been on my list all week, and right now as I’m typing this out it’s 9am on a Friday. Deadlines.

Choose the date, set up the event on Eventbrite with a registration page, and start sharing it.

3. Identify one specific call to action – what will they do after the event?

“Begin with the end in mind”. When someone walks away from your event, what will they do? How will they feel? What happens next?

This helps immensely not only for getting people to come, but for planning what you will say and what you will share with them.

Depending on your type of event, you can consider one or more of these things:

  • Helpful resource – checklist, template, worksheet, action plan
  • How-to guide – in depth guide explaining everything you covered in the event, with more detail
  • Workshop or action session – This is something practical and customised to them, which will help them implement/explore what they learned at the event. If the event is free, the workshop could be a paid item, pushing them to decide whether they are really ready to take action yet
  • Special offer – Depending on what your event is about, you could give them a reason to take action. If your event is on cash flow, give them a free trial to an invoice chasing software like Chaser.

I suggest having one free call to action, and one paid call to action. The people who aren’t ready to invest anything can get genuine help with the free stuff, and people who have been motivated to move forward will be ready to invest a small amount. (Remember the progression model!)

4. Create marketing materials that will help you promote the event

Keep it simple. Put together a few things that will motivate you to share the event and explain quickly what it is.

Images are particularly useful. Get some designed images that will support the content you’re sharing on social and elsewhere. If your event is about tech, pick a techy sort of photograph and get the colours changed to match your brand.

Please don’t use images of calculators and those impossibly unreal stock people. Think about how you want people to feel after your event, what you want them to do…and choose imagery which will reflect that.

You can also create leaflets, postcards, stickers, video clips, website pages…

If you need help, share your question in our PF Marketing Community Facebook group. It’s full of accountants doing their own marketing, and the PF team can weigh in too.

5. Share it on all the socials (and keep sharing it)

Social media platforms are like whitewater rapids. There’s tons and tons and tons of content and it keeps flowing continuously. Blink and you miss the one post.

That’s why you need to send multiple posts, on multiple platforms, with slightly different messages, images, content, on each.

You don’t always have to include the registration link, either. Some of your posts can be about:

  • The topic itself. “We’re running an event on X Topic, and I thought this blog was useful as we prepare”
  • Who’s coming: “Just saw that X has registered to attend our event – excited to see you there!”
  • Call to action: “We’re giving away a free checklist to help you with X Topic at our event next week – make sure you register so you get the link!”
  • What you’ll be covering: “Working on my presentation now for X event, and was thinking about…[whatever is relevant to your audience!]”

6. Send invite emails

Email is not dead: people do still read them. They are more likely to read an email based on its sender than any other reason (a brilliant subject line, a cleverly designed template, etc).

So, if you have a list of people who know and trust you, drop a few emails to them about the upcoming event. We suggest at least 2 of these – all of them if your event is months away:

  • Save the date email: This event is coming on this date and it’s going to be amazing for this reason. Register your interest.
  • Date and venue confirmed email: Yay, we have a venue and date! Here it is! Put it in your diary and register for the event now
  • What you’ll get email: Here’s what you’ll get / how you’ll feel / what you’ll achieve by attending this event. We’d love to see you there. Register now. (You can send a few of these depending how far ahead your event is)
  • Event this week: This great event runs in 2/3/4 days! Don’t miss it and here’s why!
  • Event today: It’s running this morning/ today / tonight! Now’s the time to achieve [whatever it is your event will help them achieve]

You can also prepare follow up emails:

  • Thanks for attending! It was so great to have you with us. Don’t forget to [whatever the call to action was]
  • Sorry you missed it! We missed you – the event was amazing though – and great news you can still [complete call to action]
  • Join us next time! We’re running the event again – register now!

7. Invite people personally

Equally as important is the personal invite. Sending bulk emails, posting on social, sending out video is all great: but people are far more likely to attend if you ask them personally. A few ways you can do this are:

  • Send a personal text only email. Nothing fancy – the kind of thing you’d tap out on your phone. Matter of fact you may want to do exactly that. “Hey Brian – we’re running this event next week and I didn’t want you to miss it. I know we were talking about [this topic]. Here’s the registration link – see you there”
  • Send a text. For people you know well enough to text, a quick reminder with a registration link is all you need
  • Call them. A quick phone call to tell them the event is coming up and why you’d really like them to come. I had someone ring me this week to say they were running an event they’d like me to be at, and they wanted to make sure I got it and would reply with my preferred dates. I replied as soon as the email appeared.
  • Mention it in every meeting. When you’re meeting in person, bring up the event on Eventbrite on your phone, ipad, computer, whatever, and say you’d love to see them there and can they make it? Get them registered straight away.

Here are some other resources we’ve put together for events.

Registrations are low: how can I get more people to sign up?

How to prepare in advance for a great event like Xerocon

Accounting firm event case study: BITE 2018

Most of all, stick to your word, and be honest. If you say you’ll run the event, run it. If only a few people show up, focus all your energy and attention on them. Do the event well for them. Take notes of what they care about. Focus on their needs and next steps.

Make it a huge success for the people who show up, and stop worrying about the people who didn’t show up.

Have a great event! I’d love to hear all about it!