AMY PORTERFIELD: Welcome back to another episode of the Online Marketing Made Easy Podcast, I’m your host, Amy Porterfield. Today we are talking all things live events.
For some of you at least some of you that follow me religiously, me talking about live events might seem a little bit odd. If you know me, in the last few years I’ve made an effort to be very selective about the events I attend.
Most of you might think I don’t actually do any live events for my own business. That’s not entirely true. Each year, over the last four or five years now, I have done live events in San Diego for my B-School bonus members.
I’ve been doing these for many years but I don’ talk about the publicly because they are for a select group. When you buy Marie Forleo’s B-School program through my affiliate link I create a really special over-the-top bonus package that includes a live event that is no cost to you.
I’ve been doing these for a while now but like I said, I don’t talk about them publicly because they are for a very small group of people. However, this fall I wanted to try something a little bit different.
I decided to invite my general audience, that has maybe been in one of my other programs, to my live event. We opened it up this year and the plan was to do two different one-day live events called The Entrepreneur Experience here in San Diego.
For those of you who attended my October event, thank you so very much. It was such an amazing experience and that’s what I’m going to talk about today in this episode.
I wanted to kind of back up a little bit. I decided to open my event beyond my B-School bonus members this year because, as you already know, I talked about it in Episode #188 all about my year of automation, I feel that doing a lot of automation this year kind of separated me from my audience.
I didn’t get that real-time and real-life kind of interaction with many of you. Doing a live event allowed me to get closer to you and really learn what you’re all about, what you’re working on, your challenges, your struggles, and actually be with you in real life.
That’s just a whole different kind of experience. I wanted more of that and that’s one reason we opened my live event. I also don’t do events a whole lot. I wanted to give my students an opportunity to come out and connect and hear from me in person even if you weren’t part of B-School this year.
Again, I think it’s important to try things in new ways and do things differently. I wanted to experiment in that way.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve already done one event by the time this recording goes live. Now that I’m mega batching (also a podcast I’ve done recently), this episode will go live after my second live event of this year. With that I wanted to share some things that really worked well.
I also want to be candid about some things I would change my next time around. I think that is with every live event. So, if you’re going to do a live event you always find wins and you will always find ways to make it better.
If you’re thinking about doing a live event I should share my wins and my misses so that you can apply them to your own events as well. By the way, this isn’t just me and my staff saying, “Hey, that was a great event” so that we can pat ourselves on the back.
We actually did surveys afterwards and we talked to a lot of people during the live event so we knew from our attendees what worked really, really well, what they were gushing about, and we also knew what we could change based on some feedback.
Everything I’m going to share today with you came from my live attendees based on either verbal feedback or their surveys because we sent a survey after the fact.
A little side note before I jump into all things live event. Next year, in 2018, I’m considering going back to my roots and only offering my live event to my B-School bonus members. I actually might even open it up to my alumni B-School bonus members as well and that would be really fun.
You might be wondering why I’m going to do that. Why would I only open it up to a certain group? I do think there is something kind of magical around having an event around a program where everybody is speaking the same language.
They have gone through the same experience. They have had similar challenges and they can all help each other based on the content they have all learned over a year’s time. I really love that dynamic and I’m considering going back to that in 2018.
If you’ve ever thought about joining B-School I really want you to take it seriously in terms of making a decision in this coming year. If you want to know about my B-School bonus package we’ve already started to work on it and it’s better than any year I’ve ever offered a bonus package.
If you want to know about what I’m offering in my bonus package and you want to be alerted the minute B-School opens up in 2018 then make sure to get on my wait list at http:// www.amyporterfield.com/bschool and I’ll make sure to reach out to you the second the doors open up again.
I just wanted to put that out there in case you had any interest in this very special program and my very special bonus package. But no decisions are final just yet. I’ve got a little time to figure it out but I just kind of wanted to put that out there in case you were interested.
Let’s get to it and talk all things live events.
I’m going to start out with three of my big wins from the live event and then I’m, of course, going to get into some of those messy missteps along the way because those are important as well.
This episode is devoted to my friend, Tyler, J. McCall. He’s a devoted listener to my podcast and while I was writing the outline for this episode he sent me a DM and said, “Amy, are you going to do an episode on your podcast about live events?”
That pretty much made my day so I’m going to start giving some shout outs to some of my devoted listeners and Tyler J. McCall, you get the first shout out. Go follow him on Instagram. He’s got a lot of great things to share.
Win #1 – The Overall Experience
I believe the best events deliver the best overall experience. In order to create an overall experience I think you need to layer some really cool elements. I thought I would share some of the elements I layered to create an experience where people felt connected with each other, they felt taken care of, supported, and really empowered when they left the event.
The first element was a gift. Before they entered the room I actually put a special booklet on everyone’s seat. That booklet was a guide, actually three different guides, all about list building, course creation, and webinars.
Specifically, each of the guides was 60 Days to Build Your Email List, 60 Days to Create Your Course, and 60 Days to Get Your Webinar Up and Running. They were really, really detailed guides. We spent months and months creating these and they were beautifully designed and in a really nicely packaged booklet that everybody could take home with them.
I kind of liked the element of something physical they could put in their bag and leave with. For me, I don’t just want you to sit in your seat and learn a bunch of stuff that I’m going to teach you from stage. I want you to leave with a plan.
To insure that you left my live event with a plan, you got these three different guides in one booklet that you could attack in any way that you wanted. That was the first thing. Right when they came inside they saw the gift right there waiting for them at their table.
Another thing we did was actually have seat assignments. That was a really cool element. Everybody filled out a survey before they came into the room and then my team actually spent hours, and I mean hours, going through every survey to figure out who should sit next to each other in order to make those different tables that everybody was at really valuable for each of my attendees.
They were going to be able to sit next to people that were either at the same level that they were at or doing similar things or we saw some really good possible synergy between them.
Not only did they come into the room with a gift at their table but there were seating assignments.
Right away I told them they are exactly where they are meant to be. I think that added an element of relaxation because I had taken care of it and that it was going to be a great experience.
Overall, the takeaway from a gift and the seat assignments in general is that it’s just really important that right away, when people walk in the room, they feel like they are taken care of. They are right where they should be because people get really nervous when they go into a new environment at a live event and aren’t really sure who they should talk to and don’t know anybody.
They want to go back to their hotel room and hide. I get it. I’ve been there before. We wanted to take that element off the table and add a cooler element of all connecting. I had the seat ready for everyone so they would be right where they should be along with a special gift to kick everything off. And, when you leave you now have a plan. Right from the get go that was decided.
The Feeding Frenzy
Moving on to the second element to creating an extra special experience, we call it the feeding frenzy. Oh my goodness. We had enough food to feed people at every minute of the day. That meant we provided breakfast for everybody and then we had snacks throughout the day. We provided lunch for everybody as well.
We did that because we wanted everyone to stay in the room where we were doing the live event to encourage networking and to encourage everybody to connect. They didn’t have to go anywhere for lunch. We provided it.
We had snacks all day, like I said, and I think it’s also important to have coffee and tea and water throughout the day. We supported everyone and they stayed right there because it was just a one-day event. I had no time to waste with them and I needed to pack it all in.
I realize when you’re just starting out providing food may be a luxury. You might not be able to do that. But maybe you could do little treats or bring in a food truck right near your venue. I know the ladies at Business Boutique did that in Nashville.
They brought in a few food trucks while the event was going on so that people wouldn’t have to go far. That was another cool element. You don’t have to pay for it but you can make things easier for your attendees.
If you could provide tea, water, and coffee throughout the day it is also really important. It just adds an extra special touch. The food frenzy thing was a good thing.
Extra Opportunities to Connect
Even though the event was just for one day we actually provided an impromptu on Friday night and then we offered a Sunday breakfast the next morning. This did cost more so, again, if cost is an issue this might not be something you want to do.
However, it was a really cool thing to bookend the event. We started off the night before chatting, meeting, and taking pictures. It allowed everyone to kind of ease into the event.
The next morning we provided the breakfast so everybody could talk again and come together if their flight hadn’t already taken off earlier that morning. Having these extra opportunities are a really good idea.
They were actually last-minute ideas that I didn’t get to tell everybody in advance. It is very, very important that you tell everyone in advance because I know some people were bummed. They would have stayed a little later on Sunday morning if they had known. That’s just stuff we learn along the way.
I didn’t want to pass up on the opportunity when I heard we had that opportunity last minute. But, of course, it’s best to let everybody know in advance.
The takeaway here is that if you can add more opportunities for people to connect before or after, by all means, do it. It doesn’t mean you have to provide the entertainment or food. You could designate a bar or restaurant where everybody can meet up in advance. It does add an extra element of connection and I really loved that.
You can find your own way to do it.
Let Loose and Have a Little Fun
Having fun is very important in any live event, in my opinion. We did that by actually providing a fun photo booth. At first when my team said they wanted to do this I thought, “Really? I don’t know if anyone would use it.”
I wasn’t really sure about the photo booth. Oh my gosh! It was a huge hit. Of course we had fun props and somebody manned the photo booth the whole time to help anybody. Because the images were digital they could then post them on social and use my hashtag for the live event. That was a huge win.
If somebody posted using the photo booth and then posted using the hashtag we actually put those images on the screen during the break and I would find my favorites and those people would win access to one of my online courses.
It was kind of fun that we did prizes based on the photos they took in the photo booth and by using the hashtag. It fostered engagement online and it made it fun inside the room as well.
Those were some of the fun takeaways that we incorporated into the event to layer the elements and create a special experience.
Win #2 – It’s All About the Content
You may think this is a given but trust me, you can’t make your content a given. You’ve got to work at it for your attendees. There were a few aspects that set us apart from most events based on what we heard from the surveys.
Content Item #1 – Q&A Opportunities
We had a lot of Q&A opportunities. I had three speakers: Rick Mulready was there to talk about Facebook ads; my business partner, Devin Duncan, was there to talk about launching; and I talked about content creation.
After each of us spoke we opened two microphones on the floor for a good 15 to 20 minutes just for Q&A. I really encouraged attendees to stand up, come to the mic, and ask questions. I baited them a little by telling them they could do it and that they would be really mad at themselves if they didn’t take the opportunity to ask their questions.
We also said, “We are answering every question today.” We were going to make time, we were going to find the time, and if they had a question we had an answer. We really went out of our way to do so and I think the Q&A after each session was incredibly valuable. We made sure we had time in our schedule to do Q&A after each presentation.
The takeaway here is to not just do a typical Q&A. I would say to set some mics up, let people come to you, or you go out to them in order to make it really interactive. Do your best to answer every question possible.
Content Item #2 – Great Guest Speaker
Rick Mulready is a dear, dear friend of mine. He hates it when I say that we’re like Regis and Kathie Lee on the podcast we do together but I think it’s true. We have some good energy together and he graciously agreed to speak at my event.
But listen to what the guy did. This was incredible. In the Q&A time he offered great value but also said, “If you are running ads and you’re spending at least $500 a month, while I’m here I’d be happy for you to open up your computer and show me your ads account. We can look around if I could offer any extra advice during the lunch time or during the breaks.”
He extended this to everybody and I thought it was incredibly gracious of him. So a big shout out to Rick and thank you for going above and beyond just the typical Q&A to help out people that were there in the audience wanting to hear from you.
When you’re thinking about who you are going to invite to your event to speak, make sure you think about how they will interact with your audience. If they are willing to give more than they receive they are likely going to be a really good fit for your audience.
That’s something I want you to think about before you invite anybody to speak at your live event.
Win #3 – Connection
Moving on to Win #3. Win #1 had to do with the overall experiences and the elements we added. Win #2 had to do with the content, the Q&A, Rick delivering even more than I expected. Win #3 is about connection.
I’ve already mentioned I don’t get a lot of chances to connect with my students face to face over the course of a year. Because of that, this event was a really big opportunity for me to do so. Before I actually went on to stage I said to myself, “My goal today is to meet every single person in the room, say hello to them, shake their hand, or give them a hug and just talk to everybody in the room.”
I knew that probably wasn’t going to be possible. We had a little over 100 people in the room but that was my mission so hopefully I got to the majority of you that came to the October event. In December it’s going to be a little bit harder because there are about 150 or 160 people coming.
Still, it’s always my mission to get to everybody. One thing I loved, in the surveys, many of you said you couldn’t believe how much access you had to me. It helped that I did the night before with an impromptu meet up so I could go around and meet people there.
The next morning we had a breakfast and it was a smaller group because everybody couldn’t come. My goal was to sit at almost every table possible in the breakfast area and say “hello” and get to connect.
This had to be my mission as the leader of this event and I think that makes a difference. How many events have you gone to where you had no contact whatsoever with the speaker or a quick selfie that was so rushed that it almost felt awkward. That has happened to me many, many times and I didn’t want that type of experience.
Just know that was definitely my big goal and I hope you will make it your big goal as you do your live event. The takeaway here is to connect meaningfully with every person in the room or at least make a really big effort to do so.
One more thing. We did a VIP cocktail hour after the live event had ended. You had to pay extra to be part of this cocktail hour because we wanted it to be really small and intimate. I invited James Wedmore and his beautiful wife, Chelsea, from Laguna Beach to come to the VIP cocktail hour; Jasmine Star was invited she was there as well; and, of course, Rick and Devin were there and myself and my entire team.
What is cool is that Jasmine actually said to me after the event, “Amy, I made it my mission to say hello to every single person in that cocktail hour.” She said she didn’t know if she got to everybody but she made it her mission.
I realized, “Oh my gosh,” if I keep attracting people in my world that have similar values and care as much as I do it will create a better experience for my audience. The fact she said the exact same thing that was my goal for the day, I thought it was a jackpot! That’s just so very cool.
Hopefully if you were at the VIP you had a wonderful experience. It was really special.
Miss #1 – My Content
Now let’s get to the gritty, messy misses that definitely happened along the way. Some of them might not have been really obvious to my attendees but some of them might have been. I don’t think any event is going to be perfect so I didn’t want to hesitate to share any of this with you.
The first miss was actually my content. That might seem a little bit weird to some of you because I said one of the “wins” was actually the content in terms of doing the Q&As after each presentation and actually going above and beyond to answer so many questions.
The miss for me is that I delivered some brand new content around hiring a content coordinator. I actually think I confused some of the people that were in the audience in the sense that I didn’t explain it in the way that I wanted to explain it.
I should have started out with the “why”. Why was I teaching about hiring a content coordinator and then getting into the “how”. I’m really quick to jump to the “how” because I am a step-by-step how-to kind of girl. Sometimes I need to slow down and make sure I paint the picture of the “why”.
I share this with you for two reasons. If you are going to be presenting on stage and it’s some new content you’ve never presented, make sure you really start with the “why” and that people understand why you created this for them and why it matters to them. Then, of course, jump into the “how”.
I’m also telling you this because, for those of you who were there in October, I’m actually going to send you a revised presentation I’m doing in December. I’m just going to record it for you and you’ll just hear my voice and see the slides.
I want to explain this idea of hiring a content coordinator to you in a different way. If you were there in October you are going to get an email sometime in late December with a new recording. It’s just going to be better than what you experienced in October.
I wanted to give a shout out so that any of you that were listening there in October that a little extra surprise is coming your way. I also wanted to share that with all of you listening because there’s always a way to correct something and make it better or fix a challenge that you experienced.
It might just be as simple as doing a redo. That was one of the things, I just didn’t love how I delivered that content and I wanted to make it right.
Miss #2 – The Q&A
I know I said the Q&A was actually a “win”. It was a win in terms of scheduling time for Q&A after the presenter delivered the content. The Q&A could be really relevant to the topic that was just presented. That was a win.
However, we also did a Q&A panel at the end where I invited all of the speakers to come on stage and we answered any and every question from the audience. The challenge was that some people asked questions that were really specific to themselves.
The answer we had for them would not be relevant to anybody else in the room but them. This was a big room of a lot of people and I felt that some of the responses dragged on. They weren’t valuable to everybody and there were a few awkward moments in the Q&A panel.
The team came together and we said we had to do this different next time. We decided we would put a special box in the back of the room. Early on into the event in December I am going to say that we are going to do a special speaker panel Q&A at the end.
If they have a question for us they can put it in the box in the back. Any time a question pops up that they think the panel would be really great in responding to the question, they will be asked to put it in the box.
We will then choose the best questions, maybe the ten best questions, to answer from the panel. That way we can ensure that the questions will be valuable to everybody in the room and the questions will be really relevant to the expertise of the speakers.
That’s important so that we can add value beyond anything anyone expected and that’s what we want to do. We want to knock their socks off with really great responses. So we have to curate some of the questions in advance. I think it’s going to make for a better experience and put a little bit more structure to the final Q&A panel.
That’s something to consider for your own live event that might be incredibly valuable in terms of structure around a Q&A panel.
Miss #3 – Attendees Wanting More
The final miss had to do with my attendees wanting more. This was definitely a quality problem. At the live event and in the surveys people asked for at least a two-day event versus a one-day event. I have to agree. I think they are on to something.
The reason for that is because people traveled from Australia and India and the Netherlands to come to this event that was just one day in San Diego. That’s a long way to travel for a one- day event. If you are going to be attracting people from all over the globe I do think you should consider doing more than just a one-day event.
This is something I’m going to consider for next year as well. I’m pretty sure we’re going to do at least a two-day event in order to make it a little bit meatier. It gives me the opportunity to add more content, add more time to connect for my audience, and I also felt really rushed with a one-day event.
I wanted to add more to the whole experience but there’s only so much you can do from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the evening. I also didn’t want to wear people out too much which you can do if you try to jam pack it too much.
I think I would like to entertain the idea of a two-day event. So, if you’re planning a live event consider the fact that if people are traveling from far away I don’t think one day is enough. It’s just something to think about.
I went over the wins and I went over the misses. I want to remind you that I will be doing a live event next year. I will, for sure, be doing it for my B-School bonus members. I am going to think about going beyond that but I’m not too sure just yet.
If you are interested in Marie Forleo’s B-School for 2018 make sure to get on the wait list so that I can tell you about all of my bonuses inside of my B-School bonus package as well as alert you when B-School opens again in the new year.
Go to http://www.amyporterfield.com/bschool to get on the wait list.
There you have it. I hope you found my own experiences with live events valuable as you think about adding a live event to your own business. Here’s the deal. I don’t want you to get caught up on the number of people at your live event.
I know I shared with you that I had about 100 people at my own live event but you do not need that many people for your live event to be successful. In fact, it’s smarter if you start out smaller so it’s more manageable for you. I promise you your attendees will find it really valuable if it’s a small, intimate group because they get more time with you.
That could actually be a huge selling point if you keep the live event to just 20 or 25 people. You could also turn your live event into more of a workshop where you actually work on different things. They come to the event ready to get some work done with you.
You will teach them something and then they will go do it. I love the live workshop style event as well so that’s something you might want to think about.
In Episode #183, in case you missed it, I talked about planning your promotional calendar for the new year. In it I talked about the fact that you need to be very aware of how you plan to make money. You can’t just say, “I want to make $300,000 this year,” and not really plan out how you’re going to make that money.
Doing a live event or live workshop could be a great way to add revenue to the business. It’s something to think about.
I wanted to give you a little sneak peek of next week’s episode. I will be interviewing one of my students around her experience of getting really specific with her niche. She actually believes the riches are in the niches. You have probably heard that before. She is a perfect example of that statement.
Today I’m saying “nitch” but next week I’m actually saying “neesh” the whole time. So, there you have it, I’m going to give you the best of both worlds.
My special guest is going to get really specific about how she got really niched down in her business and what that meant for her revenue. It’s a really great opportunity to hear about someone else’s story and how you can apply that to your own business as well.
I’ll see you next week with Episode #190. Until then, have an amazing week. Bye for now.