How Can a Simple Question Increase Attendance at Your Next Event?


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Social Commitment and Event Attendance

When I find time, I’ve been reading a great book that I picked up called “Yes!” It’s written by Dr. Robert Cialdini a social psychologist that focuses on persuasive marketing techniques. I’ve gotten a handful of great ideas from this book, and validated a few other things I’ve already proven through various campaigns.

In the book, they provided an example surrounding voter turnout. Anthony Greenwald (social scientist) and his collegues conducted this experiment. They were attempting to measure voter turnout rate for a local election, which have typically low turnout rates. This is extremely relevant given the fact that we just completed our national elections. In the example, they surveyed the local registered voters and asked a simple question. They asked voters to make a prediction. “Do you plan to vote on election day, and if so provide a reason why”. The result was an 86.7% show rate on election day, compared to 61.7% on those who weren’t surveyed.


In addition, they also provided some other examples such as increasing attendance for Drs. Appointments, decreasing no-shows for tables reserved at resteraunts and a few other examples.


I’ve learned it’s not the large volume strategies that produce your results, but the opportunities within that you can execute to move your customers from one desired action to the next….


Teleseminar Attendance Experiment


In the past year, I’ve mentioned the teleseminar marketing that I’ve setup for our company. We’re now conducting weekly teleseminars for various authors and gurus you’ve probably heard of, such as David Bach, Robert Allen, Ken Blanchard and a few others. Typically we’re able to register 2-3% of our list for the teleseminar and on average receive a 16% attendance rate on our teleseminars.

There are several ways in which we can improve upon our results. The biggest opportunities involve increasing our registration rate or increasing our attendance rate. As I was reading the book, I figured this was a perfect example of how I could apply the “social commitment” strategy to improve the attendance at my events.


Historical Benchmark Event Stats:

– 2% Registration Rate

– 16% Attendance Rate

– 10% Response from Call to Action


Key Considerations:

1. Call Center Cost

2. Value of each attendee

3. Previous Event Metrics (registration, attendance)




I scripted a short survey for the call center to use, basically calling on behalf of the author to find out whether they’re planning on attending. It was fairly simple, Yes / No / Maybe. If they were planning on attending, we confirmed they had all the information. If they indicated they weren’t planning to attend, we wished them well and invited them to participate in future events. The most critical component was a human interacting with them and asking for their commitment to attend.

The event was on Thursday evening at 6pm. The call center would need at least two full days of calling to get through a list that size. We didn’t have the luxury of calling the entire list, because of time constraints. I pulled the registration list Monday evening, it was lower than expected, around 1,500 registrants. In the next few days, we had a large push and registered another 800 people (slightly unexpected).


Call Center Campaign Results

List Size: 1,523 (early registrants)

Contacts: 457 (30%)

Confirmed Registrants: 368 (82%)


I have to say, that I was dissapointed in the call center effort, the results were below expectations. Overall, it had minimal effect on the end results, but some tweaks could prove to increase their performance on the next test.

Actual Event Stats

Registrants: 2,315

Attendees: 606

Post Event Callins: 37

On the night of the event, we had 2,315 registrants for the event. With our typical turnout rate, we could expect no more than 370 people on the line for the event. We were delighted to have our highest event turnout in over a year of marketing these events. On the call last Thursday, we had 677 inbound calls to our conference bridge and 606 unique attendees. Our attendance was lifted 10 percentage points from 16% on average to over 26% attendance. That amounts to to a 65% increase in event attendance from this one technique.

Obviously, I didn’t have time and resources to completely control the test, but I feel good about these results. In fact, there are likely tweaks I’ll make to this strategy and test it again before making any final determinations. With the added cost of the call center, we have to ensure our costs aren’t out of line. As long as our sales team can convert these attendees into orders, we should be fine….


This was a fun test, I’d highly recommend using social commitments as a persuasion technique in the future. Whether you’re attempting to increase event attendance, get a better turnout at your next service project, persuade your children or your spouse… I’d definitely recommend this technique… 🙂
Carson Poppenger
After building a process to contact, qualify, and convert legacy data into new sales opportunities, Carson Poppenger co-founded Squeeze ( to help other businesses accelerate sales, grow revenue, and increase profitability. He currently serves as president of the company and lives in Utah with his wife and three children.


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