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.

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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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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.

Headline
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.

Benefits
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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Reverse Engineering Online Marketing for Your Event

If you’re doing any electronic marketing for your event, I urge you to dedicate some time studying the process and methodology of high end Internet Marketers.  You can visit your local library and check out some books on the subject. I recommend books by Joe Vitale, Seth Godin, and Dan Kennedy. My other recommendation is to sign up for additional information on a web site for a product or service that captures your interest.  When you start to get emails from the business, ask yourself the questions “What can I learn from this?”, “How can I reverse engineer the process to present my information better to my target market?”, and "What do you find annoying?" Asking the previous questions can help you refine and streamline your own marketing process.

Most Internet Marketers utilize a number of universal strategies to connect with their target market. Some of universal strategies include:

  • Strong Copywriting
  • Compelling Subject Lines
  • High Quality Content
  • Building Trust and Credibility over Time

A Marketing Guru to Study
One person I’ve spent extensive time studying is Eben Pagan. Some people might know him by this dating guru alter ego, David DeAngelo.  Eben’s ideology of Marketing embraces the notion of “front loading value.” His latest project is the Guru Mastermind program. In the program he gives away oodles of high quality information on developing your own information products for FREE. Why give stuff away for free? If you give away high quality useful information you can make it difficult to for your target market not to take a desired action. Almost every event marketer or promoter can adopt a similar ideology and apply it to their event.

Respect Copyrights
I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t remind others to respect the copyrights of other people.  Make sure you’re not borrowing someone else’s work and then taking credit for it. If you pay attention to the strategy used you shouldn’t have problems.

There is no need to reinvent the online marketing “wheel.” If you can incorporate some of the techniques top marketers employ, you’ll be saving yourself time and money.

Additional Resources:



Why Well Planned Events Fail . . .

Last week I spent some time with a good friend of mine who does a lot of volunteer work. He was telling me about the fund raising his organization does to raise money for charities.  Anyone would appreciate the time and energy that is involved in planning events. One of his biggest frustrations was all the effort put forth to organize and execute an event with little or no return on investment. To the best of his knowledge, he and his associates spent about 55 hours collectively planning the event and 5 hours executing the event, all to break even.

Event_marketing_failure


Event organizers and volunteers invest dozens or hundreds of hours of time with little return on investment.  If you’re looking critically at events that didn’t succeed, you might surmise “They didn’t do a very good job of planning or the event wasn’t very good.” Yet, I know a number of people, including myself that have spent countless hours meticulously planning events that failed to meet their financial objectives. Of the numerous event case studies I’ve examined the problem doesn’t appear to be in the planning or execution phase. The reason is the marketing of the event itself.

More Money Means Better Marketing, Right?
I personally don’t equate the level of marketing an organization can accomplish with the size of their marketing budget. Because an organization has a respectable marketing budget doesn’t mean that they’ll be successful marketing their event. Some of the most successful events I’ve been involved with engaged in simple grass roots marketing. They only used event posters and word of mouth. Those events did tremendously well on a marketing budget of a few hundred dollars.

Where to Invest for Your Event
If you want your event to have the greatest chance for success invest in better marketing. Event organizers don’t do enough of the right marketing to get people to their event. I’ve seen great events financially fail and poor events rake in the bucks. The same ideology applies in the business world. Regardless of how good the product or service, if there is no market, a lack of marketing, or the target market isn’t motivated to act, the business will fail. I’m not sure who said it but here is sage advice, “Market or Die!”

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Event Marketing: Persistence versus Pestering

Last year I was involved in an event marketing project that utilized a series of emails to promote an event. The permission based list was a little over a thousand people.  Toward the end of the promotion the client started to question if too many emails were being sent to potential attendees.  In the end, not one of the email list subscribers complained about getting too many emails or being inundated with information.   On the flip side, I’ve seen other businesses sales pitch their prospective customers into oblivion and get plenty of unhappy emails in return. If you’re going to email market your event, it is always important to respect the fine line between being persistence and pestering.

Don’t Pester, But Be Persistent
Each event will have a different threshold for where potential pestering begins.   The most important point to be made is that as long as you’re working with a permission based list, your potential attendee’s will give you an impressive degree of latitude. That latitude is afforded to you only if you send them information of value.

The Key
The key to stay persistent without being pestering is in delivering information that will be valued by your potential attendee.  If you’re doing email marketing for your event and send four “sales pitch” emails with no information value, chances are you’re going to annoy your potential attendees.  There is always the possibility that a few people might complain. It’s important that you can’t keep everyone happy. If there are several people that are complaining, you’ve crossed the line.

Be Persistent, Especially as Your Event Approaches
Try sending a event oriented email a week before your event and then one last blast a few days prior.  We’re all human. You would be surprised how many times interested attendees for your event simply forget that your event is happening. A friendly reminder, in almost every instance, can only help you get more people to your event.

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Event Marketing: News Updates on Your Event Web Site

One thing almost every event web site encounters is a varying percentage of users who are return visitors. Users want the latest and greatest information regarding your event and return over time. As your event draws closer, the number of updates you make on your web site will most likely increase.  Have you considered dedicating a section of your home page to news and event updates?

Consider News Web Sites
If you’re looking to emulate information update ideas look no further than your favorite news service.  It can be CNN.com, Reuters.com, Yahoo.com, etc.  Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. It is important to remember news companies have invested a lot of money into the functionality of their web sites.  How they deliver time sensitive information is critical to their business models, especially the latest news.  Ask yourself, “Are there any ideas I can borrow from some of the top news web sites?”

Some Basics

If you update a number of pages on your web site include the date and time of the most recent update.  Consider sectioning out an area of your home page specifically for news updates. In the update area included links to pages that contain new information. One idea that you can borrow from news web sites is the “one-liner” link. An example of a one-liner, “Girl Scout Saves the Day.” You can then link the text to the related page or article.

News Archives
Unlike other news sites, I don’t really think an archive of updates is necessary for event web sites. You might want to keep your own records, but I can’t imagine people would take interest. Plus, your return on investment for time and expenditures might not be a good return on investment. Ultimately you need to determine what is most important to your group of users.

Having an easy to understand and navigate “News Section” on your web site home page will save your user time and effort.  Keep your focus on making the information easy to access for the user.

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Event Promotion: Building Excitement for Your Event with Great Stories

Shackleton_advertisement If you ask event organizers and patrons why someone might show up to an event, you’ll probably get two very different answers.  One crucially simple thing you can do is to tap into the interests of your perspective customer. It’s imperative to get people excited about your event. Ask yourself the question almost every perspective buyer subconsciously asks about your event “Why should I care?”

Having a worthy charitable cause is no longer enough to drive event attendance. You have to give people a very good reason to open up their wallet and spend their hard earned cash. There are so many events vying for the attention of your prospect. One way to beat the competition is by leveraging story in your event marketing and promotion. What does your prospect really want in relation to your event and how can you present it to them in the most effect way possible? You want to craft the answer into a powerful story that engages your prospect from start to finish.

Tell Them A Great Story
I’m a big history buff.  The one thing that makes history really interesting is a great story.  It’s the “Did you know . . .“ line that can take something from being mundane to extraordinary. Let's take a plain old field some place in Canada. It's a plain old field until you tell a story about it.

  • Did you know that that empty field across the road was once used to train some of the best pilots in the world during World War II? If you walk over there you can see what's left from the old runways where Canada's best fighter pilots trained. If you go off into the woods you can actually touch the abandon fuselage of one of the training aircraft.

You should include story telling into various aspects of your event. Can you tell people a good story about some aspect of your event that will capture interest and attention? Get people to say "I wanna do that - it sounds like it would be fun!" Relevant stories can instantly add value and credibility to your event. The best part is that words are free. All you have to do is put on your thinking cap.

Audio and Video Storytelling
Another consideration is using audio and video to tell a story. Consider an exclusive audio interview with an event performer or event the event organizer. There are a plethora of interesting videos on YouTube that you can easily embed into you event marketing process. At the same time, don’t try let cool technology trump high quality content. A lousy irrelevant video is still lousy at the end of the day.

People love good stories. Even more than good stories they love to tell other people good stories. Use that simple process to your advantage when marketing and promoting your event. One of the greatest event promoters of all time (plus, used stories all the time) was P.T. Barnum. Below you will find a small collection P. T. Barnum posts that will help you with promoting and marketing your event with stories. Don't worry about getting too many ideas to start. Just focus on using one good idea and take action on it!


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Event Marketing: Stop Reducing Your Event Ticket Price

Have you ever considered a decrease in the price of your event ticket to increase attendance?

The Price Drop Example

Lately I find myself telling event marketing clients and colleagues about a particular volunteer event where ticket price was a concern. Over four years, the volunteer event had an associated dinner banquet. The first year the banquet ticket price was 25.00 USD per person and over three hundred fifty people showed up. As the years progressed the dinner ticket prices were reduced because event organizers thought the ticket price was too high. The logic used was decrease price and you’ll get more people to attend. The dinner banquet prices went from 25.00 USD per person down to 15.00 USD. When the tickets reached the lowest price the banquet had the lowest attendance.  The above example illustrates the counter intuitive of what most people would think in terms of ticket pricing.   

Expensive = Good
Last week, I started reading a book by Robert Cialdini from his Influence series.  In the chapter titled, Weapons of Influence, Cialdini illustrates that if something is expensive that the consumer will perceive it as being good. One example he used was a jewelry shop owner clearing their inventory of a certain item by doubling the price of an item that nobody would buy. Cialdini infers from additional examples that consumers believe that “Expensive = Good.”  I believe the same methodology can be applied from ticket prices for an event to your products or services.

Doing the Counter-Intuitive

Instead of trying to reduce your ticket prices to compete with a given market consider increasing your price to redefine your position in a given market.   As a caveat, I don’t think you can raise ticket prices if you can’t deliver perceived value at your event. Take the time to think through the scenario and potential virtues or vices. I don't believe in raising prices and skimping on quality. The quality of the experience needs to exceed the actual ticket price in order for a price increase to work.

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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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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.

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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.

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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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