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« December 2008 | Main | February 2009 »

Injecting Personality into Your Event Promotion and Marketing

Today I’d like to share with you one of the greatest marketing resources on the Internet.  It’s a cornucopia of knowledge that can make you a very good copywriter or marketer. Why strive to become a great copywriter? Because great copywriting is a huge trump card in your event marketing and promotion. When you focus on creating compelling copy you can persuade people to take action. (Get people to your event, buy tickets, etc.) Compelling copy isn’t bound by any medium.  It works in both traditional advertising and new media. People that get good at copywriting have a massive advantage in the world of event marketing and promotion. You can write you ticket to success by being a decent copywriter. Would you like a great resource for making you into a good copywriter?

The Man the Myth the Legend . . .
GaryHalbertToday’s Kings and Queens of copywriting constantly reference the infamous Gary Halbert.  Gary knew how to tap into people’s inner most needs and desires. When you tap into people's inner emotional core, you can get them to take action. If you want to create killer marketing ideas for your event I urge you to look into Gary Halbert.  Unfortunately Gary is no longer with us. He passed away in 2007. In spite of his absence, he did leave an amazing marketing resource. His website, theGaryHalbertLetter.com, is still being updated and maintained by Gary's sons. When you visit Gary's web site you will find hundreds of his achieved newsletters. It's a copywriting goldmine of marketing information.

FAIR WARNING . . .
Be sure you take the time to peruse a few of Gary's newsletters. FAIR WARNING: Gary had a propensity to get a little edgy in his writing. If you’re easily offended, I’d recommend staying away from Gary's stuff. Those with a good sense of humor and a strong desire to become great event marketers should visit his web site immediately. Gary makes reading his material fun and engaging. P.T. Barnum would be proud!

Injecting Personality
One area where Gary excelled was is injecting personality in his copy and marketing. A few clicks on the Internet will quickly introduce you to the doldrums of boring copy. I'm not a big fan of pompous corporate writing in any form of marketing. People don't want to read about how "We're great ... Our Widget is the Best Because, etc.) Write to your audience and what interests them. If you’re doing any marketing, I highly recommend injecting a little personality into your copy. I'll be the first to admit that getting personality in copy isn't easy. I struggled with it for years. Your objective should be making your marketing and event information fun to read. It doesn't matter if it's a quarter page ad or 20 pages of copy, you must keep your reader engaged. Gary's newsletters are an excellent place to learn how to inject personality into your copy.

If you don't want to read through Gary's newsletter achieve, feel free to click on the audio link below.

2 Hour Audio Interview with Gary Halbert on Boosting Response:
Gary Halbert & Michael Fortin Interview

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Measuring Advertising Effectiveness

Advertising_testing Over the weekend I purchased The King of Madison Avenue. It is a biography on the late David Ogilvy.  David Ogilvy was considered one the greatest advertising minds in history. His U.S. firm of Ogilvy & Mather launched numerous successful advertising campaigns.  These campaigns include companies such as Schweppes, Dove, Rolls-Royce, and Shell just to name a few.  What made Ogilvy truly unique in the advertising field is his focus on results oriented advertising. Ogilvy’s advertising philosophy is rooted in direct response marketing. In its simplest form, direct response marketing correlates the money you spend on advertising with a direct return on investment. You should always be measuring advertising effectiveness. It’s fascinating to me that so many advertising agencies and graphic designers recognize Ogilvy’s greatness, yet ignore his most basic and powerful advertising philosophies.  If you’re an event organizer, marketer, or promoter, I suggest that you embrace David Ogilvy’s advertising philosophies.

Over the last few month’s I’ve looked into some of Ogilvy’s basic advertising philosophies. Below are some quick links to various articles. I strongly encourage you to look through some of the articles. If you really want to raise your advertising prowess visit your local library take out a book on Ogilvy. I highly recommend Ogilvy on Advertising.

The US economy is facing increasingly difficult times. Because of the economically symbiotic relationship that exists, other nations also feel the economic hardship faced in the United States. The current economic situation creates both virtues and vices in the marketing and promotion of events. The disadvantage to event organizers is that prospective patrons are less likely to open their wallets. A reluctance to open one's wallet can be overcome by learning to be more persuasive with your target market. Ask yourself, “How can I take advantage of the current situation?” One economic advantage event organizers can embrace is increased advertising spend power. It’s never been so inexpensive to purchase advertising. You can gain market share and get your message out at a far lower price with the current economic conditions.

If you’re considering any advertising for your event, traditional or new media, make sure you measure the return on your advertising investment. This advertising ROI expectation should be carried with any advertising agencies you might hire. Let a prospective firm know upfront that you’d like to track the effectiveness of your event advertising campaigns. The best firms will gladly oblige your request.

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List Building & Your Event Marketing

Event_marketing_list Who’s the best potential customer for your event? Your best customer is almost always the person who just attended your event. The previous phrase is borrowed from the sales and marketing world. If someone attended your event and had a great experience, they’ll probably attend your event again. It doesn’t matter if your event is free or you charge an admission. What you really need to focus on is collecting contact information from patrons of your event. At a minimum collect your patron’s first name and their email address. Always build your internal list (house list) of customers.

Events that sell out and do so early almost always have a dedicated house list. Two events that I recently case studied sold out more than 30 days in advance. The only reason these events advertised was for public relations purposes.  Since the events are recurring, event organizers go back to their house list year after year. One of the events sold out within 20 minutes of tickets going on sale to the public. How would you feel if you could sell out your event 30 days in advance?

Before Your Event – Leveraging Your Event Web Site
If you don’t have a list of previous purchasers or don’t have a recurring event you’re going to need to grow your own list. There should be a dedicated area on your event home page, and throughout your site, for people to leave their first name and email address.  Make sure your opt-in box is blatantly obvious and offers a compelling incentive to sign up.  After you have someone's contact information, engage your target market frequently and as early as possible.  During your interactions always try to front load the value of your event.

Online Ticket Sales
One of the biggest reasons I’m a fan of online ticket sales is that you have the opportunity to collect contact information from your event patron. If your patrons are buying tickets online you probably have access to a patron’s name and email address. This is your most valuable list if you have a recurring event. When it comes to any data mining, always make sure you’re collecting and using patron information ethically and legally. If patrons are OK with you sending them information, don’t squander the opportunity!

At Your Event
You can use customer feedback forms or contests to collect people’s contact information. Think in terms of the lifetime value of your customer.  If you have an event program, use a page to promote your list building efforts. In the program consider offering them a discount on your next event.

By building a dedicated list of event patrons you save yourself tremendous hassle and expense.  The bigger and better your house list, the less you have to spend on advertising to attract attendees.  If you SPAM people with useless email, you’re not going to keep patron trust.  Always focus on building rapport and relationships with people before trying to sell them anything. Building a dedicated house list for your event might be the single smartest event marketing technique in the world.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Event Marketing with Social Media and Email

For today I’m going to bring my friend Ben back into the spotlight.  If you haven’t already, please read over “A Great Email Marketing Example.” Ben runs a web site called Fright-Rags.com. He sells horror t-shirts on his web site. Along with his web site, he has a home grown email list of very passionate fans. In my last post, I featured one of Ben’s counter intuitive email marketing strategies. Ben’s online strategies go well beyond just email marketing.  He also engages his target market with social media. The process involves leveraging his email list in tandem with his blog.  Here is a quick example. If Ben has a question about a product or idea he’s working on he writes a related blog post. After the post is live, he emails a blog post link to all his email subscribers. Ben’s latest blog post received over 185 user responses in less than 48 hours.  By leveraging his email list and his blog in tandem he creates an interactive experience for his users.  As a result, Ben’s sales continue to grow. You can incorporate the same strategy Ben uses with blogging and email to ensure your event is even more successful.

Blogging_email_event_promotion

Start with An Email List and Blog
I’m working from the assumption that you already have an email list and a blog.  If you need email list management software, I recommend AWeber or 1Shoppingcart.com. On the blog side of the spectrum you can start with services like Typepad (Paid), Blogger (Free), or Wordpress (Free). I use Typepad for this blog. Some people might be a little tech-shy, but I assure you . . . If you can use Microsoft Word, you can easily manage a blog. Both Typepad and Wordpress have a big following and excellent online support.

The Blog Post Email Marketing Strategy
Start by posting something that would be perceived as intriguing to your target market. The post should include a call to action for the reader. Are there any aspects of your event that can benefit from target market input? Maybe you’re trying to choose between two artist to perform at your event.  You can also create surveys and features on a number of different things that apply to your event. Your goal should be to prompt user feedback. By interacting with your target market you’re also building interest and trust about your event without spending money on traditional advertising.

Email Your List
After your blog post is up, send your email subscribers the link.  As part of your email, include a call to action. Ask your subscribers to read your blog post and encourage them to leave a comment. It isn’t enough to just post a blog entry and expect people to take action. Each step in this process needs to include a call to action. People need to be carefully led through a process and you’re the leader.

Their Opinion
I guarantee that when you ask your target market for input you’ll discover something to benefit your event. Always keep the emphasis on the target market’s wants and desires. By doing so, you'll have a very successful event.

Collect Target Market Feedback
The last step is to collect user feedback and incorporate it into your event. By virtue of asking your target market’s opinion you’ll gain trust and credibility. People love giving their opinions. When you create an interactive buying experience for your target market they’re more likely to buy from you.

I’ll end where I started.  Check out the Fright-Rags web site and blog. I've included the links below. Even though your target market might not be horror fans, there are more than a few ideas you can collect from Ben’s web sites. Just remember, ideas are no good unless you put them into action.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

A Great Email Marketing Example

Fright_Rags_Email_Marketing On Monday, I had an interesting meeting with my friend Ben from Fright-Rags.com. We met to review and discuss Ben’s ongoing marketing efforts for his business. Over the last four months Ben has really amped up his email marketing.  He’s gone from sending one email a month to sending special promotions emails once a day for an entire month. If you asked Ben six months ago to send one email a day his response would have been, “No way, absolutely not!” How did he go from one email a month to one email a day?  He eased into it. He had to prove to himself that he wasn’t going to annoy his list if he sent more email.  I encourage everyone reading this to email their list often. Ben proved to himself that the more often he sends emails the more he sells. Don’t be afraid to email your list often or push your sales process a little. This information is applicable to both your event and your business.

The Secret Santa Experiment
Here is a great example of guerrilla email marketing that works. At the end of November Ben decided to start a Secret Santa list for his current list subscribers. Everyone on Ben’s email list received an invitation to join his Secret Santa list. Each day in December list subscribers would receive a special discount offer on one of Ben’s t-shirts. I have to admit, when Ben first told me about his idea I was a bit apprehensive.  Sending a sales pitch email each day for 30 days didn’t seem like the smart thing to do.  I’m happy to admit that my apprehension was unjustified.

How Many People Opted Out?
Ben shared his Secret Santa statistics with me. From his primary list of email subscribers 439 people signed up to the Secret Santa list.  Ben then proceeded to send 31 emails, one email per day, during the month of December. Most people would logically assume that by sending one sales email a day the list would tire, get annoyed, and opt-out. To my surprise only 13 people of the total 452 opted out of his email sequence. That is less than a 3% opt out rate, which is simply amazing. More importantly the people on his Secret Santa list bought t-shirt from him.

I would encourage you to visit Ben’s site, Fright-Rags.com, and try to gather some email marketing ideas from his home page. Pay particular attention to his email opt-in box. 

Additional Email Marketing Resources:

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:

Your Opt-in Offer and Using Specific Words

Words_target_market


Getting people to subscribe or sign up to an email list can be a challenge. In “Form Placement and Growing Your List,” I examined the importance of opt-in box placement and prominence.  It is in your best interest to make your opt-in box as obvious as possible. Regardless of opt-in box size and placement, there is one very important factor to more subscribers.  That factor is the use of powerful words. Is your sign up verbiage enticing to your target market? Specific wording, for your target market, can be a catalyst for big list growth. The words you use should be crafted into a customer centric offer. When people sign up to your list they’re saying, “Yes, I’m interested in your event and please send me more information!” A highly targeted email list is your single best event marketing and promotion resource. If you get your list big enough, you might be able to avoid traditional marketing altogether.

What’s Your Offer?
Telling someone to subscribe to your email list isn’t reason enough for them to sign up. Always keep in mind how apprehensive users have become in giving up their personal information. You have to make sure your sign up offer addresses the benefits and desires of your target market. Shine the spotlight on your target market at all times.  It’s amazing to see the difference a few words can make in subscriber sign up rates.

Sample Opt-in Offer
Instead of getting too heavy on the theory side, I’ve decided to share with you a real world example. The example below was used on a client’s event web site. We were able to grow a list of subscribers, using a similar offer, from zero to 3200 people in less than eight months.  Feel free modify the verbiage to fit your event.  Most importantly, create a customer centric offer that gets people to sign up.  

Become (Your Event Name) - Insider!

Only Insider members get special ticket discounts and insider information before any details are released publicly on this web site. It cost you nothing to join. We firmly believe in providing our Insider members useful and valuable information. We’ll never SPAM you. You can unsubscribe from the list at any time with just one click.

First Name: [FORM]
Primary Email: [FORM]

Privacy Policy
Always include a privacy policy after your sign up box. Let people know you’re serious about keeping their information private. Never sell or rent your list to third parties.

Use the example above and see if you can’t get a few more people to opt into your list. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the offer and see if you can get a few more sign ups. Think of your list building process as evolutionary. You can always make changes and get better results.

Want to get more great info? Check out the articles below:


Usability Dilemma: Too Many Online Choices

In a previous post, “The Danger of Too Much Event Marketing Technology,” I briefly explored the challenges of choosing the best technology for one’s event web site. Today we’re faced with so many technological and marketing choices that we don’t even know where to start.  I’ve been caught in the technological choice trap on a number of occasions and it’s not fun. The same challenge of practically unlimited choices also plays out on the user’s side of the spectrum. When users come to a web site they’re frequently faced with so many choices they don’t know where to start or finish. The end result is that users frequently leave a web site without taking any action beneficial to the web site owner.

Analysis Paralysis and Dissatisfaction
Below is an interesting presentation by Dr. Barry Schwartz called “the Paradox of Choice.” He breaks down the virtues and vices of free choice.  Most people assume that freedom of choice can be nothing less than a virtue. Unfortunately, freedom of choice can also make all of us suffer analysis paralysis and create a dissatisfying purchasing experience. If you can’t dedicate 20 minutes to watching the entire video, just watch the first 8 minutes.  It will make you think a little about your own freedom of choice.

The Paradox of Choice

The scenario presented in the video above also plays out in regards to online choice. There are critical questions every web site owner should ask. Are you better off offering the widest variety of product or the best single product for the consumer on your web site?  A similar scenario plays out in the event marketing world. As an event organizer do you offer as many ticket options as possible or a limited number of options?

Goals and Well Defined Paths
One recommendation to web site owners is to consider having a clearly defined set of goals for your web site. In tandem with your web site goals you should also have a well defined path you expect web site users to follow.  If users fall off the path is your web site intuitive enough for them to self correct their course?

The challenges above aren’t always easy to solve. You can at least start with well defined goals for you web site. Most people never set goals for their web site and therefore never find success online. Where do you fall on the issue?

Here are some additional resources:

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Form Placement and Growing Your List

Subscriber_box Have you every tried to get someone to opt-in to one of your online forms?  Traditionally you ask your web site user for their first name and email address.  Today users are very hesitant to give out any personal information.  Their mindset is, “The moment I sign up they’ll start spamming me with useless information.” In most instances the users are absolutely correct in their bleak assessment. Too many web sites have abused people’s good will. You don’t have to let the same mindset prevail with your opt-in form. There are small nuances that make a world of difference when trying to build a subscriber list. Your subscriber list is a critical link in your event marketing and promotion efforts. Event organizers with highly responsive lists save a ton of money on advertising and sell out their events well in advance. Today we’ll look at the importance of opt-in box placement and prominence.

Placement - Above the Fold
In two previous posts, “Building Your List Above the Fold” and “Are You Opting-In Above the Fold?” I explored the importance of putting your opt-in box above the fold. The fold is the initial area that appears on your web site and requires no vertical scrolling to see. On a web site, anything that requires vertical scrolling downward is considered below the fold.  The analogy is borrowed from the newspaper industry. If your sign up box is above the fold, you will get more voluntary opt-ins. Read through the posts above for more information.

Prominence – How Obvious are You Making Your Opt-In Box?
How obvious and prominent you make your opt-in box accounts for a difference in sign ups. Recently I had access to comprehensive web stats for two events in the same niche market.  One event web site had 56,000 unique visitors for the year and the other site had 80,000 unique visitors in just one weekend.  Both web sites had subscriber opt-in boxes. One web site collected 3200 email addresses and the other collected a little more than 200 email addresses. More email addresses were collected by the event web site with significantly less visitors. The difference was in how prominently the opt-in in box was displayed.

Don’t be afraid to make things a little ugly. One of my coaching clients moved his opt-in from the left hand column of his site to a huge box at the center of his site.  The new opt-in box is ugly and intrusive on the web page.  Initially my client was very hesitant to make the change.  We both agreed to test the results for thirty days to measure the impact.  At the end of thirty days we tripled the number of new newsletter subscribers from an average of three a day to over nine new subscribers per day. He doesn’t seem to mind the big ugly opt-in box anymore. Of all the people becoming subscribers on his web site, 30% buy from him within 30 days of sign up.

If you don’t attract enough attention to your opt-in box people aren’t going to sign up. The higher your opt-in box above the fold, the more likely people are to opt-in. In addition to keeping your opt-in box well above the fold, make sure that it is also very prominent.

Here are some additional list building resources:

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JPGs & GIFs: Optimizing Your Graphics and Images

Have you every waited too long for a web page to load up? Did the wait frustrate you? Today I’d like to dig into some old school web site usability advice on optimizing web graphics and images.  Some people might be thinking “this is newbie advice or old news.” I’d ask the question, “are you optimizing your web site graphics?” A quick look at a majority of the web sites online would show most web site owners aren’t optimizing their graphics and images.

Web_page_optimization Way Back When
Back in the day optimizing web graphics was pretty standard practice. Just a few years ago dial up access was the primary way people accessed the Internet. Web page graphics had to be optimized because people didn’t want to wait for pages to load. If a web page didn’t load in a certain amount of time people would abandon the page.  Remember that the average attention span of the typical web user is about 8 seconds. Just because dial up is on the wane, doesn’t mean you can abandon optimizing your web site graphics. In today’s high speed world attention spans are even shorter. This advice is especially important to event web sites. The number of event photos and photo galleries that aren’t optimized on various event web sites is pretty scary.

Optimizing is More Important Than Ever
Regardless of high speed internet connections you still need to ensure that your page loads as quickly as possible. One of the main ways to get your web site to load quicker is by optimizing your graphics. Anything that’s in an image format like .gif or .jpg (.jpeg) can be optimized. In short, optimization involves taking away some of the image’s information to make it smaller and more compact.  You want to significantly reduce the file size of the graphics (not appearance size or dimensions) without the user noticing. 

This Page as an Example
If you’re reading this page on my web site’s home page, take a look at all the graphics by scrolling up and down the entire page. There are at least 10-15 different images. Each of the images on this page have been optimized. I’ve reduced the file size of each graphic by almost 90%. If all of the graphics you see on this page weren’t optimized they would total over 1.5 Megabytes.  By optimizing all the graphics on this page I’ve reduced the load time by 4 - 10 seconds on a high speed connection. A few seconds might not seem like a lot, but people just don’t have online patience anyone.

Your web site users will never complain if your web site loads too quickly, but they will leave if it takes too long to load.  By optimizing the graphics on your web site you can double or triple the speed that your current web page loads up. Optimizing goes well beyond just graphics, it can include video, layout, and programming.  Always strive to make sure you website loads as quickly as possible. Below are some resources for optimizing your web graphics.

Web Graphic Optimization Resources

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Sage Economic Advice for Desperate Times

by Eugene Loj

First Published: January 14, 2009
Last updated: January 30, 2014

Drayton_bird A few days ago, I stumbled upon some YouTube videos of Drayton Bird.  A quick search on YouTube will pull up some of his videos. I encourage you to take a look. Drayton is a world renowned direct marketing expert from the UK ... Thirty years ago he was completely broke and in massive debt. He owed so much money that he was living under a false name.  At the time Drayton decided to start a direct marketing firm with two other partners, who were also broke. 

Three years after launching, Drayton’s firm was the largest direct marketing agency in Britain. Five years later his firm was bought out by the juggernaut Ogilvy & Mather for millions of dollars.

Some Sage Economic Advice
I understand that not everyone will be able to live Drayton's rags to riches story. But, there is always a lesson to be learned. Last year, Drayton was addressing a group of marketers at the Baltic Direct Marketing conference.  During his presentation Drayton shared some enlightening words on how one should view the economy and the current economic conditions (or any times of economic dispair).

There is no such thing as the Economy. There is only your economy. The only economy that matters is your economy. Let everyone else worry about thee economy. All you need is a great idea, it doesn't matter what the economy is doing.

– Drayton Bird

I understand that a number of people are facing tough times in a bad economy. But there is one of two ways to face a bad economic situation ...

  • You can either do something about your economy or let the economy do things to you or your business - what are you doing right now?




Your Event & The Economy
I've stated this previously but it warrants repeating. In the last six months, I know event organizers in various industries that have SOLD OUT their events in spite of the economy. Most people would say "They shouldn't have been able to do that!" The different events focused on leisure activities, not furthering education or knowledge based event. People still want to have fun, regardless of economics. Are you giving people a very compelling reason to open their wallet and spend their hard earned money with you?

Direct Response Advice
You can get more sound direct marketing advice from Drayton by visiting his web site or his blog. There are plenty of direct marketing tidbits to be found on his web site. Below I've included some direct marketing features on the late-great David Ogilvy.

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