Filling a live event (especially if it’s a high ticket cost) is not always an easy endeavor. As a result, most event holders will turn to Joint Venture partners and their warm email lists to fill majority of the seats. But what if you wanted to fill an event 100% cold?
Recently, I was put to that challenge, and we ended up filling 81% of the available seats (of a $2000 per ticket value per seat) using nothing more than a simple Facebook advertising strategy.
Let me tell you about how I did it….
Recently, a friend of mine (Giovanni) called me up and said “Let’s do breakfast”.
You see Giovanni is a different entrepreneur. He believes that the key to changing the world falls into the hands of big-hearted entrepreneurs who are willing to ‘gift-forward’ their time, skills and resources. As a result, he created an elite, exclusive mastermind event called Archangel Academy to bring these people together.
After several successful events in our hometown of Toronto, Giovanni wanted to spread his wings and hold an event in another major city, to spread the message even further. And in what better city to hold an Archangel event than the city of angels – Los Angeles?
This is how our conversation over breakfast went that day (give or take a few lines).
Giovanni: “I'm holding an Archangel event in L.A.”
Nicholas: “Awesome. How can I help?”
G: “I’d love for you to help me with marketing the event to find ‘Angels' (the right type of person) to participate.”
N: “Great! Give me your contacts in L.A., we'll make some calls, have them reach out to their tribes, and fill the room with the right people, it’ll be a piece of cake.”
G: “I don't have any contacts in L.A., and I don't want to leverage my high-end colleagues from around the country. I want to find these angels from scratch. Can you help?”
N: “Hmm, okay…” (With a raised eyebrow, thinking this won’t be easy).
G: “Oh, and they have to have either a 7 figure revenue business or have a business that has a great potential to bring about positive world change.”
N: “Okay…” (Now with two raised eyebrows, thinking this really won’t be easy).
G: “And they have to be all big-hearted, social and like-minded. It's important that the ‘right' people are in the room.”
N: “Okay…” (Thinking this can’t be any more difficult).
G: “I'm looking to pick only 100 people to participate at a $2000 price tag.”
N: (Thinking “ONLY?”).
G: “Lastly, the event is six weeks away. Can you make it happen?”
N: (Thinking “What!? You're insane and out of your mind!! This can’t work”) What I said out loud: “Sure! No, problem.”
Six weeks later, after receiving over 422 applications to participate, the room was filled with just fewer than 100 big-hearted, like-minded; ‘gifted entrepreneurs’ and 80% of them came from my marketing efforts. How did we do it? By using the only advertising platform that could make something like this possible – Facebook.
In this article, I will outline some of the key tactics that we used to accomplish this.
One of the key components in a successful Facebook marketing campaign is targeting, or determining who sees the ad. In fact, this is where all the ‘magic’ happens. You get this wrong; you get the whole thing wrong. The perfect ad is the right message seen by the right person at the right time.
This was even more important because Giovanni was very specific about the types of people who would be part of this event. (And very specific about who he DIDN’T want at the event).
Fortunately, Facebook is a master at laser-point targeting and allows you to get very specific with it as an advertiser.
In most cases, I suggest starting by identifying the key influencers in your niche, seeing if they have a strong Facebook presence, and then targeting your ads toward their fans. They have already done the heavy lifting for you by establishing a ‘tribe’ of people who have shown interest in a particular area.
Generally, I like to start with one influencer at a time (or at least separately) to test his or her fans’ response to our messaging and to monitor the actual results. This way we can scale accordingly based on RESULTS (rather than ‘hunch's).
In this particular case, however, we did the opposite. After some basic market research using Graph Search, Audience Insights, and our proprietary market research formula, we started with a wide North American audience targeting several groups of key influencers with strong Facebook followings.
Regardless of the method, the goal is to identify people whose fan bases include your ideal clients/customers.
This snapshot is of one of the groups that we targeted, which gave us a potential reach of 3.6 million people:
As we approached the event date (about 4 weeks out), we restricted the geographical targeting first to California, bringing down our reach to 400,000: (this was because we had to factor in that those coming in from out of state would need more leeway to plan their travels, and those closer can make those decisions more quickly)
And then in the last couple of weeks, we narrowed the targeting to Los Angeles and surrounding areas, bringing down the reach to 112,000: (this was obviously because locals would not need to factor in travel expenses and would be the highest likely to attend)
With this type of targeting, we were able to keep our average CTR (Click Through Rate) quite high:
When it comes to the ad itself, the two elements that carry the most weight in affecting the performance of the ad are the Post-Text (the copy that appears before the image) and the image itself.
We'll talk about the image in just a second, but let's start with the post-text.
The two keys to making post-text work are:
- Starting with a question and…
- Speaking to the needs/wants/desires of the ideal clients without sounding like a brand looking to promote, but instead like a human looking to connect.
Let’s focus on starting with a question:
Which headline do you think is more effective?
- Don't Make These Facebook Ad Mistakes
- Are You Making These Facebook Ad Mistakes?
The mind can't resist a question mark. When you see one, it forces you into super-curiosity mode, where you need to know the answer. With any marketing copy like a Facebook ad, response rates can drastically improve if you switch the headline from a statement to a question. One of our Facebook campaigns for this event featured the headline “Are You A Big-Hearted Entrepreneur?” that was much more effective than “Attention Big-Hearted Entrepreneurs…” would have been.
Perhaps the most influential part of any Facebook ad is the image.
Aside from some best practices, such as using smiling people in the images, the most important part of the image is its ‘story.’ They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you want those words to tell the story and resonate with the viewer. You want to use an image that could stand on its own if it had to, to speak the message to the viewer of that image.
Like any Facebook marketing campaign, you always need to test the images. This is the first image we used, which ended up being the highest responding image of our set.
I believe this worked for many reasons, but in short, it told a story of entrepreneurs connecting towards positive change. We tested other images that responded well, including:
Because of the people we targeted, many of our ads went “viral”, in the sense that there were many comments and even more shares.
People we had never met were becoming our evangelists.
Although not specifically related to the ads themselves, I think that the success of this campaign was also largely due to the funnel:
- The ad drove the prospect to the event website. (www.archangelacademy2014.com
Now – http://www.archangelacademy2016.com/
- The videos, the copy and the layout were designed not only to share the vision of the event but also to pre-qualify a person. By clearly indicating who the event is NOT for, it creates a bigger draw for who it IS for and the exclusivity made it that much more appealing.
- The prospect was asked to request an invitation (which captured a lead) and then was taken to an application page. This way, if we had chosen, we could have followed up with the applicants via email with some more information about the event.
- The applicants were then sorted based on their applications and those who met the criteria were contacted further.
This all led to a very successful event with only the ‘right’ people in the room.
- Target effectively. Work backward: Start by identifying your ideal customer/client and targeting them by identifying who they currently follow on Facebook. Who are the key influencers in your niche with followings that match your target market? Target them and then expand your reach.
- Be Human. Sound like a human, not a brand, in your advertising copy. The truth is that people are on Facebook to connect with other human beings rather than brands. In fact, in all of our tests, the response rate was drastically higher when we ran ads from a personally branded page as opposed to a company-branded page. Your ad copy needs to sound like you’re a human who cares and is speaking directly to the person on the other side of that ad. The more personal you are, the better the response that you'll receive.
- Image is everything. Select images that tell a story – your story and the story of your ideal target. The more someone can connect to that story by viewing your image, the better the response will be.
- Utilize the power of the question mark. Whether to pique curiosity or pre-qualify a prospect, use a question to grab your prospects’ attention and lure them into your conversation.
- ‘Rejection Marketing'. The clearer that you can be about who your offer is not for, the better the response you will get from the people it is for. This goes hand-in-hand with targeting. Realize you are not everyone's solution and not only will you get a better response, but you may also get an army of advocates.
- Have the right funnel. Many people tend to forget that the ad is only the beginning. Where that ad takes its viewers is just as important, and having the right funnel for your offer will determine whether or not a prospect converts into a client. Different offers require different funnels. Find what best suits you and execute accordingly.
- Test Everything. Testing is crucial in creating effective Facebook ad campaigns. Test the target audience. Test the Copy. Test the Images. Test the Funnel. As you test each element one at a time, scale what works and tweak what doesn’t. I was lucky because most of what we did on the first try with this campaign worked, but this is rarely the case. Be ready to test everything.
NOTE / UPDATE: Since the original writing of this Case Study, I have an even better way to fill live events. We used this to sell tickets to Joe Polish's $10k per ticket Genius Network Annual Event AND his exclusive $25k Genius Network top level mastermind.
A Full breakdown of the strategy and the case study are shared with the Accelerate Alliance Group. For access to this (and the best Marketing Strategies to scale a business) join the Accelerate Alliance Group.
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This article has helped many event producers fill their events. If you found this helpful or know someone who needs to read it, here’s what I’d like you to do…
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