Free isn’t cheap enough

Doing Scot Nery’s Boobietrap, we wanted to fill every seat. So, when we weren’t sold out, we gave away lots of tickets for free. Our seats still weren’t filled. If enough people knew about us and knew they could get free tickets, why would we not have a packed house? Because money is not the only cost of coming to a show.

When the tickets were $20, parking in Hollywood was sometimes more expensive. Getting a babysitter costs more. The potential to be disappointed (if they didn’t know how good this show is) costs a lot. The potential to be uncomfortable instead of staying home with Netflix costs more.

Getting a $20 discount on an expensive experience is not that great. Although i’m sure people weren’t doing the math, they were feeling the math.

Everything’s got costs

This is an important lesson to remember when we’re trying to get people to commit to anything. When we ask people to clap at a show, we’re asking them for more than the calories that it takes to move their hands around. That’s why we have to make every request have a valuable reward.

Here’s how to get that going

1. Up the value

With Boobietrap, we had to clarify how awesome the show was to people. Tell them more about the value they got from it. Why was it good? Why was it worth all this effort and time? How was it something they already wanted?

EG: If I want a crowd to shout out a word at the same time, I have to convince them it’s worth really trying to shout. There will be a payoff to not phoning it in.

2. Lower the price

We got a parking sponsor for the show, so people would have free parking, but also they would have a guaranteed spot, which took some headaches out of their night.

EG: Instead of getting everyone to shout a word, I could get them all to hiss. It’s a little easier. Lower price, same value.

3. Up the trust

If people don’t believe the show will be worth the price, they won’t come.

In the same way, if people don’t think that I’ll listen if they choose to hiss, or they don’t trust that hissing will improve their experience, they won’t participate. One way to solve this is to make small requests, then come thru on the promise each time. Each time, make the price higher and the value higher. “everyone, let’s get quiet” “okay cool that was a little creepy” “you, right there. Could you clap for me really quick?” “thank you, that person is good at clapping” “let’s all clap!” “You’re all good at clapping, except that person over there” “Could you please all hiss?” “Yes! this is awesome”

This exchange is awkward and I probably wouldn’t literally do that one. I think i made myself clear, though.

Written for folks who want to attract and energize groups

Scot Nery is an emcee who has helped some of the biggest companies in the world achieve entertainment success. He's on an infinite misson to figure out what draws people in and engages them with powerful moments.

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