Live Events and Costs

Live Events & The Cost of Free

“Putting On A LIVE Event Is The Most Powerful Way To Fill Your Pipeline With New Customers or Clients…”    Dan Kennedy


“Plate Lickers” or Quality Prospects?

I picked up a very funny book recently, you may appreciate it or be annoyed by it, not sure.  It’s called “The Adventures of a Free Lunch Junkie.”

It’s a very funny book about a retiree who attended 50 Free Lunch (or Dinner) events in and around Boca Raton, Florida over a 10 month period and then wrote this book about the experience of being fed, pitched, and not buying.

Is this your idea of what live events are all about?  

$50 a head for a number of people with no capability to become a client or no interest.  Perhaps retirees like the gentlemen mentioned above who are bored and looking for literally a “Free Lunch” or “Free Dinner.”

Well, there certainly are a variety of “free loaders,” or as they are known in our industry, even more pejoratively “plate lickers.”

Thinking that way sabotages you if you’re trying to be effective with any sort of live event event whether it includes a free lunch or not.

The Cost of “Free Pajamas”

In another of my businesses I work with martial arts school owners.   One of them had quadrupled his business under my tutelage and had increased his net income by more that ten times. Even with this growth he was struggling with a minor aspect of his business.   In looking at his operating “statistics” he started complaining about his volume of introductory students (first meeting/class) that failed to become students.   

His comment to me was something to the effect of being tired of broke people coming in to collect “free pajamas.”   Well, the back-story is that among the other “bribes” for attending this free introductory sessions I had suggested that he provide free uniforms and several other items.  He got hung up on the $10 to $15 in hard cost of the stuff he was giving away to prospects who didn’t enroll.

With my review of his results I reminded him that all that mattered was the ratios and the return on investment.   In this case, a new student was worth over $5,000 life-time and a bit over $500 on day one.   He was converting 50% of those who attended the free session to students.  Working backwards it was costing $50 to generate a lead, $100 to generate an appointment, $200 to generate a prospect who attended a free class and then $400 to create a new enrollment.  With the hard cost of the free gifts including the uniform that he was annoyed by giving away, each attendee cost him a bit less than $225 and each new student enrollment therefore cost less than $450.   

By the time it was all said and done he was creating over an 11:1 return on that marketing channel and was at better than break-even the day they enrolled.  His added cost for “free stuff” was minor in the context both of the cost to get someone in the the door and in context of their return on investment.

Live Events and Costs

You have to look at your numbers in exactly the same way.  Cost to create a lead. Cost to fill the seat.  Cost per qualified prospect. Cost per meeting.  Cost per new client.   Every marketing channel must justify its existence.  The ultimate cost per new client from that channel should be weighted against the client’s immediate and short-term revenue and, their likely life-time revenue.

I’ve worked with a number of business owners who host lunch or dinner meetings aimed at upscale audiences ranging from a very successful high end Med Spas, a pain clinic, a high end plastic surgeon, and of course any number of financial planners, wealth managers, life agents, annuity sales people, and on and on.

It’s often common to host live seminars in any number of different fields.  An associate ran a HUGE business specifically hosting Bankruptcy recovery seminars with a focus on rebuilding credit.  They were VERY productive for him.

Another friend who I’ve mentioned before hosted live seminars for Dentists with a presentation about how to replace their dental practice income with outside investments (in this case with a focus on real estate.)

Live Events DO Work

To start off, I’d suggest that are any number of various live and in-person events that can be utilized very successfully if you do them right.

One thing I hear regularly about live events is that they simply don’t work anymore. That is the biggest lie anyone could ever tell you! When someone says live events don’t work, what they really mean is that they don’t know how to do them correctly. Another thing I hear really often is that it’s getting harder and harder to fill a room when it comes to live events.

What I would say to that is it’s harder to fill a room if you carry on doing it the way you used to, or if you only use one method of media to get the word out.    In short, sending a bunch of emails is not going to fill your live event – not these days.    I keep seeing advisors who try to fill their events only using Facebook and/or LinkedIn.   While those work well, you’ll rarely scale to the size you’re hoping to accomplish using only those methods.  You can get a few participants likely at a reasonable cost, but usually not enough.

However, if you do it properly and utilize lots of different media and methods, with the right focus, you can easily fill a room or a webinar and get great results from the event.    You’ll hear me talking often about using a “Marketing Parthenon.”   It’s essential to use multiple media to fill any and all live events that you host – even those aimed primarily at your current clients (and, their friends.)