One big recommendation I have for events is to sell the EVENT not the beneficiary. While we’d like to believe everyone is coming to our gala/luncheon/run is because of the great cause they’d be helping, in reality it’s probably not the case. In reality, people probably just want to get together, have a good time, and network. And if that happens to coincide with benefitting someone else in the process, great. But, they were probably going to do it anyway.
So, you need to sell what’s going to mean the most to the attendees. People are going to remember what impacted them, not necessarily how they made an impact. I think this is simply because the impact they are making is not a tangible item. They don’t see a child being given life-saving medications or an animal rescuing happening. They aren’t there when the an organization steps in after a fire or a cancer survivor is assisted after treatment ends.
So, how do we sell the EVENT itself?
- Play up the party features.
- Talk about the great food, the open bar, the music, and the unique venue for the black-tie gala or dinner.
- Talk about the custom race shirt, the medal, the kids fun run, and the free massage a the end of the race.
- Talk about the shorter time frame, the speaker, the delicious meal, the informational packet and access to the presentation for your luncheon.
- Keep it short and sweet. You don’t need to bombard your potential attendees with how they’ll be helping. Tell them once in major way via email or paper invitation. Then, in subsequent messages (through email, social media, and the event website), just have a simple “Benefitting [Organization]” link or logo. This should link to a page on the event website about the Beneficiary or to the Organization’s website. If that’s why they’re attending, they’ll look for that information.
- Give recognition. There’s so many different ways to give recognition and you should try to do as many as feasibly possible! Some people just want to know that their contribution was recognized in some way.
- List everyone above a certain threshold on the website and/or in a program.
- Give shout-outs and mentions via Facebook and Twitter.
- Create a new tab on your Facebook page to list sponsors and patrons.
- Provide light-up necklaces or special colored name tags at the event to those who give extra.
- Send a special after-event email asking your attendees to give their thanks via patronage to your sponsors, caterer and entertainment
- Show your goal vs actual. People as a whole are very visual. They like the little thermometers that show the full goal and how the actual amount is moving up towards that goal. I suggest using a graphic that matches your theme, not just a thermometer however. Try adding ornaments to a tree for a holiday event or flowers to a field for a summer event. A simple graphic can be added everywhere (website, emails, social media) and a have a big impact!
Once you have a captive audience, then you can spend some time educating them as to how their money will be benefitting the organization and the community. I’ll address that in a different post, though. 🙂
What are some ways you’ve put social media to a unique use to sell your event?