I had a raging kegger this weekend and exactly 100 people came. I had the best microbrew beers from Ninkasi, Deschutes, Anchor Steam and Lagunitas‘ (my wife’s favorite). But at this party only 1 person drank*.

I had a 1% conversion rate (conversion rate = successful drinkers ÷ visits) 

Not bad, I surmised, because some came because they knew me. Some others came because they got my email. Even others because they lived in the neighborhood, and some just merely heard the noise (I often blare LCD Soundsystem). Some even misread other people’s invites and came by mistake. All in all, having one person drinking (1% conv. rate) wasn’t bad, right?

Well… what if I wanted to get a second person drinking? I mean, I have the extra kegs of Total Domination and I don’t want them to go to waste. I wondered: Would it be easier to get another 100 people to the party? or Convince one more person to drink? 

I thought on this long and hard. Finding an extra 100 people out on the street would be costly: I’d have to spend time away from my guests, focus on finding these new people (and heck, the first 100 were hard enough!), and where were these next 100 hiding, anyway? The cost of acquiring more guests vastly outweighed the cost of convincing one more person to drink. Hell, I could do the latter quickly — even if I was three beers deep myself.

All it took, I figured, was to talk to my guests — find out what kind of beer they liked and steer them in the right direction (This beer is made in Oregon; This beer has been brewed like this since 1848; This one is my wife’s favorite.) I may add a few value propositions (Guaranteed to taste better than Budweiser; I’ll call a taxi if you drink too much.) Maybe I’ll even try to offer some guests an enticing offer to come over to the bar (Have a sample on me; Here are some homemade tapas!)

I was sure I could get at least one more party-goer to have a pint, right?

What I’m doing here is optimizing my traffic. I’m taking my visitors — during this particular visit, because remember each visit is an opportunity to drink— and trying to convert them. I want to move the needle from a .01% conversion rate to a .02%. If I do this, I double my numbers. If each beer cost $10 and I only made $10 per 100 visits, now I can make $20 per 100 visits, thereby increasing my conversion rate and my visitor value all in one swoop. If I’m smart and I do offer those few folks a ride home, maybe they’ll feel safe and come back to the next party. Boom! I just increased my average customer’s lifetime spend. And if I continually show them a good time they may tell their friends on Facebook or write a review on my blog.

All without getting another 100 people. Merely optimizing the first lot.

Sure, I’m making this sound more simple than it is (in general this is my theory, but it’s bit more difficult than this), but it makes sense, yeah? You already have traffic/visits — talk to them. Test them. Learn from them. Once you get the voice down and start to understand your visitors, you can talk to them more easily and hopefully continue to convert more of them. You’re always going to have those who come to the party by mistake and never want to buy. And you’ll have those non-drinkers, too. There’s room for them all — and they all have value. Once you optimize, it frees you up to go get more guests and bring more to the party. Then you’ll know who you’re looking for, if your message on the invite was correct, and what kind of beer to serve.

I’m always willing to chat about this. Over a cold one.

*Please be 21 years old if you want to drink. Drive safe.



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