You’ve planned a brilliant event you really believe in for your wellness business. Maybe you read the blog post from Kimberley Barnard about why events are so important. You’ve designed a lovely graphic for your amazing event, posted about it on social media and you’ve sent out an email.
Then you’ve sat back and waited for the ticket sales to roll in.
Only thing that’s missing?
No-one is buying.
You’re starting to panic. You’re really worrying about whether this is going to work. Should you cancel?
This has happened to me many (many!) times and is a situation faced by some of my clients too.
If you’re in this position right now, don’t lose your cool. You’ve totally got this.
Let me share some tips and ideas with you that are really actionable and come from lots of personal experience running events big and small over the last few years.
Selling events is tough
Selling tickets to events is tough. Trust me I know - I’ve done plenty in my time. I’ve also had to cancel many events when tickets didn’t sell.
You are not alone.
The truth is: people buy from people they know, like and trust. And as hard as it is to accept, it takes time to build trust and design events that people want to go to.
The fact that you aren’t selling tickets has zero reflection of you and your abilities. It does not mean that your event is a terrible idea.
The fact that you aren’t selling tickets is everything to do with this being new and the fact that you are growing your audience.
People book late
Trust me on this, it can be hard to hold your nerve but I can’t even begin to count the amount of events I’ve done where the sales come in last minute. Even for The Reset’s last Portugal retreat I had a woman on the phone 24hrs before the flight was due to leave trying to book on! People are crazy!
It may well be that people have thought “yeah that sounds good” and then got distracted. Sometimes you just have to hang in there and keep reminding them. Trust right to the end.
Reach out to your ‘hot’ leads
Instagram and social media in general is talking to (mostly) a ‘cold’ and ‘warm’ audience. People that don’t really know you. They’re not really at that point where they’re ready to part with cash yet for what you have to offer.
This is a great podcast from Janet Murray about the three audiences you should be focusing on for a profitable business that goes deeper into this concept.
If you want sales fast (and I’m guessing if you’re reading this you do!) then you need to focus on your ‘hot’ leads.
These are the people who have bought from you before or already know you - friends, colleagues, family.
You need to engage these people in phone calls, text messages, DMs and personalised emails.
I can feel you squirming. And yes it’s uncomfortable. It’s much easier to just put out another post on Instagram, right?
Well yes… but it’s not going to get those tickets sold. Reaching out in a personalised way to those ‘hot’ leads is far more likely to work than trying to get strangers on social media to buy from you.
Can you make a list of your ‘hot leads’ and work through them with a personalised approach to ask them to come, or if not come then to refer you on to someone else who they think the event would help?
How to use Instagram to sell your event
Of course I’m not saying you shouldn't sell on Instagram - there is still potential there.
If you’re using Instagram as a sales tool, how much have you actually promoted your event so far there? Be honest!
You need to be constant on Instagram. Your message will get lost or not seen by most people. Even if to you it feels like it’s all you’re talking about. It won’t feel like that to someone else.
Here are some specific ideas for Instagram that might help:
Have you found a different way to promote your event on Stories every day? Talk to camera (and caption), do a text based story about it, answer FAQs (even if you set them!), drop a reminder about the event into a conversation about something else. Find ways to mention your event constantly.
I’m a BIG fan of doing a poll on Stories to get into people’s DMs. For example, share something on your Stories about the pain points or transformations your attendees will get from coming to your event. Then say “are you interested to know more? Click yes!” And use a poll. For anyone that clicks yes, DM them with the link and also ask a question to get a conversation going e.g. "what’s your biggest struggle with X?"
Make sure you’re referencing the event at the end of each post on the grid. Absolutely keep mixing up the message and story on the grid, I’m not saying ‘sell sell sell.’ But it doesn’t hurt to remind people with a single line at the end of a caption, particularly if you’re getting close to your event date.
Change the last line of your bio to say “Book my XXX event now” (with a little pointing down emoji). This will direct visitors to your profile to the fact you have an event.
Create a Highlight about the event specifically and save all the Stories you share about the event there, so someone interested can browse in their own time and go deeper into what you’re sharing.
Record a 2-5 minute video to camera about your event and put it on IGTV. Then you can do a ‘swipe up’ from your Stories and get people to watch it if they want to learn more.
Remember to focus any video you do on the pain points and transformation people will get. Or even share some nuggets from your own story and explain why you’re running the event. It’s all about convincing people with your messaging.
How to email to sell events
How many emails have you sent? Just one? It’s not enough!
You’ll need to send a series of emails and not get worried about hassling people. If people like what you do they’ll stay on your list. If they don’t then they’re not right for you anyway and they’re free to leave.
Don’t feel afraid to follow up with people that go quiet. There are loads of reasons this happen, very few are to do with you or not wanting what you have to offer. Usually people just forget!
With your mailing list emails find 3-4 ways to approach the event differently. Three different pain points or identities that your ideal customer is struggling with, and the way your event will help them. You’ll reach different people each time.
And remember what I said about writing to ‘hot leads’ that already know/like/trust you directly. Don’t just send these people a blanket email but write them something personal.
Reframe how you’re thinking about this
If you’re reading this with an event that isn’t selling I am guessing you’re feeling quite a lot of negativity at the moment which I totally get.
You don’t want to ‘lose’ money. You don’t want to ‘waste’ time. You don’t want to ‘fail’.
But can you reframe how you’re seeing this event?
What is doing this event teaching you?
If you do go ahead with this event, how can this event be of benefit to you? What do you want to get out of it? Can you invite a few people for free to just use this as an experiment and get testimonials? Does it have to make you loads of money and get hundreds of attendees?
REAL TALK: most people will run their first events at a loss just to get the exposure, experience and testimonials / word of mouth. Don’t believe everyone is making bags of money from events.
What number of people would work? What’s the break-even point? Can you create an event that is intimate, hugely impactful and you’ll learn from it as well as your attendees? Shift your thinking!
If you really want to cancel
You can, of course. You don’t need permission.
If you do decide to cancel, can you see this as a learning experience - which I know is hard when you’re in the thick of it.
When you can stand back from it all, try to write down everything you’ve done, the successes, the challenges and what you would do differently next time.
This hasn’t been a failure.
It’s been a chance to grow and learn. It’s ‘on the way’, not ‘in the way.’ You wouldn’t be able to do that if you hadn’t tried.