Event Promotion: Online Coupons and Discounts

Have You Considered Using a Coupon or Discount lately?
No discussion on internet marketing would be complete if you didn't bring up the topic of Coupons and Discounts. Coupons and discounts are a great way to get prospects to take near immediate action online. It's hard to debate that people are LESS likely to buy your products or service if they have a coupon in hand. In spite of a coupon’s versatility beyond just discounting, few businesses choose to make use of them. You can do the same - use coupons to drive sales, track marketing effectiveness, and create lifetime value customers.

Coupons are a Waste, Right?
A few years ago I tried to convince a client to provide coupons to his customers. The client is involved in the restaurant business. Up until that point in time he considered any type of coupon as bad.  We ran a test . . . give away a 25 cent to produce product and see what happens. The average ticket was over $30 per party.  Then the client said this . . . “What happens when people make copies and there are thousands of coupons floating around? I think that makes us look cheap.”  I would argue that thousands of people with a coupon for your restaurant is a good thing - especially when you're raking in an average of $30 per party. 

Correct Pricing
A number of business owners think coupons and discounts are a money losing proposition.  If you’re loosing money on coupons or discounts, you’re doing something wrong. (This doesn't include loss-leaders) The proper pricing of the product or service needs to be done with discounting in mind from the beginning.  If you set your price point intentionally high, you can avoid dipping into your profit margin. If you're going to start using coupons, target high margin items. Is there anything you can set to a higher price and then coupon?

Tracking Marketing Effectiveness

Coupons can also be used to track your marketing efforts. I'd argue couponing is less about giving a discount and more about finding out what advertising channels work. Have you ever checked out of an online store and entered a promotional code or discount coupon?  That is most likely tied back to a strategic marketing campaign.  Consider using a free consultation (coupon) as a way to lure perspective leads.

Creating Lifetime Value Customers
You can’t look at the single transaction as the ultimate indication of success.  Too many business owners think in terms of “If I could just get each person to buy X.” The question that needs to be asked is what is the value of your customer over time?  The value of a one time sale is minimal, the value of a lifetime customer is massive. Coupons can be used to assist you in creating lifetime value customers.

Use coupons to drive sales beyond just one transaction. Coupons should be part of your long term strategy. It's all about the lifetime value of a customer.

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Events - Online Ticket Sales

Over the last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in a number of public events.  These events included everything from Ukrainian Festivals, Rock and Roll Concerts, Dinner Banquets, to Air Shows.  A few years ago I had the opportunity to try my hand at online ticketing.  Event producers can leverage the advantages of online ticketing to benefit their event and bottom line.  Below are some ideas.

Convenience
One advantage the Internet offers is instant gratification.  Users crave the ability to buy something and have it immediately.  Online ticketing is available 24/7 regardless of location.  Some online ticketing services actually allow users to print their own tickets right from their home printer.  Another convenience of online ticketing services is that users don’t have to wait in line or travel to purchase tickets.

The Ability to Add Value
Added value can be combined with a discounted ticket to offer an additional incentive to purchase tickets online.  There are online ticket services that allow you to add sponsors and additional information to the ticket.  Why not offer a great coupon for the purchaser courtesy of one of your sponsors? 

The Ability to Send Additional Information
You can send additional information to customers via email after they’ve purchased tickets.  This information can include anything from maps and directions to a small guide for your event.  Because the information is digital it can be passed along almost instantly and don’t have to worry about additional printing or distribution costs.

Determine Marketing Impact

Data collected from online ticketing purchases can be used to gauge marketing impact.  Event marketers can quickly determine if one type of advertising outperforms another. 

Future Sales
Does your event take place yearly? If the customer was satisfied with the event and sales process you might be able to approach them again in the future.  Make sure any information that is collected adheres to the principals of permission based marketing.  You can then use the email list to conduct follow up surveys of your event and start to generate interest for the event in the future.  When the event happens again approach those who purchased last time

Online ticketing holds a number of incentives for both event producers and consumers.  The process can be used to save time and money for the consumer and the event producers.

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Smart Advance Ticket Strategies

Swiss_flag_event_tickets Today's post is another riff from my involvement with air shows and event marketing. Advance sale tickets are like gold for almost every event producer.  Who wouldn’t want to cover their costs prior to an event?  Every event producer agrees on the importance of advance sales tickets, yet few are able to capitalize on the concept.  It’s one of those things that’s “good on paper.” In many cases event producers are risk adverse when it comes to discounting ticket prices and creative ticket bundling.  For those that are willing to assume a little risk there is the potential for great reward. 

Some Swiss Schooling
One of the most powerful lessons I learned about event marketing came while attending the European Air Show Conference.  There was a Swiss Air Force Colonel who gave an excellent presentation highlighting various aspects of his air show.  The air show took place every few years and featured some amazing acts.  Their last event featured 6 military jet demonstration teams. One of the most compelling success stories from the air show encompassed advance ticket sales.  The Swiss Colonel illustrated important marketing techniques related to ticket discounting and family pricing.

Discount Tickets
Perceived value is crucial in getting people to purchase advance sale tickets.  One leverage point for purchasing tickets in advance is discount tickets.  Many event organizers are very hesitant to discount ticket prices to their event. In the case of the Swiss air show their advance sale tickets were discounted 40% for adults, children, and family tickets. Most event organizers would gawk at such a discount.  Yet in the Swiss example the air show was paid for entirely before a single person entered the gate courtesy of advance sale tickets.  Can you think of creative ways to get the consumer to purchase early?  Does your event offer online tickets?

Family Packages
Another successful aspect of the Swiss air show came in the form of family ticket packages. The decision was made that an average family was 2 adults and 2 children. The family ticket price was set accordingly.  Regardless of how many children in a family the ticket price stayed firm.  Most event producers get concerned with lost potential revenue.  Did the event organize lose a few dollars of potential revenue on the ticket price? Yes.  But any lost revenue was made up in food and beverages purchases once a family was inside the air show.

Event organizers need to look beyond just the ticket price as a source of revenue. Thinking of creative ways to get people to buy early can help almost any event organizer offset cost and risk.

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Event Marketing: What is the Perceived Value?

Are you conveying the perceived value of your event, product, or service? Perceived value is extremely important to the consumer and a crucial element of marketing.  Perceived value isn’t always determined by how much a product or service costs.  In many cases it is what the consumer expects to receive or experiences that determines value.  A good marketing plan both online and offline can help establish the perceived value of an event or product.  It's far easier for consumers to buy when they recognize the value of your event.

The Tale of Two Air Shows
One of my favorite examples of perceived value comes from the air show industry. A few years ago there were two air shows held on the same weekend. Both shows are located almost equidistant from a major metropolitan area in the United States. Each had a military jet team (huge draw).  One show charged a gate fee and the other show was free.

Can you guess which show had three times the attendance of the other air show? Most people respond “it’s the free air show!”  In fact it was the show that charged a gate fee that was significantly more successful.

People Won't Spend If They Don't See Value
Consumers are willing to pony up their hard earned money - if they see value.

One of the biggest differences between the two events above was the marketing. The show that charged admission spent a significant amount of money on marketing.  They started their marketing campaign months in advance.  Marketing, publicity, and advertising can translate into value. The free air show in the above example spent almost nothing on marketing. Ironically, most free events have little value in the prospect's mind.

Here is what it essentially comes down to - If people don't know about your event, or care about your event . . . nobody is going to show up.

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Event Web Sites: Saving Money and Time with a FAQ

The accessibility and versatility of the web can help you save a tremendous amount of time.  One place to leverage all the great information you have stored up is with a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

FAQ and Event Marketing

When it comes to event marketing FAQs are a tremendous help.  It is in an event organizer’s best interest to put together a well thought out and easy to use FAQ.  Leading up to an event people are always going to try and check for information online.  Are you prepared for this scenario?

Save Yourself Time
Think through the following scenario.  Each year that an air show takes place in Rochester, the show organizer can receive anywhere from 300-1000 emails.  If each email takes about 5 minutes to read and respond that adds an additional 25-80+ hours of additional customer service. If you can answer your customer’s questions via your web site, you’ll spend less time answering questions over the phone or email.

How to Come Up with Questions

Start with some common sense.  Even though you might think the information is 100% obvious to the user always think of ways to remind them. 

If your web site has been up for a few years you might already know a majority of the questions users will ask. Take a look through all the emails you received with various requests and questions.  Are there any specific questions or topic areas where people are apt to ask questions?  Use their questions to flesh out additional questions.

To the Point
Keep the length of the page and number of questions reasonable.  No user will take the time to go through an FAQ page with hundreds of questions and answers.  Also make sure the information is easy to understand and navigate.

No FAQ page is going to be 100% complete.  But in trying to answer as many repetitive questions as possible, you can save you and your organization numerous hours of customer service.  Your web site is there to save time. Make sure you are using it proactively.

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Promotion & Marketing: How to Get Them To Your Event

This post is specifically geared toward my friends in the air show industry.  Some of the fundamentals can be used for almost any type of event marketing.

Insider Information
When people know you are involved in something like an air show they’ll usually ask you for some type of insider information.  Being involved with the local air show, I’ve experienced this several times over the last few years.  One question that everyone asks, “are the Blue Angels coming again?”  People want to be the first to know something.  In this case the response you give also determines if a number of people will attend the air show.  It's like being let in on a good surprise. One way you can keep people in the loop is with permission based email lists.  A few informative emails can go a great way to building additional trust with the consumer.  If you have already established trust with your consumer, you might be able to hook them with an early offer.

Military jet teams are the focus of any air show.  There have been a few years when local show producers have decided not to hold an air show because of no jet team.  Without a jet team air show producers lose a large percentage of gate attendance. The typical response from the air show crowd, “I’m not going to go if they don’t have the Blue Angels.”  Many people don't realize that each North American military jet team gets hundreds of requests annually.  Each team can only fulfill around 40 show requests per year.  That leaves a number of air shows without a jet team. There are a few shows that have been resourceful enough to overcome the challenge of not having a military jet team.  It is a matter of selling people on the value of the event.

The People On The Outside
When an air show producer is fortunate enough to secure a jet team, they’ve won part of the marketing battle.  One of the biggest challenges any air show faces is the massive amount of people who refuse to pay for a ticket.  The most common excuse I hear is “I can see them from my back yard.”  There are thousands, possibly tens of thousands of people, who don’t attend the air show because they insist they can see something great without going to the air show.  Unfortunately, most of them are missing the best part of the show.

A picture can be worth a thousand words.  If you can combine the right picture with the right words, I believe that can change a few minds.  When people see a jet team from their back yard or the side of the road, they’re not really seeing the show.  The air show takes place a center point.  This is usually located at the airport or where the air show is taking place.  Center point is the sweet spot.  What people see from their backyards and the side of the road isn’t the full blown air show.  They’re seeing repositioning turns and rejoins.  Those are nice, but they’re nothing like the Calypso Pass, Opposing Knife Edge, or a great Sneak Pass.

What's Your USP?
Blues_1 In the end it comes down to a USP (Unique Selling Proposition).  You need to give people a very good reason to open their wallets and give up their hard earned money.  In some cases it is as simple as a picture and a few words. 99.9% of people won't see the picture on the right from "the backyard."  Sell the consumer on the unbelievable experience of being at the show. A picture can be worth a thousand words, if you have a good story to go along with it.

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Event Promotion: Getting More Out Of Your Print Ads

One place web site references show up all the time is in print advertising.  If you open a magazine it is difficult not to find a number of ads that contain a company’s web address.  The problem is that most advertisements don’t leverage a company's web site.  Listing your web site within your advertising isn’t enough.

Extending Your Brand
In many cases print advertising might be the first time a person is exposed to your product or service.  One of the most important things you can do with your print advertising is to encourage people to go visit your web site.  This falls into the realm of web centric marketing.  Use your web site as an extension of your print advertising.  The amount of information you can pass along via your web site is well beyond what you can do with traditional print ads.

Give Them A Reason To Visit

Provide the reader a compelling call to action that drives them to your web site. Below are some ideas you can include in your advertising along with your web address:

  • Get more information online …
  • Visit our web site for great coupons
  • Buy online for additional discounts
  • Signup for a FREE (Report, Audio, Sample, etc.) at our web site
  • Become at member of our discount club …

Print advertising is an important step in any marketing campaign.  You can get a much higher return on investment if you figure out compelling ways to get people to visit your web site.

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Countering the Weather & Event Marketing

Greetings from the frozen and snow filled Rochester, New York.  Over the past 24 hours almost two feet of snow have fallen.  Today the roads were a mess and more than a few businesses and organizations have been adversely affected. There are few things in this world that have as much indirect impact on a business as weather.  Thought you can’t control the weather there are certain actions you can take to minimize its impact.  One such action is using your web site and the Internet to keep your users or customers better informed when the weather throws you a curve ball.

The Ability to Quickly Communicate
Use the Internet to counteract the unpredictability of Mother Nature. The Internet offers you the ability to disseminate information in a very rapid fashion.  If a business is impacted by the weather you can use the Internet to inform employees and staff using the web. Compare and contrast one simple email blast to the time it takes to contact people over the telephone.  One important caveat is making sure your message is easily understood.  Emails or text messages can be easily misunderstood, stay clear and concise.

Multiple Channels
There are multiple channels for contacting people via the internet: web page, email, and messaging services. The first place you can start to inform people is right on your home page.  A simple update to a web site might be all that is required, if people know to check the web site for updates.  One example is a school district that is closed because of inclement weather.  An updated to the school web site helps parents in not having to search aimlessly to find information via more traditional forms of media.  They’re only a few words or a bookmark away from additional formation. 

Outdoor Events
Do you have an outdoor event?  It can be anything from a sporting event to an airshow.  The weather forecasters try their best, but they aren't always right. Airshows can lose thousands in potential revenue because of an incorrect weather forecast.  All it takes is the implication of inclement weather and people won't show up.  If you have emails for your patrons, use that to your advantage. 

Use technology to your advantage.  It can save you time and money. There are several options to choose from.  The Internet provides you an opportunity to send one universal message to countless people almost instantaneously.

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Event Marketing & Promotion After Your Event

Today’s short post is directed at event marketers who hold events on a regular basis. There are too many times when event organizers stop updating their web site after their event has finished. Even when your event is over it's important to update your web site.

After Your Event is Finished
After your event is over, update your home page.  Write an online thank you addressed to attendees of your event.  Make sure you let them know you appreciate their support.  Also let them know to return to your web site for updates in the future.  People will naturally return to you site seeking information. If you have paid patrons, make sure they get a special thank you. In today's digital age you might want to consider an offline thank you - maybe a postcard.

Clear Out Old or Confusing Information
You need to keep your event web site updated with future event information. As soon as you know something regarding your event or a future event, update your site. If you are not having your event again next year, let people know through your web site. People often come back to your site the following year looking for information. Make sure you don't have old information that might confuse the user. Tag all of your event dates with a specific year - e.g. January 7, 2007. Dates without a year can confuse site visitors into thinking you have an upcoming event . . . even if you don't.

Build Excitement for Your Next Event
Build anticipation for your next event on your current web site. Consider the possibility of using your site to post a photo gallery of images from your event. Photos are a great way of creating lasting memories and generating anticipation for future events.

You can also use your web site to collect feedback on past events or suggestions for future events. Stay focused on the people who make your event possible . . . the patrons.

On the web it can be the small things that make a huge difference.  Keep your event web site up to date and give your users a reason to come back!

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The Event Promotion System - Get Free Event Promotion & Event Marketing Video Training


Why Should People Give You An Online Donation?

Cap I ran across the donation request box on the right while surfing the Internet. Initially I didn’t give it much thought.  It’s a donation request just like all the other donation requests, right?  Upon brief study I noticed something a little different - "please" repeated four times. It gave donation box a sense of urgency - but not in a good way.  Finally I ended up clicking on the “Make a Donation” button just to satiate my curiosity.  After the click, there were no further details indicating how my donation was going to be used.

Wishful Thinking
What is the probability of someone just clicking on a donation button shown? I would argue slim to no chance. The button above gives no compelling reason to donate. If you are asking for donations online you need to compel users to take action.  I contacted the site owner to inquire how the donation would be used. They never replied.

Low Donation Barriers
Online donations have far few barriers for their donors.  Compare this with offline donations.  In the offline world you normally get a donation request letter.  Usually they have a self addressed envelope and donation cards.  If you fill out the card you then need to either enter your credit card or make out a check.  After that’s complete you seal up the envelope and drop it in the mail box.  For many people this is way too many steps.  Let's be honest, please just don't have the time. If you want to contribute online you can go to the site, get your wallet, and enter your credit card number - BOOM! your done.

Give Them a Good Reason Why
There are a small number of simple things you can do to increase the likelihood of someone donating to your cause.  The first place to start is with a good cause.  You need to give your potential donors a very good reason to donate. Don't be afraid to be descriptive. Very few people are willing to give up their hard earned money - regardless of their level of financial wealth.  It is your job to create and present a compelling reason.

Make sure that your donation button is above the fold.  It constantly needs to be in front of your audience.  Some web sites hide their donation buttons or pages in the most obscure places.  If your donation box is at the bottom of the page, you're not going to do well.

Some of the most successful donation drives are run by political organizations.  Politics is an ideal example of involving emotions into the decision making process.  "Whether online or offline, you must make your pitch, you must provide a sense of urgency, and you must make it easy to donate.” says Tom Hockaday. His firm helped John McCain raise $6.4 million dollars online for his presidential campaign. Source: Ireland & Nash, Secrets of Successful Online Fundraising: Tips for Increasing Donations

What do They Get for Their Donation?
Tell people what they are going to get for their donation.  It could be anything from a free t-shirt to an autographed copy of a book.  There needs to be a value added incentive.

It is also important to follow up with a thank you for anyone that donated. It has never been easier to automate the thank you process.  Let your donors know how their charity was used.  People are much more likely to donate to a good cause more than once if they know their money is being well spent. If you want to raise the bar even higher, send a hand-written or hard mail piece. An email thank you is nice, but it doesn't have the impact of a hand-written note.

Web donations will only increase in the coming years.  Make sure you do the simple things that encourage your target market to donate to a good cause.

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Online Event Marketing & Promotion

I had the pleasure of attending a very nice fund raising dinner over the weekend. The one challenge I experienced was finding information on the event at the organization's web site. Unbeknown to me the organization recently renamed their event.

The organization could have made the user experience significantly easier by posting a simple event link on their home page. Instead the information was buried on a difficult to find secondary page.  If you are holding a public event for your company make it simple for people to find information.

Consider some of the following suggestions:

  • Display a prominent event link from your company's home page
  • Have good directions to your event with maps
  • Suggest parking areas for your event and where people shouldn't park
  • Offer people the ability to purchase tickets online
  • Comprehensive contact information
  • Building a web site that creates excitement for the event

If your event takes place every year keep the same web address and site running all year long.  Some companies choose to date their event web address, e.g. whateverairshow2006.com.  Try not to do this.  This hurts your online branding and event search optimization efforts.

Consider registering and hosting a separate web site for your event.  Domain registration and hosting have become very inexpensive.  One of our client's operates a microbrewery and restaurant.  They have a web site to support the microbrewery and restaurant.  Each year they conduct a large brew fest.  Next year we're going to encourage them to maintain a separate web site to support their event.  Keeping a separate event page from your company web site helps you focus on specific user target markets and event goals.

There are significantly more suggestions for online event marketing.  Hopefully some of these brief points get you thinking and headed in the right direction.

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Event Marketing and Search Engines

My involvement on both sides of the air show industry, performing and producing, has taught me a great deal about event marketing. Specifically how user search for a given event online.  Traditional advertising and brand awareness definitely come into play.  But for users who lack brand awareness or aren't in a local advertising market, the ability to search and locate information online is a critical.

Make Finding Information About Your Event Easy
One particular event this year illustrated the frustration users can endure.  A few days before leaving for the event, I went online to try and find out who else would be performing at the air show.  My first stop was the search engines.  I tried standards search terms and some abstract search terms.  In the end I couldn't find any information on the event.  My total time searching had been about 30 minutes and no information to be found.  It was a very frustrating experience. They had a web site, unfortunately you couldn't find it in the search engines.

Is Your Site Easy to Find in Search Engines?
One of the first places any users looks to find information about your event is search engines.  The following advice is predicated on you having a web site for your event. At the top level people will typically search for the type of event (air show) and location (Rochester).  Secondary search terms include your event's main attraction (Snowbirds, Thunderbirds, Canadian Harvards) and event performers (Sean Tucker). I believe the same methodology can be applied to most event marketing. Never work from the assumption that because you have a web site you are easy to find.

Look At Your Log Files
If you have a web site that has been up for at least one subsequent event, analyze your server log files
. This is the single best place to find keywords people are using to locate you online. Concentrate on finding the top search phrases and keywords and optimize for those terms.  At the same time don't discount relevant search terms that might not be in your log files.  Always be on the lookout for good keywords.

Not every event is branded or advertised outside local markets.  People looking to attend your event are looking for information online.  Make sure information for your event is easy to find.  Optimizing for search engines is one of your best forms of low cost or free advertising.

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The Billboard Test and Beyond

Does you Domain Name Pass the Billboard Test?

Airshow_billboard_sm When we first started designing billboards for airshows and other events, we quickly became aware of getting the message across in the shortest and most effective way possible.  The billboard methodology can be applied to almost any form of traditional advertising. 

The Magical Number Seven
Keep in mind most people won't remember specific details of your billboard the first time.  I'm a firm believer in "the Magical Number Seven." In short, you can only remember small bits of information upon your first exposure.  This has little to do with intelligence.  It is a cognitive limitation of the human brain.  In most cases we can only remember 7, plus or minus two bits of information.  As a result, keep your messaging simple.

My personal belief is that all your traditional advertising should take a web-centric emphasis.  If you can get people to visit your web site, you can pass along far more information for less money.

Emphasize Your Domain Name
The limitations of the human brain and driving 55+ MPH makes it increasingly more difficult to remember small details . . . So don't cram your billboard with a bunch of information that nobody is going to be able to remember.

When advertising for your company, service, or event: keep the domain name prominent, your message direct, and make sure it is easy to remember.  If possible, use a strong call to action and drive people to your web site.

You might want to consider dropping the "www." from the domain name.  Make sure your hosting company supports no "www." with your domain.  Here are some domain name guidelines for ensuring your billboard passes the billboard test.

Holiday_billboard_smThere are far too many billboards that clutter their message with useless information.  People won't always have traffic to carefully study your billboard. Dates, times, ticket prices, etc. are pretty much useless on a billboard.

If they remember anything from your billboard or another piece of your event marketing, make sure it is your domain name.

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