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January 2008
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March 2008

Who Else is Visiting Your Event Web Site?

Your event patrons aren’t the only users that visit you web site. Your event web site is as much a resource for patrons as it is for other potential event participants. Other participants can include potential vendors or other partners legitimately interested in helping to improve your event. My longest tenured event web site is an air show web site. Year after year, even when there isn’t an air show scheduled, we’re inundated with requests from potential sponsors, vendors, and volunteers. 

Proactive Thinking
Is your web site setup to handle various requests beyond just your potential patrons? Make sure your focus is on making it as easy as possible for those who want to support your event to contact you. If you are looking for additional event sponsorship do you have a section of your web site that is dedicated to that purpose?  Think in the same frame of mind for your potential volunteers or vendors.

Call Them to Action
Sometimes all it takes is a few words to get people to engage. Make sure you call people to action. If you are offering corporate chalets at the event tell your prospective target marketing what is available, why they should care, and what to do in order to get involved. Never assume that someone will know any information about your event.

Are You Easy to Find?
A well established web presence, especially in search engines can be tremendously helpful in facilitating participation in your event. If people can’t readily remember your domain name they’ll turn to search engines in order to find additional information. In search engines people usually search for the name of the event, if it’s been well branded, or the type of event with an associated location. Use that information to better position your event in search engines. Have a family member or friend try to search for your event in the major search engines. What search phrases are they using? Web statistics are particularly helpful finding the search terms people are using.

Use your web site as a tool for generating additional event leads. It can be as simple as setting up an additional email address to collect requests. Some people will be proactive about involvement in your event.

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Learn From the Past Before Spending On the Future

When it comes to web usability testing you can never start testing too early. Starting early helps you identify positive and negative aspects of your web site before spending the time and money on redesigning or creating a new web site. I recently ran across a case study of a company that decided to forgo any early testing of their current web site and only test the newly programmed web site. The caution flag was immediately raised because they decided to spend months of time redesigning their site without considering if there were issues on their current site. Did they miss something vitally important that now might be carried over from their existing web site?

Always Test Your Previous Site
Some of the most valuable information you can collect during a web site redesign can be derived form your current web site. Every company should seriously consider what can be learned from their current web site before even considering a new web site. A redesign might be a waste of time and money if you just carry over unresolved user issues.

The Numbers Don’t Lie
One place to start is by carefully considering your web statistics.  Web statistics give you a good picture of what parts of your web site attract the most and least user attention.  Such information can prove tremendously helpful for streamlining your web site. On one particular project a careful analysis of the web stats allowed the client to reduce a 150 page web site to a 15-20 page web site.  The statistical data indicated that users spent a majority of their time on just 10 of the 150 pages. A 15-20 page site is far easier for a company to manage and for users to get around.  Their decision was ultimately justified by a significant increase in user traffic.  Analyzing stats will also allow you to gather great information for search engine optimization purposes. Perhaps you’re not considering valuable keywords that drive traffic to your web site?

Likes and Dislikes
In regards to the actual use of your web site, how the user interacts, it is important to also identify your target user’s likes and dislikes.  By taking stock of user likes and dislikes you will ensure the next version of your site operates more efficiently. Let the users decide what works best for them. Don't be lured by the mindset of "We Know What's Best for the User." Ego is the quickest was to kill any business web site.

When it comes to determining a time frame for testing make sure you test early and often. It is very easy to reach a point when redesigning a web site that you can’t do anything about the problem. If the web site is already redesigned and programmed who wants to go back and correct problems?  Make sure you start testing early to avoid such a costly scenario.

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Easily Discover Proven Event Marketing Secrets

Today I’m going to reveal where I get some of my best event marketing ideas. It all comes down to one simple technique. My big secret for getting extraordinary event marketing ideas is by picking up the phone and talking with other event marketers and organizers. Some people might be disappointed by that piece of information, but I encourage you to try it! I’m always impressed at how many people are willing to share powerful proven marketing information. During the course of the conversations people have passed along information worth thousands of dollars in time, savings, and revenue.

Where To Start
The best people to interview are those who have a proven track record with successful events. Try to make direct contact with event marketers or actual organizers. Those are the people that have a top-down perspective on any given event.

Make a Great First Impression
All my interviews start with me telling the person I’m interviewing who I am and why I’m calling. If they’re in front of a computer, I send them directly to my web site.  It is the quickest way to show others you’re not some telemarketer. People tend to open up after they see what you look like and what you do. This would probably work tremendously well in the sales world.

Go Make Some Calls
If you get a chance, pick up the phone and call people who’ve run successful events. If you get the right person on the phone, ask the right questions and apply the knowledge, it’s practically guaranteed to help your event.

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Get Event Volunteers Via Your Event Web Site

Have you ever struggled to get volunteer help at your event? Next time you have an event consider using your web site as a tool for finding the best volunteers.

A few years ago I was working on a project that involved finding hundreds of event volunteers. Over 90% of the volunteers who signed up did so through the event’s official web site.  The volunteers essentially told the event organizers “I want to help and here is where my skills are best utilized.” Countless hours were saved by virtue of potential volunteers selecting various capacities through an online form.  The most difficult part of the project was determining the variables for the online form. I encourage anyone who’s looking to sign up volunteers online to carefully consider all the variables. Up front it is a time consuming process, but delivers great return.

Prequalified Volunteers
Your web site automatically acts as a filter of interest. People who aren’t interested in your event aren’t going to spend time on your web site.  Those that do stay on your web site and return on a regular basis most likely have an affinity for your event. Those with an affinity for your event are far better volunteer candidates than the people who are coerced into volunteering or just not interested in supporting a cause.

Online Volunteer Signups
One of the first places to start is by creating a volunteer section or page on your event web site. Your method of capturing volunteer leads can be as simple as an email address or a little more involved such as utilizing an online form.  A simple form to collect volunteer information on your web site can be tremendously helpful. Try to keep the form as simple as possible. As stated above, if you’re going to use a form carefully think through all the options. It is very easy to give people too many options and confuse potential volunteers. Always consider the various consequences of the variables.

After They Sign Up
Make sure you keep volunteers informed with pertinent information.  This can be accomplished via email or a password protected section of your web site. One of the biggest frustrations for volunteers is not having timely and accurate information.

Better volunteers will most likely translate to a better event. Think of ways various ways that you can use your event web site to sign up passionate volunteers. It will save you time, money, and prevent needless frustration.

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Event Marketing System Notes From NECAS

Over the weekend I gave a presentation at the North East Council of Air Shows conference. The presentation outlined some very important points found in the Event Marketing System.

A link is included below for the Adobe PDF version of my notes. There are additional article links included in the PDF for additional reference, just point and click.

You're about to learn:

  • The single most powerful event marketing technique you can use to get great customers year to and still spent less on Print, Radio, or Television advertising. This concept is what almost every online multi-millionaire leverages to the hilt and it only costs $40 USD a month.
  • Get more out of your Traditional advertising. Use the web to leverage and track your print, radio, and television advertising. The technology can be found for free and it’s pretty simple to install. It takes about 15 minutes to setup and doesn’t require a Computer Science degree.

Presentation Notes:
2008 NECAS - Event Marketing System Presentation - PDF Notes

Feel free to save a copy to your computer.

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Event Promotion & Counter-Intuitive Results

Have you ever not done something because of an unjustified fear? We all have examples of deciding not to do something because it didn’t seem like the right thing to do. By the same token how many times have you done something completely counterintuitive with great results?

Online Ticket Sales and Senior Surfers

One of my recent case studies involves advance online ticket sales. It is in almost every marketer’s best interest to sell as many advance sale tickets as possible for their event. With the Internet it has never been easier to buy tickets online. Most people would assume trying to sell advanced sale tickets online in one of the oldest median aged communities in the United States would turn out to be a disaster.

Here are some case study statistics for the Florida event:

  • Total event attendance approximately 55,000 people.
  • Advance online ticket sales approximately 10,000.
  • Average Median Age of the county where the event is held 54 years old (US Census Data).

The event sold almost 20% of their total ticket sales, as advance sale tickets, online. I’m positive many marketing experts would agree that trying to sell online tickets in a community with a median age of 54 to be extremely difficult. Yet event organizers decided to take chance on something completely counterintuitive and found extraordinary results.

Doing the Counter-intuitive
Have you tried something counter intuitive for your event? If you have an opportunity to try something different with the marketing of your event and it costs you little or nothing, give it a shot. In many instances you might learn something new. I’ve found some of “the least likely to succeed” ideas did the best and those that were “sure to succeed” did the worst.

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Do You have an Awe Inspiring Event?

Shuttle Imagine this, you’re driving down the interstate and numerous cars start pulling off to the side of the road in unison. Upon parking their cars, people get out and start staring into the distance.  At this point your curiosity starts to take over. Finally in an attempt to figure out what’s happening, you pull over. After parking your car, you approach the first person you find and ask “What’s going on? Was there an accident or something?” And then you get the answer, “the Space Shuttle is blasting off in about 60 seconds.”

Spine Tingling
The story above was told to me by some people I recently met from Boston. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to witness the Space Shuttle Atlantis blast off into space. It was literally one of those spine tingling events. Everyone around you is cheering and clamping enthusiastically. In all honesty watching a launch on television versus being there in person are two completely different things. If you’re in Florida during a scheduled launch try to make it to Space View Park in Titusville. It is worth driving for a few hours.

Are You Creating a Buzz?
There are some events that are so extraordinary that they don’t require any advertising. A space shuttle launch is one of those spectacle events. I understand most people don’t have a space shuttle at their beckon call. Yet there are things almost every event organizer can do to create a buzz about their event. Ask yourself “Is there some way to make your event so extraordinary that you don’t need to advertise to get people to show up?” Think beyond money or advertising. Focus on getting good publicity, which costs you almost nothing versus advertising. If you can create such a buzz for your event that people can't help but attend, it's going to be very difficult not to be successful.

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

Event Marketing: Do You have an Online Champion for Your Event?

Most organizations don’t have the resources or time to patrol cyberspace and see what comments people are posting. A simple forum or blog post with inaccurate information or disparaging comments can have a negative impact on your event. By the same token you might be able to find positive or useful information to improve your event. Check out “Your Event Web Site as a Customer Service Portal” for additional ideas on dealing with event marketing and social media.

Have you considered using an online champion for your event?
The idea for an online champion is to be your front line of customer service. The person should be someone who’s Internet savvy. Your online champion could be part of your organization or even a volunteer. The most important factor is finding someone you can trust.

Establish Your Champion's ROE (Rules of Engagement)

The easiest way to work with your online champion is to have them follow very specific rules of engagement.  My recommendation is find someone to simply report what people are posting about your event in forums or blogs. Have them report to you by email or phone both positive and negative comments. Ultimately you can decide if you want to address an online comment directly or do nothing.

Become the Credible Source for Information on Your Event
When some news worthy event happens, most people go directly to their favorite news web site. You should position your event web site as the official place for news regarding your event. If people are posting inaccurate information or negative comments, address their concern on your event web site. If you can reply to a negative forum or blog post on another site, reply with something along these lines, “This issue has been addressed on the official web site,” Just make sure you have something on your web site that directly addresses the comment or concern.

It is important to be aware what people are saying about your event online. But be careful not to become over inundated with every comment. The focus of having an online champion is to ensure you have time to focus your energy on high priority tasks.

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Event Promotion: Are You Interacting with Your Target Market?

The ability to interact with your target market is one aspect of your web site that makes it truly unique. Almost every form of traditional advertising is a one way interaction. Your prospect might hear, read, or see a piece of traditional advertising for your next event, but it is a passive experience.

Why Get Interactive?
Many event organizers, just like business, often try to present their consumer with what they think is the best solution. It is important to recognize the tremendous value in asking someone what they think, especially if that someone is from your target market. The interaction can be as simple as asking your prospective customer whether they prefer X, Y, or Z at your next event. The results might surprise you. At the same time, you won’t be able to fulfill every request that your customer has, but your customer will recognize any attempt you make to integrate their opinion. The process is analogous with asking a friend “What do you think of . . . ?” and by doing so you’re building intrinsic trust and credibility.

Where to Start?
Start by using emails or conducting online surveys. Keep it simple. In many cases your prospective customer might illuminate an idea or concern about your event that you might not have considered. Take the feedback, and if practical, integrate the customer’s feedback.

Some Ways to Get Interactive
Below are some low cost or free ideas for interacting with your customer.

  • Online Surveys
  • Blogs
  • Online Feedback Forms
  • Comment Sections of Articles
  • Online Chat
  • Forums

Find Balance Between Gathering and Executing
It’s easy to get so caught up in the information process that you neglect to take any action. It is the dreaded "analysis paralysis conundrum." Endeavor to strike a balance between collecting feedback and doing something with feedback. The more you can offer your customer your event.

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