Over 1,500 people packed into an NYC venue on a rainy Wednesday night, eagerly awaiting the start of a money bootcamp? Sounds like an unlikely scene, but it's exactly what happened last week at LearnVest Live--our event series where we bring our decidedly online brand to real life.

Year after year, we have been blown away by not only the demand for our events, but also the lasting power they have on a number of our business channels. Here's how live events may be able to take your business to the next level:

Increased satisfaction

A recent study out of Harvard Business School found that the mere sight of a customer can motivate you to do your job better. They studied a restaurant setting and found that satisfaction went up by 17.3% when chefs and diners could see one another. And I'm not surprised. There is something tremendously powerful about meeting your customers live. You get to see them, talk to them, answer their questions--it's an up close and personal look at the people you're working so hard to serve.

The benefits go both ways. As a Program for your money, LearnVest clients work with Planners via phone and email to make progress on their money. Our events provide a chance for our clients to meet their Planners face to face. These interactions can give clients an extra boost the next time their Planner issues a financial Challenge for them.

Massive focus group

I think about our live events as a massive focus group. It allows us to be in touch with what our audience is looking for. We tailor the content to meet their needs, adding topics we know attendees are working on. For example, we brought in a student loan expert this year (appropriate given our national $1 trillion plus in student loan debt!)

We also follow up with a brief survey post-event so we can solicit feedback immediately. As we constantly think about fine-tuning our products, listening to our audience is critical.

Attention span

As consumers, we are inundated with messages 24/7. Apparently our average attention span has plummeted from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013 (less than a goldfish). While attendees may come and go over the course of an event, you have a significantly greater amount of time to capture their attention than you do online. Our event programming runs for three hours, giving us a significant opportunity to share our story, explain our products, offer compelling content--and add in the event features that make it a hot ticket (from inspiring speakers to food trucks to professional head shot photo booths).

Brand awareness

One of the best marketing channels is word of mouth, and events inherently encourage your existing audience to spread the word. We see most ticket purchases come in multiples, with tons of attendees bringing along friends and spouses who are new to the brand. This organic brand growth is invaluable, and we’ve seen it build each year, with event RSVPs up 50% from last year.

Events have also allowed us to take LearnVest into new markets outside of our New York headquarters, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Boston--with LearnVest Live scheduled to hit many new cities in 2015.