Episode 290

Part 2: Hosting Community Events to Generate Leads with Pete Dupuis

In this episode, Pete Dupuis joins me again to talk more about hosting community events to generate leads.

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m speaking with Pete and we’re actually doing a follow up conversation to an episode of recorded just a few episodes ago. It was called hosting community events to generate leads with Pete Dupuis. And during that episode, we talk about an event that Pete was doing at Cressy sports performance called a night with the pros, and now he’s done the event.

So now we record another conversation. After the event to talk about his lessons learned and running the event, how he converted leads after the event. So if you want to generate leads by hosting events, this is a great episode for you, keep on listening.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes to level up your gym. Get ready to [00:01:00] unlock your potential and become a real unicorn in the fitness industry.

Let’s begin.

Hello fitness business nerds. What’s up? Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast I’m here today with pete But before we jump in pete, I just want to make a quick announcement because we have a new free webinar coming up That Mark Fisher is hosting and it’s coming up. It’s December 16th and December 18th at 12 noon Eastern time.

It’s free for all of you. And what Mark is going to cover in this podcast is how to win big and grow your gym in the first quarter of the new year while working less than five hours. I’m going to say that again, cause it’s a big promise, but it’s how to hit the ground running in the first quarter of the new year, how to grow your gym, add more members all in less than.

Five hours per week. So we’re going to give you a very specific playbook for how to maximize your time and getting people in your door at the beginning of the new year. So if you want to start the year off with a bang and get lots of people in your door at the beginning of 2024 sign up for [00:02:00] the workshop, it’s free.

It’s down below. We’re offering it two days, the 16th and 18th of December, 12 noon Eastern. Um, go sign up and I hope to see you there. Pete, how have you been my friend? I am well, I am a couple weeks removed from a big event, which I know we’re going to talk about today. I got one of the major holidays behind me, which is sad because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but things are really good.

How about you? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today. Yeah. I also had a Thanksgiving. It was fun. We were catching up before we recorded. And I, um, I went to Texas to see some of my in laws, which is really fun. Traveled for the first time on a plane with my new puppy, which actually went surprisingly well.

I had a, I had a good Thanksgiving. Ate too much as always, but that’s what it’s for. I think if you don’t eat too much, to do really Thanksgiving. And I feel good that I went full out. But as you mentioned we are going to talk a little bit about an event that you have and we talked about this on a Previous podcast or for those of you who want the full backstory to this event I think it was episode 284 of the [00:03:00] podcast.

It was called I can tell you in one second. It was called how to Generate leads what we call it. Oh, it’s called hosting community events, generate leads with Pete Dupuis. So if you want the full backstory on this, go check it out. But what we talked about that podcast in a nutshell was Pete at Cressy has a really great event called night with the pros that happened a few weeks ago, and it’s specifically an event to help generate leads.

So we wanted to talk a little bit about a followup, how did the event go lessons learned, et cetera. So Pete, you want to just maybe give a 32nd summary of people who didn’t listen to the podcast. What is. Your event, A Night with the Pros. Yep, Night with the Pros is what should be an annual event. It was for a number of years.

Hit the pause button due to a pandemic. We’ve since brought it back based on this year’s iteration. It is absolutely positively happening next year and each thereafter. It is a panel discussion surrounding all of the things that are of interest to our client Avatar. So that being [00:04:00] primarily high school age and Maybe some college athletes specifically in the baseball community.

So we take professional athletes who train with us. We ask them to sit on a panel and answer questions about things like college recruiting, preparation on game day, thinking about off season training, thinking about in season training. Honestly, anything and everything that is of interest to the youth athlete and their parents.

And it’s not just the professional athletes. We had a college coach on our panel. We had a former intern turned professional pitching coach working with the Seattle Mariners on our panel. We had a physical therapist on our panel. So we try and bring in some voices that can speak to the unique needs of this athletic community.

And it was a huge success. So this was probably the. 8th, 9th, 10th iteration that we’ve done since 2007, but like I said, we had a hiatus for a few years. That’s amazing. And I just want to [00:05:00] reiterate to our listeners that even though the example we’re going to going through with Pete today is very specific to baseball, very specific to sports performance, you can swap out his panel for any topic of local experts that are.

community members, uh, actually clients of the gym, et cetera. You can put a panel together for back pain. You can put a panel together for nutrition. The same concept applies no matter what the topic is, but can you remind Pete folks, uh, remind folks, Pete, how you got people to the event. So how did people get invited?

So we use social media to promote signage around the facility, some email. To our internal list and basically it was visuals showcasing the athletes in question because that’s like catnip for youth athletes. Kyrie seeing people in professional uniforms and playing the game they aspire to play at that level.

But that drew them in and we communicated with thought leaders or I should say opinion leaders in [00:06:00] our local baseball community. So coaches, program directors, particularly connected parents. There’s a variety of people on that list, which we did dig into in that last episode about how to manage that list and think about what your network can provide as far as messaging on this front.

And we did that. We. This time around we did it in a really tight window. We announced two weeks out from the event and that was less than we thought we needed. But honestly, we ended up with about 135 bodies in the room, which is a great turnout. I think it was the second largest night with the pros we’ve ever had.

And I think one of my takeaways there was that Assuming you, you hit the ground at full sprint when it comes time in a tight window like that, the, the abbreviated duration of time between announcement and the date can be a positive because it’s very difficult for someone to be like, Oh, I don’t know what I’ll be doing then, but I’ll get back to you.

Because at this time of [00:07:00] year, as we approach the holidays and people are full steam ahead, Yeah, exactly. We know what’s going on and it’s difficult to kick the can down the road on that. Most people were a definitive yes or definitive no right out of the gate, which was good because there was no ambiguity in the maybe I’ll make this work.

And I think in hindsight, we will probably target something closer to three weeks next year, but not in excess of that because this ultimately was a good experience. And the reasoning, which I may have mentioned on the last one of why this felt so reactionary. Is because it has to be every year because the talent are the panelists and these people are notoriously difficult to nail down to commit to an evening event at a time of year when it is technically their off season, they can travel, they can train, they can shut it down completely, they can be called to play winter baseball, there are a lot of different variables that can get thrown into the mix here and we typically get [00:08:00] less time than we would like from a commitment standpoint.

We just got to work with it. That’s what happened this year. That makes sense. I love that you’re just really finding that sweet spot of how long in advance people need a heads up. And I think you’re right. There’s something about that two, three, even four weeks that’s tight enough that people know what their plans are.

And it also builds kind of excitement when something’s that close and gets announced that there’s like a real buzz that can be maintained for two weeks. Whereas if you announce something six, eight, 10 weeks in advance, it’s hard for there to be a buzz. It’s like a wedding invitation. You get a year in advance.

It’s yeah. I only really get excited when I’m On the plane or on the car driving because it’s been on my calendar for a year, whereas this feels something urgent about it. So I think that’s really awesome. So second biggest turnout you’ve ever had, which is amazing. Can you talk a little bit about like just the structure of the events and what takeaways you have from that?

Yeah, so it’s positioned as a Q and a kind of an ongoing. Questions being fired from the crowd, but what we’ve learned over the years is that people are [00:09:00] afraid of engaging in front of large audiences. So, maybe yourself and I have less and less hesitation about standing in front of a room and sharing our thoughts after years of repetition of this.

But, it’s funny, just before the event, two of the, I would say, loudest, for lack of a better term, high school athletes who train with us. I’m talking like Big personalities who won’t shut up around the gym. They’re the guys who we need to, like, keep on track. Be like, hey guys, get your session moving. You’ve been here two and a half hours.

Let’s get this moving. Yep. Those boisterous extroverts were standing next to each other and they were clearly training late because they intended to attend the event and I said, Hey, you guys got some good questions lined up for tonight. And both of them looked at me and were like, absolutely not. And I said, what do you, what do you mean?

And they’re like, we’re not raising our hand and talking in front of that many people. And it made me realize that, or I should say, it reinforced something that I already knew, which is Public speaking is and always will be a [00:10:00] very serious public fear, and even if it’s just posing a question in front of a room, that is public speaking in their mind.

So, we made an effort to collect more questions in advance. And so that meant some Networking on the training floor asking people what they might be interested in learning about that meant publishing an Instagram poll Asking that people submit their questions there It also meant having a call to action in our confirmation email 24 hours out saying hey We’d like to hit all of the questions that are pose to us.

If you’d like to see us prioritize any in particular, please put them into this email. And there were a number of dads who dumped two, three, even four questions into that email. So by the time the event came, we almost didn’t have the flexibility to do a whole lot of raise your hand Q and A. Now we did some.

And it was important that we didn’t bait and switch people into coming in to what felt like a scripted type dynamic. But we were able to say to people, we got way more questions than we expected. We were able to [00:11:00] categorize the subject matter. John took it all and he chopped it into four or five different categories.

And then he actually put them in front of the panelists as they all enjoyed. Sandwiches beforehand that we bought for them, and he said, Hey, there’s some trends in the questions that we collected. This is the direction I’m thinking we go with it, and these are the specific panelists that I think could provide the most insight to any of you guys have issues with that.

And so we were able to prep the panel a little bit to be as I’d say, optimize the outcomes, make sure that the right people were talking about the right things without a lot of microphone passing and people feeling like we were just winging it. And honestly, that allowed for this to seem like a seamless yet reactive event.

So I think we were a lot more polished looking than I expected us to because of the advanced collection of questions. Does that make sense? Yeah, 100%. And also, I think the other thing that it does, aside from helping you all prepare a little bit more, helping the speakers prime the pump a little bit for what they might [00:12:00] say, but I think anyone who submitted a question is also more likely to show up.

Anyone who submitted a question now has to come to hear the answer. So I think it also probably helped drive attendance by getting people thinking about what am I curious about to know from these folks. Same thing would be true if you did a workshop on nutrition. Had a nutrition panelist, if in advance I asked a question about protein or about what to eat for breakfast, like I have to show up now because I really want to know the answer.

So I think that it serves multiple purposes. So good for you. I think that’s so smart. Yep, there was a lesson buried in there as well to build off of what you just said, which is anyone who submitted a question was statistically more likely to be amenable to a sales pitch on the back end. And I don’t mean that I went and I sold everybody hard.

What I mean is we got more questions than we could ask during the window of time we created. And people understood. There was no one who came to the front at the end and was like, what’s your problem, man? You made a promise. [00:13:00] And, but what did happen was. At the end of the night, there was, there were tons of parents who lingered and kids and the way that they would introduce themselves would be, Hey, I’m so and so, I actually asked you this question via email.

We weren’t able to get to it tonight. No big deal. And those were the people I’d say, Hey, I’m going to send you a follow up on that tomorrow. And if you don’t hear from me, just ping me. I’ll make sure that we answer this question for you. I’ll get some information sent your way and we turned three athletes into business coming out of that.

I can account for right now just off the top of my head. We’ve collected over a thousand dollars in training revenues since that event. So we’re well into the black on this event and all three of them were people who approached me at the end of the night to tell me that they had submitted a question.

And either thank me for making sure it got answered or just nudge me to answer it in that format. And so you can pre qualify the candidates of people who are amenable to the idea of working with you long term based on how they engaged with that type of outreach. That makes so much sense because also [00:14:00] if they asked a question and it did get answered or they came to you got an answer afterwards, they’re also feeling seen.

And feeling heard, feeling like you care about their issue. And if they’re once they get their answer, they’re getting immediate value. So like they’re getting a solution to an issue or a burning question that they have, which is immediately valuable. That’s what we want people to do when they come to an event or a low barrier offer, right?

We want them to have some small wins or find some small solutions to know that we are the people to help you. We actually can get the answers. We can create a path for you to get the results you’re looking for. And so this is a perfect event to tee yourself up to be seen in that way. Which is so great.

And so can you talk a little bit more about the conversion part? So clearly you had some casual conversations. You had some email follow up. Can you just say a little more about that? Yeah, we just had people, the questions were typically telling about who they were. Like somebody asked a training question about hip related issues and the guy came up and he said, Oh, this is my son.

He’s a catcher. I asked you a question. And I was like, you must’ve been the guy who asked the hip question. [00:15:00] Mobility for athletes with hip issues. And It just, it became clear that questions are obviously self serving and it makes it very easy for you to customize. The angle you take from a selling perspective at that point.

And I didn’t, I did not sell in every circumstance. Sometimes good questions are just good questions. And there are moments where I’m like, man, I really wish we could have answered this in front of the room because it would have been great for everyone. Not man, what a good question that can allow me to upsell you into unlimited training.

That’s, that’s not really what the intent was because we have countless experiences of people who showed up for this. When their kids weren’t even old enough to be real candidates to train with us And we delivered value from them and they circled back in the long run Which I know you and I have talked about on podcasts in the past playing the long game for sure.

And so I was of that mindset the whole time. The one of the lessons I did learn though, which was, it was great, but it also made me a little squirmish [00:16:00] squeamish, I guess you could say what was going on, which was beforehand, like I said, we bought meals for the panelists and we said, Hey, put in your sandwich order beforehand, we’re going to have food.

We’re going to hang out. We’re going to talk when John told them what he was going to cover and, and how he saw value in it, they all took it upon themselves. To sell on our behalf. So we, there were a number of moments where the panelists were answering questions and all of a sudden it felt like they were telling the room, you really just, you need to get into the gym and lift weights with these guys.

And it was like, all of the pitching was happening on our, by them. It almost felt like the whole thing, like we’d been putting money in their pockets, be like, now say something about your training experience over and over. And they were all doing it on their own. And I realized that the beauty in this was that the whole entire panel was homegrown.

Our college coach was someone who had interned for us and moved on to coach the division one level, the professional coach interned in that same class and went on to, he was a division one baseball player who went on to coach professionally in MLB. And [00:17:00] then all of the panelists were people that we deliberately hand picked to have literally hundreds of training sessions under their belt working with us.

So they’re all really well positioned to do it. But. I think maybe we could next year have a clearer conversation with them about how they can deliver value for us without it coming across like they were there to shill our services. It’s not feedback I got from anyone. It’s really just my vibes from the back of the room because I I did, and I didn’t emcee this one.

I introed the group, I introed the panel, and then I introed my business partner, John, and I said, John’s got a better rapport with each and every one of these people because he’s on the training floor with them and has been over the years, or he was their supervisor as an intern coordinator, and so I’m going to hand the mic over to him, and he’s going to facilitate the questions and give you guys a seamless conversation, and then at that point, I’m I just disappeared into the background.

So for the first time ever, I got to be a spectator at this event, like completely just back of [00:18:00] the room. Observation. And that was one of my takeaways that no one has said it to me since I was just feeling it myself. It’s such a great example, though, of like when you talk about yourself and sell yourself, it’s bragging and salesy, but when someone else talks about you, it’s marketing, right?

It’s a testimonial, right? And I’m sure if they were all doing it, I’m unprompted. It was genuine. It was sincere and people could say, they can sense that they can sense the fact that these folks were just telling you what they truly felt. And, but I think you’re right that if you’re going to do a panel, it might be useful to have some conversation about if you have any boundaries there, there’s something you do or don’t want them to do in terms of how directly they’re selling or pimping out your services.

Like maybe useful to get in front of that, but it sounds like in your case, it was just genuinely thought that’s what they wanted to say. And I’m sure your audience felt that that’s, yeah, ultimately it was definitely a win. And this is just an example of me saying like to our audience, just because you and I talk about effective salesmanship and delivering it, delivering [00:19:00] a sales pitch with conviction doesn’t mean we don’t have the same anxieties surrounding it that everybody else does.

And I just. I don’t want to come across as a used car salesman. It’s just not, it’s not my angle that I’m comfortable with. So it’s just the way I think. Do you have time for me to give you a couple of quick hitter takeaways that I learned during the process? We got it. We got another few minutes, so go for it.

One of the things was I didn’t put a lot of thought into optimizing foot traffic and flow. We had a merch table at the back of the room. And it just logically did not make sense in relation to how people come and go from the space. So in order for people to transactionally interact with us, because there are people who always want to buy t shirts at these things, they had to go out of their way to go backwards before moving forward.

And that was typically at the end of the night. So next year, we’ll definitely have that table right in the hall when people arrive. Like at check in, and when we say the bathrooms are right over there, the gym’s right over here, they have to walk by it on their way in and on their way out. That’s one [00:20:00] thing I would do differently.

I’ll just say this, Pete, that it’s a really great lesson. And for folks out there who, who are maybe new to doing events, it’s one of the things that I think we had to learn the hard way often at MFF, because right off the bat, we started doing events for not just 50 people, but for sometimes hundreds. And the minute you start having to have, represent a crowd, or manage a crowd, you need to think about things like that.

Like, where will they park? Where will they sit? Where will they put their stuff? Do we have enough bathrooms? Do we have enough bathroom supplies? Does it make sense for where they’re entering and exiting? So I think that’s a really great takeaway, especially for folks who are listeners who are doing this for the first time.

They want to think about the flow of traffic, and that they have enough space to do all the things they want to do. So, yeah, that’s a great one. What else building off of that? We could have done a better job of coaching our team and our panelists on how to handle themselves at the back end, because this takes place on a weeknight during valuable time for people, like we said, approaching the holiday season.

And it’s at a point where when it ends, people tend to [00:21:00] just either get up and get the hell out or they get in line to talk to the small handful of people who logically it makes sense to interact with. And what ended up happening was I had sometimes three, four, even five dads and their sons standing within my line of sight, waiting for the conversation I was in to end.

And there was enough going on in the room that I couldn’t shout across the room and be like, Hey, Josh, get over here and answer this question for that dad and his son over there. So next year I will make an effort to communicate to the team who are on site for the event. Hey, I need us to be conveniently spaced.

In an area where people have to interact with us on the way out. So we can, multiple staff members can facilitate meaningful conversation. Cause what happens at these things is like, It ends, we say, oh it’s awesome. And the team like waits for the room to clear so they can break down the chairs. But they don’t make themselves accessible.

And then John and I just had a line of people waiting to talk to us. And we couldn’t serve everybody. And there were definitely people [00:22:00] who left before I could address them. Cause they were like, you know what, it’s 8. 30, it’s a Wednesday night. I got to get home and get on with my life. This was cool. Maybe I’ll ask him a question later.

That’s awesome. I think that’s so smart. And honestly, I remember we did something similar at some MFF events when there was like a call to action or something. We would stand on the stage or stand up front and say, Hey, listen, there’s MFF team members all over the place. Raise your hands, right? And make sure we call out, these are the people you should go talk to, right?

If you want to learn more, if you want to come get to know us better, go talk to those people who are standing close to you. They’re there to talk to you. And that kind of thing just really, to your point, manages the crowd and facilitates as many conversations as possible, but your team will need a little bit of a heads up that they’re expected to do that, and they might even need a little bit of coaching around.

Here’s how we answer certain questions, or here’s the thing we’re trying to get people to do next. So that’s a really good one. Can I go back and highlight something that I think is a hidden takeaway and what you shared earlier, which is all of your panelists had a [00:23:00] relationship with Cressy. And I think that goes a long way to be able to connect with an audience who has people in it who you want to buy from you, right?

The fact that they were able to talk about their personal experience there and wholeheartedly endorse the work you do is only possible because the whole panelists, all the panelists had a relationship with you. So I’m thinking about our listeners who are going to do something similar. It’s not enough just to go find some random expert, back pain, find some random chiropractor.

Right. Ideally, you find the chiropractor who’s been a client of yours, or at the very least is a spouse or know someone who comes there, right? Ideally, you want the people who are on this kind of panel to have some relationship with the business so they can connect the audience to the work you do there, if not in a direct sales way, at least in a.

In the soft way, right, where they, they can relate to the work that happens in your gym. I think that’s really critical to the intimacy that you created at this event. Yeah, they don’t come across as a hired gun [00:24:00] or some sort of like expert witness that we brought in. Exactly, like they’re people who, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re, they’re not just spokespeople.

They’re like actual former clients who have walked the talk, which I think goes a long way to credibility and rapport. Yeah, I think that’s, it’s an important one. So let me give you one more. My final piece of advice, and I know you guys do this. I probably learned it from you, but when you schedule the event, I would encourage you on top of that to schedule a meeting the next day for a postmortem where you and the team discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we’re going to prioritize next year.

Because even now we’re having this conversation 13 days removed from us hosting this event. And I’m having a little bit of a hard time completely jogging my memory. Of what my primary takeaways were, but when John and I just did our next day Take stock of what went down. There was endless topics and ideas.

So if you want to really optimize the outcomes from this event and make sure [00:25:00] that the next one is as productive as possible, you should make sure that when it’s fresh, fresh in your mind, top of mind, you are talking about. the strengths and the weaknesses of what you delivered and how you’re going to pivot accordingly next time because it’s so easy to romanticize the whole thing once you get further and further removed and be like that was awesome just run the same playbook but there are plenty of things we did stupidly that we should have changed yeah said my friend i think more people should consider doing that kind of Post action review on most things you do in the business, you run a campaign for on social media, talk about it afterwards.

You did an event to talk about it afterwards, hired, hired a person, then fired a person. Talk about it afterwards. I’d love that, that culture of reflection. So let’s leave it there. I think that’s a great final tip. Awesome. Let me do one more reminder, dear friends. If you want to attend our free upcoming workshop with Mark Fisher about how 2024 and get the exact plan to grow your gym in the first quarter of the new year, While working less than five hours per week, go click the link down [00:26:00] below in the show notes.

Join us for the webinar. We hope to see you there. Thanks as always for a tremendous conversation, Pete. See you in the next one, my friend. Good talk. See you soon.