People love free stuff, but is a free event worth it?

The thrill of getting something for nothing seems hard-wired into every human, but deciding to present an event for free can be a complex decision. There are some important questions to consider before making that call.

Why do you want to do it?

First and foremost be clear about why you want to make the event free. Whether it’s to ‘give back’ to the community or to serve as a hook so you can introduce them to something else, knowing why helps you plan, communicate and deliver effectively. If it’s because you think the audience can’t afford it or won’t pay for a ticket that’s fine, but consider the issue objectively. People are often willing to pay if there’s genuine demand.

Can you afford it?

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? Many communities and presenters face increased pressure to break even or make a profit. Putting an event on for free generally still costs the same as any other, but if you want to go ahead consider how to build in other ways to generate income from the event.

Will people turn up?

Unfortunately, being free is no guarantee of an audience. In fact, sometimes a small admission fee is a better way to help people feel committed to attending. Their ‘investment’ in the experience makes them less likely to forget or dismiss the event.

Do you still need to ticket the event?

Ticketing an event has a number of pros and cons. On the downside, ticketing can take more time to set up, manage and maintain, you need to ask a little more of your audience to book in advance and door sales need to be fed through the system as well. The venue must be set up to control entry for ticket holders only and there may be some costs associated with the ticketing system.

On the plus side you can collect information about your audience, have accurate reports, track sales and know if a last minute marketing push is needed. You also have a database to help promote other events in the future or communicate with people if there are changes to the event.

There are a number of fantastic, affordable online ticketing platforms that have plenty of flexibility and are very user friendly. Contact arTour if you want to explore this option further.

The issue of perceived value and precedent

As much as we all love a free event, it will inevitably make people question the quality and value of the event. No matter how amazing the artist is, sometimes free events are easily dismissed by a discerning audience. Clever marketing and being clear about why you’re presenting the event for free can help address the perceived value.

Equally important is whether regularly presenting free events begins to undermine other paid events. If something is always offered for free then you would be crazy to go and pay for it somewhere else, right?! Being aware of this and knowing your reasons to proceed are extremely important and should be communicated to your audiences.

How will you promote the activity?

Free events still require the same, if not more marketing and promotional activity to pull a crowd. Have a clear plan about how you want to promote the event and who to.

Social media plays an increasing important role, not least because it costs so little to do. Remember to develop this network, keep in touch with your audiences regularly and think about new groups to tap into.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

If you are still unsure jump on the phone and ask for other people’s advice. There’s a great network of presenters through Queensland with a staggering amount of experience.

arTour is also and important resource at your fingertips. Give us a call and run the idea past us too. We love to help out whenever we can.