Common sense and delusional thinking in promoting events

nick kempI currently teach Provocative Change Works in twelve overseas countries and on average get two new hosting requests each year. As somebody who ran commercial events in 1980s and spent over 15 years in sales and marketing, I appreciate how much work goes into such activities. I am also aware that there is a massive range of skills and capabilities across the planet in terms of this activity. Some promoters have a great grasp of what is needed, while others are to be blunt totally delusional in their thinking!

There are many factors that are essential in making a training possible. I receive all kinds of requests to run trainings overseas and I have a check list of questions to ask promoters before agreeing to any presentation. Most of these questions are what I would consider to be basic common sense, BUT sense is often not that common! Here are some considerations –

  1. What experience do you have of successfully promoting such events?
  2. How do you intend to promote the event?
  3. Where and when do you want the event?
  4. What awareness do you have of the kind of training that I run?

Nick KempYes, these are pretty basic questions, aren’t they? That said, often enquirers will fail to have even addressed these considerations. Often people will attend a training and think “Wow, I could do that (and earn a lot of money), lets run one of these!” Of course they are only seeing the final realised vision of an immense amount of work. There are a great number of moving parts in creating a successful event.

Successful promotion requires an ongoing campaign with lots of delivery systems, NOT simply one medium of marketing. Years ago I remember an NLP trainer who boasted a massive mailing list and prided himself on this as a means to attract customers. I was therefore surprised when as a guest I discover that his five-day training had only attracted four attendees, especially as he had flown in from USA to London to run this. Of the four attendees, only one had paid full price.

Another “promoter” would drive me crazy by waiting until very late in the day to do any promotion and fail to use social media to maintain awareness. When I asked about numbers attending I would always get a vague response, which is extremely frustrating when as a trainer you are planning flights and accommodation. When I hosted Frank Farrelly for eight consecutive years, I would agree the fee with him, book the venue and arrange accommodation. As a host my job is to take care of this side of the business. If I fail to generate enough attendees to keep the event in profit, then that’s my risk as a promoter. I requested the appearance and if I get my marketing correct then I reap the potential financial benefits.

I am unaware of any host insisting that a promoter is paid above and beyond what was originally agreed in terms of payment due to additional unexpected demand for the training. I am however very aware of hosts trying to get the presenter to reduce fees because they didn’t generate anticipated numbers of attendees! The smartest hosts maintain good communication with trainers and keep them informed at every stage of the promotion. They also appreciate the need to maintain an ongoing campaign across many mediums of promotion and INVITE CO-OPERATION from colleagues and other training schools. Amazingly some promoters fail to welcome co-operation from referral sources and stubbornly insist on going it alone with quite delusional thinking. They often run events at a loss and would rather have loss of income than imagined loss of face!

The timing of running events is key. Certain times of year are better than others. I recently moved a date for a training as we discovered that Valentine’s Day was an issue for many folks. The rearranged date is proving far more successful. It’s crucial to pay attention to what is happening in the marketplace and like any smart business adapt accordingly. Sometimes in extreme cases a date may have to be rearranged, but this is a last resort. In hosting others and my own events in 20 I have NEVER CANCELLED a training, not one. Cancellations send out the wrong message and creative nervousness in possible future customers…

nick kempMost promotion is of course common sense BUT that’s not as common as you may imagine. Many NLP concerns are excellent and I have a long history of working with hosts in Japan who have proved to be the best organizers. At the other end of the spectrum I fired two European promoters as they increasingly managed to display an equal measure of delusional thinking and total arrogance! Fortunately, this is a rare occurrence and as a trainer I have to keep a close eye on how trainings are promoted and organized. In most instances it’s a real pleasure to work with really smart hosts who have an appreciation for the detail needed in making trainings possible which means building a really good relationship with their customers.

I am currently looking for additional hosts overseas to further promote PCW in 2017. Please e-mail me if you are interested in hosting my trainings



2 Responses to Common sense and delusional thinking in promoting events

  1. Sid Jacobson April 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Nice summary Nick, appreciated. I hope lots of people read it.

    • nick kemp April 1, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks Sid! I find the variation in awareness on this subject quite extraordinary! Many hosts for trainers and quite exceptional and then there are “the others…” LOL

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