The Empire Retreat Breakdown – A Guide to Throwing Six Figure Events
It’s been a few weeks now since we threw our event in Phuket, Thailand. If you are wondering how it went, let me give you the short answer: It was an absolute success.
The stories shared, the friendships made, and the cool memories will live with us forever. In large part, this happened thanks to the organizational brilliance of our marketing coordinator, Mike “Swiggy” Swigunski (you can read about him on our new About Us page if you’re not familiar with him).
Before we dive into what went on during the event, and how you can throw a successful event yourself, let’s first talk about how the event came about.
After many discussions, we as a marketing team decided we should put a lot more effort into attending events. Then we thought, “Why not use part of our event-going budget to throw our own event?”
The idea was initially just to have a small get-together, maybe bring people out for a workshop and a nice dinner. But then the vision got bigger.
What if we could throw an awesome event that people would love to come to not just once, but again and again? What if we became a place where high-level entrepreneurs looked forward to networking with their peers?
We decided right then and there that we would only invite people already earning six-figures or more in their business, and expand it from a nice dinner to a full-on event.
That’s right about when we decided to book the James Bond-esque villa as pictured below.
So there we were — Justin, Swiggy, and myself — in a smoky cafe lounge, booking this beautiful villa. Once that was done, we looked at each other and said, “Well, what is actually going to happen at this stunning villa?”
We didn’t have a lot of time to come up with material. We had under five weeks to put together a game plan, work out all the logistics, and figure everything out.
On top of that, there was a huge worry that we wouldn’t have enough time to actually get people out here. After all, who is going to drop everything they’re doing and come hangout with us in Phuket, Thailand with just over a month’s notice?
Luckily, there turned out to be quite a lot of people!
So, how did we pull everything together?
The Anatomy of a Six-Figure Mastermind Event Revealed
There’s an old journalist saying: “Use the Five W’s”:
The idea here is that if we answered all of these, then we would have a complete story to share with our readership. The same held true with planning our event. As we answered each of these, our event became a lot clearer and more “real.”
We had already decided the “who” portion when we limited attendees to only six-figure and up entrepreneurs. The only people coming should be veterans of the business world. After all, it would be kind of a sloppy mastermind to have a six-figure and seven-figure entrepreneur sitting down with a guy that has made zero money online but happened to buy the ticket as his vacation away from his 9-to-5 grind.
As for the “what” portion of the event, we asked ourselves what the event should look like? We came up with a three-day retreat at this villa. During those three days, we would hold mastermind sessions that would constitute the bulk of our activities for the event, along with presentations, and finally, a bit of fun. We are Empire Flippers after all, where we love to work hard and play hard. It’s part of our culture, and we wanted to share it with our guests.
Now, what was the “why” piece — the reasoning behind throwing the event? Why even have one when we could’ve just gone to someone else’s event and saved ourselves the hassle?
We decided that the conversations we started should focus on expanding networks, allowing us and our guests to connect in a more intimate way with the entrepreneurs in our circle. This worked out really well for us; we got to meet some amazing people, who — we learned to our surprise — were fans of ours! We also wanted to connect these entrepreneurs with each other in order to allow them to share their varied experiences for everyone’s benefit — an aim which plays into a mastermind very well.
We already had the when and the where portion of the event planned before we planned anything else. In fact, booking the actual villa is what kicked us into gear and actually made the rest of the event happen. If we hadn’t booked the event, we may never had decided to fully launch and roll out the first ever Empire Retreat.
It goes to show, sometimes you just have to hit the ground running and make a decision.
Finally, while we didn’t plan on making money with the Empire Retreat, we needed a working budget if we were going to make it awesome.
There were a few different pricing structures we were looking at. Eventually, we settled on $1,000 being a fair price. A six-figure entrepreneur should have little difficulty paying that entry fee, and we felt it would be hard to justify charging more due to the time constraints of the event. (Remember, we only had five weeks to pull this off!)
If you are going to throw an event, you want to make sure you pick a good price.
For us, all of the money paid by the attendees was used to pay for the villa (and a second villa, too, since we had an overflow of people signing up for the event), the food, drinks, and the entertainment.
Entertainment is something you should not spare at an event like this. While it is great to learn, you want your event to STICK with your guests. There is no better way to do this than to give them truly memorable experiences.
When you are budgeting, budget a heavy portion towards the entertainment. It is unlikely you’ll regret the decision.
We initially decided to sell just 10 tickets, but we ended up selling 17 tickets, which leads me to how we actually promoted this thing in the first place.
Marketing the Event Successfully
Now that we had an outline, it was time to put everything together. We had the venue already booked. Unfortunately, we booked it during the week; this was a mistake.
We all still had our normal jobs to do, after all, and doing this kind of event during the week made each of our workdays incredibly long and somewhat stressful, since we had to drive forty minutes or so to get to the villa each day — almost two hours a day in just commute time alone.
All of that could have been resolved easily enough if we had planned this event around a weekend instead. Fortunately, for our next event, that is exactly what we’ve decided to do.
Another failure we had with this event was the lack of urgency. Ironically, holding the event just five weeks out from announcing it made our ability to use urgency very limited. We only had one price, whether you’re early-bird or latecomer, and there wasn’t a whole lot of time to change the structure of the ticket sales.
In the next event, we are going to use tiered pricing. This means our previous attendees will get the best deal to come again, then there will be early-bird pricing for those who buy the ticket quickly, and — as we get closer to the actual event date — the price will increase.
This is a much better strategy, as it allows us to control the funnel more.
We just didn’t have the time to do it this time around.
Luckily, we were holding our monthly management meetup in Patong — a city inside of Phuket, Thailand. That means we had boots on the ground to make connections with the locals. Being able to scout out the area of your event is super important. The more you know the local area, the better the event is going to be.
We were able to scout out several different dinner locations, club locations, entertainment companies, and even an awesome tailor that designed dozens of Empire Flippers branded polos for our guests (plus some extra goodies). Not to mention, we were able to find an amazing videographer company to record the entire event for us.
If you want to throw an event yourself, take this advice to heart: actually go to the event location and scout around. Familiarize yourself with the area. The research we did paid off in dividends.
While our marketing leveraged our 35,000+ strong email list and our social media presence alongside our overall brand, here are a few things we are planning to implement for our next event.
Quick Tips to Marketing Your Event
A picture is worth a thousand words. So what happens when you have a video? Videos do amazingly well. They can get the emotions pumping, the excitement level heightened, and be the actual trigger that sends your target audience over the edge to actually purchasing a ticket for your event.
One reason we hired videographers was so we could put together a short teaser for our next event to help promote it. This is something you should do as well.
If you haven’t thrown an event yet, you can still create a teaser, but make sure you capture the event in its entirety as this footage is going to be some of the best footage for your event’s sales funnel.
Here’s an example of the teaser we put together for our next event:
Our event wasn’t a 1,000 person conference or anything nearly as large as that. It was a small get-together of like-minded peers all looking to level up their business game. One thing we did was reach out to people we would love to attend our event that we knew had a relationship with our brand already.
When you’re throwing a small, intimate group event like ours, this can be a really effective strategy. A personal invitation from someone you respect is always appreciated.
The low cost of sending out an email or a Facebook message could be the cheapest marketing you ever do.
Create a Sales Page
If you’re throwing a small event below 100 attendees, you might not need to go all out with a full-fledged sales letter, but you should have some kind of dedicated page. For our first event we created this blog post.
Now, if you are going to be selling a small event with ticket prices breaking over the $10,000 dollar mark, then you will probably want a more dedicated sales letter. For us, a simple blog post brought in plenty of attendees.
The higher the cost of the ticket, or the more attendees you’re looking to get, the more focus you need to dedicate to a sales letter of some kind.
Employ a User-Friendly Ticketing System
While most people wouldn’t consider their ticketing system as part of their marketing, make no mistake, it is.
A good ticketing system is the checkout portion for your guests to actually send money your way. You want to have a system that is easy to use and helps increase conversions.
You will want the ticketing system page to match the aesthetics and messaging of your actual sales letter. This helps keep the flow of the transaction going.
What we used for our event was Picatic.com, the same ticketing system that TEDx uses. We were pretty happy with the outcome, so we will be using them again for our next event.
Running the Actual Event
You got your goals set out, and now you have some know-how when it comes to actually marketing your event, but what do you when the day arrives?
How do you actually RUN that event?
You see, setting up and marketing the event is only half the battle. The next thing you need to master is making sure it goes smoothly. No matter how many problems might pop up, you must ensure guests are never aware of them, and the problems never break the flow of the event.
Here are some strategies we used that will be helpful to you.
All of your employees should have certain responsibilities during the event. For example, Swig managed all the logistics of the event, and I handled anything related to the presentations, which included working with Justin on the presentation we gave to our guests.
Everyone should know their role.
That being said, everyone should be willing to help out where they’re needed. For example, I helped Swig get guests back to villa #2, or helped coordinate the vans to arrive for the big finale dinner with him. Some jobs are too much for just one person and should be shared.
Know Your Attendees
Obviously, this is going to be a lot harder if you are looking to throw a big conference. However, if you are planning on throwing a small mastermind retreat together, this is a great strategy. Almost every guest of yours is going to have a social media presence somewhere, whether it is LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
We created a Retreat Roster that had everyone’s names, what their goals were for attending, and their pictures. That way we recognized people when they arrived and already had some talking points to break the ice. This is good pre-planning and is super useful for a smaller event.
You’re the Leader — Your Attendees Are Listening
When it comes time to tell people a mastermind is over, dinners are starting, or a presenter needs to hurry up and finish their presentation, it’s important to have certain elements in place to make sure this all goes smoothly.
Remember, people bought tickets to your event, so they’re going to be okay with you getting everyone’s attention to tell them what’s next on the agenda.
One thing we didn’t prepare for was our presenter’s length of time speaking. This time around, we will make sure each presenter is aware of the clock that is ticking while they give their presentation and have a mechanism to give them a 10 minute and 5 minute warning when their time is almost up.
Coordinating events is one of the most stressful occupations out there. It’s no wonder; there is so much to do and so many different groups to get into alignment that it is easy to want to just pull your hair out.
No matter how much anxiety and stress is building up in you, you need to take a chill pill.
Relax. If you are stressed out, your guests are going to see that come through and it is not going to be an enjoyable experience for them. Keep this in the forefront of your mind, as the kind of experience your guests have will ultimately determine the success of your event.
Maximizing Your Event’s Value for the Future
An event isn’t something that is evergreen.
It is something that only happens once.
Despite this, all that energy you devoted into throwing this event doesn’t have to stop just because the event is over. If you planned your event right, you can create evergreen content based off this event. For example, our videographer team has done an awesome job capturing our event with footage we can use over and over again, whether to promote our event or just to promote our brand.
We were also able to gather several testimonials from this event. Considering our testimonials are high quality in nature, doing these at the actual event made the Retreat a positive ROI investment for us.
But there are still some follow-up tasks you should do to maximize the momentum.
Send a thank-you email to each of your attendees. If possible, give them all a call. When you do this, ask for a review. What did they love about your event? What didn’t they like? Be sure to end that feedback session with some kind of action to bring those guests closer to your company.
One thing we did was offer VIP codes that allowed our guests to view a few of our business listings without having to make a deposit.
Finally, promote the event. Share all that awesome footage you caught with your social media audience. Let everyone know what a great time it was by pumping out related blog content.
(Of course, that is exactly what we are doing here, since we like to follow the advice we give.)
When you push out this content, it will also lay the groundwork for your next event’s sales funnel.
Our event was a huge success.
Our guests connected not just with Empire Flippers on a more intimate basis, but with each other, which could lead to some major business growth for them. The best thing is, now that we have completed our first successful event, it gives us the leverage to throw an even BETTER event next time.
The question is, are you going to be there?
Here’s a taste of what’s to come:
The 2nd Empire Retreat
Ready to Level Up Your Business?
October 28th to November 1st, we will be hosting our second ever Empire Retreat. If you are ready for a life changing experience that will push your business into higher momentum, help you meet fellow peers that are making it happen in the online world, and soak up some Thailand sun…
Then click here to buy your ticket today.
You’ll want to grab your ticket as soon as possible. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we are doing a tiered pricing structure.
The longer you wait, the higher the ticket price is going to be.
Lock in your place now, and we’ll see you at the villa.