Places strictly limited. Book now to avoid disappointment. To be sure of a place, please send a cheque. Last year we sold out, so reserve a place early!
How many times have you heard these kind of pleas for a concert or singing workshop? But the tactic can seriously back-fire.
the art of persuasion
Implying that there is a limited run or specific time limit is a tried and tested marketing tool. We are attempting to persuade people to put their money down and book well in advance.
For those of us who run events ourselves (and have to pay for the venue and publicity) it’s great to know that we have sufficient punters to cover our costs way in advance.
But, it can back-fire.
Most people these days are clued up to the wiles of marketing. “Closing down sale, everything must go!” “For one week only!” “Last few remaining — get yours now!” We all know that these are lies.
When an email drops into my inbox encouraging me to book early as there are only a few places, I usually take it with a pinch of salt. In fact, it sometimes has the opposite effect and makes me think they are having trouble filling the places.
First I get an invitation to book for a workshop:
“Places are limited and MUST be booked in advance”.
Then, a few weeks’ later I get:
“Only a few places left”.
My suspicion is that they are finding it hard to fill the available spaces and are having a little panic!
what about the people who don’t book in advance?
I tried this approach recently.
I had decided to run a one-day workshop over a holiday weekend and was worried that everyone would be away and I would be left with no punters. So, for the first time ever, I asked people to book by sending me a cheque. I soon got enough payments to make the workshop worthwhile and could stop worrying.
But then I started getting emails asking if there were still places left and realised that, because I had asked for advance bookings, people assumed that spaces were limited and that they couldn’t just turn up on the day and pay.
I believe that some people didn’t come because they hadn’t got around to sending me a cheque and assumed that the workshop would be full. I also hadn’t specifically said that people could pay on the door.
How does one allow for this in publicity?
If I had said in the publicity that you need to send a cheque to be sure of a place but also stated: “or you can just turn up on the day and pay on the door”, then why should people bother to pay in advance?
But if I leave out the payment on the day option, people who decide to come at the last minute might feel that they’ve missed the boat.
What do you do? How do you get around this problem?
I don’t usually ask for payment in advance which makes admin easier, but it also means that I have no idea how many people are coming on the day.
I know people who always ask for advance payment (and maybe even offer discounts), but have no idea if that puts people off from just turning up on the day.
I’d love to hear any solutions you may have found. Do drop by and leave a comment.