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Does it matter if you get stood up?

You know how events can go – you run some where more than half the signs ups drop out on the day, yet others are oversubscribed by 100%. If you could get some guarantees on delivering the latter you would, but these days, you can’t. But undeniable, they work – as I can attest to following Retail Connections event on the new consumer this week.

However, events are only a moment in time, so it makes sense to have a plan to build up to them and then out the other side. Setting unrealistic expectations on the event managers leads to disappointment and misses the real opportunities on either side of the event.

The moment of truth to any event is of course the short, sweet moment when attendees either learn something useful or meet someone useful. Still beloved of salespeople, events – be they trade shows, seminars, round tables, executive dinners or open debates – are seen as the one chance in a calendar crowded with remote communications through internet and phone, to actually get face to face with people and try to do business.

That moment of truth remains as valuable as ever, but it can obscure the opportunities in the four weeks before the event and the two weeks afterwards, to reach, influence and sell. The event should really only be the excuse for the communications either side of it.

For instance, if people are drawn to the event because of a particular speaker or topic, then the organisers should start sharing the value long before the event. One effective way to do this is to summarise the messages you want to get across in a market report, ideally validated with some original market research.

If this content is compelling, it may start to do the sale job immediately. And if a proportion of the signed up attendees don’t show up on the day – fall out rates of 50% plus these days are typical – then no time time is lost in engaging them. It doesn’t matter too much if you’ve been stood up.

In fact, the sales process can begin as soon as potential attendees engage with the content, making the event much less the main focus of the campaign; and less disappointed sponsors when the numbers are small on the day or the people too junior.


It’s a very crowded event horizon right now, so competition for attendees is fierce, but do not think this is a call for lowering your ambition. Far from it. Put on an amazing event that will stimulate a high sign up rate, but make sure you take a full advantage of the sign ups, whether they turn into attendance or not.


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