Next time, make it personal

Thank you for supporting my solo show Firstborn, which I performed last month in Portland, Oregon and in New York City (off-Broadway). It was one of my life's dreams to perform in Manhattan, where I was born, and the cause of many stomach aches for the last six months, not to mention years of writing that came before that. Many of you sent me encouraging notes or shared my social media posts or, most appreciated, showed up in the audience!

Here's a marketing secret that worked

I learned one marketing tip that you can use when you need to get people in the seats at your next event: Make your invitations up close and personal. Most of the people who bought a ticket, braved a rainstorm, and found their seats at my shows were folks I had invited face-to-face or with a handwritten note. What worked to get people to attend included these activities:

I carried postcards with me wherever I went in the months preceding my shows. I didn't throw these cards on a table and run away. As I bumped into people around town, somewhere during our conversation I would say, "I have something for you. It's an invitation to my show." I'd say something about the show like, "It's the story of how I unraveled a mysterious inheritance." And I always ended with, "I would love to see you there."

I mailed invitations in hand-addressed envelopes which contained a postcard about the show with a handwritten message from me with some version of: "I would be thrilled to see you here." For some, I included a note about what they might enjoy about the show.

I messaged people on Facebook and LinkedIn one by one with a version of "I would be so delighted to see you in the audience" with a mention of what they might appreciate about my story.

When you're marketing your next event or even pitching your next speech idea to a conference committee, make it personal. Why do you think this person would enjoy your event, speech or show? If you would be thrilled to see them there, say so!

Your well-written mass emails and social media posts are great reminders. And you will get a few people that way. But nothing beats the heartfelt, authentic, personal invite. The competition for your audience's attendance is fierce. Let people know they matter.

If it still feels painful

If you fear you're "bothering" people when you make these invitations, then channel your inner party host and invite them like it's gonna be the best gathering this year. And then let me know what happens. I'd love to hear.

Photo by Chelsea Petrakis