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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

How to Woo Fans and Potential Customers With a Swanky Event

Throwing an event people will remember is a lot easier than you might imagine.

Advertising, social media and content marketing all have their place in winning the hearts of a loyal fan base, but really the best way to engage with customers and potential customers involves charming them in person. That's according to Tim Raybould, CEO of Philadelphia startup Ticketleap, a platform that has helped organizers market and sell tickets to 300,000 events since the company launched in 2003.

Here's his advice on how to hold a fantastic event attendees will remember.

Know that even small events can have a big impact.

Ticketleap frequently hosts events itself and one of the company's first was a flower potluck in which everyone brought stems and left with bouquets. Twenty people registered for the event, which was supposed to be held on the grassy bank of the Schuylkill River. However, because of torrential rain the potluck was moved into the company's office and only nine people showed up. Even so, the handful of attendees collectively shared something about the event on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook 18 times, eliciting 93 likes or favorites. Along with more likes on the event's landing page the rainy soiree garnered 173 social media interactions. "If we wrote a blog post or sent a tweet out we would be absolutely thrilled with 173 engagements from that content," Raybould says.

Don't sweat the venue--it's your easiest box to check off.

The best thing to do is offer a free venue first, one held outdoors or in your office space where you can turn off florescent lights and replace them with softer lighting for a warmer ambience. If you can't do free, check Yelp which offers a wealth of venue ideas. Once you find one, make sure the venue operator understands your style of event. "You don't want a mismatch of expectations that could come to a head on event day," Raybould says.

Throw creatively fun events that reflect your brand.

Companies often default to holding happy hour meet-ups but with a little creativity they could position themselves in a better light. "If you're a brewery have an event where you bring in some of the city's best smoked food vendors and pair them with your beers," Raybould says. "Or if you're a news company or a company that's in the political space have people in over breakfast or coffee to talk about the news story of the month with an expert." Another example: Ticketleap suggested that local Cycle Wash Laundry host a mud run or some other event in which people would get dirty.

Raybould says you'll reap two benefits by holding fun, creative events. First, they attract more people who will better bond with your brand because of the positive experience you give them. Also, you'll naturally be more excited about it, increasing the odds the event actually comes to fruition.

Do what sold-out events do.

Sold-out events give people at least 30 days to register. In fact, 35 days is the median window for them on Ticketleap, whereas the median sales length for events that don't sell out is 23 days. As for size, the median for sold-out events on the platform is 35 people. And there's no magic number in terms of what you should charge, if you plan to do so. The median price across all Ticketleap events is $20 per ticket whether events sell out or not. "So it's not like sold out events were giving it away," he says.

Choose an event platform that's well-integrated with social channels.

Word of mouth is the best way to market an event and tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are particularly valuable for small companies that don't promote events for a living. "Just having an interesting event and having that first layer of ticket buyers... spread the word about it is a pretty effective way to get the ball rolling on sold out events."

Want more advice on planning a great event? Check out Ticketleap's Events University which offers heaps of good advice on the subject.

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Last updated: Jul 16, 2014

CHRISTINA DESMARAIS

Christina DesMarais is an Inc.com contributor who writes about the tech start-up community, covering innovative ideas, news, and trends. On Google+, add her to one of your circles. Have a tip? Email her at christinadesmarais (at) live (dot) com.




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