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« Back Post Date: Friday, June 16, 2006
Selling Out Events
How to use your website and email to increase member participation in key events.
 

Selling Out Events - By Dr. William D. Ivers, CEO, Clubessential

Nothing is more discouraging for an Executive Chef or a General Manager than working night and day to prepare a sumptuous feast for an elegant event, only to fail to fill a third of the seats.  Worse yet, for the following week, members come by to complain that “they were never informed.”

One way to avoid this situation is to “brand” your events.  The concept is very simple and easy to implement: you need to associate a nice graphic and perhaps a tag line with the event, and then use every opportunity to put the graphic in front of your members, so that when the day of the event approaches, members will remember.  You will be surprised at how much simple awareness will boost participation.   Next year you can bring back happy memories of the prior year by re-using the branding.


Use Templates

Most website editors include the ability to use templates – these are pre-built graphic layouts that can be used as the brand image for an event.  Because they are templates, they can be used over and over in different emails, postings, calendar announcements or even the creation of posters and paper announcements.

The samples shown here are simple banners, but the template could include multiple pictures or even a full poster-sized image.  Clubessential’s Studio Design Group’s artists can create a custom template to match any event for a modest fee.  From then on, you could use the template for that event year after year.  We also post a series of sample templates like the ones shown here that can be used at no additional charge.  Just go to the standard editor and click the “Load a Template” button.

Repetition Is Key
Once you have selected or designed your branding graphics and associated text, you also need to design a visibility strategy.  The idea is to think of every way to put that graphic in front of potential event participants.  Here are some things you might do:

  • First, have a deliberate plan that you set up at least three months before the event.  Create a punch list of things to do to promote the “brand” of the event.  This pre-planning takes only a few minutes but will greatly reduce the effort required to pull off a “sell-out.”
  • Create a very nice “poster” that shows up in your calendar when someone clicks on the event.  Of course, you want to make use of the branding graphics in addition to any other descriptions you want to add.  Personalize the poster with some photographs of people having fun the prior year – you want to associate good feelings with the event.
  • Three months before the event, send an email announcement suggesting that members mark their calendars.  If you use event registration, link back to your website so they can make reservations.  If you website has the ability to download the calendar item to Outlook, suggest that members do so.
  • Send additional emails two months and one month before the event.  For anyone who has signed up, be sure to send a nice reminder, with the graphic, just before the event.
  • After the event, send an email with the graphic and a whole series of pictures of members enjoying themselves.  Thank them for participating and, if there is another event coming soon, invite them to that one, too.
  • If you have other notices going to members just before the event, add a small image of the branding graphic with a note such as “Don’t forget to sign up for July 4th”.
  • In every newsletter that you send out, both electronically and in paper form, use the same graphic and keep emphasizing the date.  Your newsletter, over time, may have a small area where there are always three or so branding graphics of upcoming events shown.  Does this sound like advertising? – that’s because that is exactly what you are doing.
  • Add “tent notices” on your tables with the graphic shown and the date.
  • Create posters with the same graphic and post those on bulletin boards.  If you keep using the same graphics they will be more effective, not to mention much easier to create.  You probably have a color printer – just use that.
  • Send a paper copy of the same announcement with your monthly invoices.
  • Have valet service?  Add an extra sign that includes posters of upcoming events.
  • When you deliver the receipt for a nice diner to a member, include a little card with two or three branding graphics for upcoming events.

You can no doubt think of other ways to put the graphics in front of the members.  The keys are consistency of branding (so the repetitions can take effect) and repetition.

Of course, once you attract your members to the event it is up to the chef and the staff to make sure that their memories are positive – but that’s a different topic.

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