An empty event is a worthy adversary that every event organizer, promoter or venue wishes to evade. For it is the dream of many to label their events with the famous “Sold Out” stamp however elusive that ambition may be. We awed with envy at others when their tickets are gone within minutes and wonder what marketing secrets did they employ to achieve such an astonishing feat. Let’s demystify some of those marketing and promotional tactics to understand how we could use them in our own events.
Know your audience and venue
First things first, every event organizer or promoter has to know their target market in the vicinity of the proposed venue. Typical audience insights are the population of the city, venue capacity, demographics and purchasing power which translates to “how many people living nearby the venue who love XXXX and might be willing to pay $XXX for a ticket to attend.” It seems like a simple formula but getting the numbers to complete the math might be elusive. Some recommended free tools that you could try to scrape as much data as you could are Tweepsmap, Instagram app, Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics.
Once you gauged the estimated tickets you could sell, find the right-sized venue that could host it. There’s usually a venue big enough to host a sizable event for the size of the population in the city. The bigger the population, the bigger the venue you could get. You could still get a sell-out if you host in a larger venue but with lesser seats. Because ultimately, you control the number of tickets to issue.
Get big names
This is the easiest trick in the book to think of but hardest to achieve. Yes, it’s obvious that if you could get larger-than-life superstars to perform or attend your event, they will absolutely drive a massive crowd. But just to be sure that they are worth your every dime, check their number of followings in your city. Again, social channels are a good source, but you could also check forums, FB or Whatsapp groups, sales stats, data from similar past events and more. Online comments also could help, especially when you could find out a person’s location just from their name.
The bigger the name, the bigger the paycheck that you need to pay them. And some (or most) demand upfront booking fees even before they step into your city. To get that sum of money, read on.
Get sponsors to sponsor your big names
To play safe, you can consider getting potential sponsors to cover the upfront fee of your stars. Why? Because they have the money and that money might just locked into their annual A&P (advertisement and promotion) budget. And you don’t want to be screwed by getting a business loan to pay for the fee and fail to pay back using your ticket sales.
The trick here is to match the right sponsor with the right celebrity. Think Taylor Swift-Diet Coke, Beyonce-Adidas or Roger Federer-Rolex. And the carrot here is to get them to kill two birds with one stone. With or without an existing endorsement contract, a celebrity could be willing to fly all the way to your location if they could say perform in a concert and sign a new endorsement deal. Or the sponsor could use the artist’s presence to officiate a big corporate event and be at your event to drive more sales. Either way, it’s win-win for all sides – you, Mr or Miss Big Name and sponsor.
Get your big name to tweet about your event
This is a must! The more they post about your event, the better you’re off to getting a sold-out event. Because their fans shall be the one buying your tickets just to see them. You could save a lot of their time (or their social media manager’s time) by sending them pre-designed tweets or posts. They just need to copy and paste. Or mention them on Twitter and ask them to retweet.
Time your PR campaign with your ticket sale
Humans are wired as last-minute species. So, try not to release your media coverage when your ticket sale is weeks away. People will forget thus it’s best to do it together or a day or a few apart. Your media coverage reach should be directly proportional to the popularity of your invited celebrity. Which makes it easier to get the word out about your event if you have someone famous.
Create FOMO with scarcity
Think about how often someone or something like your event ever happened in your city. If it’s rare, you could drive up the FOMO (fear of missing out) meter.
Consider the adjacent audience
When I went to the first Linkin Park concert in South East Asia that happened in Kuala Lumpur in 2003, it was a huge sell-out. In fact, it was so successful that there were massive turnouts from fans from neighboring countries like Singapore, Indonesia and Phillippines. So, do ensure you spread the word all the way to nearby cities, especially those with the easy logistic means to attend your event. These untapped markets could have a stronger FOMO fear to come. You could even consider chartering a flight or buses for them.
Finally, sharpen your saw
Achieving a sell-out event in your first attempt may be difficult but once you keep at it and learn from the mistakes you made, that elusive “sold-out” stamp might just come by at one fine event. Nurture the business relationships you built along the way. After all, event management is human management.
Photo Credit: Jose Antonio Navas. Edited.