Stephanie was recently featured on the Marketer of the Day Podcast with Robert Plank, and it was so great that we wanted to give you the best bits! So we’ve sat down to summarize the 30+ minute podcast in a less-than 10 minute read for you to get the most inspiring and helpful parts.
I’m super excited to have you here, and I’ve got some open-ended questions as well as some more selfish/pointed questions. But we’ll start with a broad one: as far as what you have going on, what has gotten you excited in the last 6-12 months?
One thing that’s got me really excited is that we launched the new Impact Authority brand.
We were looking at everything I was doing, and just weren’t sure what the common denominator was; I was a sales trainer, marketing coach, business coach, etc. The common denominator turned out to be psychology, so we rolled out a brand built around the psychology of business: how we can use psychology to make an impact. It’s been a ton of fun, because we impact the lives of our families, vendors, clients, etc., and it creates a ripple effect in the lives of those around us.
We also leveled up our live events!
What’s exciting about that, is in part that we’re still doing live events (With Zero Viral Spread too!)! It’s been mind-blowing and incredibly exciting to find ways to level-up our live events and continue to connect people through events.
So what is your secret?
Like you, I’ve been seeing the evolution of live events with COVID. I sometimes see the sales angle of “Once everything’s over, we’ll meet in person again. If not, your ticket will be used for a virtual event.” And event organizers are saying that we’ll have less capacity and more ballroom type spaces, but very few people are even having live events. So how are you still doing live events when no one else is?
There’s a few things we’ve been doing to enable safe events while also taking our live events to the next level.
First and foremost, we built a 25 page manual on how to run an event in a pandemic. All our vendors, caterers, and staff have to sign off that we’re abiding by this manual. And all our attendees get the manual in an email prior to the event, and if they aren’t comfortable with the manual parameters then we ask them to refrain from coming.
Within that manual, there are a couple really important things.
I know it’s a controversy, but we ask people to wear masks at our events. What we tell people when they ask about the masks, is this:
Whether we believe that masks work or not, they were part of the formula for running three events in the middle of COVID-19 spikes with zero cross-contamination and viral spread. Since that formula works, we’re not changing it. So, yes, we include waivers in our events now. But we haven’t had to rely on them, because we’ve had zero viral spread at our events.
We also provide alternatives and keep in contact with people in advance.
Leading up to our 100 person event in January, we were in regular contact with the attendees leading up to the event and provided high-level alternative ways of being involved with the event in the case that they were exposed within 2 weeks of the event.
In fact, we had people calling us up saying “Hey, my wife just tested positive” or “I got exposed.” And because we already had a plan in place to ensure people felt involved regardless of whether they were in the room or on the live-stream, we made it easy for them to switch their ticket to the online ticket.
At the end of the day, we have had to put a lot more work in. But we’ve also been able to provide a space where people can come in and connect free of fear. And it’s been worth it!
I haven’t done events quite to your size, but even the smaller events I’ve done (And before COVID!) like weddings were crazy.
There’s so many nooks and crannies to keep track of, I can only imagine it’s 10-20 times harder to do it with COVID restrictions just to keep people safe. And then there’s the layer of higher cancelations and switches to virtual. At this point, you have to sell people on something you haven’t created yet. I think the cool thing is that you’ve done it! A lot of people gave up, didn’t try, but you’ve actually done it.
And it was a hard, huge, hairy deal! We got a lot of flack for it, especially leading up to our 100 person event in January. People were worried, the case numbers were spiking, everyone was asking what was going on.
Eventually we straight up emailed everyone our 25 page manual and said “This is what we’re doing to keep you safe. If you’re not comfortable with this, you can switch to a virtual ticket. But we are confident in this manual!”
For us, it came down to the fact that people need to be together!
If you look at the stats, you notice that anxiety, depression, and utter isolation are up. Social media and zoom only go so far, people need real connections. And small business owners are not immune to anxiety and depression, so we knew we had to do it and it was so worth it! I had so many people tell me that they were debating not coming to our January event because of COVID, but they came because they paid so much for the ticket. And they told me that they realized they had needed it and were glad they came!
One of our core values is the indomitable spirit (coming from my black belt background) so, it was never a question of “If?”, it was a question of “how?”
You’ve mentioned that spirit, the manual, having a team, and being on the ball with things. So I’m curious: what makes you succeed when others are failing?
The indomitable spirit is a big part of it, and marketing as well.
When I started events, I had the mindset of “if you build it, they will come.” I quickly realized that doesn’t work, because there are a lot of good events out there. Worse, there are crappy events with great marketers. So we work insanely hard to make sure that every detail is perfect. And we work doubly hard to make sure the marketing lives up to the event.
I think too many people forget about the marketing and sales side of things, and just expect people to show up. But you must get people’s attention. As my friend Jesse Cole likes to say, “Attention is everything! If you can’t get their attention, you’ve got nothing.”
So we lean very heavily on making sure our marketing is on-point. Because we’re not just doing events, we’re selling $3-$7K tickets: it’s not a small commitment. So our clients need to feel comfortable trusting us with that investment.
Going back to the indomitable spirit, the other thing is that people underestimate how many times you have to put a marketing message out there and then they give up. They send 5-10 messages out, and when they get closer to the event and have 3 people coming (Them, their mom, and the guest speaker), they panic and cancel the event.
For one, marketing messages have to go out by the hundreds to make a dent in your sales!
For two, canceling events like that damages your brand. It tells your audience “don’t buy my ticket, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
I agree completely!
I mean, imagine if something like that happened at a movie theater: you buy your ticket, show up, and either the movie isn’t showing or it’s a completely different movie. You’d never go back. And even worse, that kind of action is de-motivating for the person putting on the event. They get everything ready, put in all the cost, give it all your energy, and then give up right at the end. If that kind of thing happened, they’d probably never want to do an event again. It’s draining!
So true! And if you really think about it, time isn’t our greatest asset: it’s energy.
Because without energy, time is a useless asset: just think about the last time you sat down at the end of the day exhausted and did nothing for 3 hours. These people who cancel their events are doing that: they are pouring their energy into something and not even giving it a chance to give them a return.
The reality is, events have a steep return curve.
You’re going to have to put a lot of effort into events before they give you the kind of return where you hear about Daymond John closing $1.7M in sales in an hour. Everyone looks at events like the Grow Retreat and Grant Cardone’s 10XCon and they see the successes, without knowing about the first few years of the event where they were only sold at 50%-70% and the rest of the seats were scholarshipped. It’s all about pushing through and building a brand that people will trust.
That’s how you end up able to put on an event in a pandemic where people show up and go full-out!
Pandemic or no pandemic, you now have all of these unknown tricks (Like the scholarship) and tactics in your back pocket to make things successful. Because there’s always failure, right? So now you’ve got all these tricks you’ve gained from failures to make things successful moving forward.
You know, the best analogy for that is to build your bench.
I’m not a sports person, but if you think about baseball you know they have a bench of players they don’t always put out. They always have more options, more players with different skill sets. Some work right off the bat, some have to work in different ways so they’re your last ditch effort.
When it comes to business and events, those last ditch efforts tend to be the more expensive ones.
But again, I have to say, it comes back to the indomitable spirit that never gives up. It reminds me of one time where I had sold 6 tickets to an event. The day before, 4 of them called to cancel. So I spent the whole day making sales calls, and 2 of the tickets got picked up. And you know what? It was a phenomenal 2-day sales training event! And I’ll never forget it, because it gave me a glimpse of the kind of effort necessary and the amount of reward possible.
And I know that business owners do that all the time: we push through because we know the reward is worth it!
And there’s always more options than you think! Even just hitting the phone like you said and calling everyone on your list, which I forget even though it’s the most obvious thing.
You mentioned Grant Cardone, and I know he’s obnoxious and all over the place but sometimes he presents things in such an amazingly simple way, like his “10X your goal.” Which is really simple, but most people don’t put in the effort needed to actually 10X their goal. It’s the dilemma of wanting to sell out 100 seats to an event, and not putting in the effort to sell out the 1,000 seats.
Yeah, and then people start to panic!
Instead of realizing that they can find room and create ways to handle overflow (Which is a good problem!), they get terrified that people will start buying so much that they won’t be able to fulfill on their product purchases. So they stop short, instead of doing things like raising the price to stem the flow of purchases.
Instead of putting in the extra work and tweaking as they go to get better results, they get scared of getting good results and just quit before they’ve even tried. Because one of the major keys to growth is continually working and tweaking as you go.
The violin is a perfect example of this.
Violinists are constantly listening to what they’re producing and adjusting to figure out what they’re doing that is causing different sounds to appear. For me, there was one piece I was struggling with because it kept sounding muddy. I had to sit down and think about what I was doing that might cause that, and I realized that the problem was coming from my hands moving out of sync. But if I’d never been playing, I wouldn’t have found the problem. And if I hadn’t sat down, I wouldn’t have discovered the solution.
If we don’t evaluate and work, we don’t have the opportunity to grow. If we don’t grow, we never get on stage with the violin.
Which ties perfectly into events, because everyone assumes that amazing events just happen. They don’t! It’s all about working on your marketing, evaluating it, adjusting it, adding more skill sto your bench, and continually pushing forward. And honestly?
Successful events are 20% planning, and 80% marketing.
These analogies that you’re throwing out are all about the dip: the jumping off point, right?
There’s that huge middle gap where you’re just going through the fundamentals and working hard to get them down and evaluating what’s working and what isn’t. Eventually you hit milestones, but sometimes we let fear get in our way: we let the emotions override the facts and we do things like canceling events. So with all the events you’ve run, with your years of business and being a violinist, is there a secret to it all? Something we all need to pay more attention to (or start doing) in order to tap into some of your success?
That’s a good question. I could give a lot of different answers here, and that’s the problem. We (entrepreneurs) tend to be scatterbrained and we end up needing backup plans.
So my best piece of advice is going to be to have a backup plan, and a backup plan to your backup plan. And then work your tail off to make sure both of them can happen! Here’s why…
Your initial plan is most likely not going to work, that’s just life and business. For Example:
Everyone wants to play like Lindsey Stirling. She’s dancing with the violin, she looks and sounds fabulous, and then you try to play and it sounds like a dying cat. In that instant, it feels like a failure and we call it a failure because you aren’t getting the results you want. That’s where the backup plan comes into play. That’s when you find a song you can work on, to get to the point that you can play it like Lindsey Stirling.
We are going to run into obstacles, it’s just a fact of life. It’s what we do when we hit them that matters, which is why the backup plans matter! But is also why it’s imperative we know what our motivations are, and that we have internal motivation so that we never have to rely on something else for our motivation.
I guess if I broke it down into two things, it would be this: marketers and business owners need to know their own motivations and have backup plans out the wazoo. We can’t survive without those.
And having a backup plan makes it less stressful!
It’ll still be stressful, but if you have backup plans you don’t end up as a deer in the headlights. When you do hit snags in the road (like an event coming up in 2 weeks when you’ve got maybe 15 tickets sold), you have a tactic to pull off the bench (so to speak) and put it out there ready to go.
With all that in mind, do you have any final piece of advice for our listeners? Something we may have forgotten to mention that would be a helpful reminder moving forward?
I think the best thing is to leave y’all with one of my favorite acronyms.
It’s one I created around the word ACTION, because the most important thing to achieving any goal is taking action. And here’s the acronym:
A - Achieve
C - Considerable
T - Traction
I - In
O - Objective
N - Nailing
The idea is centered around creating traction, which creates momentum, which will carry you through to your goals. Think about it this way: we spend less gas turning the wheel to change directions at 60 mph than at 10 mph. So start taking action, find the little actions you can take that will help you build momentum until you smash through your goal. You'll never do anything if you sit back and let fear or jealousy of other people's success paralyze you, so just start doing one little thing after another.
You’ll be amazed how much momentum and how many results you’ll generate if you’ll just start taking action.
Susannah Scheller is the Technology Director and Engagement Curator for Grow Disrupt, and was the first permanent hire made by Stephanie! She has spent countless hours studying the world of business under Stephanie, and has over 5 years of experience in content creation and Technology Execution. Having recently completed her Bachelor of Music, she has begun devoting her focus to the creation of content that helps to support small business owners company growth the world over.