Are you one of the 8 million people that tune in to the UK X Factor every week?
The music talent show has been on our screens for over 10 years now, and love it, or loath it, it is still one of the most watched shows on british television.
However, the X Factor is a brand and, like any other brand, it faces competition. Currently, it’s in a ratings war against the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing (who are currently winning). Despite the competition from other talent shows, X Factor’s loyal fan base have continued to follow the ‘rags to riches’ story, year after year.
As an event professional, you will be no stranger to tough competition. The event industry is fast paced and growing rapidly and, just as X Factor are competing for ratings, so are you, for ticket sales and business.
Here’s the top 5 X Factor marketing strategies to drive ticket sales at your next event.
1. Market before you’re Live
Although we often see last minute pop-up events doing well on Get Invited, they are typically the result of a clever marketing campaign, and have their own set of rules from the average event. For the most part, events that don’t allow enough time for promotion, under perform in ticket sales.
Before the X Factor airs, there is months of build up, from the audition stages, to revealing the celebrity judges, and countless social media competitions. In fact, the X Factor mania never really stops! Granted, you won’t have an X Factor marketing budget at your disposal, but the principles are the same; build excitement about your event before you launch, and they will come.
Do you run a large yearly conference? Is there a smaller event you could run to give people a taster of what to expect, and keep the momentum going? Can you give sneak peaks or exclusives? Promoting our events in short bursts before you launch will ensure you keep your events momentum, without annoying people by blasting constantly.
2. Tell a story
The X Factor are clever, they realised back from their predecessor Pop Idol (where Cowell was a judge) that people buy people, and boy do they exploit this!
Right from audition stages, you know which people the show wants you to pay attention to. Whether for comedic value, or because they’re actually good, the show gives you a sense of who to back. The key to this success is that people can relate to the real life characters, and laugh along at the ridiculous.
What is your events story? Take your audience on a journey right from your planning stages, to build excitement. Have you chosen your caterers? Can we get a sneak peak at some of the menu? Is there a pre-interview with your speakers? Is there a link to some of their valuable work that you can share? What difficulties have you faced?
Let your audience in and make them feel part of it, ask their opinions and encourage feedback. Telling your story in an honest and relatable way, will help build relationships.
3. Listen to your Audience
Right from the audition stages, to the live show voting, X Factor feeds of audience reaction, to help shape the show. The X Factor app even encourages fans to make predictions, and rate the performances in real-time.
This information is by no means just for entertainment value. It gives the bosses an indication as to which performers the public are embracing, and it has been widely claimed that they use this information to manipulate the winner.
You don’t have to have your own app, and it is highly unlikely you’re going to break out a clap-o-meter at your next event, but you can measure your event success easily, by listening to the conversation your audience is having online.
With Get Invited, you can track what people are saying about your event across social media channels, which we present in a social timeline for your attendees to interact with. Behind this, there is powerful tracking tool that monitors this activity, and shows you which channels and posts are performing well (or otherwise). We will also be releasing a sentiment analysis that will decipher whether your event was positively or negatively embraced online.
This type of feedback is extremely powerful for shaping your events, and for your event marketing. Most importantly, once you get the feedback, make sure you deliver.
4. Use Shock Tactics
Whether it’s revealing wild cards, new judges, the ridiculous acts that Louis Walsh lines up, or the 6 seat challenge, the X Factor carefully employs shock tactics to keep the audience guessing. In fact Simon Cowell puts last years poor ratings down to the fact that the winner was “too obvious”, so you can expect lots of surprises this year.
Are there any little surprises that you can give your guests? I attended an event once with singing waiters, and they were so good, we all were genuinely shocked! It doesn’t have to big a big shock, just a small surprise; have an alternative menu, get creative with your decor, add dramatic lighting. Or perhaps you can mix up the schedule with a surprise entertainer?
Giving your guests something unexpected will help set your event apart from the rest.
5. Integrate Social Media
X Factor are very active with their social media marketing. The show’s finalists are all given social media channels, and the public can even vote through Twitter. The after show, Xtra Factor, uses lots of the fans comments online, to help shape the show and there are numerous competitions running alongside this.
Events, like people, are social, so make sure that your event marketing is too. This starts at the ticketing stage. On your event page, there is links to share the event on social media, and a social timeline to highlight the conversation around your event across the networks.
Show fans behind the scenes of your event planning, hold competitions for free tickets, and get your audiences opinion with polls. Involving them in the process will help them feel more invested in your event, and encourages ticket purchase.
Make social media an integral part of your marketing plan, and track your progress along the way. The analytics in your Get Invited admin area will highlight which posts are performing best for you, and which areas you need to shape up in, so you don’t have to spend hours across multiple tools.
The X Factor is a marketing machine with huge budgets, but that doesn’t mean it will always get ahead. In fact, X Factors musical flop, ’I can’t sing’ had one of the longest ad campaigns of any west end musical, and an unlimited budget, and yet it still flopped in the end, because it arguably couldn’t live up to its own hype.
Using the lessons learned from the X Factor can help you get closer to your attendees, but importantly, use these to listen to them and help shape your event, so that you sell-out year after year!