by Brenda MacIntyre
When you create an event, it’s really great to have people actually show up for it, right? But sometimes that doesn’t happen. How can you set yourself up for a great turnout at your events?
I’ve been singing for over 30 years and speaking for about 18 years, and in that time, I’ve witnessed and learned some great (and some not-so-great) approaches and I’ve come up with my own ideas as well, to inspire people to come out and enjoy what I have to offer.
I have a regular monthly Drumming, Singing & Tea circle in Toronto. It’s always at the same venue, always on a Monday evening, and always at the same time, unless I’m having a special dinner in which case it’s an hour earlier. I’m not talking about your usual speak-to-sell events, just to be clear. I find those kinds of events manipulative and high pressure. I’m talking about events where you gather with your tribe to bring them an actual experience, with a low-pressure offer (book, CD, course or small program) that you casually mention at the end of your event.
My intention to fill it is less important than you might think, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t manifest well when I give myself artificial meaningless “goals” of how many “butts in seats” (I really hate that term from the coaching world!) I think I have to get to my events.
It’s important to use energetic/spiritual strategies as well as solid marketing methods that work and feel aligned for YOU and your tribe.
Here’s what I know…
1) Grow your tribe and reputation. If you don’t have anyone to sell tickets to, who is going to come? Grow your following and not just in one place. Grow your email list as well as whatever social media platforms you love to use. Letting yourself be seen and heard online and in person goes a long way in event promotion. The best way I do this is by speaking or singing at other people’s events, and just doing good work to help my people. That never goes unnoticed but word of mouth does take time to grow.
TIP: If you don’t have a big following yet, call up your friends or send them an email and ask them to spread the word. See #8 “Word of Mouth” below. Abraham-Hicks started out with very small events and now they get hundreds of people out. That didn’t happen overnight. When I did my first workshops and performances in the 90’s, I used to call people up and then send an email. When your following gets bigger, you won’t have as much time for that personal touch, so do it NOW if you don’t have a huge tribe yet. You know how many people appreciate you reaching out one on one to them? It’s a far cry from those automated voice messages or someone’s assistant calling you to promote their event to you. It just feels better to hear from someone personally. You’re showing your people that you care.
2) Work out your logistics EARLY, and make everything about the event and promotion as easy and low pressure for yourself as possible. Based on how many people I want, and how hard (like, not hard at all!) I want to work at selling tickets, I have chosen a venue for my monthly gatherings that limits seating to only 12 people plus me and 2 volunteers, for most of my events. I have also created an arrangement with the venue that allows for me to still run the event even if I don’t sell lots of tickets, and even to have snacks and tea included for each person. This makes my events appealing and people know they have to sign up in advance if they expect to get a seat. Of course, if you’re trying to sell out an event, you need to set up a way for your attendees to purchase tickets in advance. I always have an early-bird savings and then a different rate for cash at the door if there are any seats remaining.
For larger events, like my annual The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE with a music concert, DJ’ed ecstatic dance, keynote, drumming circle and oracle readings, I need to choose a larger venue and strategize slightly differently. For larger events, it’s good to start promoting a lot earlier and to ask friends and colleagues to help you spread the word, whether informally or by sending out an email or social media. You can make it simple or create a whole affiliate package. You can offer bring-a-friend-for-free to people who are already on your bandwagon as well like Tad did recently for a special private event he hosted in Toronto. That creates more loyalty in the inner circle of your tribe, and it expands your tribe and brings more people to your event easily.
3) Figure out your timeline and start earlier than you think you need to. For my monthly circles, we start promoting the next one immediately after the last one. Also, learn from my mistakes: If you’re promoting a large event, FOCUS your marketing on that event. I made the mistake of having (and promoting) too many events in the same month and that dilutes your marketing efforts, making it harder to sell out your event. When I’m focusing my energy, attention and intention on one event at a time, I get a great turnout.
4) Put your energy all over it. I’m always telling my clients to “put your energy all over it” when writing any copy or talking about your event. People will feel your passion and your passion will drive you, as well as the Universe, to support you in getting people to your event. By the way, make sure your energy is in a good place first. Breathe. Smile. Do whatever it takes to feel good before you write your copy.
5) Don’t try to do it all alone. I’ve done that and it is HARD WORK. Do you want to add more hard work to your plate or make things smooth and easy? Ask friends, family or members of your tribe to volunteer. Delegate promotion techie tasks to a Virtual Assistant. Automate whatever you can online as well. Otherwise, you can burn yourself out.
TIP: Collaborate with other co-hosts, artists or vendors who also have a following, and have them promote the event too. For my The Power of Your Spiritual Calling LIVE event in 2016, I had Liz Diaz DJ the ecstatic dance portion. Liz is awesome, already has a tribe brimming with her own people and some of mine, and we play well together. In 2015, I had Erica Ross DJ for me. I call her the Dance Goddess. She’s also a dear friend and awesome DJ. So find people to play with, who align with you and have a similar tribe.
6) Ask your Higher Realms Support Team to help bring people to you. Angels, Archangels, your Higher Self, goddesses, gods, God, Creator, Universe, Source, whatever you want to call it, invite them to help you. Never underestimate the power of energy and Spirit.
7) To intend or not to intend? Like I mentioned in #3, when you set up your event structure the way YOU want it so that you have the least possible worries about money loss or no-shows or not getting enough tickets, then your whole being can relax about having to sell out the event. That relaxed, no worries vibe? That will help sell the event! So set your intentions and give them over to your Higher Realms Support Team… and still, do the work you know you need to do.
WARNING: Many coaches will have you do a “bubble chart” or some kind of countdown to your hoped-for number of attendees. I have found that that doesn’t excite me but does the opposite, especially if I don’t see seats being filled as quickly as I had hoped, or if I have created a history of not getting the numbers I wanted. Then I felt like a failure and the energy of that expectation and how I felt created a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I stopped doing those charts and did what I mention above in #3 instead.
8) Do pre-sales or a seat deposit: If you don’t get advance tickets, you can expect that probably more than half of your RSVP’s will not show up. Unfortunate but true. Most people won’t commit to coming out to your event without having to pay in advance, especially if you live in a place that has tons of events unless your event is free. If your event is free, you are likely to attract people who are used to getting things for free or as cheap as possible, so be mindful of your decision around pricing. Use your own website and shopping cart or something like Eventbrite to sell your tickets. I like using my own website because of course, it brings people to my website.
9) Create a Facebook Event page OR Meetup.com page. A word about Meetup.com. If you are an official Meetup organizer, and you want to grow your following specifically on Meetup, the Facebook event page needs to lead them to the meetup page. It is more tedious this way, and honestly, I have found that using one or the other is best. Use one and draw everyone on social media to that page for best results.
For Facebook Event pages, invite people in your local area first. Do invitations in rounds. Facebook may block you for “using this feature too fast” if you do your invitations all at once or if you go over something like 100 invitations. Facebook will also penalize you by lowering your invitation limit, so you can’t invite as many people, so be mindful when using this feature. You might want to ask influential friends to invite their friends too.
Whether using Facebook or Meetup, don’t take people’s RSVP’s at face value, except for the “not coming’s.” You will see that often only a small fraction of those who say they’re coming, actually pay in advance and show up. Even if it’s a free event, your attendee numbers most times will not be anywhere near your RSVP numbers. Don’t take it personally.
Most of my sold out events when using Meetup were exceptional (special indigenous venue and content) and also free. If you grow your Meetup following into the thousands, then it can work well for you. I didn’t have the patience for that.
10) Networking. Talk about your event! Talk about it to your friends, family (supportive people only, of course) and whoever you meet. Not in a gross promotional way but rather with the genuine passion and excitement you have about it. No need for flyer-in-your-face marketing, okay? Just talk about it and if people ask for a flyer or your card, give them one – but also get theirs, and ask their permission for you to either add them to your email list or message them about your event(s). Especially talk about your upcoming event at events other than your own where you are a speaker or facilitator. They’ve just seen proof of how awesome you are on stage or in a workshop, so let them know about your next event.
11) Word of Mouth. Tell your most loyal fans FIRST about the event, and ask them to share it. I do that using my Virtual Backstage Pass email list specifically for Toronto events. Invite them first on the event page too if they are on Facebook. Tad does Word of Mouth extremely well, so just pay attention to how he does this so effectively. I learned from the best. 😉
12) Send Email Invitations according to your timeline (usually at least 4 weeks out). This is when I send out my first Backstage Pass email, alerting my most loyal Toronto fans, usually BEFORE I even invite people to the Facebook event page. Then we send out email to the main email list. We also include a small blurb in our monthly newsletter. I like how Tad sends out personal email invitations to a handful of people over Facebook or email. That personal touch goes a long way, above and beyond a mass email to your list. It’s best to do that with people whom you know will be happy to share your event with their friends, and you can ask them to do that. What NOT to do? Please don’t copy/paste a generic “come to my event” message into Facebook or email and pretend it’s a personal message. I just received a couple of Facebook messages like that and they didn’t even say hi or ask me how I’m doing or indicate they even knew what was up in my world. Make it personal! Be real. Have a conversation.
13) Regular Social Media Posts and Engagement. Post wherever your people are hanging out. Do a mix of auto-posts and personal posts. Note: If you post nothing but promotional posts on any social media platform, you will turn your tribe right off. Don’t do it! It’s about being social, so socialize with your tribe. Engage them in conversation regularly. Then when you go to promote something, they’ll be more likely to pay attention, like, comment and share it.
TIP: This may sound funny but “like” your own Facebook posts. Liking your post will give it more weight in the eyes of Facebook’s algorithms, so it will be shown to more people right away, rather than sitting there lifeless and not getting seen.
14) Last but not least, be someone you’d like to hang out with! When you show up in real life, on social media, over the phone, on Facetime or wherever as someone who is fun and interesting to be around and learn from, people will want to be in your energy. When you do that in places where your tribe hangs out, you will attract people who are aligned with you and they will happily come out to your events.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre, author and artist of the Medicine Song Oracle Cards™ & Music, is a Juno Award-winning singer, speaker, indigenous drummer and wisdom-keeper, and Living Your Truth Out Loud Mentor. Brenda has shared her leadership and soul nationally on stage and in the media, such as MuchMusic, APTN, CTV, CP24, Global and CityTV’s Breakfast Television, as well as CBC Radio. Having experienced major loss, multiple dark nights of the soul, and fear of being seen and heard, she is passionate about helping women to stop holding back, share the power of their gifts, and create success out of the mess of REAL life.
You can connect with Brenda MacIntyre here: