This past week, I wanted to do something different and take a risk. A calculated risk, but a risk nonetheless.
The goal: To see if it’s possible to run an “Internet marketing” event (called DotComXpo) with no speakers pitching from the stage while still making it affordable for attendees (and profitable for the producer.. which is me!).
There were some challenges…
1. Would high-calibre speakers be willing to come and deliver content without selling from the stage?
2. Could I attract sponsors to offset my production costs?
3. Could I make “the numbers” work?
4. Would this type of event resonate with people enough to have them attend, travel, take time away from their families and pay up to $1,000?
There were two ways to measure the success of DCX… The feedback forms and the bank balance.
First, the feedback forms. I’ve been doing live events for over 15 years (starting when I used to work at Blythedale Children’s Hospital) and I have never had feedback be so strong. Not even close.
When asked how you would rate DCX, almost every single person said a 9 or a 10. In fact, there average score was 9.36! There were a four 8s (and one was because there were too many great sessions to choose from during the “tactical labes” and the other was because the hotel wifi was slow), but that was it. Virtually each form had phrases like JoEllen Marks saying “this event was truly LIFE CHANGING” to Ross Bowring saying “these strategies will add tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to my client’s bottom lines”.
In the past, I’d always have up to 10% of the people who didn’t love the event, it’s just the nature of the business. You will never please everyone… but this year was different. 100% positive feedback for a crowd in the hundreds is unheard of and I even got teary reading through the forms.
Attendees overwhelmingly praised the speakers, the value of their sessions, the positive energy of the crowd and the no-pitch environment.
Next, I looked the numbers… because numbers never lie. When taking into account the sponsors, registration fees and bookstore sales, it was a 6-figure weekend after expenses.
Now, to be honest, DCX brought in about 30% less up-front income than my other events when I allowed speakers to “pitch”. While the registration was higher for DCX (the other events would be either free or up to $199 to attend), some of the speakers could bring in $100K or more in just one hour from the stage. So the tradeoff was more registration revenue but less total sales volume.
BUT, I know the goodwill achieved will pay off in the long run. Attendees will tell their friends about the event, about the speakers, and about my companies. And the buzz generated should result in selling thousands of copies of the videos (which will likely make up for less revenue made from the actual event).
In fact, here is a FB thread my Seth Larrabee about DCX and he even plugged FounderFly (I didn’t post the entire thread but other people said things like “I’m in!” – so it is making sales).
Would Seth have plugged FounderFly so hard if the event didn’t blow him away? Maybe, but probably not. And he’s just one of hundreds of people who were there… so multiply this by a larger number and you can begin got see the bigger picture. It’s about building a business with legs.
Since I’ve been putting on events for so long, I have it down to a science. Everything from hotel negotiations to speakers to filling the room at zero cost.
And even though the amount of dollars generated in the SHORT-TERM were about 20-30% lower at DCX because there was no-pitching, I have zero doubts that LONG-TERM it will pay off.
I sincerely hope there are other brave producers who follow my lead. And if we can all raise the bar and work our asses off to truly overdeliver on events – well, things will be just that much better.
Thank you again to my team (Shirley, Adam, Catherine and PAV Video), the speakers and to the attendees for taking a chance with this event. You all stepped-up in so many ways and I am forever grateful.
TELL ME HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO PAY BELOW… I’M LISTENING AND OPEN…
P.S. I will make sure the DCX recordings are affordable. Get on the early-bird list for the videos and save even more right here.
P.P.S. My next “big” training program I am going to blow you away. I’ll show you EXACTLY how to run your own 5, 6 and even 7-figure live events and workshops. Prepare for the madness, my friend. I’ll show you every trick I’ve learned from putting on high-value and very profitable events for big, fat paydays. Stay tuned…