Growing Your Business with Profitable Events
In this episode Makeda Newton and I discuss how to grow your business with events.
By listening to this episode you will learn how to successfully turn events into profitable opportunities.
We have a special guest today who is going to tell you all about events when it comes to using events to grow your business, using events to bring your community together. And also her journey in starting her own business and having to deal with, you know, COVID and pivoting and all the different things. So I’m really excited to have her here. And today, I will let her introduce herself and what she does.
Thanks so much, Haley. Hey, guys, I am Makeda Newton. And I’m the founder of events unlocked, and I help business owners plan a profitable live event.
Love it. And when you say the words live event, I know a lot of entrepreneurs right now say what live events? What am I supposed to do with COVID? And what and whatnot. So how do you how have you as an entrepreneur, had to pivot? And or shift your focus to online and getting your audience online? Like, what what has changed for you since this journey? And how did you deal with that?
Yeah, so COVID really mess things up. You know, and, you know, not just me, but you see, like, a lot of business owners had to pivot in the way that they were doing business in general. And what I found with,
you know, people who are organizers who were hosting plan to host live events, they definitely had to shift to a virtual event model. And some of them didn’t even do that. Some of them just postponed it for the next year, which was cool, too, I think it’s important to know your audience. And it’s important to know if a if your virtue if
transferring your live event to a virtual event will resonate with your audience. And the one thing that although virtual events are wonderful, right, the one thing that they cannot do is replace in person connection. And I know, as an extrovert, I am just, I mean, it’s just crazy. It’s been a long time, almost a year, right. And you just crave that that’s one of the reasons that people go to, in person events anyway, to have that in person connection to shake somebody’s hand to give somebody a hug, who you have previously built a relationship with.
So if you know that as an organizer that your event isn’t going to sit too well, you know, with a virtual crowd, then, yeah, totally postpone it. And it was, it was refreshing to see people do that. Because I think what became like,
normal was organizers just going to the virtual model, you know, just in a haste, you know, because oh, my gosh, when is this going to end? You know, I mean, I don’t even think that anybody knew that it was going to be this long. But just because perhaps people had already purchased tickets. And, you know, it’s like, what do you do after that? Do I give them a refund, you know, do I postpone it and just kind of keep their money. So I think people would just kind of making that decision to go virtual, and that’s fine. And you’ve even seen virtual events really
graduate, you know, so many different features, people started getting really savvy,
to incorporate certain things from live events as best as possible to kind of keep, maybe bring about that live event feel. So I mean, that was good. But I mean, there’s so many virtual events, it’s crazy. So it’s refreshing to see an organizer still doing a live event. When I had decided to
pivot my business from what I was doing, because I started out in 2017, that’s when I launched my business. And I launched it as the conference connection. And it was a resource for entrepreneurs to come to this site and be able to find a live event, whether it was a conference or retreat or workshop based on different filters, like the price, the location, who it was targeted to the industry, how many people were going to be there, so that so they were able to filter
the all these events to find the perfect event for them. And I kind of decided that, you know, I the resource was great. But you know, just trying to figure out what your role is in this industry that took a while for me.
How to Host Profitable Events
And eventually I landed in a place where I wanted to
teach people how to host profitable events, and I launched a world
workbook, a really comprehensive 232 page workbook. And then COVID, it’s like I launched it one week, and the shutdown was an IC O.
So it was, it was so depressing, you know, but I’m just even learning how to move from, um, you know, selling that book, you know, on my website to, you know, more in a funnel where I can nurture people all the way to the end. Even doing that was, you know, it was difficult to try to figure it out.
But yeah, that’s a little bit of a little bit about my journey. But I’m still pro live events, for sure. Right. And, you know, one of the things that stood out to me the Cato, when we talked on the phone was, I actually really admired and respected and appreciated that you didn’t just say, Well, my career is over. And, you know, I’m gonna go all virtual events all the time, like everybody else did, right? Because a lot of people who were in events, businesses were like, okay, gotta go online.
But you actually found a way to say, Well, I’m going to teach people how to have live events. And I’m going to weather the storm, and I have this funnel, and I put time and effort and money and all this into it. I know, it’s not on safe to say that live events will come back one day, it’s, it’s, I mean, people are going to crave connection, people are going to crave meeting with others.
And so I actually really appreciated that you didn’t just like, wipe your hands and just neglect what he’d been working hard on, and that you stand for live events. It’s your passion, and it’s your brand. And to be honest with you, people can take what they learn from your workbook and from your program, and apply it not just to live events, they can do it online, or they could even use it to inspire them to build online communities in their Facebook groups and things like that, because the things that and I teach a lot of like marketing and sales principles, but how they go use those principles really can be with anything, it could be with a product, typically for my clients, it’s high tickets, you know, coaching packages, and things like that.
But to be honest, anything that’s helping someone learn how to build community, create a really positive experience for your audience and things like that. It’s going to pay off in many different ways. It doesn’t have to be just through the avenue of a live event. So that said, What, and I also want to just sympathize, that it happened right, the week before the shutdown happened. But I also want to ask you, if somebody does want to plan a profitable, profitable event, what are some of the most what do they need to have in place first? And what would be their first steps?
Yeah, great question. Okay. So I’m big on vision that that’s the first thing, that’s the first section of the workbook.
Vision, you need to know exactly what it is you want to teach. What you see this event looking like how you see your attendees feeling, the experience, they’re going to have, I mean, from the registration page, all the way down to after the event, right? So just kind of figure out your, your vision, your theme, you’re just how do you? How do you see it right, so you need to do that. And then once you’ve done that you have to your budget is next. That’s a huge part of planning a profitable live event. And I find that
entrepreneurs, organizers, they plan even during even they plan while they are selling the tickets, and I am a big Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. I do not endorse that. I am very much especially with events and live events and selling tickets. And, and I speak very much to the first time organizer. You have to give yourself time to do one thing at a time, this is not the place for you to be multitasking.
Unless you are a professional, you know, but even like the majority organizer, this is how they do things, you know. So get your budget together and make sure that all of your expenses are included. Right? You have to do all of your research, all of it. How much is it going to cost you to put that key chain in the swag bag? No detail is too little. Right? You have to figure out all of it. And
so that once once you figure to figure out all of this, then you’re not just you’ll have when you’re pricing your event, it’ll be more informed, you know, you won’t be like, Oh, well you know, this retreat looks like $1,000 retreat or this workshop looks like a 59
Dollar workshop, you know, you’re not just pulling numbers out of anywhere, it is strategic, and it is on paper, and you have done the work, you’ve done the research, and you have figured out all of the expenses that goes into one ticket, one ticket price. And so once you figure that out, then you can say, all right, um, I would like to profit 30% on top of that. And so these are some of the things that first time organizers Don’t think about, right. So get your vision, get your budget, and then you can start thinking about other big ticket items, like your location, and the kind of content you want to have, and your speakers for those content.
So those are the top five things I like to talk about that you do first, and you go in that order, your vision, your budget, and then the content, speakers and location. And then you kind of once you think about like a wedding, once you have the venue, it’s like the rest of the wedding is planned, right? So, so yeah, so same thing with any event, once you and I tend to look at it, like a local wedding, once you have your location and, and you said, Okay, this is a place where I’m going to have the event, all the other details kind of fall in place, they are not as, as involved in the planning, right?
The budget is like the involved part, your vision is the involved part, because you want to make sure that you are hosting an event that feels good for you. But it’s also needed for the people who follow you, as well. And quick tip there. as entrepreneurs, I think we feel like
our event has to be about business topics. You know, I have seen so many entrepreneurs who have hosted live events, and virtual events, that has nothing to do with business. And they were really successful. You know, when you think of retreats, sometimes a lot of them don’t have anything to do with business, a lot of times they have to do with your mental and clearing your mind. And, you know, just being in a right frame, and you know, just coming to rest, you know, take a break focus on you a little bit, you know, and so it doesn’t have to be about business. If that is where you feel comfortable, then wonderful, right?
Entrepreneurship and Events
But don’t feel like oh my gosh, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m hosting an event, I have to talk about social media strategy, or whatever. If that’s what your audience is calling for, and you feel equipped. That’s an extension of what you teach anyway, then by all means, go ahead. But Yep, vision and budget, number one, and number two. Yeah, these are great tips. And very tactical, my audience loves structure and organization. So the way you lay that out was really good. So one of the things too, though, that I wonder is how do you make your event stand out? How do you position it online and your marketing and things like that to make people go, Oh, yes, this is something I need to go to.
So like I said earlier, I think it’s important to reach out to your audience, right? These are the people who support you financially, they buy your services and your your products and whatever else you have, right, and they follow you they read your content or listen to your content, or what’s your content, so they are invested. So I think it’s important to reach out to them to find out Hey, what, you know, what would you if you weren’t, if I were to host an event? What is some of the things you would like to learn about? Right, so I think that’s important to do. And I, I also think that to help your, your event stand out, I’m very big on
just allowing your vision to, like steer you in the right direction. Sometimes we allow other people’s events to steer us in the right direction, right. And if you want to stand out, you can stand out by looking at other people’s events. Now, I’m not saying that you cannot be inspired by what someone else did. Right? Or you can be inspired by something you saw on Pinterest. I’m not saying that. I’m saying that this is your event. And it has to be unique. What is unique about you what is unique about your audience, what is unique about what you teach what you sell, right?
And I think once you figure that out, and you start putting things on paper, and I think it’s important to me, this is not that that that’s why my workbook is a workbook. This is not the place for digital stuff. This is the place for pen and paper and just just fleshing out your ideas like what are the first things that come to mind when you are thinking about any event that would reflect you your business? Right, and I think we’re all unique in some way as entrepreneurs, so I think just relying on your vision
not relying so heavily on what other people did. I think that if you see something at another event and you and you think, wow, that’s that’s a really nice idea, and I think that I can take this concept and make it
makitas. You know, I think that’s important as well.
Yes. And would you say there’s any specific questions that could help somebody know what their vision is? Because I think a lot of people, like I’ve had clients who they want to do a retreat or something along those lines. But they’re like, yeah, you know, I think I think we’ll like meditate, I think we’ll like have a book club or something.
And, you know, but what do I call it? Or like, I don’t like they need help flushing it out. So is there any questions you’d like to ask? to help people get clear on what their vision is?
Yeah, I’ve never really thought about that. Um, I think, you know, what, what are you passionate about? You know, and I think once you figure that out, you couple it with what your attendees would be interested in. This is when I think that you can start to frame it right. And I am big on, you know, first time organizers doing a workshop, or retreats, the workshop to me tends to be a little bit easier.
Because it tends to be an extension of what you teach. Right? So as a first time organizer, that’s like a boost of confidence. And right there, you know, you see a solidified in what you teach, you know, it like the back of your hand, the service you provide. Right? So I think just just trying to figure out what am I passionate about? What do I see? Is there Oh, is there a
hole in the market that nobody is talking about?
Sometimes you don’t know, you’re just flooded with something, you know, you just got like an idea from a conversation that you were having with somebody.
Considering the Purpose of Your Event
You know, just just think about, just think about certain things, you know, like I said, your passion, what your audience would like, a hole in the market? And once you kind of figure that out, you’ll it’ll be easier for you to frame. What, what type of event it should be? Yeah, absolutely. I think asking about what the gap is, or what it is nobody talking about this and bringing that to the forefront, too. I love the way you said that.
Now, when it comes to timing, you know, one of the things that we don’t know, necessarily is when when can we have live events freely with, you know, people who will actually come and write. So how do you get around that when you let’s say, Alright, I know what my budget is, people could start working on what their business people could start working on what their budget is. But now as far as like locking down a location,
what would be either what would be your suggestion that they just wait until they know? Or? Or do you have an estimate about what would be a good idea of when they could do that? Like, tell me more about that?
Yeah, totally. So I’m glad you asked this question. Because the one thing I say the one good thing about COVID is that it helped to solidify what I’ve been saying this whole time, start with a small event. This is not the time as a first time organizer to go and plant a 75 person conference, right? Start with a small event 12 people you have a workshop, get 12 people together, and start with helping them you know, and so COVID has really brought that to the forefront. And it has really shown that, you know, smaller is better in this case, you know, so
I would say, look, people are hosting live events already. Right?
I say it’s not really about the timing, per se, but the amount of people that you’re having. So definitely look at your state’s
rules and guidelines around live gatherings and events and try to figure out okay, well, I could host an event for 20 people or 30 people, right? So you can go ahead and plan it’s okay to go ahead and plan and put the dates down and you know, solidify with your, with your venue and the location, all that stuff. But I think it’s just, it’s more about being safe. And just making sure that you know, if you want to do those rapid tests, you know, to make sure that people are good before they come right. If you want to, of course, the wearing of the masks, right and the safe distance within each other
But I think as a first time organizer, like I said, I’ve been talking about hosting small events, starting there, getting your feet wet, being able to make mistakes, and it not be so costly, you know, because you’re only hosting a 12 person event. So, so just COVID has just allowed us to just kind of take a step back. And just really be okay with starting small as entrepreneurs, we don’t like that. I don’t like that, you know, you want to do everything big, you know, want to do everything grand, and that’s okay. But it’s okay to graduate to a conference after you’ve done a workshop and a retreat, as well. So start small. And just go ahead and go ahead and plan, choose whatever date you want, but be safe. Love that. And yes, I love to two things.
One, you said ask your audience what kind of event they want earlier in the episode. And then number two, for your very first event, or your very first webinar, or whatever it is you guys are doing. Your first one is not going to be massive. So stop, rather than getting worked up about am I going to be able to do this, get focused on getting your first people on the waitlist, or at least interested? And then you can deal with? Okay, when is this going to be etc? Right?
So one of the other things, too, that I’m interested to know, because you said that you? Well, as you were saying pricing, you want to know your budget, you want to know how much you’re going to have to pay to put this event on. But then how do you go from that? and say, Okay, I know it’s gonna be expensive. But how do I price this? Any tips for determining how to price your bed?
Yeah, absolutely. So pricing is, like I said, you don’t want to do it blindly. You don’t want to pull a number, out of a hat, or anywhere else, you know, there is a formula involved, I like to think so. And I have put a formula in my workbook to help guide people in pricing. So you figure out your expenses, right? Let’s say you added up everything, and everything is going to cost you, let’s say $10,000, right? to host an event for 10 people, you’re catering for 10 people $10,000. That’s what everything came up to be.
And so your expenses, when you divide that by the amount of people who you’re catering for, that’s 1000 bucks in straight up expenses, right? Once you have that, now you need to decide, alright, my profit, I want my profit to be anywhere between you know, 30 to 50%, you can say I want to go lower than 30, you can say I want to go higher than 50. But I I like to say to keep within that range, that 30 to 50 range. Now, it may it may be, you may need to take take a couple of things into consideration when my audience pay that amount, right. So you also have to have that in the back of your head as well, knowing who your audience is knowing where they are in their business, right?
A newer entrepreneur may not necessarily have the budget to pay for a 15 $100 event or a $2,000, they may not even have it in their budget to pay for a $1,000 event. Right? So when you know this, when so knowing this, you plan accordingly, right? So you know, you may, you may not go at the fancy hotel, you may not go at the fancy restaurant, you Everything will just be relative to that. Now, that’s not to say that your second event can be better, right? This is just to say that you’re taking note of a couple of things while you’re pricing.
So that’s what I say cover your expenses, right, so you get that total number you divided by 10, which is $1,000 for your expenses, and then you add your profit on top of that. And that’s how you come up with your price. Love that yes. And very grateful you shared a formula they could use and they can go into more detail in your workbook. And one of the things I know that people need to keep in mind when they’re planning an event is it’s not just the event and you’re done. Usually events create amazing, first of all,
opportunities to upsell to your coaching package, or get people to read your book or get subscribed to your monthly membership or whatever it is. Because they’re in the moment. They’re excited about what they’re learning and they want to take it home with them. They don’t want just everything to end at the event and I know speakers of events. You know, we had a client actually my business partner and I who, before COVID he made like 250 grand speaking at events and so his thing was like, dang, like, I’m bummed because that was a great
And and had to end up going into his online courses and stuff. But the point I’m trying to make with that is you can not only plan your own events but but see that there’s other opportunities that come from that, see that there’s relationships that come with your speakers that you’ll build from that. You could go speak at their events.
I mean, there’s so many potential things that you can do to milk an event and make it into everything you want it to be. And the other thing that I wanted to ask you about is, since you’ve been doing this, you started your business in 2017, which is actually, when I, I started my business. I mean, I started the coaching industry in 2010. But I started my what I would call most serious focus business in 2017, as well. And so I would love to hear from you.
What has kept you around this long? what’s kept you going? And, and maybe in times where you were bootstrapping, or you were frustrated? How do you handle that? And stay motivated? What do you do for yourself?
Yeah, you know, it’s so rough. I was talking to my, my mom, and I was doing something and she said, isn’t any good. I said, you know, that’s the thing about entrepreneurs, they never give up. They think that a true entrepreneur
believes in everything that they do, whether it takes it, you know,
overnight success, or it takes them five years or 10 years to pull it off to finally be recognized, you know, and so I, I truly believe in what I teach, you know, teaching first time organizers to have a profitable live event, because it’s like a myth, right? Oh, events aren’t profitable, Oh, you don’t make any money, I’m always in the red, you know, and, you know, it comes down to planning for me, it comes down to planning.
And so just talking to people and just realizing there’s certain things that people do that is directly contributing to having an unprofitable live event. So, just coming at it from the other angle and wanting to help, you know, organizers, even if it’s a second time, or the third time plan, a better event plan, an event that’s going to put money in their pocket is really what drives me. Coupled with believing that I have a good product, believing that it is, is good, you know, and I just need to keep pushing through, I just need to keep doing my thing, talking about it, putting out content,
putting myself out there. And you know, it may take me a little bit of time, but you know, I’m here to stay. Okay. Yes, that is the attitude that everyone needs to have if they want to be an entrepreneur. And I think that you said it really well, when you doesn’t really, it could take a long time, it could take a short time, no matter what I’m here to stay. I love that. So where can everybody find you? Makita and check out your workbook and all the different things that you do.
Yeah, so I am on events unlocked.co also on Instagram, at events unlocked.co. And you can also find me on YouTube.
You can search events unlocked and you’ll find me there to love it. So if you are looking to create that event in 2021 2022 and beyond, check her out. And if you’re looking to send traffic to that event, check me out and power player out which is my company I co founded with my business partner. So anyways, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I really appreciate it and we’ll talk soon.
About Makeda Newton
Makeda Newton is an Event Strategist for first-time organizers who has the goal to host a profitable live event. She considers important factors in her work, including attendee experience of an event, among other aspects.
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