I launched the first Creative at Heart Conference in November of 2014 and we hosted our first conference in January of 2015. We sold out at 40 seats for our first conference and from there jumped head first into building the Creative at Heart brand and launching more in-person events.
Since that first launch, I’ve launched 15 in person events for Creative at Heart (3 of which were cancelled.. we’ll get to that!) and 5 smaller in person intensives for my personal brand, Kat Schmoyer. I’ve had quite a few trial & error experiences when it comes to launching in person events, and since we just launched our 10th round (and this launch was the 20th in person launch of my career), I thought I’d share my biggest takeaways here:
Go Big or Go Home is not the best launch approach for your first in-person launch
While you might have a large vision for your in person experience (200 + people, large resort, “celebrity” educators, etc.), I’ve found it helps to start small but mighty. The first time you launch an in person event, you not only have the usual marketing to work on but you are also working to VALIDATE the event. You don’t have testimonials or past images of the experience; it’s all brand new! The purpose of your first event is to show your audience the VALUE of attending an in-person event so keep things small & simple!
Clear your schedule during launch week
Launch week is always stressful (whether it’s an in-person offer or digital offer!). Matt knows that every January I become a tiny bit crazy 😉 as I take on the additional stress of preparing for launch and then actually launching. Over the years I’ve learned that one way to help alleviate that stress is to clear my calendar during launch week so ALL I’m focused on is the launch! No client appointments, no additional projects – I zero in on the launch so I can be intentional with our marketing campaigns and actually get to bed on time.
Don’t expect it to sell out quickly
I’ve made the mistake of believing I can do it quickly time & time again but the truth is, selling tickets to an in-person event is VERY hard to do!! There are so many obstacles the potential attendee faces – price-point, travel, time away from work, time away from family, the specific dates of the event – it is easier to sell a digital product because most of those concerns are not valid! Now, this does not mean you can’t use scarcity & urgency in your launch tactics to stress ticket sales; but you need to give yourself a longer window for in person ticket sales than a digital launch!
Get them asking one question: “Which one should I purchase?”
It was the end of 2016 when my now mentor posed this question to me. I was at a business retreat and he took one look at my launch strategy and said: “Right now, people are asking “Should I purchase?” – you want them to ask “Which ONE should I purchase?”.. To say my mind was blown was an understatement and it’s this ONE simple tweak that catapulted Creative at Heart’s growth between 2017 – 2019! Now, when potential attendees are looking to register for the conference there isn’t one option, there are TWO. They are given the chance to make a choice & therefore ask themselves: which one instead of should I.
*This launch tip can be impactful for digital launches or service offers, too! It’s just THAT good!
List Growth is crucial in between launches
If you plan to launch your in-person event multiple times, list growth should be a top priority in your business! You will need to have fresh faces on your list who are excited and ready to jump into your in-person experience the next time tickets go on sale! Focus on list growth strategies that directly relate to your ideal client – opt-ins / lead magnets that speak to who you want to say “yes” to your in-person event. You can even collaborate with your educators on list growth (examples: podcast interviews with a lead magnet, guest blog post with a lead magnet, and/or IG takeovers with a lead magnet). Just make sure your collaborations point the new audience directly to your list!
Don’t just grow your list; Nurture your list, too!
You probably know how annoying it is to only receive emails asking you to purchase something. If you’re like me, in that situation you’re quick to click “unsubscribe”. Don’t make that same mistake with your own list! Sending consistent emails to your list will only help your brand AND help your subscribers! Share content that directly relates to your in-person event, so that when the times comes to launch your event they are ready & waiting to say “yes”! I send weekly emails to our list that will either (a) share about a blog post or (b) provide additional content that relates to a Creative at Heart content bucket. (Not sure what a content bucket is or how to create one? Read this!)
Reality check: You may have to cancel after launch and that’s okay!
In 2016, I had to cancel 2 Creative at Heart Conferences and in 2019 I had to cancel a new event: Creative 2.0. I say this to be vulnerable and remind you that sometimes things don’t work – it doesn’t mean you need to give up all together (it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try!). If I had quit after those 2016 cancellations we wouldn’t be stepping into our TENTH round this year!! I used those “failures” as INFORMATION and allowed that to become a driving force for new conference ideas & launch plans. Cancelling events is the nature of hosting them – it happens. And when/if it does, your job is to pick yourself up, learn from it & try again.
Are you launching an in-person event this year? Were these takeaways helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
your cheerleader, kat