Why are people coming to my event?

a group of colourful event name tags

We worry so much about whether anyone will come to our event, and I used to worry about this too.  But then I realised, if I reached out and asked people to come, they would.  But this didn’t stop the resistance, the anxiety, the worry, about creating my own event, until last week.

Last week I realised, the resistance was because I didn’t want people to have a boring time!  I didn’t want them to leave with nothing to say about my event, or worse, say how much they didn’t enjoy themselves.

So, I started doing things a little differently.

The first thing I did was take Julias Solaris’* advice and remove all the questions from my registration form and simply make it name and email.  Make it as easy as possible for people to register, Julian says, only the absolute basic info you need from them.

For my event in February, I took this advice on board and got 94 registrations.  The most I have ever had to an in-person event.

The next step in the registration process though, was to send all registrants a form to complete, so I could get to know who they were, a little better.  A little over half of those registrants filled in the form – 59.  Event show up rate 55.

Here’s the lesson in this one.  I added to my database with a simple registration process, I was able to gauge the show up rate by knowing that those that invested in providing the information, were likely to attend – I was write.

Simple registration + subsequent investment of time = Likelihood of attendance.

For the next event, it was an expression of interest (EOI) in the first instance, and then a personal invitation.  The EOI garnered very little interest, so I sent out about 80 invitations – I gave them a week between the invitation and the event.

This time, it was still a simple registration process, and I did the work on my side.  I drew on some of Priya Parker’s words of advice and did my best to “prime” my audience before event day.  Essentially building momentum so they were compelled to come along.  I encouraged engagement, got them thinking about who they might like to meet and building in some intrigue.  The purpose, to keep my event front of mind and hopefully be the one they chose to attend once event day rolled around.  Oh, I also told everyone who was coming, and because I had curated a varied and interesting guest list, people wanted to come!

80 invitations with 40 RSVPs and only 1 no-show

Lesson:  Give people a good reason to choose you, over everything else they could be doing at that time.  Acknowledge and respect their time is valuable and do everything to make sure you don’t waste it.  And make sure they know you’re doing that, by keeping them excited about your event.  And if you can, let them know who else is coming.

A compelling reason to come + a well curated guest list = 99% show up rate.

In the first event I focused in on getting as many people as possible to come and connect.  It worked okay but was better once I dug a little deeper.  This lesson led me to the 2nd event lesson, and that was to curate a truly memorable experience.  And once I had that, all resistance fell away and was replaced with excitement, enthusiasm ad gratitude.

The moral of the story is that you need to keep shifting, keep nudging, keep altering what you’re doing.  It will never be perfect, but if you keep focused on the your audience experience, at the very least you are serving your people the best of your ability, and they will reward you with their attendance.

*  You can find Julius Solaris at www.linkedin.com/in/juliussolaris/