In this episode of Become a Media Maven®, Alexis Caldicott is sharing how you can make five or even six figures from events.
Yes, you can make this money by holding your own event, sponsoring an event, or even attending an event.
In the 13th episode, Alexis is going to take us, step-by-step, how to host our first event (a 90-minute one-day workshop) AND how to profit as an event attendee.
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How to Make Money (5 to 6 Figures) From an Event
Alexis Caldicott owns A Team Event Company. We help mission-driven entrepreneurs use events to close five to six figures in sales in three days or less.
We love doing that because we want to help people make a bigger impact, so that’s why we work with mission-driven entrepreneurs who want to make a big impact with what they do. That’s a big part of their mission and we want them to be able to live the life that they love at the same time. So, we love helping people use events to do that because it’s such a great way to have a successful business and make an impact at the same time.
How to close five to six figures in sales in three days or less
And, you do it in three days or less. We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, but why specifically three days or less?
Because it can happen that fast. I mean, there’s usually some ramp-up time and things you have to prepare of course, but with the three days or less, what that means is someone could be going to someone else’s event to get clients, whether it’s as an attendee or a speaker or a sponsor, and it could be going to an event that’s three days or two days or one day and leave with a client… or they could be putting on their own event. That could be a one day, a two day, or a three-day event. So within that timeframe of the event, the three days or less, depending on how long the event is, they can close clients on the spot.
How to host a successful event
How did you get into all of this?
I will give you the short version that. Like a lot of people, I went to college for something completely different. I went to school for music therapy and psychology, which I love, love, love.
It does come in handy with what I do now. Music is a big part of putting on a successful event, but when I was in college, one of my friends had a very successful consulting business and she was able to get it to six figures in less than two years. So, she wanted to start a new consulting business where she could help other people do the same. While I was in college, she said, ‘Hey, Why don’t you come work with me on this project, on this new business, while you’re in school? Then that way you can learn’ because she knew that my vision was always to be a business owner. So she said, ‘Come work with me.’ So, I basically got to be a sponge and learn about what really worked and see the inside of what went into a profitable and successful business.
What we very quickly learned is that events were one of the fastest paths to having a lot of success in business and having a consistent flow of clients and cash flow coming in through your business. So, I got to learn from the best in the business. I always give credit where credit is due. People like Callan Rush, Lisa Sasevich, David Nagel, Suzanne Evans, a lot of those people who are known for putting on six to seven figure events what works and what doesn’t work.
I got to learn, without a whole lot of trial and error, what actually works and what doesn’t work. And then from there, when I was in college, I had a lot of people asking me to do it for them, just like I was doing it for her.
At each event, we got it down to a science where twice a year they would hold a three-day event and it would close over six figures every single time like clockwork. So once word got out that I was creating that for them, of course, other people wanted help and the rest is history.
Building an event planning business
So you and I actually met at an event… and it was a big event. I want to get to that in a second. I don’t want to talk about big events. I do want to talk about small events, but first I want to talk about using events.
You mentioned you can use events as an attendee to get business and most people who are going to events, they’re going as attendees. They’re not sponsors or they’re not speakers or they’re not throwing them. They’re actually an attendee and my mindset has always been, I’m coming here to learn. I’m going to take what I learn and I’m going to apply it to my business and grow. Honestly, before I started talking to you and learning about what you did, it never even crossed my mind to use the event as a networking opportunity to grow my business, which sounds so stupid because it can be that, but I never thought of it like that.
What should I do to actually earn business, not just learning at the event, but actually getting clients at the event?
That is such a great observation, Christina, and you’re not alone. It’s a great opportunity to get clients at events like that because there’s someone who’s like-minded, so you’re going to want to work with them. We’re more likely to want to work with them because there’s someone who’s there and trying to learn as well.
When I started doing this and I had kind of phased out from having a couple of major clients and when it was my moment to spread my wings, I had to let go of a few of my main clients. It was a very scary time because it was three months away from my wedding.
I knew that I could go to events, look for my ideal clients, have amazing messaging ready to go, and I could leave with clients and everything would be okay. I just had to tell myself, okay, you’ve done this before. Just go out and do it.
So, I started going to conferences and events and that’s what helped me to get my business to a six-figure business in less than two years as well, by going to where I knew my ideal clients were and instead of trying to look for them and spray and pray, as they say on the Internet, I looked up where my ideal clients were going and what are other sources, resources, and help they needed.
How to make money at an event as an attendee
I looked up those events. I qualified them on whether they were going to be worth the time and the money. Then when I was there, some of the tips and tricks that we teach our clients is as an attendee.
You always want to be observant of your surroundings and what’s going on in the room. So, if you see someone who is constantly going up to the mic and asking lots of questions, that’s a great marker of who is a great client because it’s someone who’s hungry, who’s thirsty, who wants to learn more, that is ready to go. That’s an action taker. They’re fearless, right? Because it takes guts to go up to the mic in front of a room and ask questions.
I understand what you mean because a lot of people, they don’t want to put themselves out there. They’re afraid of what people will think. But again, if you are going to an event, you’re investing time and money so you want to get the most out of it. And if you’re not asking questions, you’re not getting the most out of it.
So, when someone goes up to the mic, that’s an indicator that you want to kind of casually bump into them somewhere and start talking, but also, you going to the mic. This is a great tactic, but I also have to throw in a disclaimer with it. Going to the mic and asking questions yourself is also a great way just to get your name known out to the room and what you do.
So when you go up to the mic, if you have a ten-second thing that you can say, “Hi, my name is Alexis and I help entrepreneurs sell five to six figures in three days or less and my question is…
It makes their head go up right from taking their notes… and then you ask a really good thoughtful question that gets you noticed in the room. If you do that just a couple of times, that helps you get noticed in the room.
My disclaimer is you have to do it with the right intention. Obviously part of your reason is to get noticed, but it actually has to be a question that you really want to know the answer to because people can see right through phony, so it has to be a true question that’s going to provide value to the room and to provide value to yourself.
I’m also respectful of the event host. It’s not a pitch fest. You’re not going up on their stage without being invited. You’re not going to start selling your services from the mic, so I just got to throw that disclaimer out there that yes, that is a great way to do it, but you have to be respectful and you actually have to have a good question.
That’s how you pitch the media. Like, so many people are so overly promotional and that’s why it doesn’t work for them, but when people come from a place to help the journalists do their job, then it’s beneficial. There are so many similarities here.
It’s all about coming from a place of service to the room, service to the event host, and service to yourself, but not in an over the top way.
Networking at an event
I hate it when I’m at an event and it’s just very obvious that somebody is just trying to network to sell me their story that I just don’t want to buy. You see the person going to the mic, you go to the mic, people are coming to you, you have people you want to go to… How do you actually have that conversation where it’s like, ‘Yes, we’re here to learn but I’m going to try to get you as a lead to become a client, but I don’t want to be so obvious about it. What does that conversation look like?
That’s a great question and one of the biggest ones that come up. I won’t go off too much on this because I could teach this forever, but basically what we teach our clients is when you go to an event as an attendee or even as a sponsor with the booth, there are two types of salespeople that you want to be – either the hunter or the gatherer.
1. The Hunter
The hunter is that kind of person that you just described that is just out there. They’ve got the gun behind them and they’re ready to go and they’re stalking prey and looking for all the indicators of, ‘Oh, this person looks well put together’ and ‘Oh, this person does that.’ They’re searching the room. And honestly, some people have that down and they are masters at it and it’s not like a slimy, sleazy way, but you have to be really good at it and have really skillful questions to use so that people don’t feel like you just felt like you described.
2. The Gatherer
I could go way longer into the hunter and how to do that, but the other style, which is my style, is the gatherer.
The gather is someone who has a really great message, very clear and concise. As the gatherer, you just kind of put your message and you put your vibes out there and people come to you. They gathered to you because they see what you’re talking about. You’ve got your stuff together. What you’re saying is clear and compelling and when people see that, they naturally are drawn to you like a magnet.
Right before my wedding, I went to this big conference in the summer and the first day I was the hunter. Oh Man. I was scouring that room and like, ‘Oh, I need a client, I need a client. I’ve got to get a client scouring that room.’ I had a meltdown at the end of the day. I’m like, ‘Why isn’t this going well? No one’s really talking to me.’
Talking to my fiancee, now business partner and husband Aaron, I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Babe, you’re not being you. You’re trying to be this other person. You know who’s a hunter in the room. You’re not a hunter. Just enjoy the event and relax and be calm and whatever happens, happens. If you get a client, great. If not, you’re learning amazing information. So just relax. Enjoy the conference and whatever happens, happens.’
3. Just have a conversation
Just making that mental switch in my head of not being in this scarcity mode and attack, attack, attack and just be myself, have fun, enjoy the information, be really curious… it was like everything flipped. People would come up to me and asked me questions or they would want to come and sit with me at lunch.
So, when you’re in your own natural style and you have clear, compelling messaging and you’ve got your stuff together, people are drawn to you. It’s really just like playing catch with someone. It’s a very simple question. You pass it to me. I hold the ball, I answered the question, I pass it back to you.
So the same is true when you’re in that kind of environment with someone, it’s just a simple natural conversation. It’s when we get into our heads that we get too flustered and we’re worried about what are we going to say. You just have to be present with people. You’re opening will come up and if you’re present you’ll hear it and you can naturally steer the conversation your way.
I’m definitely a gatherer and let me show you why this also probably works better for people. I mean, yes, you can be a hunter and be really good at it, but I liked the gathering method because I get my leads this way – not at events but through PR and the media.
I’m always putting myself out there and people are coming to me. I find that it’s a lot easier to close a sale when you’re a gatherer because people already know, like, and trust you before they even have that first conversation with you because you have put yourself out there so much.
How to put together a small event
That’s very good for anybody who’s attending an event anytime soon to keep in mind when they go to events and I mentioned that we met at a big event, but I want to talk about small events because I feel like out of the gate if somebody is thinking about throwing an event, they’re not going to start with a big event. They should probably start small. So, I want to talk about small events and how you should start one.
That’s where you should start – small events. You’re not going to go from, ‘I’ve never done an event’ or ‘I’ve never made an offer to the room’ to all of a sudden I’m going to throw this amazing three-day huge event with 100 people that I’m going to be the next guru or star. It doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes we have to give people a very loving but firm reality check when they come to us and say, I want to do this, I want to do that. That is a great goal and a great vision for the future, but let’s look at where you are and make sure that it makes sense and get you a successful event under your belt and make a little money and then you can reinvest that in, grow to a bigger one.
Sometimes our eyes are a little bit bigger than our stomachs and we have to just start where we’re at and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can have a small event your first time and make great money. So a great place to start.
We have what we call an event ready checklist and that’s where we have all of our clients, the clients that are doing the big three day events and the clients that are doing this small one day or 90-minute workshop, make sure that they’re ready because there’s a lot of things you need to have in place. Make sure that you’ve got everything together and things don’t get overlooked when you’re halfway through the planning process and you’re like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done this before. My life would be so much easier and stress-free if I had done this.’
How to put together a 90-minute workshop
You mentioned a 90-minute workshop or a one day workshop. Let’s, let’s talk about that. How would you start planning a 90-minute workshop or a one day workshop? I mean I’m sure there probably a lot of differences, but let’s just keep it small.
The first place you want to begin is you want to make sure that you have a solid strategy for your event. We start with an event strategy session because that is your foundation for everything. The event has to make sense. It has to make sense with your longterm vision for your business and where you want to take it.
Then from there, what is your offer? Who is it for? Obviously very specific ideal clientele that you’re targeting this event towards. It’s not to the masses.
Then, what is it that they really need What do they need support with and how do you want to work with them? We do a quiz with our clients to make sure that they’re delivering their offer and working with our clients in a way that they would love because you can promise the same outcome and deliver it and multiple ways.
For example, you’re going to learn X, Y, Z, or it could be work with me one on one and you’re going to learn the same X, Y, Z. So we, we made sure that their offer that they’re making at their event is going to be delivered to their new clients in a way that they love so they don’t end up hating life working with clients in a way that doesn’t match their personality.
The most important part of event planning
Making sure you have a good offer that matches your personality and then making sure you have really, again, clear, compelling and magnetic messaging that attracts people to your event. That is key and that is where we see one of the biggest pitfalls with people in their events is that’s too broad. They’re not reverse engineering their event so that it’s leading up to the offer and their marketing is just all over the place.
It’s not clear, they’re not educating people, or not delivering value before they ask them to come to the event. It’s just come to my event, come to my event, come to my event, in their emails and their social media. That’s all it is. There’s no nurturing. There’s no loving up on them before you ask them to marry you.
When you’re dating someone, you ask them out for coffee. You don’t just take them to bed right away. That’s one of the biggest things that we see that people aren’t doing – they’re not creating the breadcrumb trail for people to lead up to the event and they’re not positioning themselves as that trusted advisor and friend so that when they have a problem in your area of expertise, it’s, ‘Oh yeah, I’m calling Christina. Obviously, I got to call Christina about this and make sure that I get on the Oprah Show.’ Right?
If you don’t have a solid strategy, if you don’t know who it’s for, what they need, how you want to work with them, then everything else is probably going to fall apart. So you have that buckled down. And then what’s next?
How to fill an event
Once you’ve got your message down, what we do is we go through and create a marketing calendar with our clients of how we’re going to fill the event and what is the marketing going to be. From there, it’s just sticking to the plan and the strategy. There’s a lot of ways to fill events. Even if you have a very small list, we have over 23 ways that you can fill an event.
I feel like that would be the hardest part. Is that not the hardest part?
It is. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It absolutely is. Even the biggest people and the business coaching industry, that whole industry, those gurus, even they are having a hard time filling the room. Sometimes they’re able to do it because they have great connections and relationships and a loyal list and everything, but still, that’s where you spend the bulk of your time with an event is getting people in there or “getting butts in seats” as they say in the industry.
Let’s talk about the butts in the seats. Don’t get me 23 reasons, but give me a couple.
I can give them the list of the 23 ways that are not in the event ready checklist, just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Make Phone Calls
No matter who you are, what size your list is, how big the event is – the number one way to fill your event is to pick up the phone. You don’t have to do it yourself, but when you’re doing an event, especially when you’re starting out, which is what we originally started talking about – doing like a small one day or a 90-minute workshop, you have to pick up the phone.
You get to answer the questions they have and you can get them to purchase the ticket right there on the phone. They need that person to person accountability to make a decision at that moment. If it’s just emailing you with great compelling copy, you can get them to say yes, but sometimes people just need that extra nudge or that personal reach out.
We track and see who’s opening the emails, who’s really engaged or who have inquired in the past. So who are your hot leads? We always start with your hot leads – calling every single one of them. And it’s intense. It’s a lot of phone calls being made, but in the end, when you’ve got $100,000 in the bank, it’s worth it.
I would call your past and current clients because they could come to the event and either they’ll bring people with them or they’ll buy something themselves and re-engage if they’re a past client.
I think we all have a stack of cards hidden and we need to get to them. We need to call them. Those are the people you’d calls. You call those people, you connect with them, catch up with them, tell them what you’re up to in your event. Do they want to come? Do they know someone that can come?
2. Speak at Events
Speaking is a great way to fill your event if you’re able to, but if we’re talking local small events, someone just getting started, like a one day or 90-minute workshop, I would say go out networking. We talked about before with attending conferences and events at the beginning of this. This is a great way to fill your event too.
3. Marketing in your Messaging
So again, great marketing message for your event. That’s to a specific target market. Then you go to the events where those people are gathering. I’ve had people even go to a Curves, the fitness place for women. Depending on what your event is about, your target market is women that are trying to lose weight, or mothers, or something like that. I’ve had clients go to Curves and put up fliers. It’s where are your people gathering
Think outside of the box. Not everyone has the same ideal client and they’re a business owner. That’s not everyone’s. And that’s okay. There are all kinds of places we gathered together because that’s what we do as humans. So where can you go, thinking outside of the box, where they are going?
One of our business coaches went to Whole Foods. That’s where she found her people. So there are all kinds of places you can go to find your people… and you go with a ticket to your event or a flyer for your event and you have a great casual conversation and show interest in them as we talked about. Then when they ask what you do and what you’re up to, you can share your event and get them to register there on the spot or call them and follow up with them.