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Three Secrets to Drive Event Attendance

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You want people to come to your event. But how do you make this happen? Usually, the problem is that people don’t know what drives attendance. Here are the three essentials.

It seems like with so many questions in business and in life, getting back to definitions helps us to see things more clearly. What is an event? It’s a time and place where people come together for a shared purpose.

Simply putting those words together might illustrate why your events have struggled. Did you pick a good time for your attendees? Did you select a great place for your audience? Did you effectively communicate the reason in advance?

People at Seminar

© Flickr user Stephen Dann

That might be enough for you to revisit past challenges. But if you still want to get more people to your program and you want them to be more engaged, consider these principles. We’ve found them by trial and error after years and years of putting on programs:

1. Make it a Celebration

It’s no surprise: people love to get together to express their joy at something positive happening in their community. Ironically, much of the time this is about arbitrary tradition more than it is about a significant moment in time. For example, if you go to a wedding, didn’t those people already know they were in love and wanted to spend the rest of their lives together? And if you go to a birthday party, how often is it on the actual day that the person was born?

Often, we’re just looking for an excuse to celebrate. But people enjoy it, so it works. If your event is tied to a special occasion that other people want to acknowledge and share in your joy, they are more likely to attend. That’s why it’s good to have an open house when you move to a new office or a launch party for a new product, book, or service. As the expression says, “Let the good times roll!”

2. Provide an Incentive

Guess what else people like? Free stuff! This technique for bringing people to your door goes back to antiquity. The Romans gave people “bread and circuses” and citizens showed up. How many times have you heard about a free lunch along with a seminar, or even a chance to win a raffle if you attend a program? There are giveaways, goodie bags, free parking, complimentary drink tickets, and more. In short, incentives work.

Naturally, there’s a downside to giving things away: you create expectations, and expectations are almost always problematic. And of course everyone knows that you’re providing something because you’re hoping for reciprocity. In fact, it’s often better to have people pay to attend rather than you, in effect, paying them.

Which brings me to my final point…

3. Create an Exclusive Experience

When your favorite band comes to town for one night only, you can bet you will do everything in your power to be there. That’s because this is your chance to see them. If it’s their farewell tour, you’ll never have another chance.

Events that you can go to any time are therefore, less appealing. “Don’t worry if you can’t make it, we offer this program every month” is practically an invitation to sleep in. Likewise, telling potential prospects that they can “catch it later on video” tells them to not make the drive.

Two is Better Than One. Three is Better than Two.

When designing your offering, try to do more than just setting up a celebration, giving people an incentive, or putting together a rare experience. Instead, try to do two or perhaps all three.

For example, don’t just have a customer appreciation picnic—also reach out to a local microbrewery about a special, one-time only batch just for you.

Or, don’t just invite a well-known athlete to speak at your company retreat. Tell employees they will receive a jersey which they can have autographed.

Need Help? Get Help.

AccelaWork provides speakers and consultants to companies. We love to help with brainstorming for events, especially for marketing or employee development.

Give us a call. We’d love to chat. Help us to help you make your moment one that shines!

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


Troublemaker and productivity/workflow expert. Slightly more complex than 140 characters will permit.
@LaceyEverett @thenerdherd @naptownbri @indystar Well, when the original source doesn’t answer the questions, people start to speculate. - 3 weeks ago
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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