Talk of the Town: How to Use Events As a Supplemental Revenue Source

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If you’re a magazine publisher — or, in this day and age, if you’re a human — you are constantly coming up with creative ways to make additional revenue. Chances are you have considered hosting an event.

Hosting events is a way to supplement magazine advertising revenue. Additionally, events can increase your brand awareness and gain customer responses on how to improve your product.

Events are costly but can reap huge benefits for both your magazine and your advertisers. Follow these steps to help your event be as successful as possible:

Preparation for the event:

Brainstorm event ideas

Make a list of event ideas. The event should pique the interest of your readers. Analyze your most popular stories. Is there an event that you can host that relates to that topic? For example, if you have a regional cooking magazine and your most popular article was on the best local barbecue restaurants, you could host a “Best BBQ In Town” competition and use subscribers as the judges.

Research events in your area

Now that you have a list of potential events, cross out the events that are similar to other events held in your area. Know who your competitors are and what events they host. Events can quickly transform from revenue supplements to revenue-draining activities if you don’t differentiate your event from others in your area. Is there an event that already exists that you want to host? See if you can partner with that event.

Reach out to your current advertisers first, then look for new advertisers

See if your current advertisers would be interested in sponsoring your event. Next, move to new advertisers. Look at advertisers that sponsored other local events. Do any of these advertisers fit your target customer’s interests?

Pitching to Advertisers

I recently listened to a Ryan Dohrn webinar about event sponsorships, which has a ton of tips to sell your event advertising opportunities.

Some key takeaways from his webinar were that your number one pitch point is the estimated attendance number. Advertisers want to know how many people will be exposed to their company. If it’s your first time hosting an event and you don’t have a concrete number, give an estimate. Be ethical, though, by letting them know that the number you gave is only an estimate.

Scaling Sponsorship Amount

Having trouble getting advertisers to buy into this estimate? Let them know that you will scale sponsorship. If the attendance is less than expected, you will scale back the sponsorship amount.

Offer 3 Sponsorship Levels

Dohrn offers 3 sponsorship levels. People typically pick the most or second-most expensive advertising package because the third package is seen as much worse than the first two.

A Sponsor Buys In. What Next?

Immediately post their sponsorship on your event website. This works in two ways:

1) It’s great exposure for the acquired sponsor.

2) Other sponsors see who is sponsoring and develop FOMO.

Promote your event

Magazine ads, your website, Facebook group, all forms of social media. Get your event noticed.

Reward Loyalty

Come up with a perk for your loyal subscribers. Whether it’s a VIP pass to your event, a discounted ticket, or free goodies, let them know they are appreciated.

Hire A Photographer

Not only will people want their photos from the event, but they also end up being great advertising content for next year.

We will go into prep for next year in greater depth later.

During the Event:

During the event, remind your coworkers to enjoy the event but also realize this is a business event. Assign people to network with certain people. Are there any potential clients in attendance?

Have the photographer take photos of people enjoying the event. Have them collect email addresses to send the photos once they are processed. Chances are, these pictures will end up on their social media, which could be great advertising for both your magazine and next year’s event.

Gather feedback on the event and the magazine. What do people want to see more of or less of?

After the Event:

What worked? What didn’t work? Answer these questions as soon as the event is over so you can improve your event next year.

Publish an event highlight in your next publication. Include photos from the event, interviews from people who attended the event, and articles related to the activities at the event.

In addition to revenue from the event, events can create brand awareness in your community which means the potential to get more subscribers. How will your magazine’s event bring the community together?

Start Prepping for Next Year’s Event

Another tip from Ryan Dohrn: Make a proof of performance report for each advertiser and take non-sensitive information to make a case study for pitching to potential advertisers for next year.

Record data from the event such as attendance number, revenue, etc., and work that into your pitch deck for next year.

Also, take all photos from the event that show the enormity of the crowd at the event or even better — show the crowd engaging with the advertisers. Use this in your pitch deck for next year’s event. You can always tell advertisers how many people attended this event last year, but it’s even more effective to show them.

Creating a Successful Event in 15 bullets:

  • Ensure your event is unique to your region
  • Ensure the event’s theme is what your target audience wants to attend
  • Ask your current advertisers, then move into new targets
  • Include an estimate of the number of people attending this event in your advertising pitch
  • Promise to scale sponsorship if turnout isn’t what you estimated
  • Offer 3 sponsorship levels
  • As soon as a sponsor buys in, list them on your website
  • Promote like crazy
  • Reward loyal subscribers
  • Hire a photographer
  • Ensure employees work the event
  • Gather feedback from the event
  • Publish event highlights in the next magazine
  • Make proof of performance reports
  • Collect data from the event — attendance number, revenue, etc.


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