Whether you’re sponsoring a live or virtual event, make sure you’ve covered the bases long before the big day arrives or you’ll be facing poor attendance, empty seats and a boss who’ll want a good explanation.
Here are seven problems that can kill your event, despite a more-than-adequate budget and a group of enthusiastic volunteers. I’ll discuss these in more depth when I host the webinar “50+ Places Online to Promote Your Live & Virtual Events to Reach Your Target Market & Pull Sell-Out Crowds” on Tuesday, Oct. 19.
1. Not allowing people to register online, with a credit card.
Becoming a credit card merchant, or getting a PayPal account, is so easy, that there’s no excuse for not being able to process registrations online. I’ve seen a lot of sole proprietors host webinars and teleseminars and insist that attendees mail them a check. They’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
On Tuesday, I’ll tell you about a company I found that takes your registrations and processes your payments for you.
2. Not checking all the local event calendars before you choose the date of your event.
If you’re sponsoring a live event, check with your state’s Tourism Office and your local Chamber of Commerce to see what other events are planned on your day. You can also do a Google search for “events + March 30, 2010 + Cleveland, Ohio” to see what events are already planned on March 30 in Cleveland.
Also, consider the weather and have a contingency plan. What happens to your outdoor fall festival if there’s a snowstorm in late October? It’s happened.
3. Not being aware of religious and secular holidays.
Plan your event on All Saints Day, Yom Kippur, Eid Al-Fitr, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Kwanza, Cinco de Mayo, or Presidents Day when many people are out of town over the long weekend, and you could see smaller crowds. The University of Kansas Medical Center’s Diversity Calendar is a handy resource.
4. Not understanding all the problems that can occur if you serve alcohol at your event.
Make sure you know your liability if you serve booze, even if it’s only beer and wine. It may be inappropriate to serve alcohol at a family event. And it may send a bad message if you seek a beer or wine company as a sponsor of a family event.
5. Not leaving enough time for national publicity.
If your pre-event publicity relies on national magazines, you must account for the six-month lead time at many publications. If your festival, which you hope will attract tourists, can’t get into national travel or inflight magazines, you could be in big trouble.
6. Relying on press releases as the primary way to publicize your event.
Press releases seldom result in big stories in newspapers, magazines and on TV. They’re a miniscule part of a publicity campaign and need to be part of a strategic PR program that dovetails traditional and social media.
7. Not using online event calendars.
When people are looking for something to do, many of them rely on online event calendars such as those found at AmericanTowns.com, Yelp! and CitySearch.com. If your event isn’t on those calendars, another event gets their attention, time and money. You’ll also find event calendars at many niche sites, which event planners often overlook.
During Tuesday’s webinar, I’ll share more than 50 websites that are searchable by city and zip code, or that target a niche market, or that have huge followings of people who are looking for something to do. Register here. If the time is inconvenient, register anyway because you’ll receive the replay link for the video, and killer handouts that include all the websites I’m discussing, so you can use it as a handy cheat sheet the next time you plan an event.
Those are only some of the problems that can occur. With some smart planning, you can avoid them, and stage successful events that pack ’em in.