How do You Get More Attendees at Your Event?
Updated: Jan 9
I was recently asked by one of our members how do I get so many attendees at our meetings. If this is a concern of yours, know that you are not alone. Since starting Fashion Entrepreneurs of Houston (FEH) my biggest concern has been what if people don't show up. I stress about this every meeting.
Let’s Get Started (What will you learn?):
What do you need to think about before planning your next meeting or event?
What can you expect in terms of the number of attendees?
What steps can you take to get people to keep attending your future events?
Let's get into what you need to know. First, let me just mention, if you have a free event, plan to have a lot more people sign-up, than are actually going to attend. You can expect attendance to be approximately 20% to 30% of those individuals that actually sign up. This often comes as a big surprise to first time business event planners.
Having a fee even if it is a small fee will help you better estimate the number of attendees to expect. If I were to guess I'd say 70% to 80% of attendees will attend if there is an entrance fee.
Okay, so now let's ponder on what I was really being asked.
You: How do I get more attendees? What are you doing to get so many attendees?
Me: Who are you trying to get to attend? You: My target audience is....
Me: Where would you find them to notify them? Where are they already hanging out?
You: They can be found at.....
Me: Why should they attend?
You: This meeting will offer the attendees the opportunity to...
Me: Why wouldn't they attend?
You: They may not attend because...
Me: What can you do to overcome the reasons they might not attend?
You: I can and will...
Me: Great, you are now prepared and have a plan!
You: What if I do all these things and I still don't have good attendance?
Me: Repeat above. What should be answered differently?
To be clear. This isn't exactly how our conversation went. We were at the end of our scheduled discussion time. During that time, I did ask a few questions and provide a few suggestions. I informed our member that I would follow back up with them.
If I were prepared, and had additional time to offer, I imagine our conversation would resemble what I have conveyed above. Also keep in mind that the above conversation has been simplified. The point I'm attempting to make is that when you ask a question that you think is a simple question with a quick answer that is not necessarily the case. I believe to be successful in business you need to do three things, have a plan, put the plan in action, and learn (not necessarily in that order).
Now let's talk about what I'm doing that you could also be doing. First, I have consistent meetings. They are on the same day of the month so people can remember to attend. I try to avoid having the meetings on days where there are other events (holidays, Spring Break, other major fashion events, etc.) that would be competing for our audiences' attention. Next, I make sure people can find out about the meetings. I post on our website, social media, and in the local newspapers.
When the meeting details are posted I always include our logo. Interestingly enough I have run into several people who have seen the posting and have been curious about our group. Of course, what I do next is tell them about us, hand them a promotional item and a business card, and invite them to the next meeting.
It is also very important also to provide information about your organization. People want to know who you are. I make sure attendees have a way to take a look at our website (and many do). The most looked at page on your website is the "about" page. So make sure you spend some time crafting your "about"page. Please make sure it says something about you. People want to know that you are credible and can trust you before they spend up to an hour or more driving in Houston traffic to get to your event.
I also aim to make the meetings convenient for the attendees. Since Houston is a rather large city I have tried to have centrally located meetings. I know a lot of the attendees are leaving work and will be hungry and so I often provide dinner. It's also important to post the meeting details far enough in advance so that attendees can make time in their schedules. I usually post the details three to four weeks in advance.
I ask attendees to bring a friend (and many do, THANK YOU). I ask on the meeting invitation and also during the meeting. During the meetings many individuals have taken video footage and shared it on their social media pages (again, THANK YOU). People like to help others, they enjoy sharing things with others that they find enjoyment in. If the attendees did not take delight in the meetings they would not share the meeting with others, invite others, or even return again.
This leads me to mention another step that I take. I set expectations for the meeting. I set out the time frame and agenda in the meeting postings. If there is a presentation I provide an outline of what the presentation is going to be about. The meeting presentation topics are selected such that they will provide attendees with knowledge that they can use in their fashion and beauty related business. Most importantly on the day of the event I meet those expectations by starting on time, having the speaker present, and ending on time.
Getting increased attendance is not just about what you place on the flyer. That is a big part however. What you include and what you don't include on the flyer makes a difference. I'll probably cover that in another post in the future as there's a lot more to be said. You should also pay attention to the details during the event. Be sure to welcome all attendees as they arrive (provided they arrive on time). Having signage helps attendees confirm they are in the right place. Having a sign-in sheet allows you to invite them to attend the next event so you can increase future event attendance. Make sure things are comfortable for them. Provide enough seating or standing room. Provide a microphone and speakers so that everyone can hear the presentation. People get bored sitting around so provide a hands-on activity to keep them engaged.
When time comes around for your next event, assuming what you are offering is different, make sure to invite past event attendees. Also invite those attendees that registered but didn't attend. If they registered they probably have an interest in attending but you either haven't convinced them enough that they should attend or something more important has come up to capture their attention.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when planning an event. There's so many other things that you can do to have better meeting attendance. Some of the other things I am giving thought to is having speakers that have lots more years of career experience, rotating the meetings through out the city of Houston, and increasing our presence on social media (posting not just when we have an upcoming meeting).
Here are some other things that I would like you to also consider. Depending on what your goals are for having the meeting it may be ideal to have a smaller number of attendees. What works for me may not work for you because you have a different audience and goals.
Event planners worry about having lackluster attendance. Think about famous musicians and famous actors. Even with all the fame they sometimes have concerts and movies that are poorly attended. It happens. Sometimes there may be things that you can do to increase attendance, depending on where you are at in the planning stages, but at times it may be out of your control.
Have a plan of action before sending out meeting or event invitations
Pay attention to the details on the day of the event
Follow-up with the attendees and thank them for attending
It's all about the combination of everything that you do. I'm certain I've missed some things that I have implemented. Hopefully this helps get you started. Thank you for sticking with me to the end of this article. If you have additional questions feel free to leave a comment below. It just may lead to the next article in this blog.