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Warnings and Tips on Doing Free Events

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San Diego/LA/San Francisco Lessons

Over the last week I’ve spoken for the Learning Annex at a number of their free events. I’ve learned a few things and thought I’d share them with you.

1. In each of the cities the total number of people who actually showed up for a free seminar ran about 50%. I think this number is actually very good. I’ve seen people run free events where less than 20% of people who register actually show up.

If you’re thinking of doing a free event yourself, start off with a test. I wouldn’t want to see you blow a lot of money to get people to a free event and then not make any money.

2. People who attend free events are less likely to buy your products. DUH!!??!! But, it doesn’t matter. They may be LESS likely to buy, but many of them will still buy. All you have to do is understand your numbers and whether or not it makes sense for you to do likewise.

3. Free seminars are great if you can at least break even. If you understand the concept of lifetime customer value, free events can make a lot of sense. As long as you make back what it cost you to put people in the room, you CAN make this model work.

It requires that you have a slew of back-end products and services to sell and that your products are good. If they aren’t you’ll get one-shot sales and lots of returns.

4. Unsolicited testimonials are the best. As I was finishing up my 90+ minute presentation in San Francisco, a lady stood up in the front row over to my left. I wasn’t sure what she was going to say, but the emcee for the event already had the mike.

She proceeded to hand in her order and buy on the spot with everyone watching. She bought the ‘large’ package and then proceeded to tell everyone else why THEY should do the same. You can’t BUY this kind of PR!

5. Price points should be adjusted to reflect your audience. A number or months ago, I changed my product offerings to go from $400 on the low end to $4,000 on the high end.

I will still use this pricing strategy in some cases, but I have different offers for different types of audiences. In this case I was speaking on a Publishing Panel and there was no entry fee.

In a case like this I changed my offering to $397, $399 and $777. If people had paid $500 or $1,000 to attend the event you can be darned sure I wouldn’t offer the lower price points. I would have gone with the higher price items.

6. Connecting with an audience has a lot to do with being real and being yourself. I’ve started talking about the fact that I’ve had a pretty lousy relationship track record. I’ve been married more than twice (don’t ask!!!) and when I tell people and explain how bad I’ve been in that department I think that people can relate.

Audiences like to know that you aren’t perfect. It is tough for them to believe or BUY from someone who is perfect. Solution: Don’t try and be. Be yourself. Be authentic. Be who you are.

I continue to recommend that everyone who wants to speak, take an improv class. Check out: for that particular product.

7. Get OFF the stage. In each of the three cities I went into the audience. I was not MR. BIGSHOT sticking to the stage. I’m already being given the speaking slot, why try and make yourself look completely aloof by staying on the stage and not mingling.

I actually illustrate one of my points by going to the back row of the audience. People like this.

8. When you make a point, reinforce it with a good story. Most of the important points I make I illustrate with some of my own experiences or stories of others who have actually used a given technique or suggestion.

9. Don’t try and hide your sales pitch. When I do my product sales, I explain exactly what I’m doing and why it makes sense. Give people credit. Most of them are fairly smart and know you’re trying to sell them something. Why not have a little fun and show them why you do things the way you do. It’s been working great for me.

10. Give people a reason to buy NOW. make them an irresistible offer. People who don’t buy at your event when you’re speaking probably won’t buy. Give them an offer that will get them into your funnel. If you’ve got great products they will buy MORE from you in the future.

11. You never know who’s in your audience. Even at free events, don’t assume that everyone in the audience is on food stamps. I’m never surprised anymore to have at least one person in that kind of a group come up to me and tell me about their yacht that they have parked in the South of Spain.

12. Don’t talk down to people. Let them rise up to the level you present. If your material goes over some of the folks heads, too bad. Don’t dumb it down.

13. Realize that there is always a nut-case or two in the group. Don’t let someone who starts to get a bit nutty or offtrack get a hold of your audience. If you feel that coming on, offer to talk to them privately and KEEP MOVING. Don’t get bogged down in a discussion with these folks. It will ruin things for YOU and the audience.

14. Treat your ‘fans’ well. Years ago I used to tell my Sammy Davis Junior story when I was doing customer service seminars. It’s a long story, but the point was that all of us need to be grateful and appreciative of those who know and like us.

I had some people who drove over 4 hours to see me in Los Angeles (thanks very much you two!). I gladly agreed to eat lunch with them and we had a great time.

This will go a long way with people if you behave this way consistently. Sammy Davis Junior ALWAYS had time for his fans. I saw it PERSONALLY.

All the Best,


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