Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tips on how to get RSVPs for a party

It Worked!

Last week, I mentioned in this blog that I couldn’t figure out how to get people to reply to my CD Cocktail Party & Fundraiser invitation. I think I cracked the code, because now I’ve received a flurry of responses, and they keep coming in. Invited guests are getting back to me, whether they can make it or not!

Here’s what worked for me:

1. Send a party reminder, but don’t call it a “party reminder”—What you put into your subject line of your email counts. The subject line to my email read, “Are You Coming to My Party? Please Respond.” And they did.

2. Explain to invited guests why they need to respond—In the party reminder, I said, “If you plan to attend and haven't yet responded, please reply to this email and also indicate the number of guests you are bringing along. This way, I'll know how much food to order.” In other words, I told them that I couldn’t properly prepare for the party without hearing from them.


3. Send the reminder the old-fashioned way—I don’t mean by snail mail—Do send the reminder via e-mail. But don’t bother using lots of photos and pretty stuff in the email invite reminder. Don’t send the reminder through an online invitation service, either. Don’t do anything that will cause your invite reminder to get stuck in someone’s junk mail folder, never to be seen by human eyes. Use plain text (include a link to the original invitation), and bcc to no more than a dozen guests at a time, and your reminder has a much bigger chance of landing in the invited guest’s inbox.

That’s it. So now it’s the countdown to my big CD Release Party! And you’re invited, too!

Anne :-)

P.S.—Do tell...What worked for you when you were trying to get a large number of people to RSVP to a party invitation?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

How Do You Know How Many to Expect for Your CD Release Party?

My new CDs have arrived! I’ve sent them off to the U.S. Copyright office, to the CD Baby folks for digital distribution, and to my webmaster and virtual assistant. Next, the tracks get signed up at soundexchange  to receive statutory royalties from airplay. That’s all done, and now. I'm turning my attention back to the CD release party.

I sent the invite out via email to my family and local area fans on my email list, and I posted a facebook event page for it. I’ve downloaded and printed it, posting it around town. I’ve sent press releases about the party to the local paper and posted it on www.artistdata.com, a website dedicated to blasting musicians’ events to the world. To date, I received very few responses, despite the fact that I’ve asked people to respond so that I don’t run out of food at the party.

Why do so many people ignore RSVP requests (requests to know if they are attending or not)? I went on a mission to find out and see how to get people to respond. Here is what I found:

• A deadline to respond may cause people to hop to it (according to v.1073.

My take: My CD release party is a public event, paired with a fundraiser, and I still want people to believe they can show up, even if they decided to attend at the last minute.

• Some people don’t know what “RSVP” means (according to v.1073 and Helena Echlin.

My take: Really? Okay. I’ll word it differently, asking people to “respond with their intentions” instead of to “RSVP”.

• Tell people to respond and then they’ll get a ticket to the event. This implies that they won’t be able to attend the event without a ticket that they can download and print (according to Charlotte at About.com at  and v1073.

My take: Again, I don’t want to imply that people can’t come if they don’t RSVP.

• Pick up the phone and follow-up email invites with a phone call. Not everyone reads their email, and not everyone’s Internet server accepts emails from invitation sites like evite.com and constantcontact.com. Just about everyone online suggests this technique.

My take: Yes, email is imperfect. So is snail mail. But since mine is a public CD release party and I’ve emailed hundreds of friends, family, and fans, phoning is out of the question. I did phone a few VIPs (like my brother, for instance), but otherwise, I’d need to hire a robocall service to do this kind of follow-up. If this were a small, private party, then a phone call reminder would work wonders.

Here’s what I plan to do: I’ll send an email reminder, gently requesting people to respond by replying to my email if they intend to come to the party. And instead of re-sending a party invite, which may have been blocked by their web servers, I’ll send a link to the invitation . I’ll ask that they respond by the 15th (the party is on the 20th) so that I can have a good sense of how many people to feed.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions for me? What would you do to get people to respond? And how do you get people to come to your release parties? Or do you just send out invites and hope for the best?

Anne :-)

P.S.—By the way, the facebook event invite does not work, at least not for me. There are people who say that they are attending who obviously are not, and there are a large percentage of people who do not respond at all. And there is no way to re-send the invite to people who have decided to ignore it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

How to Put Together a Successful Release Party

I am the first to admit that I’m not sure I know the answer to this. And what is “successful”? Having a good turn out, selling lots of CDs, and having fun. But it’s more than that—creating buzz is the most important key, at least to me. I want folks to talk about my recordings days, weeks, and months after the party.

My past CD release parties seemed a bit dull, even to me. So, here are my simple rules for my upcoming CD release party that may turn it around. I’d love your feedback, too. Maybe you have some ideas that I can incorporate, even with just a few weeks away from the big event:

1. Partner with a charity and celebrate an upcoming holiday—I’m combining my upcoming CD release party with fundraising efforts, because people will come out to support a cause. Also, the venue I’ve selected to host the party, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, is helping me throw the fundraiser, as well as a coming out party for my new albums. (Plus, I can write off the party as a charitable contribution or a business expense.)

I chose to work with Bread and Broth, which helps feed the hungry here at South Lake Tahoe. And since my party is on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, people can help fund holiday meals by attending my party. I chose a non-political charity, a cause that has broad general appeal.

Gary Johnson, from JJ Entertainment, gave me this idea, because we’ve both volunteered for Meals on Wheels home food delivery for seniors in our community and we wanted to do something to help the hungry.

2. Sell raffle tickets for gift baskets containing the new CDs and other goodies—The proceeds from the sale of the raffle tickets go to the charity. It’s a great way to allow a few lucky partygoers to come away with several of my CDs for very little money, almost as a gift.

I’m inviting the charity to bring their own volunteers to handle this and collect the money from the sale of the tickets. I’m also inviting the charity to speak at the party and gather up more volunteers for their cause.

3. Give out the raffle prizes at the end of the party—Winners need to be present. I’m not into shipping baskets of goodies to winners, but more importantly, people will stay until the end of the party.

4. Allow time to schmooze—I made one grand mistake at my previous CD release parties: I brought my harp and performed for a few minutes. People want to party and not attend a concert. They want a personal connection with me. I can’t mingle at the party and perform at the same time. The two don’t mix

So, the harp stays at home, and I’ve hired JJ Entertainment to spin my CDs and make announcements, and Screenbooth Lake Tahoe to keep people happily entertained. I’ll party with guests and sign CDs, and my husband will be handling the CD sales.

5. Have specially-priced CDs available, only to guests of my party—I want my guests to feel that they are getting a deal just by attending, and I’ll give them just that. And I’ll sign the CDs, too, if they like.

6. Create buzz—I’m sending press releases everywhere, posting the party online, announcing it to the local media. It’s a fundraiser, so it is a community event as well as an event that belongs in the entertainment section of the local papers.

My previous release parties were private parties, because I wanted to limit the amount of food served. I was scared of the $$$ involved to feed everyone. But this party is a fundraiser, and the more the merrier. All that I’m asking is that if folks plan to attend that they RSVP so that I don’t run out of food :-)

7. Create anticipation—Very few folks know exactly what tracks are on these CDs. They don’t know their titles. If they want to know more, they’ll need to show up to the party. After all, the CDs aren’t “released” until the party.

Have I forgotten anything? If you’ve thrown a successful CD release party, what did you do to make it a fabulous event? Even if you aren’t a musician with CDs, perhaps you’ve hosted a great product launch party and have some ideas to contribute....

My party is November 20th, and I’ll post here again afterwards to let you know how it went...Or if you are in the area, come and celebrate with me!

Anne :-)