Some events are easy to get people to come to: wedding receptions (especially those with an open bar), NASCAR races (fast cars and highly-individualized fashion choices) and the running of the bulls in Pamplona (Voluntarily running for your life in super crowded streets? I honestly don’t know why people show up to this one).
Securing great attendance at other events, however, like the ones you host for networking purposes or to attract new business can be a bit tricky.
So, here are three tips that can help you increase your attendee numbers at your events from someone who has coordinated (and been to) a somewhat alarming number of events:
1. Make it cheap. Even better? Make it free.
Ever sampled a food at the grocery store and ended up purchasing it? Yes, you have. You don’t always purchase it, not even most of the time. But you’ve done it. Same thing goes for events. Let people hear what you have to say without opening their wallets. Let them learn about the product or service, the people who provide it, how to access it. And let them do it without it costing much more than their time. It doesn’t have to cost you much to put on this event, but the measurable ROI can be significant.
2. Make it cool.
Some topics lend themselves to this much more easily, like the opening to a burger and beer restaurant. Others, like knee replacement, can be a little more challenging. But “cool” doesn’t have to mean “hip.” It can just mean making it approachable and different. When I worked for a hospital, we held frequent (and free) seminars on knee replacement that I called “Dessert with the Doctor.” It presented a heavy topic with a sense of “let’s just get together and talk and, of course, free dessert.” Wouldn’t you know it? Every session was booked solid.
3. Entice people with food (or, per the example above, treats) easy parking.
Check out this announcement for a human resources event in Cincinnati. Now, it could’ve said the traditional, safe “You are cordially invited to join us for an evening of discussion around trends and developments in human resources.” But it doesn’t. It touts the disruption of HR, and it’s held at a brewery. It’s intriguing, and that gets people to go.
So, next time you are charged with planning and event, remember this mantra: Cheap/Free+ Cool/Enticing= great attendance.