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.

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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, YourEventSite.com.” 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.

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

 


Event Marketing: Multiple Ways to Engage Your List

This post is a bit of a review on previous concepts already outlined. My hope is that it helps open your mind to some of the possibilities that come with building a high quality list of prospects.

It is in your best interest to build your list over time even if your event doesn’t take place on an annual basis. Even if you start to build your list a week for your event, that list will become tremendously useful in the future. The process of maintaining and growing a high quality list does require a decent amount of work and effort, but the return on investment can be very significant.

One of the best parts of having a high quality list is that you have the opportunity to engage or sell to your target market on multiple occasions.  To make sure I thoroughly beat a dead horse, you need to consistently deliver value up front before asking your list for anything in return.

Below are some ideas to consider on various ways to engage your list of event patrons now and in the future.

Pre-Event Survey
I believe that pre-event surveys can be tremendously beneficial to generating interest in your event. I don’t know of anyone in the event production field that collects this data up front on a consistent basis.  The data can be used to build portions of your event around patron feedback.  How much more likely is someone to attend your event if you present your patrons something they are legitimately interested in?

Pre-Event Advertising & Selling Tickets to Your Event
A good list also allows you to build interest to your event well before it’s cost effective to start television, print, or radio advertising.  In some cases if you build a big enough list, you can reduce your reliance on traditional advertising channels.  High quality lists allow you to market directly to the consumer that has prequalified him/herself for what you have to offer.

The most obvious scenario for event marketers is using their customer list to sell a ticket to their event.  Focus on front loading value, before you ask for the sale.  Think of ways to deliver value and make it difficult for a prospect not to pull out their credit card and purchase a ticket for your event.  There are a number of events that don’t charge for admission. In this case, think of ways to ensure people attend your event. Regardless of an entrance fee, you need to build legitimate interest if you want anyone to attend your event. Using your list smartly can build interest.

The Follow up Survey
After your event is over is an ideal time to survey your patrons. I’ve witnessed some event organizers try to survey their patrons while an event is taking place, the results were lackluster at best.  People don’t want to come to an event to take a survey about that event. You have an opportunity to collect valuable feedback immediately after your event. Just make sure you don't wait too long.  I recommend doing a post event survey no more than a week after your event is held.

Selling Memorabilia or Souvenirs
Do you have a event branded baseball cap or polo shirt you could sell? Use your list to find out what your patrons are interested in purchasing and make them an offer. It allows you an additional revenue channel. Consider the Hess truck that gets sold in the United States every year around Christmas. There are consumers that go out of their way for something that’s a conversation piece or collectible. Is there something your event patron might be interested in buying after your event is over?

There are numerous ways to leverage a high quality list and sell to your prospects. Hopefully some of the above examples open your mind to new opportunities.

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Event Promotion: The Psychology of Ticket Prices

It has been said that consumers buy with their emotions and justify their purchases with logic. The previous ideology can also be applied to event ticket prices. I’ve seen ticket prices that range from a few dollars to hundreds and thousands of dollars. High ticket prices aren’t a barrier if the consumer convinces himself that the purchase price equals or exceeds the time value an event offers.  It’s critical for event marketers to convince their customers on the value of the event experience.

Consider the Following:

“Why do you think people buy the Mercedes Benz automobile in America? Is it because of the rack-and-pinion steering or the ABS braking system or the safety features? Other cars have the same features, so why spend a fortune to buy one when, for a fraction of the cost of a Mercedes, you can get an American- or Japanese-made car or even a Volvo that has many of the exact same features?

The answer: We buy on emotion and justify with logic. When I first bought a Mercedes and my friends saw it, I told them that the reason I bought it was because of a series of technical features that I found very impressive. The real reason I bought the car was not for the technical features at all. It was an emotional decision. I wanted to own a prestigious car and belong to the select group that drive Mercedes.”
(Triggers , Joseph Sugarman)

Where is Your Advertising Focus?
How many times have you been subject to event advertising all about the event date and location and not about the event itself? Yes you need to let people know when you event it happening.  At the same time, you need to focus on what type of experience you are delivering to the consumer before they enter your event. You need to convince the consumer that the ticket price is exceeded by the value you are delivering.

Consider Disney
Last year I travelled to Disney’s EPCOT Center. It was almost $70 USD for an admission ticket into EPCOT. That’s a pretty steep price for a day of entertainment. Yet, Disney delivered on the face value of the ticket price. Disney’s theme park advertising focuses as much on “Here we Are” as “Here is What You Get.” Think about ways you can integrate “Here is what you Get” into your event marketing.

Offer a Unique Experience
In some cases you can sell a ticket for ten fold what a regular consumer would pay.  Consider the possibilities for affluent marketing. There are consumers that are willing to pay a very high price for a truly unique experience. A unique experience might be a VIP package where patrons get to interact with event performers or other VIPs. You’re missing an opportunity if you don’t market to the affluent segment of your target market.

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Front Loading Value for Your Next Event

Yesterday, I asked someone  the following question, "If I was going to give you 10,000 emails from your target market what would you do?" Their quick reply was "I'd spam the crap out of them!" The previous reply represents why so many consumers are reluctant to give away their email address. How many times have you checked mail program only to find annoying emails. It is also the reason why few companies make money email marketing. Too many companies view an email address as another way to sales pitch people.

The most successful internet marketers deliver so much value up front that they make it difficult for a customer not to buy. The process starts with building trust, credibility, and delivering value up front.  You can use the process to get people to an event or purchase event tickets. The best part is that almost everything can be done with email. It requires you to think of ways to deliver value before ever asking someone to buy something. I like to call the process front loading value.

Using Email
The simplest suggestion for creating value is with a simple email sequence. Figure out what information is important to your event attendee and send it to them. Below is a sample email sequence for air shows. You can use the same concept for almost any event.

Front Loading Value for an Air Show

  • Announce your show to your list before the public finds out (builds credibility and trust)
  • Email a list of performers with their web site links
  • Feature some of the scheduled on site attractions
  • Conduct a short audio interview with a performer and post to your web site
  • Email your list a helpful article on taking pictures at air shows
  • Send pictures or videos of arrival aircraft or practice show

In the case of the air show sequence, you would want to send 10-15 emails before asking for your list to buy something. For some people this might seem extravagant, but building trust and credibility before asking someone to buy something is essential.

Front Loading with Your Sponsors

Here is another idea. Right now, it's January in New York State and that means snow. If one of my event sponsors is a car wash, I'd ask them to create a coupon that I can email to my list. The prospective attendee gets a discounted car wash and the sponsor generates revenue.

The core idea behind front loading value is to get your consumer so excited for your event that it's difficult for them not to purchase tickets.

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Your Event Web Site as a Customer Service Portal

A few days ago I was conducting some search engine optimization research for an event marketing client. During the process I found a few first page indexed links that a typical web user might perceive as a negative customer feedback regarding a client's annual event. In the case of my client there were various blog posts and forum entries indexed into Google referring to their event. It is important to remember that Google and other search engines hold on to older relevant content. The search engine links which contain potentially negative feedback could show up for years in search engine results. Those indexed links could also impact someone's decision to buy tickets for a given event in the future.

The Continued Growth of Social Media
Social media is going to continue to grow. Today it's difficult not to find very specific niche markets without at least a blog, forum, or dedicated web.  People love information and flock to anything that could be perceived as new information for a given topic of interest. The user's need for information can be either a virtue or vice for event marketers. Search engines don't discriminate between negative or positive feedback they view it all as content to be crawled and indexed.

A Suggested Remedy

You'll never be able to stop people from posting information about your company, product, or service. Yet you can address the situation, in your own words, on your web site.  An official web site has some authority with your patrons. If your event web site has been up for some time you've probably build trust and credibility with your target market. Use your web site's authority to your advantage.

In the case of my client, they knew of most of the customer service issues raised by their patrons the day after their event. One of the best remedies would have been to acknowledge customer concerns almost immediately on their own web site. The negative feedback wasn't event my client's fault, unfortunately from the user's or patron's point of view it comes down to a matter of perception. People are still going to blog and post their opinions to forums. You can position your organization and event in a positive light by quickly acknowledging the concerns and allowing users to provide additional feedback on your web site.

Consider this except from The Mystery of Online Customer Satisfaction:

"There was one very important piece of actionable information that TARP provided.  95% of unhappy customers will do business again with you if their issue is resolved immediately. Your window of opportunity might be narrow and short, but you still have time to do sometime. Use the speed of technology to quickly recover from a customer service issue."

If something goes awry at your event use your event web site to address the issue immediately and let patrons know their concerns count.

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Teasing Users with Event Details on Your Web Site

A recent check of user statistics from various event web sites reminded me of an important point as it pertains to event web sites. It is important to remember that a portion of web site visitors to your event web site are return visitors. As an example an air show web site I'm currently in the process of updating receives 30% of it's visitors as return visitors. Overall the percentage of visitors, compared with total expected web site visitors, is fairly low. The air show date is still over seven months away. But the bottom line is users love new information. By providing new and return users with the newest information you help to establish trust and credibility well in advance of your event. Trust and credibility is crucial especially if you are looking to sell advance sale tickets.

Event Web Sites Provide News and therefore like News Web Sites

It helps to think of your event web site being analogous with a news web site. Going back to Jakob Nielsen's HOME RUN acronym it is critical to keep web sites "Often updated." Ask yourself, "How often would I return to a news web site that never gets updated?" In today's world news agencies play the game of "who can update first." Unfortunately the race to be first comes at the expense of getting accurate information to the public. Make sure that you are releasing the most up to date and accurate information possible. Don't forget to include the disclaimer of "Information Subject to Change without Notice" on relevant piece of information.

Release the Obvious First
If your event web site is the official web site for the event make sure it is positioned that way. In today's world of blogs and forums someone else might report the news first.  It is important not to let other  event sites become an information authority for your event. You need to think ahead on what information you release upfront and what can be released over time. You'll obviously want to release event dates and major acts early enough to build anticipation. If there is information on your event that others in the public can get quick access to, like press releases, you might want to preempt the release of information from other outlets or channels on the event web site.

Give Them a Reason to Return
If you have a few weeks or months of lead time before the actual event takes place use the opportunity to tease users. You might be able to combine each announcement with a feature on your event web site's home page. Think of what information might be most valuable to your event patron.  If you're unsure about what information is most important conduct an online survey or send out inquiry emails. Some of the responses you get are sure to surprise you.

Think of ways to use the release of information to your advantage.  The release of information can go beyond just posting to your web site.  Consider using a digital news letter to pass along insider information about your event. What's common knowledge to an event organizer might be big news for an event patron or web site user.

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


Having a Separate Web Site for Your Event

In many cases companies use their home page to promote their own events. Depending on how much information is on the companies web site it might be difficult for your users to get details on your event. The primary purpose for a separate web site is making it easier for users to find event information without having to wade through unrelated information.

The Price is Right
Today domain name registration and hosting prices are very reasonable. There is little reason not to have a dedicated web site for each of your events. Something as simple as a one page web site can suffice for promoting your event. If you have dozens of events it might be worth dedicating a single web site to your event marketing and promotion efforts. For clarification purposes I consider an event something where there are going to be a hundred or more people in attendance. Festivals, Concerts, Sporting Events, and Galas are just a few examples. You need to determine your threshold based on your organization's needs.

Event_marketing_traffic_noise

The graph above represents a company's web site that is promoting one of their events. Compare and contrast the above statistical data with the graph from User Traffic Trends to Your Event Web Site. Both graphs are from the same company promoting one of their annual events. Notice all of the additional traffic in the above graph before and after the event. The unrelated traffic is looking for information to the company and might be looking for the information on the company's event. Web users tend to be channelized in their search for information. Users traditionally look for one piece of information at a time.

Getting Event Information Lost in Company Information
A big challenge for many users is trying to locate information about a certain event on a parent company's web site. One of the biggest problems is that a company's event information can get lost within all the other information on their own web site.  I personally ran into this challenge myself. A local friend of mine runs a highly respected not for profit organization. I planned on attending their annual holiday gala. It took me over five minutes to find the proper link for additional information on the gala. The gala is one of the not for profits largest money making events, yet there wasn't an easy to find link on the not for profit's home page. Most users don't have a long attention span or high degree of vigilance when it comes to finding information online. If a user can't find information they're off to another web site or task.

Branding Your Own Event
Having a separate web site allows you to brand your event on it's own. The advantages far outweigh the time and cost involved.  Because you have a separate event web site doesn't mean that shouldn't co-brand both your company web site or any other online interest.

Event Marketing and Search Engines
If you choose to setup a separate web site for your company's event remember that it takes time for get established in the search engines. Using your existing web site to transition to your new web site. Create links from your existing web site to the dedicated event web site.  Keep in mind that It takes time for search engines to properly index your page. In some cases it can take 6-12 months to properly index a web site or web page. If you are only a few weeks away from your event, creating a separate event web site might not be the most prudent course of action.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on some of the ideas on concepts presented above. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Web User Traffic Trends to Your Event Web Site

User traffic data varies significantly from one type of web site or industry to another.  Over the last 8 years I've been collecting data from various event web sites. Some of the event web sites included air shows, festivals, sporting events, and not for profit fund raisers. Regardless of the type of event, almost every event web site showed distinctively similar online user trending. Each event had various forms and levels of traditional and online advertising, yet each event had very similar user trending. It is crucial for every web organizer or event promoter to collect web statistics on their event web site.  Knowing event web site user trends can prove tremendously beneficial for event marketing and event promotion both online and for traditional advertising.

The Assumed Curve
One of the most interesting aspects of event web sites is that the observed user traffic trends are a-typical. Without data most event organizers logically estimate web site traffic trends. The logical assumption is that there is a gradual and constant increase in traffic leading up to the event and then a significant drop off after the event. Almost every event organizer I present actual event web site data to responds with "that's interesting" or "I wasn't expecting that."

The Actual Curve
Below you'll find a graph detailing a snap shot for an event web site. Every event web site I've managed or have data on for the last 8 years has shown a very similar trend. Leading up to the event user traffic anemically increases, it does not the gradually increase as most people assume. Within a few days of an event the web traffic increases almost exponentially, to a spike, and then rapidly decreases to a trickle after the event. The biggest discrepancy between various event curves is in the user traffic spike. Events that are supported by various forms of traditional advertising tend to spike sharper and higher. In my experience, traditional Business to Business or Business to Consumer web sites rarely spike like an event web site. If there is a spike on a traditional web site it is rarely as disproportionate as on a event web site.

By The Numbers

Event_stat_graph

There is also some interesting data when you actually segment some of the statistical data. To the right is an graph depicting a six months in user traffic to a typical event web site.

Percentage of Total Web Site Users by Date Range
(6 Month Range)

  • 80% of Web Site Users visited 25 Days before the event and 5 Days after the event.
  • 54% of Web Site Users visited 5 Days before the event and 5 days after the event.
  • 6% of Web Site Users visited immediately after the event to 5 Months after the event.

Knowing the information above should help event organizers better plan for their event and. It is important to remember that specific user data trending can vary from one event to another. If you have a web site that supports your event make sure you are collecting accurate and timely statistical data.

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Leveraging Your Sponsor's Digital Resources . . .

Events organizers choose their sponsors for a variety of reasons.  The reasons an event might choose a sponsor could range from giving the event additional credibility, to cash, trade, or other reasons. One important consideration is a potential sponsor's digital resource base and how you might be able to leverage it for online marketing purposes. Take the time to carefully assess a potential sponsor's digital resource base when considering any event sponsor. A few hours of brainstorming could save an event organizers thousands of dollars in traditional advertising. Emphasis should be placed on creating a mutually beneficial relationship for both your event and your sponsor's organization.

Some Important Questions to Ask Yourself Regarding Potential Sponsors:

  • How does your sponsor's demographic match up against your event's demographics?
  • Does your sponsor have a high quality email list you can leverage?
  • How much traffic does your sponsor's web site generate?
  • Is there room on your sponsor's web site to promote your event? (Banners and Links)
  • Does your sponsor send a digital newsletter? Can you insert information about your event?
  • Is your sponsor part of an online advertising network? (Co-branded Ads)

All of the questions above can be summarized in one simple question to ask yourself:
"What can a potential sponsor do to contribute to my event's online marketing endeavors?"

Leverage Your Sponsor's Email List
If a potential sponsor has a high quality email list, discuss the possibilities of sending out a series co-branded emails to build awareness for your event. Email campaigns are an inexpensive way to get the word out about your event. You might consider starting an email marketing campaign before your traditional advertising starts. Perhaps the sponsor might be able to include a coupon targeted for people on their own mailing list somehow tied into your event. Always be thinking how you can use a marketing resource over time and in tandem with other resources. One of the biggest advantages of online marketing is that almost everything can be tracked and measured for effectiveness. Be sure to setup some measurable metrics for success. Regardless of some of the online advantages, consider using traditional means like traditional mail.

There are a multiply ways to leverage the resource base a potential sponsor can offer. Always strive to get to a win-win situation with your sponsors.

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Press Releases and Your Event Marketing . . .

Press releases are a great place to create an early buzz for your event.  Press releases are also the starting point for future news articles on your event by the media. One piece of information you don't want to forget in any press release is mention of your event's web site.

Add Your Event Web Site to the Press Release
Adding your event web site to a press release seems like a perfectly obvious and logical thing to do. In fact it is so obvious that it usually gets forgotten.  Recently I had a client announce their event without including any information about their event's web site.  The event announcement was covered by several news outlets but only one news outlet mentioned the event's web site. Not including one simple sentence  about the event's web site probably cost my client a few hundred, possibly thousands of targeted visitors to their web site.

Each Time the Media Covers Your Event
Make the request to media outlets that every time they cover your event for a news story that the event web site also gets promoted. Having your web site included in a news articles or television feature is an excellent way to get free advertising and send qualified traffic to your web site. If the media outlet covering your event publishes an online article this can help boost your search engine rankings by virtue of back links. The more back links your web site receives from news articles the more targeted traffic you'll receive.

Have a Call to Action
It isn't enough just to list your web site in a press release. Try and give the reader additional incentive to visit or mention your event's web site.  One sentence should suffice. "You can get additional information at . . . " or "Purchase Tickets Online at . . ." are just a few ideas. You need to give the perspective user some reason to visit your web site beyond a passing mention.

Make Sure Your Site is Up to Date

Before you ask news services to mention your event web site make sure that your site is reasonably up to date.  There is little value in sending people to a web site that contains old and irrelevant information.  At a minimum update the home page of your event's web site. You don't need to do an entire overhaul of your web site immediately, but you should update the critical facts: who, what, when, where, and why.

All the information above seems simple and logical, but unfortunately gets forgotten on a regular basis. It is the small things that can really add up in the end. Getting news outlets to cover your event and mentioning your web site is one way of generating buzz for your event and getting great free advertising.

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


Create a Better Event with Patron Feedback

Patron feedback can be an advantageous tool for improving your event. If you have an event on a regular basis and aren't collecting feedback, you are missing a huge opportunity. With the Internet it has never been easier to collect patron feedback on your event. The feedback you collect can be used for generating more revenue or saving or creating more effective marketing.

What Can You Learn From Event Patrons?
Feedback is critical for any marketing success. Ask yourself, "What can I learn from my patrons?" Even if you event is doing well on a regular basis, there is always room for improvement. By collecting feedback you might be able to learn information that will allow you generate additional revenue and save money.

Some questions to ponder
:

  • Was your ticket cost in line with your patron's expectations?
  • Did something happen at the event that you weren't aware of?
  • What can you do better for your next event?

Think about formulating additional questions that will allow you to learn as much as possible. 

Start with Your List

Having a high quality list is critical for getting feedback on your event. One important note is to make sure that you have obtained patron consent to send them information. Don't solicit feedback requests to people who haven't granted you permission. Ask for the opinion of people who have shown a genuine interest in what you have to offer.

Feedback After the Event

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” - Peter F. Drucker

The easiest way to get feedback on your event is to ask your event patrons for feedback after your event. It can be as simple as an email asking "What did you think of our event?"  Another route is to make use of an online survey.  Services like Survey Monkey make creating a survey a very straight forward process. I prefer surveys because they allow you to built trends with numerous people. If 90% of your respondents indicated that they liked/disliked something, you should do something about it.

Take Your Ego Out of the Equation
If you genuinely ask people what they think, you can get some pretty good information.  Most people enjoy giving their opinion, unfortunately in the business world egos tend to get in the way. Everyone has an ego.  At times it can be a virtue or a vice. One of the most difficult things to do is to allow someone else to give you honest feedback. The most useful information is derived when you can separate your ego from the feedback people are giving you.

Next time you have an event take the time to consider gathering feedback from patrons.  The information you obtain can only help to make your event better and will probably lead to additional savings and revenue.

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Event Marketing: Start Building Your List Early

You can never start building your subscriber list too early. For today's post I'm going to focus on list building from an event marketing perspective. The technique can also be adapted for selling and positioning a product or service.  Too many event organizers make the mistake of either not building a list building or starting the process too late. List building can be used both before and after your event. If you are an event marketer, think of your list as a direct marketing channel to customers who are most interested.

Give People a Reason to Sign Up
As soon as your web site goes live, try to get users to willingly volunteer their email. Just because there is a sign up usually isn't a compelling enough reason for users to sign up. Users are very sensitive to giving their personal information away. Think from the perspective of delivering value.  Do you have something unique that you could offer to entice sign ups? In the case of an event it might be an interview with a performer, advance ticket discounts, or highlights from the previous year's event.

Treat your subscribers like gold and don't try to sales pitch them too early.  Ask yourself, would you be more likely to purchase tickets to an event after 5 or 6 interesting and trustworthy emails? Or send a sales pitch out every time you send an email. Start with building trust and credibility from the beginning. It is important to remember that most people visit web sites never return. Collecting the user's email is a good way to reengage your users down the road.

Advance Sale Tickets
Consider offering early subscribers the best price on event tickets. A few years ago I attended an air show conference in Belgium. One of the presenters outlined the ticketing strategy they used for their event. Their advance sale tickets were discounted by almost 50%.  A number of event organizers might think that the process is counter intuitive, "We're going to lose too much money by discounting ticket prices that much." Ironically the presenters methodology worked.  Their event was paid for before a single person walked in the gate. In addition, the event broke records for attendance and revenue.

The Best Event Marketing Investment
Helping your own targeted subscriber list to grow is the best single investment you can make in your event marketing. Even if you don't have something to offer your consumer right now, think about the future. Lists can be used to target the people who have identified themselves as your target market. You can spend less on traditional advertising if you already have a qualified list of people interested in your event, product, or service. Use your subscriber list to your advantage.

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Putting Directions Online and Your Event

Directions and parking instructions are an important consideration for almost every event organizer. The more information you can provide your patrons the better. It is in your best interest not to have your patrons guessing on parking procedures. Your web site is your single best place for distributing various forms of parking and event arrival information. I've include some points on directions and parking below for you to consider.

Provide Patrons with Hyper Accurate Information
You need to make sure that directions to your event are hyper accurate. In recent years there have been great improvements with online mapping services. Unfortunately, getting your directions from an online source isn't always the most accurate source. Have you ever used an online service for directions and found yourself lost? Make sure you have a real person actually go out and test the instructions.  It might seem a bit overboard to some, but imagine what would happen if hundreds or thousands of people used erroneous directions to get to your event? I've seen the emails before and they aren't pretty.

Depending on your event some people might not always arrive by automobile.  Do you have event attendees who are flying in to a local airport?  Are there special considerations they need to take into account?  Your event might be on the water front.  If it's a water front event is there any consideration that non-event attendees need to know?

A Real World Example
One great example of a highly refined directions is the Experimental Aircraft Association's Air Venture.  According to EAA's Dick Knapinski the area around Oshkosh, WI, where the event takes place, becomes the busiest airspace in the world for one week every year. They have tens of thousands of people arriving and departing in various aircraft from around the world. In order to achieve safe aircraft operations there are over 30 pages of instructions for arriving and departing pilots.

Beyond Plain Written Instructions
Can you include additional information aside from written directions/instructions?  Consider using pictures and photographs to help orient event attendees. With services like Google Earth and Microsoft's Live Search Maps satellite and aerial photos have become much more prevalent. Use the aerial photography services to build redundancy and provide additional information for your event. Today more people are using personal GPS systems to get their instructions. You might want to consider providing latitude and longitude information for your event parking.

Where are They Going to Park?
If your directions lead to a parking area there are few important points to remember.  First, let your patrons/customers know precisely where to park their automobile. Is there a parking fee? Let your patrons know up front. You should also let your patrons know where NOT to park their automobiles. A number of events make use of shuttle bus service. Is there shuttle bus service to your event after event patrons park?  Is there a cost to that shuttle bus service? The one thing you want to be conscious of is not upsetting your customers before they get to the actual event.

When the Event is Over
One place event organizers tend to run into trouble is when their patrons are trying to get back home.  Is there some information that can help people expedite getting back home?  Traffic might be a consideration. Are there alternate routes to get your patrons home? Let them know ahead of time using your email and web site. 

It is important to always think beyond the blatantly obvious for event organizers. Bad directions and parking instructions can have your patrons attending or leaving your event unhappy. Focus on creating event directions and instructions that are easy to understand, concise, and highly accurate.

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Tracking The Effectiveness of Traditional Marketing with The Internet

In previous posts I've explored the idea of being web centric with your marketing efforts.  All points of advertising should point back to your web site. If you have analytics software working on your web site, the web offers the tremendous advantage of automatically collecting data each time a user visits your web site. The technique below has been used for a while and it's far from an original idea. There are simple steps almost anyone can take to leverage web site visitor data with traditional forms of advertising.  Depending on your desired level of sophistication, you can refine the method to track individual pieces of advertising.

Tracking Advertising Effectiveness with a Forward Slash /
If you use a forward slash after your domain name you can send users to a specific section (directory) of you web site. In doing so, you can refine your visitor tracking.

I believe the forward slash " / " works best with print and television advertising.   Radio is a little more difficult because you can't visually reinforce a domain name.  In print and television you can visually callout or reemphasize elements of your domain name. Use a different word after the forward slash for various marketing mediums. You can even segment down with different words after the forward slash for individual publications or television stations.

Here are some examples of the forward slash method.

  • yourwebsite.com/special
  • yourwebsite.com/discount
  • yourwebsite.com/offer
  • yourwebsite.com/2008

The forward slash method can lead the user to copy of your existing home page or an individual landing page.  My personal recommendation is using a landing page. If you use a landing page, you might want to consider making a special offer to the visitor or use the opportunity to collect a lead.  If you don't use  a landing page, the page where you send the visitor should have a good Unique Selling Proposition and a strong Call to Action. 

One Caveat
The method is predicated on you having decent analytics software installed. Our standard recommendation for collecting visitor traffic data is Google Analytics.  It's free, easy to integrate, and versatile enough to get collect good data. Ask your hosting company or web developer for assistance in ensuring you have the proper software and it is setup correctly.

How to Track Effectiveness
After the advertising has run check your web statistics, you should be able to correlate the various forms of advertising and see if there is a follow through with visitors to your web site. Make sure you request a copy of the ad schedule from each individual advertiser. The ad schedule should give an hourly break down of when your advertising was broadcast. Check to see if certain types of ads perform better during various parts of the day.

Why Not Use a Different Domain Name?

Some of my colleagues have pointed out that you can also track effectiveness by using different domain names.  My personal opinion is that it's far better to brand one domain name with your audience than using multiple domain names.  This is especially true for event marketers. If you have an event that takes place every year or every few years it's recommended that you stay with one domain name.

The technique outline above is not a perfect method for tracking all your advertising.  But it is significantly more effective than dumping all your users to your home page and not knowing how they ended up on the web site.  Ultimately, the process will assist you in identifying the advertising mediums that work the best or at least alert you to advertising that is performing poorly.

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Building Anticipation For Your Event with Email Marketing

Do you or your organization have an upcoming event? Let's assume you already have a web site, high quality targeted email list, and an email distribution service. It is important to remember there are so many companies who now do email marketing that it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. If you plan on using email for event marketing you need to distinguish yourself. There are a few simple steps you can take to stand out from the crowd.

Send More Than One Email
It takes more than one simple email to get people to your event. Many event marketers assume that one or two emails are sufficient enough to compel the target audience to buy a ticket or induce a desirable action.  The consumer gets bombarded with so much advertising, it's easy for them to forget or simply not pay attention to your messaging. Take some time to think of a series of emails that will build interest and encourage measurable action over time.  This measurable action could come in the form of purchasing an online ticket, clicking a link for additional information, or signing up to volunteer.  You want to think with the final goal in mind.  Consider what you ultimately want to accomplish with your email marketing. How do you plan on measuring success? The biggest mistake you can make is by asking your audience to buy right from the start.

The First Thing They Read

Your messaging starts with the email's subject line.  You need to give the user a good reason to open your email.  Remember that your target audience is being inundated with "Free Viagra" and "Your Pre-Approved" messages on a regular basis. The better the subject line the better email open rates. The best open rates I've seen my clients achieve with their email marketing efforts ranges between 30-40%.  I personally don't know of anyone in the industry who achieves email open rates above 60% on a regular basis.

Building Interest
When engaging in email event marketing you need to be conscious of the fine line between being persistent and annoying your list subscribers. If each email you send is asking someone to "buy now, buy now!" and overly sales pitch oriented, you're going to annoy your target audience. Engage your audience at the emotional level. It is possible to sell something without being overly "salesman-like." I'm a firm believer in providing an overwhelming amount of useful and entertaining information with little or no sales pitch.  It is hard to build trust and credibility when you are always asking for the sale. Tease them with great content or a link to an interesting video.  Don't over do the persistence of your messaging. Send your messages about every two weeks leading up to your event.

Consider some of the steps outlined above for the next time you start an event marketing campaign. The most important thing you can do is deliver high quality and relevant information to your target audience.  It's difficult for someone not to open a new email when the last one was so engaging.

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How Name Branding Impacts Event Web Site Marketing

Event Web Site - Name Branding
If you are supporting your event with a web site, domain names are a crucial part of event branding.  When people think of your event do they know about the associated web site?  More importantly, can they easily recall the domain name? This is a core concept of web centric event marketing.  All points of advertising should lead to your web site. When people already know where to find information on your event it is far easier to focus your advertising campaigns on promoting event awareness. It costs far less money to promote awareness as opposed to trying to brand a new event and enticing people to attend.  Affinity and prior customer satisfaction make it significantly easier for event organizers to get patrons to their next event.

A Real World Example of Branding
Recently, I had a client make a last minute decision to change their existing domain name to a new domain name.  The scope of their event had changed and they wanted a domain name that better reflected the change. At first glance their decision appeared to be a smart idea. In actuality it might turn out to be a huge strategic mistake.  For years the client spent tens of thousands of dollars to brand the previous domain name. A few weeks before their event started they decided to change their domain name.  Their decision to change the domain name can have a negative impact on their branding efforts. They made the right decision in forwarding their domain to their new domain.  Always make sure your old domain forwards to the new one and never immediately stop using your old domain name.

It's Never Too Early to Establishing Event Awareness
One of my air show mentors who has participated in and organized hundreds of air shows keeps reminding me of the following: You can never get the message across too early.  Keep your event web site up and running between each year you have your event, even if there is a break of a two to three years.  For organizations it takes anywhere from six months to a year just to position their event web site in top search engines for certain keywords.

Search Engine Optimization Impact
Going back to the previous client example. The client's decision to change their domain name a few weeks before the event could have a very negative fallout for search engine optimization. For most organizations it takes months, if not years to get a proper search engine listing. If people are searching for the previous event they might not recognize the new branding.  In some cases the domain name might not even show up as a proper listing in search engines. If you are going to change your domain name or web site for your event, do so at least 6 months in advance.

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