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March 2008
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Event Marketing Idea: Leveraging Your Voicemail

Do you have an information hot line setup for your event or a number you encourage people to call for additional event inquires? If you have a voice mail message setup does it include mention of your web site? If aren’t including a web address in your voice mail you’re missing a great opportunity to drive people to your web site.

I originally wrote about this idea in Marketing Via Voicemail. I figured it might be beneficial to re-frame the same strategy for event marketers.  This is one of those small things that can make a big difference.  You could potentially save yourself countless hours of returning telephone calls if people can find the answers to their questions on your web site. How much does it cost you to change your voice mail message? The idea seems like a “Thank you Doctor Obvious” suggestion, yet it’s so simple that most people never implement the idea. Of the numerous companies I mentioned this idea to none of them have included their web site in their voice mail message. The irony was that every company I suggested the idea to thought it was a great idea.

Additional Suggestions:

  • If your web address is difficult to spell or interpret over the telephone, spell it out in the voice mail message.
  • Be sure you include a call to action with your web address. It isn’t enough to mention just your event web site. A good call to action gives people a compelling reason to visit your web site.  It can be anything from discount online tickets to a cool video you want them to watch.

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Event Promotion: A Big Bucks Idea for Your Next Event

Do you have a certain segment of your event attendees who are willing to pay more for a very unique experience? Almost every event has a group of people looking for the ultimate experience. Consider the following:

Most air shows have an attendance of a few thousand to tens of thousands of people. The general admission ticket price we’ll use for this example is $10 USD. There is always going to be a small percentage of air show fans that are looking for the ultimate experience. You can offer those looking for the ultimate air show experience a “Top Gun Club” ticket for $100 per day per person. The $100 ticket gets you VIP Parking, access to a tented area right on the flight line, all you can eat food and drinks, and visits from the air show performers though out the day.

Let’s assume that the air show in this example gets 25,000 attendees for the weekend.  Could you sell 100 “Top Gun Club” tickets for $100 each? That’s an extra $10,000 in revenue per day for your event. Some might say "There is no way people are willing to pay that much!" I’ve spoken to air show organizers that have successfully implemented a very similar program to the one given above. They never seem to have problems selling our their “Top Gun” packages well in advance.

Customize the Idea for Your Event

You can use the idea above and customize it for your event. The pricing and structure is entirely at your discretion. What can you offer your event attendees as the ultimate experience? Maybe it’s backstage passes, or an exclusive VIP engagement with one of your performers or speakers. Find out what people really want and offer them a high end version.

The Caveat - You Must Deliver Massive Value
One very important part that you don’t want to neglect is delivering massive value to your premium buyer. That’s probably the quickest way close the door on any high end specialty packages in the future. Your focus should be delivering an experience that far exceeds expectations.  If you have a VIP package that cost $100, make the purchaser feel like they receiving $500 in value. Spend some time thinking about the simple things to deliver massive value. It can be a series of low cost ideas that when combined become very impressive.

There are always a small percentage of people that are willing to pay big bucks for something unique.
Think of ways to offer a truly unique experience for a small segment of your attendees. It can be a great way to raise some big bucks at your next event.

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Technology versus Just Event Marketing

Technology and its’ impact on people can be ironic at times. Too many people think technology is an instant fix to their business challenges. In my humble opinion, technology can enhance and drive good ideas, but it can’t manifest or replace well thought and well executed plans.

Two Choices
I have a friend who is trying to sell consulting services to a group of event organizers.  The two services my friend is proposing are a comprehensive marketing strategy package and ticketing technology that allows at home on-demand ticket printing. The ticketing technology is impressive to say the least. You can instantly and securely place an order for a ticket to an event and then print your ticket from the comfort of home. When you get to the event a scanner checks your home printed ticket and you’re in the event.

One Over the Other

The irony of the situation is that the event organizers want the ticketing technology but not the marketing strategy.  I ask the question of what’s more important, “The ability to buy tickets online or great event marketing to drive people to your event?” In the above case I believe that just event marketing is far more valuable than the cool technology.  I would think that it doesn’t matter how many tickets can be bought online if you can’t give people a good reason to show up to your event.

Yes, I’m a big technology guy. But I’m also rooted in the firm belief that technology enhances the work of hard working humans. Technology works best with a well thought out plan and forward thinking humans. Technology should be used to increase efficiency, not as a magic bullet. 

Quality First Example
One of the distance marketing programs I’m involved with relies heavily on technology for content delivery. The program uses live interactive video seminars (webinars) and high tech telephone conferencing.  Yet, for all the “bells and whistles” the strongest part of the entire marketing program is the content. Without great content the technology doesn’t matter.

Consider how web sites evolved over the years. Remember when a huge amount of businesses wanted Flash based web sites? Of all the businesses I know that changed their company web sites to flash, every single one returned to HTML based design.

Of everything that I’ve seen to date, there is no technology that can replace a well planned or well marketed event. If you’re going to use any technology in your event, make sure it enhances the great work you’re already doing.

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Tracking Your Advertising, Old School

A few months ago I attended a local marketing meeting with some very smart marketers. During one of the sessions a gentleman started to talk about the importance of accountable marketing.

During the discussion he brought up an important point, “Everybody should be carefully tracking their advertising effectiveness. I know that the $3000 I spent on just my yellow pages ad has brought me $53,261.29 in revenue to date.”

After the gentleman had given his yellow pages example he went on to point out, “If you ask most business owners what their return on investment is for their advertising, almost all of them respond with - I have no idea.”

Would you invest your money into anything if you couldn’t quantify what you were getting in return?

Continue reading "Tracking Your Advertising, Old School" »

Wanted: A Simple One Page Event Web Site

Yesterday I attended a local event with some clients and friends. A client of mine was good enough to offer me some complementary tickets for myself and friends to a fundraising event.  In the days leading up to the event I was trying to coordinate a meeting time with friends. The challenge was that I couldn’t find any information on the event, most importantly a definitive start time, anywhere.  I had honestly spent at least 30 minutes of my time searching the web and making phone calls to various parties involved with the event. Of the people I spoke with over the telephone, I was given three different start times. In the end, I was able to find out a definitive time about two hours before the event started.

It Happens More Often Than Not
There have been times where I’ve experienced similar scenarios of not being able to find critical information with other big events. If I’m a web guy and pride myself on the ability to find almost anything online in short order, what about all the other people? I can only imagine the frustration level that others had in trying to find information for an event they paid good money to attend. One of the best things you can do is keep your event attendees and prospective attendees well informed.

Just One Page

The example above illustrates the need for having something as simple as a one page event web site that’s easy to find in search engines. This can be accomplished for as little as $75-$100 USD a year.  All you need is the domain name registered and a simple hosting plan. The sooner you post a web site the better your chances for getting properly listed in the search engines. I’ve included additional information to help event organizers get started with a simple and inexpensive web presence.

Additional Resources:

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Event Promotion Timing and Your Event

Have you ever wondered “when should I start advertising for my event?” Over the years I’ve seen a number of examples that help formulate a possible answer to previous question. At the same time, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact time frame to start advertising for your event.  The time frame for advertising depends on a number of variables unique to your event. Factors include type of event, weather conditions, competing events, the economy, etc.

The Danger of Starting Too Late
A few years ago there was a summer event that I consulted for that illustrates the danger of waiting too long to promote an event.  The event was well known in the community and took place every few years during the summer. Event organizers didn’t start to promote the event with traditional media until about 10 days prior to the event taking place.  Because of the late start in advertising there were some very noticeable impacts in ticket sales. Online ticket sales decreased by over 60% and regular ticket sales were down significantly from previous years. It’s my firm belief that had the advertising started earlier that the ticket sales would have been much higher.

Consider the Variables
The adverting time frame is going to be determined by a number of unique factors. Consider the following. If you’re in the Northern part of the United States and you have an outdoor event there are only so many nice weather days granted by Mother Nature.  People tend to make long term weekend plans during the summer. If you have a summer event you’re going to want to advertise at least 30 days in advance. You should always be thinking of the variables that impact your advertising schedule.

Always Start Early, as Opposed to Late
There is one fundamental that can be applied to almost every event. You can get to a point then it is too late to advertise your event. Regardless of how big your advertising budget, there comes a time when it isn’t enough to sway a target audience. How many times have you heard the infamous line “I wish I would have known earlier.” If you’re advertising for your next big event start advertising early as opposed to later.

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Does Your Headline Grab Their Undivided Attention?

What’s one of the most powerful marketing elements in print?  I humbly present to you the “Headline.” Over the year’s I’ve done a decent amount of research on the importance of headline writing and the impact it can have on your marketing. Headlines might be more powerful than the visual elements for a piece of print or online advertising.

The Power of Headlines

It's been shown that 70-75% of the reason that a person chooses to read a magazine article or newspaper article is based solely on the headline. Many magazines are sold by virtue of headlines on the front cover. Next time you’re in front of a magazine rake pickup your favorite magazine and look at the cover. In almost every case the cover of the magazine is inundated with article headlines from that issue.

How does this apply to your event advertising?

Continue reading "Does Your Headline Grab Their Undivided Attention?" »

Protecting Your Identity Online, Simple Things You Can Do

Identity_theftToday I’m going to share with you a FREE Report on the simple things you can do to protect your online identity. Just click on a link below to access the report.  In addition, there is a simple technique you can use to determine when anyone posts information about you in Google. (Google

Want to Automatically know when something is posted something about you in Google?
Use a Google Alert. Google will send you an email each time the words you enter, in this case your name, show up as a new posting within Google. You can customize the options to your preference. Different alert types include Blog postings, news stories, videos, web sites, and various groups. You can select the comprehensive selection, under type, to get an alert for any of the previous categories.  Alerts can be set for once a week, daily, or as it happens. Go to for more information.  Yahoo and MSN also have similar services.

Related Resources:

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Sponsorship, Domain Name Branding, and Your Event

Below is a scenario that has come up once or twice in years past. Let me start by stating I fully realize the importance of sponsorship to events.  Some events might not be able to take place without the support of sponsors.  Recently a particular case study prompted me to carefully examine the relationship between domain name branding and sponsorship.

A Sponsor Wanting to Rebrand the Domain Name
In the case study the title sponsor for an event wanted to rebrand the domain name used for the event’s web site to be sponsor centric. The domain name would include the sponsor’s name and the type of event. Some might think it’s an easy position to logically justify.  If a title sponsor is giving a large donation to help support the event, why not rebrand the domain name?  Consider this; the event already had a well established domain name that had been used for almost 8 years. Additionally, over $350,000 USD was spent on advertising for the event over 8 years with the previous domain name featured prominently.

When to Rebrand Your Domain Name

The one instance where you might want to consider rebranding your domain name to be sponsor centric is when you lock a title sponsor into a long term sponsorship agreement.

Local and Out of Town Domains
If you get event attendees from outside the local area and your title sponsor is only known locally you might run into additional branding challenges. You might want to consider using one domain name locally and another that resonates with out of town people

When Changing Your Domain Name, Keep your old Domain Name Alive
If you do decide to rebrand your event’s domain name, keep your previous domain names active and pointing to your new domain.  People who have an affinity for your previous domain name use it to get to your web site. From a search engine perspective, it can take several months or years to properly re-index a new domain name. Don’t forget to consider older links associated with the previous domain name.

Ultimately the decision to use a new domain name or stay with an existing one is the decision of the event organizers.  Make sure you choose wisely. If you’re event attendees are accustomed to using one domain name, a change might not be in your best interest.

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What is Event Marketing? (Definition)

Event_marketing_definitionA quick look up on your favorite search engine will show that various companies have very different perspectives on the definition of event marketing.

Depending where you look, you might find two completely different definitions for the phrase "Event Marketing."

What is the Definition of Event Marketing?
After some research, both online and offline, I’ve been able to boil down event marketing into the two definitions below . . .

Event Marketing - Definition #1:
The use of traditional or new media to promote, market, or advertise an event. Various forms of marketing and advertising are used to entice people to attend an event. Event types could include anything from not for profit fundraisers to sporting events, conventions, fundraisers, seminars, festivals, workshops, air shows, and many more.

Event Marketing - Definition #2:

Using an event, such as tradeshows, to engage prospective consumers, build awareness, or market a company’s products and services. One of the simplest examples is trade show marketing.  Your business purchases booth space and presents your company’s products or services to trade show attendees. Some companies rephrase this definition of event marketing as event-based marketing.

The second definition of event marketing is best embodied in Ruth Stevens' book “Trade Show & Event Marketing: Plan, Promote & Profit.”

Two Definitions - One Universal
Even though there are two different definitions of event marketing, this is one universal concept ... the fundamentals of sales and marketing NEVER change. You are far better off focusing on the psychology of marketing, as opposed to trying to adopt and integrate the latest whiz-bang technology. Ultimately, your sales and marketing success comes down to generating measurable results that improve your business.

Here's a great video to get you started on the fundamentals with supporting articles specifically for events:

For the purpose of this web page I present ideas and strategies for the kind of event marketing found above in Definition #1. Hopefully the information above helps clear up some of the apparent confusion.

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Recent Articles:

Hold Your Event Marketing Accountable!

Last year, I discover a book by Victor Cheng titled, “Escaping the Self Employment Trap.” Victor writes about an important concept every event marketer should embrace called “Accountable Marketing.” The ideology has been used by direct marketers for years. There was something about how he presented the concept that got me thinking in terms of event promotion and marketing. He sums up accountable marketing in his own words below.

“When your marketing is accountable, it provides you with an enormous advantage in the marketplace. You have great clarity on what marketing activities are making you money and what activities are not.”
Escaping the Self Employment Trap, Cheng. p.66.

It is unbelievable how many event organizers and business don't track the effectiveness of their advertising.

Tracking Your Return On Investment
Consider this . . . If you spend ”X” dollars in advertising you get “Y” dollars in return. If your an event marketer “Y” could be ticket sales, leads, or people going to your event web site.  Victor also point out that you should think of your advertising as a form of investment. If your advertising isn’t bring you a return on investment then it’s expense.

There are numerous events that have a wide range in advertising budgets. There is a good chance if you asked an event organizer, “do you know what the return on investment is for your advertising?”  Most wouldn’t be able to give you a quantified response. There are some event organizers who spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising, all without knowing their return on investment. You always need to be on the lookout for ways to track your advertising effectiveness.

Start Simple
One of the simplest places to start is with your web statistics. Look at your daily advertising spend and correlate it with actions on your event web site.  The actions could be anything from unique visitors to a site to tickets sold on a given day. Get into the habit of collecting and analyzing your marketing data.

The Advertising Question to Ask
Every event marketer needs to ask “What am I getting in return for my advertising and marketing?”
Your numbers might not be perfect, and not all advertising can be tracked directly. But, if you at least put your frame of mind around the concept you’ll probably never look at advertising the same.

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Search Engine Optimization and Your Event Marketing

More lessons keep streaming in from the last week’s press conference to announce a client’s big event. For today I’ll take a look at how search engines can help your event marketing. One of my biggest performance references has been web stats. For this post I’m using the simple and unrefined metric of visitors to an event web site. There are more advanced metrics that you want to eventually focus on, but for simplicity sake I decided to go with visitors.

Search Terms Bring Relevant Traffic
After last week’s press conference search engine traffic accounted for the largest portion of web site visitors. What’s more important is that the visitors prequalified themselves as being at least interested in the event because of the search terms they used.  How many people are going to search for an event that they have no curiosity or interest in attending?

How Most People Search for Events
Based on years of web stat analysis one can deduce that people have fairly specific search phrases that they use to look up a given event of interest. The search phrases are a combination of the type of event “Festival, Workshop, Seminar” or the actual name of the event “Lilac Festival, Flour City Brew Fest, Park Ave Fest” and the location “Rochester, Buffalo, Toronto.”

When trying to optimize your event web site for search engines, focus keywords on the TYPE of EVENT, the NAME OF EVENT, and EVENT LOCATION.

Actual Top Search Phrases:

  • "rochester air show"
  • "rochester international airshow"
  • "rochester airshow"

Where do the Keywords Go?
You’re going to optimize for those search phrases in the title tag of each page on your web site. The title tag is comprised of the words you see in the bar at the very top of your browser. Your keywords are some of the most important words on your web site pertaining to search engine optimization. Keywords in the actual body text and navigation are also important. I’ve included a link to the resource section below for additional insight.

Why Not Go for More Popular Search Terms
Some people have asked if it’s worth trying to go after the more general keywords like “Summer Events Rochester” or “Festivals in New York State." You could if you so choose and there is some benefit, but there are also counterpoints. One of the biggest caveats is time and competition. You’re going to have a harder time getting listed with more competition for the same keywords. Ask yourself “Do I want to try and lure people who might be interested in my event or those who have basically qualified themselves as interested?”

When users go looking for your event in search engines they’ve already prequalified themselves. Search engine marketing and optimization is the easiest way to capture your targeted prospects. Use the information above to get some great free advertising.

Additional Resources:

The Press Conference Lesson on Event Marketing

Last week one of my local clients held a large press conference for their event. A few months ago, I posted an article on “Press Releases and Your Event Marketing” and passed along a copy to my client.  As in the article, I made it known to the client how important it was to include the web site in all possible media references to the event. The client wholeheartedly agreed and did their part to ensure the web site was featured. In fact, the last portion of the official press releases included mentioning the event web site and listing the web address. The press conference came and went. A few hours later news outlets started to feature information about the event.  It was great that the local news services were featuring information on the event, but unfortunately none of the outlets were including the web address.

The Opportunity Cost
Why be emphatic about something as simple as list a web site?  The opportunity cost was at least 500-750 target market visitors to the web site. I figured 500-750 possible visitors because after getting the web site listed with just one news outlet 120+ people visited the event web site.  In Rochester we have at least 5 major news outlets.  Because of an insatiable thirst for the latest and greatest, news stories become old news quickly. There is a very limited window of opportunity to get visitors via links with news features. Once the news stories fade away so do the web site links.

The Lesson
By the end of the day I was left scratching my head.  I decided to call up a friend that has been in the local media for over 30 years. He had some pretty insightful information as it pertains to my press conference lesson, “news agencies tend to truncate a lot of information.” I’m going to interview some additional media people to find out if there is something that can be done to ensure there is a better chance of getting your web site reference included. I’ll pass along the information when my research is complete.

The Recommendation
My friend suggested listing the web site in the first paragraph of any official press release. You should also include a really strong call to action for the web address.  Second, kindly ask the news media correspondents, “Can you please make sure to include the web site in any stories you feature?” A simple direct request like that can make a huge difference.

A web site listing is an easy to thing to add to any news feature, because of this, it is also very easy to forget.  Make sure you do what it takes to get your event web site listed in any news references.  As they say, “Good publicity is the best free advertising in the world.”

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Event Promotion: Using Video to Front Load Event Value

Have you ever considered using video to add value upfront for your next event?

One web service I’ve been leveraging for event marketing over the last few months has been YouTube. YouTube gives you a great way of integrating video to front load the value of your event and with no associated cost. With YouTube's embed function you had seamlessly integrate video into your web site. There are a number of videos in almost any category imaginable.

Current Application
The integration of YouTube videos is being used with one of my clients the Rochester International Air Show.  Air Shows are all about the sights and sounds. Thus video is a great way to get people excited about the upcoming air show.  As part of my attempt to front load event value, there is a newsletter that goes out on a regular basis announcing new performers and attractions. A few of the newsletters have included a relevant video link featuring a performer or videos related to the show.

A YouTube Search and Tips
You can start the process by going to YouTube and doing a search for relevant content as it applies to your event. Below are some quick suggestions on what to look for in potential videos.

  • Choose clips that are closely related to your event.
  • Always ask yourself the question “What will the target user think of this?” Remember it’s about delivering value to the user. You want them to say, “That’s cool!”
  • Review all clips for content appropriateness.
  • Shorter clips are usually better.
  • Check the comments for every video you want to use and make sure there isn’t anything inappropriate or offensive.

One thing you have to be conscious of is checking to make sure any videos you use are still active on YouTube. One of the videos that we were using as part of an email campaign was removed from YouTube for some unknown reason. Even if you sent an email a few weeks ago, some people might check out the video again or forward it to a friend. 

Always ask yourself what other ways can I leverage free content to increase the value of my event marketing? If you’re going to integrate video, make sure that it is going to add value to your event.

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Huge Marketing Decisions: The Devil is in the Details

Over the last few weeks I’ve been sending and producing a decent amount of electronic event marketing materials for clients.  Part and parcel of the emails is the data which the system provides.  Collecting good permission based data has opened my eyes to marketing possibilities and other view points I would have never of considered.

As an example, have you ever had a scenario where you knew you were absolutely positively right about something? Then, you find out an important piece of information and what you were convinced was an absolute gets completely turned upside down.

Having good data tends to force us to consider other marketing solutions or ideas.

Continue reading "Huge Marketing Decisions: The Devil is in the Details" »

Drowning Your Event Prospects with Advertising Details

It is very easy to lose your event prospect in advertising minutia. In today’s world of more outrageous marketing there is a constant battle for the hearts and minds of your target market. Take for example print advertising. How many print advertisements for an event have you seen that are crammed full of every possible detail? They give you dates, location, parking, sponsors, ticket prices, web sites, etc. More information isn’t always better . . . especially if the info isn't relevant to the prospect. You run the risk of drowning your prospect in so many details that they ignore what you’re trying to get them to do in the first place - show up to your event.

Consider putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes. Which of the following are you more likely to notice?

  1. An advertisement crammed with a ton of irrelevant details.
  2. An advertisement with the information that is of interest to you.

For print advertising of your event consider using a simple direct marketing formula. Focus on advertising to your prospect with strong Headlines, Benefits, and a Calls to Action.

Catch the prospect’s attention with a powerful headline.  The headline should speak in simple and empathetic terms that your prospect can easily understand. Ask them a question or make a bold statement that directly relates to their desires. You need to grab them by the eyeballs.

Tell your prospect what they’ll get out of attending your event. Benefits fulfill the desires or solve a problem prospect is experiencing. Event benefits can be as simple as offering your prospect a little excitement, insight, intrigue, or laughter. Remember to frame the benefits in terms of what’s important to your prospect and fulfills their needs and desires.

Call to Action
Listing your web address in the details isn’t enough. You need to give them a good reason to visit your web site. It might be discount tickets, exclusive offers, or insider information.  Your web site is the best opportunity that you have at delivering additional high quality information about your event and capturing leads.

If you’re thinking of doing any print advertising be different by being simple and really giving your target market a reason to listen. Use some of the above suggestions to distinguish yourself in the type of print advertising you do for your event.

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Web Usability: How Many Users Do I Need to Test?

When discussing usability testing with business owners one of the first questioned to be asked is “How many people are we going to need to test properly?” Most people assume the more users you have the better your usability testing results. Ironically most usability problems can be identified with a fairly small group of users.  According to web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, you can conduct very effective usability testing on your web site with just five users.

Testing Once versus Repetitive Testing
In Nielsen's article “Why You Only Need to Test With 5 Users,” he points out that you can identify more usability issues testing 3 different times with 5 test users as opposed to testing once with 15 different users. If you only test once, you won’t be able to test any changes or improvements to identified usability issues. By spreading out the testing over a series of sessions you can apply changes and test your new solutions.  From personal experience, it has taken at least 2 different testing sessions with individual users to correct usability problems.  Testing multiple times is also crucial from a marketing perspective. Ask someone with a successful Adwords campaign how many times they test just a single highly effective Adword ad. From an improvement standpoint you’ll get the most return by repeating the simple testing formula of: test, modify, and retest. Consider how well the previous formula worked for Thomas Edison.

More Than Five People . . .
Can you test with more than 5 people? Absolutely!  If you test with more people you’ll get more data, but it is also going to cost you additional money and take up more of your time. If you look at it from a return on investment perspective, is it worth it?  One place where you might need more users as test subjects is if you have multiple niches inside your user demographic.  In those cases you’re probably have to use more than 5 users to cover the various niches.

The bottom line is if you’re considering testing your web site, you can do so effectively with just five users from your demographic.

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