Why Waiting Until the Last Minute is the New Best Practice
How many times have you heard, “Plan ahead, don’t wait until the last minute!”
There is mounting evidence that only the first half of that advice is still a hard and fast rule.
In some situations, waiting until the last minute may be the best thing you can do.
We are putting on the world’s largest online sales trade show called the Inside Sales Virtual Summit with only 3 weeks to invite people. And we think we will break the world’s record!
A book I like by Kaihan Krippendorf tells us to “Outthink the Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists See Options Others Ignore”
The Fast Company blogger and former McKinsey consultant calls these people “Outthinkers” and defines them as:
“Entrepreneurs and corporate leaders with a new playbook. They see opportunities others ignore, challenge dogma others accept as truth, rally resources others cannot influence, and unleash new strategies that disrupt their markets. Outthink the Competition proves that business competition is undergoing a fundamental paradigm shift and that during such revolutions, outthinkers beat traditionalists.”
Take events like seminars and trade shows for instance.
I worked at Franklin Quest (before they became FranklinCovey) from 1993 to 1997. They were the largest training company in the world. I ran the inside sales department and it was our job to fill 300 or more public seminars a month in hotels around the country. We had 70 salespeople hitting the phones inviting 30 to 40 people to experience each seminar. We learned that we needed to start filling seminars 8 weeks ahead of time. The Marketing and Meeting Planning departments started many months before because of all the printed schedules, mailers and hotel room arrangements they needed to make.
At 6 weeks prior to the full day seminar the sales teams kicked into high gear and finished about 3 weeks prior with only sporadic efforts after that. We learned that after 3 weeks it was hard to get people to come.
Booking travel and setting schedules were difficult less than 3 weeks from the event.
But virtual trade shows and webinars seem to be changing those rules.
Don’t get me wrong; you still need to plan ahead.
Nowadays you don’t print.
You don’t mail.
With virtual events right from your office or home, you don’t travel.
With no hotels you don’t book rooms.
So why do we think that we need to start 6-8 weeks out for online events?
Our company, InsideSales.com, has embarked on nearly a two-year process to learn the best practices of online webinars and most recently, virtual trade shows.
Here is what we learned.
The old rules don’t apply.
People who register for online events 3 to 6 weeks out don’t show up nearly as well as those who register 3 to 5 days out… even 1-2 days out.
We even register people the same day and almost all of them actually attend our event.
Has the Internet given us all Alzheimers or A.D.H.D? (I say that facetiously, not intending any disrespect.)
But honestly, I don’t think people remember what they were doing a month ago, and it doesn’t mean as much as what I’m doing today. So, when today’s events are weighing heavy, I let the old one’s go.
Don’t you do the same thing?
Does the motivation fade after a week or so to attend an event we scheduled a month ago if we don’t have to buy a plane ticket and make a hotel reservation?
We spent the last year and a half testing all kinds of webinar approaches: inviting people far ahead, recently ahead, and barely ahead.
The “barely ahead” worked the best… every time.
Admittedly, it may just be that all of us on our team have A.D.H.D. and we need to fuel our deficit by doing things last minute.
We’ve been likened to a “circus” and more. But it works… really well.
Are the old and fast rules still rules?
We believe we will soon find out. Right now we are testing the process of registering people for the world’s largest online virtual summit (until we or someone else breaks our record), with only three weeks of lead-time. So there’s my public declaration (gulp) and no matter what, for better and worse, I commit to share with the Forbes audience what we learn.
Which speaks again to what we think the new rule will be. If everybody else is doing it the old way, do something different, even when it means you’re taking a risk.