My biggest event made the front page of every major newspaper in the country. Three people plead guilty to crimes involving a plot to disrupt it. One year later a similar event packed a night club and made Page 6, Vanity Fair, and even critical publications like The Guardian. Those events cost over $100,000 each to put on. My mindset seminars are intimate and pay the bills.
My first event was a free happy hour that I almost didn’t go to.
That’s my way of saying I’ve thrown everything from major parties to small story telling seminars where people open up about their deepest vulnerabilities.
Events offer an excellent source of income, your fans love them, and they allow you to build your business.
They are also a major pain in the butt if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Here’s what I’ve learned putting on events, and more importantly, here are the mistakes to avoid.
Footage, Footage, Footage.
My biggest mistake early on was not filming all of the events.
A filmed seminar can be an opt-in for your email list, a free video to get indexed into YouTube, or an add-on bonus for a paid video course.
You can also edit the clips into a promo for future events.
- Watch: A Night for Freedom NYC
You can compare old seminar clips to new clips as a meta-lesson. For example, compare one of my first seminars in San Francisco to my New York seminar held last weekend. Oh that’s right, you can’t! The NYC event wasn’t filmed because it was a detail that fell through the cracks. (Read about Checklists at the bottom.)
But you can compare this San Francisco seminar to my later Los Angeles seminar. Notice the difference?
- Watch: Gorilla Mindset San Francisco
- Watch: Gorilla Mindset Los Angeles
Plus, if you have a good crowd, you can show yourself talking to the crowd. This is a social proof, one of the six pillars of persuasion.
It’s worth losing money on early events to get this footage. PAY A PROFESSIONAL to do it. Many “fans” will offer to do it for free, and half the time they will flake. In fact, you should always pay people for their work, because it’s the right thing to do and also it mitigates flakes. If someone “does you a favor” by “working for free,” they won’t feel guilty if they flake on you.
Give away your video footage.
“I can’t give away my seminars, as then no one will attend my paid events!”
This is whats everyone who doesn’t know what they are talking about say.
People who watch you for free want to buy from you (reciprocity principle). They also want to attend events to see you, because we are human beings and want to meet people we admire. And people want to attend events to meet like-minded people and for the vibe.
I have given away two full seminars, and that has sold me more tickets than if no one had watched them. I’d give away more if I had filmed more.
Videos also let you reach stadium crowds virtually.
My San Francisco and Los Angeles Seminars have been watched by over 100,000 people. That’s a stadium full of people.
Price your tickets in 3 tiers, and have a ridiculously overpriced ticket option.
You always price your events in three tiers. Why? Because 3 is a “magic number.” It doesn’t make sense that humans view three choices are better than 4, but that’s the way it is.
When you price tickets in tiers, your lower priced ticket seems like a better value due to the contrast principle. $150 in isolation may seem expensive to some. When compared to the $1,500 ticket, it seems like a better value.
When you look at even big names like Jordan Peterson, you’re seeing him make a huge mistake. He only sells general admission tickets. He should be charging in tiers – GA, VIP, and Platinum. He’s leaving a ton of money on the table and also not delivering maximum value to his audience.
Some would say it’s not democratic or whatever to have different pricing. People are at different stages of life. You want to offer value for everyone.
People with means ask me high-stakes questions that require my judgment and decision making based on my and the collective experience of my network and clients. People don’t pay me to give them basic advice that you can find via a Google search.
Charging more is thus the most just outcome. It’s a way to manage your time and the time of attendees. People just starting off are able to afford to attend your events, because the big-ticket purchasers subsidize them. It’s a win for everyone.
Also, people who complain about “unfair pricing” are a nightmare to deal with. Do you know who complains the most about what I do? It’s the free-seekers and general admission ticket holders. Part of this is because some (not all or even most) people are broke due to negative relationship with money. They feel that anyone who charges money for anything is ripping them off. Do you want those people in your client base? I sure don’t, and in fact I refund people who make even the smallest complaint before the event.
If they are complaining before getting into the door, they’ll “find” 100 reasons to complain once they are in. Keep them out.
Focus on delivering value to everyone, and especially to your big backers.
The 80/20 rule applies to every area of online business. 80% of your seminar revenue will come from 20% of your backers.
Yes, you want every General Admission ticket holder to have a blast. Don’t trust them as a lower ticket class. That’s nasty and also bad business. Make them feel good.
Make you big bakers feel good plus a little extra.
For a Night for Freedom NYC and DC, we offered Platinum ticket holders a dinner the night before the event, early access to the event, and a brunch the day after. Most of the Platinum ticket holders said they would have paid more.
VIP ticket holders got to enjoy a private podcast and Q&A.
General Admission ticket holders got a spectacular show and three drink tickets.
Limit the drinking.
Drunk people ruin everything. The way we limit alcohol consumption at the party events if by giving 2-3 drink tickets out to GA ticket holders, and then pricing beer at $10.
I despise drunks, and actually black listed multiple people from the NYC and DC events when they asked why these events didn’t have an open bar. I told them anyone who wanted to attend an event for an open bar was a worthless drunk, and that they couldn’t buy a ticket. One guy kept trying to buy a ticket (did he think I was bluffing?) and I refunded it until he got the point.
Drunks will ruin your event.
One drunk guy shows up and gets into a fight or grab’s a woman’s behind and then that’s what your event will be defined by.
Find a way to limit alcohol consumption at your events.
Treat people well, AND don’t be afraid to be an a-hole.
“Why isn’t your event an open bar,” was met with, “You can’t attend the event. Don’t buy a ticket.”
When people emailed to complain, I refunded their ticket. One guy bought a VIP ticket and then demanded to speak. I said no. He then asked for two free media tickets because the Wall Street Journal wanted to follow him into the event to film him talking to people.
I refunded his ticket rather than “negotiate” with him.
People who are high main maintenance at the beginning don’t become less high maintenance at the event. They become full divas. Be an a-hole up front.
To be honest, I don’t see how refunding people is being a jerk. But multiple people were taken aback by my approach and Shauna is always telling me that people aren’t use to dealing with people like me, and that I should chill. I love her with all of my heart, and love her enough to tell her she’s wrong about this. You must be ruthless and unapproachable up front, and then generous once people see through that.
One person actually said, “How dare you refund my ticket?! I was only complaining and didn’t want a refund.”
No thanks. If you complain, bye, don’t come to the event. If you’re a drunk, stay home and get wasted by yourself. You’re not going to throw up in the venue or grab someone’s @ss or get into a fight at my events.
Someone actually drank a bit too much and bumped into me, spilling my red wine onto my tailored grey suit. It wasn’t malicious, more the case of a young guy who didn’t know his limits.
Be sure to freshen up before attending events.
Look your best with Gorilla Youth Serum.
For mindset seminars, we usually have some vets in the audience and don’t need security. We keep them small. Our other events are massive, and we hire premium private security. This has many benefits.
First of all, you owe a moral duty to your attendees to provide safety. It’s also a value-add, as people don’t want to attend an unsafe event. (That’s sort of “duh” to most people. However a lot of my readers are young men and don’t think about issues like safety.)
Secondly, a private security firm will have contacts with local police and be able to let them know if any problems arise. NYPD was out providing crowd control after ANTIFA thugs showed up calling for violence. They were able to let the security know to avoid going into certain areas outside.
Even so, a 55-year-old man was attacked while walking home from A Night for Freedom NYC. He was attacked by 30-year-old white male, and the attacker also tried to kill a police officer.
When police investigated the event, they spoke to off-duty police officers who provided security. The security detail told the truth: The event inside was zero-tolerance for nonsense, it was professional, and everyone inside was well-behaved. It was the people outside who were violent.
This wasn’t a “fight” that broke out.
What if police called the event and didn’t have a security point of contact? They may have dismissed the terrorist attack as “both sides are a-holes,” or, “Everyone was looking for trouble.”
Because of our professional security, the ANTIFA terrorist is facing 3-10 years in state prison for his violence.
Avoid this mistake – You think you’ll sell more tickets than you will.
Selling is hard, which is why most people don’t sell and why people who can sell make more money than anyone else in the world.
If you’re a super star, you’ll convert 20% of your most hardcore fans into a buyer of a virtual product like a book or video course.
If you’re a super star, 50% of your fans will buy a product within 2 years.
You’re not a super star. At least not yet. If you budget for an event expecting to sell 20% of your audience to attend, you’ll go broke.
If you’re holding an event, you should be floored to get 1% of your audience to attend. Yes that’s a one without a zero after it. One-percent.
If you have a niche account with 10,000 people, that means at best you’ll have 100 people attend your event, and that’s optimistic.
For example, my Twitter account has 415,000 people, and my Facebook has over 400,000 “fans.” This is not a niche account, as there are a lot of hate followers and general lookey-loos.
In a major metropolitan area, I can sell 100-150 tickets to a mindset event and 500-2,500 for a more general party event. Do the math. That’s less than 1%, and I’m good at this stuff.
If you have a niche email list of 10,000 people (and that’s a big list), you’re going to have to hustle to sell 50 tickets.
It’s not that people don’t want to buy. People are busy.
Avoid this mistake. Most people under-market rather than over-market.
“Are you Mike Cernovich,” a young man asked while I waited for a cab to take me home after an event. We stopped and talked. “You had an event today?!”
He had no idea that I was hosting a mindset seminar, and he follows my stuff pretty closely, and he was the key demographic for a mindset event.
While walking home from dinner another young man stopped me to say hi. He also had no idea I was in town, and had held a happy hour earlier that night.
At my last event in D.C., multiple people at the after-party were bummed out because they didn’t even know I held and event. One person almost looked like he was about to fall down, as he was that disappointed, as one of my featured guests was someone who rarely speaks in public. This person was a “super fan,” and he totally missed out on the event.
- Watch: A Night for Freedom D.C.
There are many such cases.
YOU feel like you’re over-marketing because in your mind you’ve mentioned an event or book dozens of times. Most people don’t watch every video, read every blog, and follow every social media post and email. They are following 10% of what you do, which means if you don’t plug an event every time you go live, you’re missing out on 90% of your potential buyers.
LOSERS will complain that you over-market. You do not want losers watching your videos. In fact I block people when they complain about anything.
Think about how many commercials are on TV. Think about how many ads are everywhere. If people complain because once or twice an HOUR I plug one of my events, they can go to H E L L.
Everyone who has any success in life knows you have to actually sell something in order to run a business, and while they might not enjoy being marketed to, they aren’t going to whine about it.
P.S. Have you read Gorilla Mindset? Go buy it here!
The math of events.
If I do 5 seminars a year, it’s a side source of income. Others make a full-time living doing full-time events. Or they use a free or low-ticket event to sell people on platinum mastermind groups. (The real profit in events is pre-selling people on a big ticket item.)
Even if you know this space well, you sometimes lose money.
My recent New York mindset event went overtime, so venue costs soared. My New York event was break-even for me after I had a guy who bought two VIP tickets request a refund (I don’t ask questions why) and I covered dinner, speaker’s fees, and everything else. As my computer exploded due to a freak accident, I had to buy another one and lost money. (Womp Womp.)
I usually walk away with some spending money, but even if you’ve held successful events, you may only break-even or lose money. It happens.
A Night for Freedom NYC cost $100,000 to put on, and we would have made a profit except a lot of drama happened. We broke even. A Night for Freedom DC cost $50,000 to do. We broke even on that, too. The Depolorball cost around $125,000 to produce.
Big events are expensive and high risk. People ask me why I don’t do them all of the time. Well I was once told at 2 am. – the event was schedule for 1 p.m. that day – that my venue had been cancelled. That meant I would lose $50,000 if I didn’t find a new venue. I did, of course, and the rest is history. Still, spending the night thinking about a 50K bath isn’t my idea of fun.
Events have a five-figure downside risk and not much upside other than “media coverage.”
A note on media coverage of events. Big media outlets reported on A Night for Freedom. Even The Guardian and HuffPo gave it shine, because it was an amazing event unlike anything put on by the right or left. Vanity Fair did a fair piece as well. Whopty Shit. I’ve been profiled in the New Yorker, the front page of the New York Times, been on 60 Minutes and HBO, and NONE of that sells books or builds my business. Unless you need the validation of fame, media coverage is overrated. It can actually be counter-productive and make you more of a target as people feel hate in their heart when you get media profiles about you that they (the haters and dregs) “deserve.”
Think about how many hate bait kings and queens seethe with anger when they see me in the news. They don’t break stories like me or produce major documentaries and films, but they truly believe they are real journalists because they write about tweets and videos. I call these people “Twitter journalists.” They truly believe it’s a scoop to “report” on public-available social media posts and YouTube videos. They take themselves seriously, and believe they deserve the media coverage I receive.
They are losers, but they are losers working for big blogs and they can write hate bait bait about me to work out their jealousy, aggression, and daddy issues. And to send death threats my way.
In my world, parties and events sell way more tickets than the mindset seminars, but mindset seminars are more rewarding and enriching on a spiritual level.
Send a post-event survey.
Post-event surveys are valuable because they make people feel good about themselves as a survey shows you care.
Surveys also help you get critical comments and feedback. This will lead to your holding a better event and hold yourself accountable.
Create a check list for events.
There’s an entire ebook about the important of check lists. I love check lists.
I did not have a check list for my Gorilla Mindset seminars until today.
Because of this, we didn’t get the recent New York seminar filmed. This was a disgrace as we had an edgy venue, the lighting made it look like a Netflix special, and we had great material.
The seminar footage would have been excellent for YouTube for myself, and Ed and Alexander need to build up their own video portfolio, as showing people a seminar will get more people to attend your seminars.
This was a leadership failure on my part.
I don’t feel too bad as I paid Ed and Alexander for speaking, and they hopefully learned a valuable lesson, too. “Hey Mike, are we going to film this?”
MINDSET SEMINAR CHECK LIST
- Email “What to Expect” to seminar attendees the week of the event, as people want some reassurance,
- Close ticket sales before the event,
- Email Waivers 48 hours before the event,
- Print out waivers and some people won’t have a printer or will forget,
- Have ticket check-in reader and make sure everyone has a waiver brought in,
- Have Gorilla Mind products available for after the event,
- Bring a credit card swipe reader,
- Have someone take professional video / audio of your seminar,
- Plug a future event, get people to join your email list, upset them if you have another product.
Events are a lot of work, and they are worth it.
Events are a win for everyone.
In the beginning, hold a free happy hour or free seminar. A free happy hour will also show people that you’re a good person. Well if you’re a nasty person, that’s too bad. Don’t hold events.
A free happy hour or seminar will get you good footage to market future events, get you pictures of fans for social proof, and get you into the mindset of how to plan and organize and sell events.
After you’d held a few events, you’ll be able to produce a professional master class, like the one I’m releasing soon.
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