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Lessons From My First Ever Live Event

live eventEven though I’ve spoken many times at other people’s live events, until last weekend I had never put on one of my own.

As with doing anything for the first time there is a big learning curve to transcend.

So in this post I’d like to share with you a few tips and pointers to consider if you are looking to put an event on yourself.

Some are simple and some are more subtle but I hope all together they give you some good food for thought…

1. Define The Primary Goal Of Your Event

In order to get the most from any product you create it’s essential to be very clear from the outset as to what your main goal actually is.

In creating a digital product your goal might be lead generation and list building in which case you would probably choose to sell your product very inexpensively ($5-$30) and give away the majority of the revenue in affiliate commission in order to maximize the traffic.

Conversely, if your goal is making money by promoting to existing leads then you would probably create a bigger, more extensive product and set a higher price.

Now, when it comes to live events there are several models to consider:

a) Multi-Speaker Pitching Event
This is where you sell tickets very cheaply (or even give them away for free) and invite multiple speakers to provide the content at your event.

This content is followed by an offer which not only pays for the cost of putting on the event but also (hopefully!) pushes you into profit. Typically, the revenues from the promotions are split 50/50 between you as the event organizer and the individual guest speakers.

There’s nothing wrong with this model and having other speakers means that they can help promote the event itself which can be invaluable.

However, when it’s taken to the limit and hype is used in the sales tactics you end up with the infamous “pitch fest”. If you’ve ever attended one of these you’ll know content is usually very sparse, non-specific and is really only there as an excuse to lead to the pitch itself.

b) Seminar Upsell Model
Another popular model is to put several seminars into a sales funnel.

For example, there are experts who pay to speak at large conferences or events and then sell the audience into their 1 day seminar (e.g., priced at $500).

Then at the end of the 1 day seminar they will make a further offer of a 3 day seminar (e.g., priced at $1,500).

And so on…

c) Content Driven No Pitching Event
This is the model I chose.

Specifically, I wanted to:

  • Deliver a complete blueprint over 2 days in a step by step way with tons of examples and case studies
  • Not pitch or sell anything during the weekend
  • Have the seminar filmed so I could repurpose the footage for a higher ticket product later on

Now of course, putting on a 2 day live event with hotel rooms, meals and having it professionally filmed does not come cheap.

So how do you pay for it?

Well in January when I was putting the plans together I spoke with a few different people I know and asked for their advice. The vast majority of them advised me to sell a high ticket offer at the seminar itself so I could pay for the costs and turn a profit too.

But as mentioned above I just didn’t want to do this.

I felt that with the information I would deliver over the 2 days attendees really wouldn’t have any immediate need for any high priced products in order to move forward.

So instead I:

a) Priced the tickets at a level which would give great value for all live attendees.

b) Made available a separate significantly discounted offer for the DVD Package which included the complete footage of the 2 days.

If you are considering putting on a live event now or in the future I can’t recommend these two points enough.

The mid range priced tickets allow you to deliver much more value to attendees (e.g., I included all meals, hotel rooms and a USB Drive with extra resources on it) plus you get a better quality of people too who are more far likely to take the information, implement it and get results.

And you don’t have to worry about selling them something during the event either which as I’ve said was very important to me in this case.

Equally, offering the footage on DVDs for non-attendees proved to be immensely popular and well beyond my initial expectations.

Again, this helps to provide more value (professional production, USB Drive resources etc) but also no matter how great your event it’s just the case that not everyone will be able to make the specific date and location.

So providing the footage in some form like this enables everyone to get involved and benefit whether they can attend or not.

2. Plan and Confirm in Writing

Needless to say with any live event there are many components that you need to have in place to ensure success.

Some of these things are obvious (hotels, content, food etc) and some may not necessarily spring to mind immediately (name badges, DVD artwork, filming release forms).

After making a list of all the various factors, get quotes from different companies to find out the costs and expected delivery dates.

An obvious point I suppose but I can’t stress how important it is to speak to these suppliers on the phone and then ask for written email confirmation on what has been agreed.

It’s amazing how deadlines and costings can slide if you don’t nail down the agreement right from the outset!

3. Costing Breakdowns

After getting quotes for all the things you need put them into a spreadsheet and play around with the numbers.

This will give you an idea of what the optimal pricing should be and also how many sales you need to make to break even (crucial to know!).

This is extremely useful and it also helps to ensure that you have definitely included all costs in your model. Surprising how many “little extras” can creep in later that you didn’t originally think of!

4. Set Expectations and Overdeliver

A great thing to do in all products (live events, physical or digital) is to provide much more value than people expect at the point of delivery.

To me, this always starts with the content itself but for this project I also included a small but valuable unannounced bonus at the event itself.

If you are delivering content by direct mail (as I’m doing with the DVDs) again err on the side of caution when it comes to delivery times. So much better to set slightly pessimistic expectations and then over deliver than the other way around!

5. Promote Networking

If you’ve been a subscriber of mine for a while you’ll know that I’m a big fan of live events in general and a huge reason for this is because they enable you to meet like minded people.

This is usually fantastic from a learning perspective but also it can sow the seeds for very useful partnerships and joint ventures in the future.

So networking is a major benefit for people coming to your live event as well and therefore it makes sense to promote it.

One way I did this was to include a dinner on the Saturday evening where everyone could talk more informally and get to know one another.

You can also consider providing everyone with an email attendee list, setting up a post event mastermind group or adding the attendees to a Facebook group so they can stay in touch.

If someone at your event wishes to do this for you then that’s even better (which is exactly what happened at Gain High Ground Live weekend)!

6. Start Small

Remember you don’t need to start with a huge multi-day, multi-speaker event that is filmed and professionally produced.

Far from it, you can start small, gain experience and then grow from there.

An example is actually one of the attendees at Gain Higher Ground Live who has already been running a small event in their local area using meetup.com.

May very successful meetups started off in this way and it’s a great way to gain experience so you can grow.

This said, whether you would like to put an event on yourself or not, do try to attend as many as you can.

Regardless of whether you join a $5,000 mastermind group or go to a small free meetup in a bar or pub, you can gain an enormous amount from spending time with like minded individuals.

Thoughts, comments, questions? Please SHARE/LIKE/TWEET if you found this post useful and take a moment to drop a quick comment below :-)

{ 23 comments… add one }

  • The reason why I’ve hesitated is the nagging concern, nay fear, that I’ll launch it and no one will sign up or worse 2 people and their dogs. Wondering if there needs to be a list critical mass and tribe engagement before trying to launch it or if the process of launch actually breaks through those barriers? What do you think Rob?

    Andrew

    • Rob

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for posting a very good question :-)

      You’re absolutely right and I think everyone (including myself) has that worry of “what if noone buys a ticket!?”. Or perhaps even worse 5 people buy a ticket when you need 10 to break even and then have to pull the plug!

      Essentially though you would just cancel the event and refund people I suppose. Not ideal at all but at the same time not a disaster.

      Perhaps another reason to start small and build up…

      Cheers, Rob

  • Nickolas

    Great post. It is not much information about this topic online.

    I think your model will pay you of long term. Not everyone will waste a good upportunity to earn more money and instead prioritize content like you!

    • Rob

      Hi Nickolas,

      Thank you – glad you found it helpful. You’re right about there not being much info. Obviously, not everyone wants to put an event on but still, I thought it was well worthwhile publishing this anyway…

      Cheers, rob

  • Hi Rob,

    It is interesting to hear your take on ‘lesson’s learnt’ in putting on your first ever live event, but for myself and others in the group I think the Model chosen for the delivery of your Seminar last weekend was perfect and just the sort of thing I and my fellow attendees wanted to see. As Nickolas mentioned above – I’m sure the Model used will really pay off in the long term!

    For my part, it was a terrific weekend, and although I was apprehensive, as this was my first Live Event, I really enjoyed it – learnt so much, and met a great group of people, who, like myself, are very keen to put start putting the strategies covered into action!

    As you mentioned above the GHG seminar group are in the process of arranging a meet-up and also an FB Page to keep in touch, so we are very committed to moving forward with our respective online ventures, and also helping each other out whenever possible.

    Thanks for the brilliant weekend Rob, great strategies covered, surprise gifts, and most definitely over delivered content! …… For those who didn’t attend, I’d order the DVD – like now!!!

    All the Best,
    Stephanie.

    • Rob

      Hi Stephanie,

      Wow – thank you for your very kind feedback! That’s brilliant to hear and so glad you could come along, it was a real pleasure spending the weekend with you :-)

      Talk soon I’m sure and all the best,

      Rob

    • Nicko

      Your site is very good Stephanie, good luck moving forward :)

      • Thank you so much for your kind comment Nicko, it was very good of you to take the time!
        ATB,
        Stephanie.

  • Dan

    Really informative post Rob, I for one am a fan of your no BS style in an industry that is full of fast talking gurus :-)

    I do enjoy reading your posts and have bookmarked this one below as I think its excellent :-)
    http://www.gainhigherground.com/exactly-how-I-built-my-list-from-scratch/

    Cheers

    Dan

    • Rob

      Much appreciated Dan, thank you for that.

      Glad you enjoyed the other post too :-)

      Cheers, Rob

  • Roy Grogan

    Great Post Rob… And I commend you on the way you promoted and conducted your recent weekend Training event… (although I could not attend, I live in Sydney, Australia). Mind you if finances were not a barier, I would have… As I consider you to be a entrepreneur who is genuinely trying to assist others, whilst building your own business and expanding your profile… without the “fluff and buff” which so many other so called “gurus” are prone to do.

    Personally I am so over the many live events in which so many “Gurus” are recruited to promote their particular product… and then create an un-real sense of urgency, so called HUGE discount, to buy immediately after their on-stage delivery whilst their un-suspecting audience is hyped up … but the reality is quite stark and quite different… How do I know? Been there and done that! The credit card was so badly wrecked at the end of the day… Brother did I learn a valuable lesson.

    You are on the right track with your “intimate one or two man” seminars which offer so much more content and learning experience. You then become the person who your attendees will remember and want to engage with… into the future.

    Sadly, I cannot afford to buy the DVD of the event – the “joy stick of education”
    as I recently commited to Sarah Staars AffiliateX work shop.

    Warm Regards… and all the best for the future… Roy

    “Success is not counted by how high you’ve climbed,
    but by how many people you brought with you”.

    • Rob

      Hi Roy,

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts here, very much appreciated :-)

      Totally agree on the nature of many live events out there which is one of the main reasons I wanted to do something different with Gain Higher Ground Live. Who knows, maybe in the future we’ll do something in Australia. I’d love to come back there, such a fantastic country and it’s been too long since I visited (2006)!

      All the best,

      Rob.

  • Mike O'Neill

    Hi Rob
    Fascinating to hear about the conception and delivery of the plan form your point of view. As for the weekend, the content and delivery were superb and as Stephanie says, in an earlier post, many in the group have now set up an FB page and a proposed ‘mini-mastermind group to foster progress in our various directions and to keep one another motivated and really that’s all thanks to you and your clear, direct and zero BS presentation. Thanks again.

    All the best
    Mike

    • Rob

      Hi Mike,

      That’s great to hear and really glad you could make it!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment too, much appreciated :-)

      Cheers, Rob

  • Jo Macdonald

    Great weekend Rob, excellent content from someone who walks the walk and talks the talk in a professional and honest way. I too agree the model you chose to deliver your seminar was perfect. So glad I chose to attend the event, now have to think of myself more as an entreprenuer rather than as a customer. Anyone who could not attend the event and are considering purchasing the DVD’s, you will not be disappointed!

    • Rob

      Thanks Jo, so glad you had a good time and enjoyed it :-)

      Cheers, Rob

  • David

    Hi Rob,
    Just wanted to echo the feedback from Stephanie; we all thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, thanks to your excellent planning and over-delivering!
    Cheers
    David

    • Rob

      Hi David,

      That’s great to hear – thanks for taking the time to comment :-)

      Cheers,

      Rob

  • Jo Macdonald

    Thank you Rob, my boxed up dvds arrived this morning. Now those that could not attend the event can get their hands on the meaty content!

  • Hi Rob
    I thought the content in this post was so excellent that I copied and posted it into my resources file and I will be consulting it very soon. Thank you for sharing. By the way, what is the price of your DVD set?

    • Rob

      Hi Brian,

      Thank you for your comment and great to see you here on the blog :-)

      Your feedback is much appreciated and glad you found it useful.

      The DVDs for the event were available on pre-order (at £295) but are sold out now. There is a chance we might have a few “spares” (depending upon breakages etc in the last batch that is being sent out) but right now I can’t say for certain. Feel free to drop an email to support@gainhhigherground.com and I can let you know in the next week or so if any become available.

      Cheers, Rob

  • Mark

    Hey Rob,

    Are you planning on doing any more events?

    I missed this one due to Gmail deciding to put your emails in my junk folder. I thought I hadn’t heard from you for a while!

    • Rob

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for your comment :-)

      No plans for another live event right no I’m afraid but who knows, perhaps in the future… :-)

      I’ve been on a road trip in the USA for just over a month hence my lack of emails. I have been updating my FB page a little though. Not really business related but if you’re interested in road trip photos then you might like a quick look: https://www.facebook.com/RobCornishPage

      Cheers,

      Rob.

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