Reach or engagement?

What’s better? 60 people signing up for your event and only 20 actually showing up, or 25 people signing up for your event and 15 showing up.?

In the first scenario, you’ve reached more people, you’ve engaged more people plus If you charged $10 per person and everyone pays on sign up, you made $600 vs $250. Clearly a win. Right?

Even when we cast aside your preparation time, the cost of a venue to comfortably host 60 people and catering, a 30% attendance rate brings with it a host of rich information about your process.

For example, it could be telling you that your price is too low. After all, if people are prepared to give up their $10 investment without even bothering to show up and hear what you have to say, $10 was not enough to ensure their commitment.

It could be telling you that you have an issue with your communications plan. Did you clearly lay out what people would get from attending your event? Did you send at least one reminder about your event after they signed up? Was the information to be shared at your event not easily found through other more convenient sources?

The second scenario communicates a very different message. It’s telling you that the price people paid made it worth it to show up. It’s telling you that your event while having lower mass appeal, is speaking directly to a niche audience, arguably far more important in the long run. And planning for 25 and hosting 15 means you were able to book a more intimate space, conversations could run longer and deeper. Everyone walks away believing your event was a success.

So what’s better?

The problem with free

When was the last time you paid nothing for something that made a real difference in your life? That last free event you RSVP’d to - did you show up?

The problem with free is it demands nothing from your audience. Whether they decide to show up or not, they never really had any skin in the game.

Of course, by not showing up they miss out on something. The benefit of learning from your expertise. And if they were simply making a choice between doing nothing and doing something, they’d probably choose doing something.

So why then, don’t they show up? Because no one ever chooses between doing your thing and doing nothing. They choose between doing your thing and relaxing at home, catching up on work, going on a date, spending time with their kids.

Often you don’t have to change what you offer for your audience to see its value. You simply have to charge for it.