A Brilliant Way to Get People to Show Up at Your Events

Bob Baker
Bob Baker
Apr 20 · 3 min read

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this frustrating question before:

What do I have to do to get people to show up for my classes, workshops, meetups, theatrical performances, or live music events?

Never mind getting them to arrive on time. How do you get them to show up at all?

Here’s an idea worth trying …

This came up during a discussion in my music marketing class at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, where I’m an adjunct professor.

I hadn’t heard of this technique before, but I’ve since learned that it’s been successfully used by music event producers when promoting shows with multiple acts.

However, I think it could be effective for just about anyone who promotes an event, especially when getting bodies in the door is the primary goal.

Use an event site such as Eventbrite or Brown Paper Tickets and set up a free event that requires advance registration. You could also use a Google Form.

Let’s say you’ll be presenting a workshop that runs from 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

Announce that the event is free to everyone who registers online in advance and shows up at the venue by 6:30 PM (or whatever time you deem appropriate).

Make it clear in your event description that ALL attendees who arrive after that time will pay a fee (such as $10 or $20) — whether they registered online or not.

How to handle people who come running in a few minutes past the deadline, who you will make exceptions for, and exactly when you will actually cut off the free admissions.

And what will you do with people who come early but didn’t register online? Just give these scenarios some thought ahead of time.

But do honor the cut-off time and charge people who arrive late! That way they know you mean business and will take you more seriously if you use this technique again.

This approach has several benefits:

  • By requiring people to register online, you collect their names and emails.
  • You can use their contact info to send them repeated reminders about the event and the free vs paid options.
  • You can also market to them when you have similar events in the future.
  • It creates a powerful incentive for people to arrive early, so you can start your event with a (hopefully) full house.
  • If you have multiple performers or speakers, it increases the odds that a crowd will be there for the “opening acts” and not just the headliner.

I suppose you could try this with two paid options: Perhaps $5 when they register online and arrive on time. But an addition $10 or $15 if they show up later.

People will be more likely to attend if they paid even a small amount in advance — compared to signing up for a free event with no real obligation to follow through on it.

But if building an email list of people interested in the topic is important, the free option with advance registration may be the better way to go.

Have you used this technique before? How did it work?

Please leave a comment, give it a clap or five :) and share this with someone who would benefit from reading it.

The two photos used above in this article were taken at improv comedy shows I presented in St. Louis, MO.

This is Day 6 of a 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge.

Listen to an extended audio podcast version of this article here:

Bob Baker helps musicians, authors, artists, and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world!

Listen to his Creative Entrepreneur or Music Marketing podcasts.

Check out Bob’s books on Amazon and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

He also creates affirmation and guided meditation recordings on his YouTube channel, Spotify, iTunes, Bandcamp, and other platforms.

Bob Baker

Written by

Bob Baker

I help creative entrepreneurs make an impact and a living. I’m also a coach who creates music, affirmation/meditation recordings, visual art, and improv comedy.