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Guest Lists Pull Crowds

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Guest Lists Pull Crowds
Submitted by capdog on Thursday, September 6, 2007 - 10:06

"I dunno... I'm a bit tired..." I sighed feebly down the phone. On the other side my friend was convincing me to attend the Levi's gig at Blue Waters hotel.

"You're on the list, you have to come!" he protested, suggesting that somehow being important enough to make a guest list would be sufficient to persuade me to go.

Turns out, it was. I'm shallow like that. But it also turns out that the "guest list" at the door was divided into thick volumes, quite like a telephone directory, and that the only people paying the R20 entrance fee were a few plebby tourists who wandered down from their rooms to investigate why the pictures were falling off their bedroom walls.

As I reflected on the fantastic turn-out, I realised that there was some critically important psychology behind the "guest list", something that all would-be promoters should take note of.

Even though the gig was essentially free, it wasn't officially marketed as such. The flyer specifically stated tickets were R20. There were however several well-placed emails and MySpace messages sent around that let those "in the know" in on a little "secret" - to get your name on the list, simply write it on the Levi's MySpace wall.

But it wasn't even a secret. It was common knowledge. So why bother? Why not just advertise a free gig, and not make people go through the hassle of having to write a comment on a MySpace wall?

Besides the marketing bonus of having extra eyeballs looking at your brand's MySpace page, there's also a simple equation that says: "free = crap". Give something away, and nobody wants it. Tell people that they have to do a minor task to be considered privileged enough to be a guest, and there'll be queues forming at the door.

The act of writing your name down to get on the list is also a subconscious commitment to attend. Even if the date approaches and other events or personal functions crop up, the fact that you've made the effort to register will nag you into attending, even if it's no more of a commitment than verbally agreeing with a mate to attend another free event.

Of course, Levi's and SL Magazine can afford to throw lavish parties that barely break even; something that was quite obvious when we considered the elaborate lighting rig and stage that was erected precariously over the pool of Blue Waters.

I don't want to take anything away from the bands or any other aspect of the promotion effort, but rather just point out the lesson to be learned: even if you can't afford to throw free gigs, making people feel special is one sure-fire way to secure their attendance. Even if it's something simple. Here are some ideas:

  • Give away a free drink to all guests on the list.
  • Make the entrance fee marginally more if you're not on the list. Like R5.
  • If you're a musician promoting yourself, give away a free single cd in a paper sleeve to all guests. Cheap and easy.

Sound lame and transparent? It is, but it works. We're self-centered bastards, us humans, and playing on that can be the difference between 10 disappointed people or a packed crowd at your next gig.

What do you think? Does being on the list convince you to attend, even if anyone can do it? Or is it just a meaningless gesture for the conceited?

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Subject:  VIP
kliktrak's picture
Author:  kliktrak
Date:  6 September, 2007 - 11:22

good comments

Yup agree especially in more highly competitive entertainment markets eg Durban
it s the "special" touch or at least the perception by the punter that somehow the eperience is tailormade for them, and that they are the VIP and reason for the show

Great if one has a corporate sponsor, but not so easy when its an independent event - so key is building and maintaining a key social network, and seeing what other special features/benefits can be built into the event experience, to leave everyone feeling very special and remembering those warm and fuzzy feelings that will proove motivating in getting to the next event

another important aspect is maintaining a "relationship" with your audience/support base/punter - in business its called CRM - and its to facilitate contact in the "in between" times when the client/party person is not actively participating directly with you.
ie in between the events - how do you maintain communication/or prolong the experience so that when the event and "real experience" comes around, the person is so motivated to attend, you guarantee a crowd .

good questions ? not usually executed well, largely IMHO due to lack of media [ie communication media] - where are the fanzines ? the independent radio stations ? lifestyle portals ?
at least there is Durbanscouts and even now FaceBook is being utilised heaviliy by local promoters, the key is building communities, that feel close knit and will support each other - if nothing else its about achieving a larger "group mind" ...

right enough ramblings, its only Thursday - check you all at Zacks on Friday and Sofa So Good at manna on Sat

Peace out


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Subject:  Hmmmm...ye olde Gueste Liste....
Author:  hedmekanik
Date:  6 September, 2007 - 12:00

Durban people love a list.
They all think they should be on one, and usually try blag their way in if they can spot a gap. Shit, they'll even leopard-crawl in under the bouncer's nose if they can save twenty bucks' worth drinking cash. It's happened - I've seen it.
But the days of lists, for independent promoters at least, are over. It simply doesn't pay.
The old rationale used to be - 'Invite X and X's friends and network will all attend as a result, which will recover the cash lost on inviting X' but as time has passed this has proved more like 'Invite X and X doesn't pitch, meaning X hasn't invited his mates, because X never had any intention of pitching, he just wanted to be on the list. Just in case.' Leaving the promoter with -X + 0 = 0.
Elementary, Watson.
And when the hapless promoter has 0, then the promoter's not very interested in ever having a list because he shelled cash for X, who is quite obviously an unappreciative sonofabitch and certified denizen of the dark side. Well, until such a time as the next time X buys the promoter a couple whiskies. Then X is back on the list. Although that doesn't mean X will (as in the first instance) actually attend, because X will probably be too busy shagging his/her girl/boyfriend or may have an all-important date with a pizza / playstation / sofa / fillum / spliff / etc.

If you've the support of brands/companies such as Levi's and SL, well then it's a different story. And an invite to an event which is touted as limited tickets/underground/hush-hush is golden.

Because Durbs loves a list.

go here - http://hedmekania.blogspot.com/

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Subject:  crowd pullers
Author:  SteveTuna
Date:  6 September, 2007 - 11:30

Being on a guest list makes me feel special...as long as I get a discount over the man on the street and dont have to wait in a queue.

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