By: Akiva Clair  | 

7 Reasons Why People Didn’t Come To Your Event

Nothing upsets a club president or board member more than empty seats, especially if there are a lot of them. They invest an unhealthy amount of time and effort jumping through hoops and begging student council members in order to make their event as successful as possible. Often, however, despite their best efforts, they don’t get anywhere near the amount of people they had hoped for. Guest speakers lecture to empty crowds, and pizza boxes remain untouched. Nevertheless, even If you’ve experienced this disappointing, embarrassing feeling before, there are a number of issues you can address and methods you can implement so that you can fill those empty seats and make all of your hard work well worth it. I present to you seven ideas based on well-known marketing theories and practices, logic, and common sense.

    1. They didn’t know about it. Unless you happen to spend your nights chilling in places like Furst 501 or Weissberg Commons, you’re unlikely to stumble upon an event that you didn’t even know was happening. People who run events think that because they sent out a ton of emails and plastered the walls with flyers, students should know about their events. And while that logically makes sense, the unfortunate reality is that it’s not true. Due to a combination of laziness and disinterest, many people don’t check their y-studs thoroughly. Similarly, much like punters in the NFL draft, flyers get passed by quickly over and over again with little to no acknowledgement of their significance or even existence. Of course, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t advertise for your event with these traditional methods. Rather, it’s a warning that if you want to reach as many people as possible, you’ll have to either make your emails and flyers more creative or eye-catching so that people will see them, or you’ll need to effectively use mediums such as social media and word-of-mouth communication.


  • They were inherently excluded due to the nature of the event. Accounting majors don’t go to lectures on theoretical physics, and pre-med students don’t drool over events on venture capitalism. The more specific you make your event, the more people it is likely to exclude. Let’s take a look at a hypothetical example. Imagine that the Marketing Club wants to make an event titled “How To Get People To Come To Your Event.” That’s a very general title and idea that could apply to people from all sorts of majors and interests, right? Now, let’s say they rename it to “How To Use Data Analytics To Get People To Come To Your Event.” What will happen now? Sure, they might pick up some more BIMA majors or techy people, but it will also turn away a lot of people who don’t really care at all about data analytics when it comes to event planning. Finally, let’s say they change the event again to “How To Use Social Media Data Analytics To Get People To Come To Your Event.” What about the clubs that don’t think that they need to use social media to get the word out about their event? Much more unlikely now that they will come.
  • The general location turned them off. There are three general places where you’re event can take place: Wilf, Beren, or neither. Deciding among these options is a very crucial step in your event planning. In order to do this correctly, you have to have a pretty good idea of who your target market is, both demographically and psychographically. If a strong majority of your target market is male, then Wilf is the probably the best place to do it, and vice versa when it comes females and Beren. If it’s relatively equal, however, Wilf is usually the safer bet because girls are usually more willing to travel uptown because of the library than boys are to go downtown. The wild card here is having events at a neutral location. You have to know whether your target market is the type of people who are willing to travel off-campus to come to your event. Take the annual Israel Club Times Square Kumzits, for example. Some people are more enticed to go because it’s cool to sing, dance, and show pride for Israel in the heart of NYC, whereas others don’t want to go because of the time and effort it takes to go to the event. It really comes down to just making a logical guess (or doing research) as to which personality type most of your target market is.
  • The specific location turned them off. Even when you have your general location established, you have to take some time to think about the specific room or area where you want to have it. In reality, this step is only needed for shorter or smaller-scale events. For major events like ChanukaFest or Stomp Out The Stigma, the specific room or building location won’t attract or deter people from coming. In contrast, however, smaller events like a SOY Chulent Mishmar or a Make Your Own Pizza with the RAs can have their attendance increased or reduced because of the specific location. Someone in Morg or Rubin might not want to stop watching The Big Bang Theory, put on some sort of respectable clothing, and go all the way to the Nagel Commons for a bowl of chulent. At the same time, however, that Bio major who has been locked up on the 4th floor of the library for hours upon hours, might be more willing to go to the chulent mishmar because of how close it is to him. So, in reality, each specific location has pros and cons, and it’s up to you to decide which ones outweigh the others.  
  • The event has negative social value. It’s no secret that there are a smorgasbord of different opinions at YU, be they political, religious, or something else. Often, events at YU serve as a platform for voicing such opinions and creating a divisive student body. Unfortunately, your event might lose people who actually want to come yet are scared of the social statement they are making by attending. For example, perhaps someone wanted to hear Ben Shapiro or Dennis Prager speak but didn’t show up because they didn’t want to be associated with certain values and beliefs. Similarly, even though someone might really want to go to Cake Wars, they might back out because of the social judgements some people make about the event. To be honest, the only way to fix or minimize this problem is to do a substantial rebranding of your club or your event. That’s not a quick process by any means, but if you can start using advertising and new events to associate your club with more positive values and beliefs, you can shed some of the negative social value.
  • The advertising for the event (or the event itself) doesn’t successfully answer the question of “What’s In It For Me?” Arguably the most important question in all of marketing/advertising, WIIFM needs to be thought about constantly and thoroughly. People need to be convinced to come to your event. The default options that YU students do with their free time are studying, learning, hanging out with friends, and, most importantly, Netflix. In order to snatch these people from these activities and get them to come to your event, you need to present them with strong, exciting reasons to stop watching Stranger Things and join your event. Essentially, there are a number of things that can entice them to come. 1. Food. No one likes free food more than a college student on tight budget. Obviously, some foods are more attractive than others. Carlos and Gabby’s is going to get me a little more excited than ice cream and potato chips.  2. Social Value If an event is perceived as cool, unique, or legendary, people will want to come just so they can tell their friends and family about it. For example, if Tom Brady spoke at YU, people would come not necessarily because they actually want to hear what he has to say, but rather because they want to be able to tell everyone they know about how they saw Tom Brady speak in person.  3. Coeducational Representation. Yeah, like people go to the Sefarim Sale to buy books... 4. Emotional Satisfaction This incentive can really range from a variety of different events. You can access certain emotions like happiness or amusement from the S/YCDS play, or you can feel things like inspiration and meaning from a Holocaust memorial service. Our emotions play a huge-part in our decision-making process, and successfully appealing to them can attract a lot more people to your event.   5. Knowledge or Information A lot of events are career-oriented, and if you can convince someone that coming to your event will enhance their career, they’ll come.  6. Swag Again, college students like free stuff.
  • The event was scheduled on a bad date/at a bad time. Anyone who has ever ran an event knows that there’s never ever a perfect time and date that will satisfy everyone. It just can’t happen. However, that being said, you can still take simple steps to avoid as many scheduling conflicts as possible. An event can be considered to be scheduled at a bad time if it coincides with a different, popular event; is during a religious (e.g. Chanukah) or cultural (e.g. Super Bowl) holiday; is during the weekend (when a lot of people go home); is during a time when a sizeable amount of the target market has class (e.g. a Medical Ethics Society event at the same time as a Bio Lab); is right before or during midterms or finals; is during Night Seder (assuming your target market learns Night Seder); or the event is too long, and people don’t want to commit that much time to it.