Print Advertising Still Works . . . (Outrageous Story)


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If you ask the average business person about traditional advertising (television, print, & radio), you’d think it went the way of the Dodo Bird. Businesses are abandoning ship for new media like the web, text messaging, and social media.  My advice - don’t abandon traditional media quite yet.  I know the previous statement seems ironic coming from an Internet guy, but I still believe you can make a lot of money with traditional media.

Traditional media is still alive and extremely profitable for those who know the fundamentals of great marketing. The problem is that few businesses really know how to create an ad that resonates with their market, offers a perceived benefit, and gets the prospect to take action. The result is that businesses have taken their lousy advertisements from traditional media and ported it over to the Internet.  The same lousy advertising is now online caked with lots of multimedia and still woefully ineffective. It doesn’t have to be this way. If you can get the marketing fundamentals right, you can have really effective advertising online or off.  

Some of the very basic fundamentals of good advertising include the right offer, to the right market, with a well defined call to action.
Last Friday a friend of mine shared a story that shows that traditional media is still alive and well, if you get the fundamentals right.

Almost a Hundred Women Call Him Out of the Blue
A few weeks ago a friend of mine began to receive unsolicited telephone calls from women inquiring about an extravagant vacation opportunity with him. By the time it was over he estimates that he had received around 100 phone calls from all sorts of women.  Eventually the phone calls became a burden. Women kept asking details about his extravagant vacation opportunity.  The problem was that there was no vacation opportunity and he wasn’t looking for an older woman to accompany him anywhere.

The News Paper Ad
After some investigation he found out that there was a newspaper ad with his cell phone number listed. The text ad basically stated “Man seeks 62 year old woman who will accompany him on an all expenses paid trip to Florida from November until May. Call 201-555-5555.” Something that simple prompted him to get almost a hundred telephone calls. There were no fancy graphics or pictures, just words in a simple newspaper ad.

Get Your Message and Market Right
There is an important lesson to be learned and can it be applied to almost any business or event. The ad example from above illustrates some very basic, yet powerful marketing fundamentals. The ad was for a very specific prospect, “a 62 year old woman.”  There were clear benefits for the prospect, “All expenses paid trip to Florida.“ And a clear call to action, “Call 201-555-5555.” The ad was devastatingly simple and super effective. Unfortunately in today’s advertising world businesses either cloud their message with too many details or don’t give the right details to get someone to act.  As the old adage goes, “keep it simple stupid!”  Next time you go to create an ad, make sure you are hitting on the basic fundamentals of a great advertisement.

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Building Your List – Above the Fold

If you aren't getting enough opt-ins on your web site and you have a reasonably compelling offer, you might want to check the location of your opt-in box. Recently I spoke to a group of sports event organizers. A number of them had been building email lists.  When I looked at their individual web sites there was an interesting correlation that popped up.  Those web sites that made it easy and obvious to opt-in had much larger email lists than those that didn’t.  It’s pretty straight forward. If people have to dig to find your email opt-in box, you’re probably not going to have as many sign ups.

How I Upset a Client
This past year I experienced an interesting quandary with an event marketing client over the opt-in box location on their web site. The client did not like where we put the opt-in box on their home page.  It was located as high as you could get on the home page, above almost all the information. I was told more than a few times, and in no uncertain terms, to move the opt-in further down the page.  After some delicate negotiation the opt-in stayed at the top of the page. In the end my client made a lot of money and created a very good list from scratch. After that, I never again heard another request to move the opt-in box. My advice is that you put your opt-in box front and center for your visitor.

The “Fold” Can Vary
You can do yourself a world of good, just by making sure you opt-in box is above the fold.  You want the opt-in box to appear on the portion of your web site that is initially viewable without scrolling. Remember that the “fold” is variable depending on someone’s monitor size and screen resolution.  Ask some friends to test out your site and let you know if there are discrepancies.

If They’re There - They’ll probably Consider
Remember that most of the people who visit your web site are typically predisposed to at least considering what you have to offer. Someone who is interested in pottery probably isn’t going to show up to an air show web site.  A person who does like air shows and gets onto an air show web site will at least consider signing up for additional information.

You Still Need a Great Offer
There is one additional factor you need to consider.  As important as having your opt-in box above the fold is having a compelling and trustworthy offer.  You need to give your prospect a very good reason to give up their first name and email address.  Unfortunately too many people have abuse the trust of the consumer. If they think they’re going to get spammed, they’re no going to sign up. Do things to build trust and credibility with your prospect right from the start.

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Social Media, Social Networking, and Event Promotion

Some Practical Social Media Advice
While digging around the Net, I found an interesting post on social media and event promotion. The article comes from Switzerland's Stephanie Booth. In "5 Lessons in Promoting Events Using Social Media," Stephanie writes about the trails and tribulations she experienced in promoting an event with social media. Her post is well worth the read. It will give you interesting insight and ideas for promoting your upcoming event with social media.

Strike a Balance
It's hard to miss the buzz about social media and event promotion. In "Web 2.0, Social Media, and Event Promotion" I advocate striking a balance between social media and the web centric style. I really think the core of any advertising and promotion boils down to making a meaningful connection with your prospect.  It doesn't matter if you use video, blogs, or the latest technology. If you can't send out a message that quickly connects with the individual reader, you’re up the creek.

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Using Video to Promote Your Event

There is the populist view when it comes to utilizing technology online. It can be summed up with the words, “that’s cool, we need that!”  Ask most businesses why they have a web site and you’ll probably get one of two answers.  First, they have a web site because everyone else has one. Or, they have a web site because their competition has a site.  The same analogy applies to using video to support or promote your event. People have to have video on their site, because everyone else has video. It can be very expensive to follow other people online.

Content is Still King - Even in Video
If you’re going to put video online make sure it makes a connection with your prospect.   Put the emphasis on what the information can do for your prospect versus how good it makes you or your event look.  If you think about it, it’s not any different then content in other formats. Great videos are great content, they’re relevant to the viewer and they deliver something of value.

Give the Prospect What They Want
Regardless of how you’re going to deliver content, mine your information resources to see what your prospect really wants. You can conduct surveys or look at emails to find out what interests your event patron.  Create simple short videos around your prospect’s specific interests. You can leverage video to increase the number of people opt-ing in to your event’s promotion list. Video can be used to tease the viewer on certain highlights from your event. Make sure the people in your videos are authentic. Authenticity is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your prospect.

Where to Start
If you’re going to utilize video to promote your event, start by producing it in house.  I’ve seen people do more with a $150 video camera and great customer focused content than companies that spend thousands of dollars on high end video production. Keep it simple and focused on what it can do for your prospect.

Let Them Sell it For You
Do you want to know the best way to promote your event using video? Use video testimonials. One of my clients did a very smart thing at their event this past year.  They hired a video production crew to record customer testimonials during their event.  People would talk into the camera with the backdrop of other people having a great time. If you watch the video it’s difficult not to say to yourself, “Holy smokes, that looks awesome, I have to check that event out.”  Other people selling your event in their own words is very compelling!

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Virtual Events versus Live Events

I recently returned from Eben Pagan’s Conversion Summit in Los Angeles.  During the summit Eben talked about a statistic that indicated most people have an average of 0.75 very close friends.  It is a little bit scary if you think about it. Thanks to the Internet humanity has never been so connected and ‘unconnected’ at the same time.  Today it’s far easier to write an email than it is to pick up the telephone or meet someone in person.  Yes there are advantages to doing things online, but there are also disadvantages.  Have you ever written an email that someone took the wrong way? You probably had to call that person up and explain what you meant over the phone or even in person.  Eben’s “close friends” statistic got me thinking about the increase use of virtual events and their role in the future.

Online Events
Admittedly, I have little experience with promoting or managing online events.  The concept of an online event is fascinating and definitely has a number of advantages over traditional live events.  Yet, one place where live events will always prevail is at the human level. There are just some experiences that you can never replicate online.

Watching the Space Shuttle Live versus Online
In “Do You Have an Awe Inspiring Event?” I talk a little about watching a space shuttle launch.  I’m a big space shuttle buff.  I probably have watched at least 40 launches live on television and seen various HD clips with surround sound. Absolutely nothing I’ve seen online or on television can compare with actually being at a live space shuttle launch.  Live events engage more parts of your brain.

Your Senses and Emotions
Live events offer something for all five senses.  There is also an emotional and tactile part that you can’t replicate with virtual events.  If you are a member of Eben’s Guru Mastermind you can access all his live training online at your convenience. But Eben’s event was made even more extraordinary by virtue of all the people you could talk to and interact with in person.  The human experience was as important as the training.  You can’t replicate the personal human interaction experience with online events. That interaction is what makes live events so great.

There are times when it is far easier and cost effect to have an event online. But online events will never be able to replace the experience of actually “being there.” If you’re headed in the direction of more online events throw in a live event every once in a while for good measure.  Meeting great people is far better in person than online.

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Max Out Your Event Promotion Budget

Have you ever asked yourself, “How much should I spent on advertising my event?” It’s a question that plagues almost every event organizer.  Ironically the question of how much to spend on advertising might be the most important question of all in determining the success of your event.

“This is the most we’ve ever spent on advertising”

Recently one of my clients spent the most they’ve ever spent on advertising their event.  Their advertising budget was almost double what they spent the previous year their event was held.  The event was outdoors and weather is a huge factor in a patron’s decision to attend. The weather forecast didn’t look promising for at least one day of the two day event. To further complicate matters the client didn’t have their “ace in the hole” performer. It was a very stressful situation for my client. Yet, in spite of all the potential downsides, the client had the largest attendance in the history of their event.  I firmly believe that their decision to spend (responsibly) as much as they did on advertising was the biggest factor in the event’s success.

Looking Back
I can’t think of one single example, over the last ten years, where someone has spent “too much” to market or promote their event.  Yes, there have been people who irresponsibly spent too much money advertising their event, but that’s another story. There are too many examples where people didn’t spend enough money on advertising great events.

If someone asks me “How much should I spent on advertising my event?” My reply is “the most money you can afford to spend.”  I understand that many events have humble marketing budgets.  In that case you need to ensure that you’re getting the maximum effectiveness from your marketing. I honestly don’t think you can spend enough money advertising a great event.  If you can deliver value, you owe it to yourself and to your patron to hype up your event as much as possible.

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The Danger of “Free Event” & “Great Event” Thinking

There is one very dangerous mindset common amongst event organizers with free events.  That mindset is thinking people are going to show up to your event just because it’s a free event. The same mindset also propagates amongst event organizers who have “inexpensive events.” In “What is the Perceived Value?” I give a brief example of two air shows illustrating the point. You should check out the article. In the article I give the example of a free air show and a paid air show. Logic dictates that people would choose the free air show. Yet, people rarely use logic in most of their decision making.  Decisions are made at a much deeper level.  As one marketer puts it “We buy with our emotions, and then justify with logic.” That’s how the human brain seems to work.  A free mindset can work as an incentive for some things, but not everything. It takes a lot more than price to win the hearts and minds of your audience. 

“We Have a Great Event”
There is also a danger in thinking “we have a great event” therefore people will automatically show up. That simply isn’t the case. There are plenty of people I know who have truly great events. They spend a tremendous amount of time planning and executing their events.  The end result is usually an under performing event.  The dangers above illustrate why you must sell your event on value, not price or your own personal beliefs. You might see something one way, but does your target market see it the same way?

Delivering Value at Your Event
I believe that people are willing to pay for something they perceive to be of high personal value, even when faced with a free option. Apply that thinking to your event.  The best way to deliver value is with highly effective marketing.  People will flock to your event if they see the value.  You can deliver that value in how you market and promote your event.

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Getting Them to Buy Tickets Early

There are times when it can be difficult to get people to purchase tickets to your event.
Unless there is some big incentive to buy early, most people tend to wait in purchasing something. Last minute ticket purchases can create havoc for event organizers. On occasion we all need a little extra motivation to take action. There is one technique you can use to help motivate people to purchase tickets for your event early. 

The Scarcity Principle
In the marketing work there is one very simple and effective technique to getting people to buy, it is know as the scarcity principle. In his book, Influence, Robert Cialdini talks about how scarcity can be used as a motivating factor to get people to take action. The scarcity principle can also be used to get people to purchase tickets to your event early.

How You Can Use Scarcity

The foundation of scarcity principle is to let people know that there is a limited amount of availability. If you are the consumer and the item in question is something of interest, you need to get it before someone else does. Look at all the Christmas shopping havoc for hot items.

In the case of your event, scarcity can be applied to your ticket sales. By limiting the number of tickets you’re going to get more people to act sooner.  Be upfront and let people know how many tickets are available for your event. As your event approaches update the number of tickets available. You can use your web site or email marketing to encourage people to act sooner rather than later.

One of my clients used the scarcity principle effectively to sell out all their reserve seat tickets for their event. They keep people informed of reserve seat availability on their web site and via email. Another client used the “Limited Number of Tickets Available” to sell out their event before a single person walked into their event. There are events I know that have gotten so good at using scarcity they sell out their event 30 days in advance.

Use Scarcity Responsibly

I’m not a big fan of the “Oh my God the world is going to end if you don’t buy now.” You should encourage people to act promptly, but you don’t need to sales pitch people to death.

The whole limited quantity aspect works. You can use it across all your advertising channels at no additional cost. The next time you have an upcoming event think of ways to use scarcity and get people to buy early.

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A Different Way to Promote Outdoor Events

If you have an outdoor or weather dependent event you are most likely familiar with the associated anxiety of the weather forecast.  Months of planning and hard work for your event can be devastated by an unfavorable weather forecast. It could be as simple as, “chance of rain this weekend.” Those words spoken by a local weather forecaster can cost organizers thousands of dollars in potentially lost revenue.  The worst part is that the weather forecaster doesn’t even need to be correct. It could be a perfectly sunny day and yet the mere implication of bad weather can keep people away.

They’re Thinking About Weather
If you have an outdoor event; you can bet that weather is either at the top in terms of reason why someone might not attend. How many times have you asked yourself “what if it rains or the weather is bad – are we still going to go?”

The Damaging Admission
There is something you can do about the weather.  In the direct response marketing there is something called a damaging admission. You are admitting to your target market that there is an inherent flaw with your product or service.  In the case of outdoor event organizers, you’re admitting that your event might potentially be impacted by the weather. For some people making such an admission can be completely counter intuitive.

A Real World Example
A few months ago a client put a damaging admission into some of their online promotional material. They admitted on their web site and in their email campaign that there might be bad weather at their outdoor event. Initially, they were apprehensive about admitting that their event might be impacted by bad weather. Multiple weather forecasts called for rain during their event. The client was fortunate because part of their event was protected from the weather. They couldn’t ensure 100% protection from the weather, but they at least had a contingency and told people about it. In the end the rain never came and the client had the biggest crowd ever for their event.

Your Damaging Admission

Can you make a damaging admission about your event and spin it in a positive manner?  A damaging admission for an event can be integrated into your event promotion.  If you’re going to use a damaging admission as it pertains to your outdoor event and potentially bad weather, you need to have something to alleviate people’s fears. It isn’t enough to admit to a flaw and then do nothing about it.

If you have an outdoor event, think of ways to integrate a damaging weather admission into your marketing and promotion. Though it seems completely counter intuitive, I’ve seen it work very well.

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Web 2.0, Social Media, and Event Promotion

Recently, I received a comment on Web 2.0 technologies as they pertain to event promotion. The comment questioned the need for a traditional web site in the Web 2.0 world.  It’s a pretty important question savvy event organizers need to examine. The first place to start is with a definition of Web 2.0.

What is Web 2.0?
The definition of web 2.0 is fairly enigmatic. If you ask a dozen different IT people for their definition, you’re probably going to get a dozen different answers. I like Tim O’Reilly’s simplified definition of Web 2.0:

Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.

I think Web 2.0 technology offers a better way to deliver information to your target market. This includes technology like RSS feeds, blogs, and socialized media, just to name a few.
Both Yahoo and Google are leveraging various Web 2.0 and social media technologies. Yet, they don’t seem too quick to abandon their top tier web sites. They’re leveraging their market share with new technology.

Socialized Media
Socialized media includes technology and services like Blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Most people would classify social media as Web 2.0 technology. I believe social media is great and it has its’ purpose. But I don’t think social media can replace the benefit of having you own web site. Your own web site gives you a certain level of credibility and authority online.  It’s the one stop shop for people trying to find out more information about your event.

Find Your Balance
I advocate being balanced in approaching your marketing with technology. Web 2.0 technologies are beneficial to promoting and marketing one’s event. I think it’s fair more beneficial to leverage your traditional web site with web 2.0 technologies. You want to make your information easily available to those who are most interested, your target market. Different events will have different target markets.
Too many people focus on the bells and whistles of technology.  Focus on what’s useful to your target market, not what’s cool.

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Let Other People Sell Your Event for You

How many times have you tried something on the recommendation of a friend or someone you know? In the marketing field someone making a recommendation of another product or service is known as endorsed marketing.  In many cases endorsed marketing takes the form of a testimonial. Testimonials involved someone else, either a customer or associate, endorsing your product or service. A testimonial usually doesn’t cost anything collect, yet is an extremely effective way to promote products or services.  Have you ever considered using testimonials to promote your event?

People Say
Dan Kennedy, one of the world’s top direct marketing consultants, sums up testimonials as follows:

What others say about you and your product, service, or business is at least 1,000 times more convincing than what you say, even if you are 2,000 times more eloquent.

An Example
Recently one of my clients had their largest event of the year. Their event takes place on an annual basis. Each year a few thousand people attend the event. This year the client decided to hire a local video production crew to gather video testimonials while the event took place. I think it was an ingenious idea. They plan on using the collected video testimonials to promote their event next year.

Credibility
Video testimonials are extremely credible because you get to see people in real life using their own words. One question people frequently ask about video testimonials is "should they be scripted?" I wouldn’t recommend trying to script video testimonials. Unscripted testimonials allow people to be genuine about endorsing your event. You are far better off allowing people to talk about your event in their own words.

Next Time You Have An Event
During your next event ask your attendees if they would be good enough to give a video testimonial during a break or other appropriate time. The best testimonials are results oriented. In the case of an event it can be something as simple as “I attended Joe’s event and was able to do … “or “I attended the XYZ event and had an unbelievable time. Let me tell you why you should attend . . .”

Home video production has never been so inexpensive.  All you need is a basic video recorder that hooks up to your computer and some simple video editing software. Most computers already come with the software installed. The time invested in getting video testimonials is well worth the  effort. There are few other forms of advertising or promotion that can compete with a genuine third party testimonial.

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Buried Treasure and Event Promotion

Buried_treasure_event_promotion My latest adventure has landed me next to one of the greatest supposed buried treasure locations in the world. It’s Oak Island, Nova Scotia. People say that there could be any number of things hidden within the island’s flooded underground caverns. Treasure hunters have been digging since 1795 for the mythical treasure. Some have speculated that the possibilities include Marie Antoinette's jewels, Blackbeard or Captain Kidd's plunder, and possibly the Holy Grail itself. A number of people have died in the search for Oak Island's buried treasure.

The cruel and somewhat ironic part is that there might not be anything at all to be found. The Oak Island Treasure has been dubbed “The World’s Costliest Treasure Hunt.” There has never been any concrete evidence found of treasure, just speculation and myth. It’s all a story, but a story that has become a legend. What does buried treasure and promoting an event have to do with one another? It’s all about a great story. And a great story is an extremely powerful way to promote your event.

A Great Story
One of the world’s greatest marketers, Seth Godin, is a trumpeter of great stories. In his book, All Marketers are Liars, he writes about how people love to tell themselves stories. Stories are an extremely powerful marketing and promotion tool. Story telling is also a form of word of mouth advertising. If a person is telling other people great stories about your event, it’s the best free advertising in the world. 

Creating an Experience
You can use the concept of a great story to promote your event. Great stories come from great experiences. Like the famous P.T. Barnum, I don’t think you should hype up something you can’t deliver value on. But, if you can deliver value and exceed the patron’s expectations with your event, you owe it to yourself and your patron’s to hype things up. Check out the “Turn Your Event into an Experience” article for some ideas on turning your event into an experience.

A great story or experience can be summed up in several ways.  With the internet, it’s never been easier to tell those stories. You can use text, audio, and video. The cost for content delivery has never been so low.  If you can tell a great story to enough people in your target market, you shouldn’t have any problem packing your event.

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Saving Money on Your Event Promotion

The next time you want to promote your event, try to think of ways to influence your target market instead of buying their interest. Today the average consumer is so inundated with advertising that they are much more apt to ignore it. Even if that advertising is something that might hold some interest, people might ignore your advertising just because of all the other advertising. You want to start by focusing on ways to get the attention of your target market. It starts with the type of advertising you are using to promote your event.

Know Your Most Effective Form of Advertising
A favorite question to ask event organizers is “what’s the most effective form of advertising for your event?” Surprisingly most event organizers cannot answer the previous question.  What’s even more ironic is that they’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on advertising, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet they can’t tell you their most effective form of advertising. Too many event organizers finally justify their ineffective advertising expenditures with “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

The Different Types of Advertising
You should ask yourself is your target market for predisposed to giving more attention to a certain type of advertising medium?  An older demographic might be more likely to use a newspaper to find their information. College aged consumers tend to react better to social media advertising like Facebook and MySpace.  Some markets react to both traditional and new media.

Buying Their Attention versus Changing Their Minds
The best form of advertising is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll want to consider looking at your advertising as a way to influence and attract the attention of your target market, not as a way to change people’s minds. There are few advertisers who have the marketing budget to change consumer’s minds.  Their marketing budgets tend to be in the millions of dollars range. There aren’t any event organizers I know that have that kind of marketing budget. If someone isn’t predisposed to having at least some interest in your event, you likely don’t have enough money in your budget to change their mind. 

Have an Impact with Them
Your advertising message must resonate with your target market regardless of budgets and mediums.  It isn’t enough to say you have an event and tell your target market why you think it’s going to be great. Your advertising needs to pull at the emotional heartstrings of your target market. Use words and imaging that will get your target market to take action.

The next time you have to put together a marketing campaign for your event take some time to think about the most effective way to reach your target market.

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Your Web Site as a Traffic Filter

If someone were to tell you to limit the amount of traffic coming to your web site, how would you react? A typical first reaction might be, “the more traffic to my web site the better, right?” Ironically that is rarely the case. The topic of “the right traffic” is one of those counter intuitive strategies for web sites.

Here is an example. One of the most popular articles on this site, “Beach Running Tips,” doesn’t have anything to do with internet or event marketing. I get a decent amount of daily traffic because of the article. Yet over 99% of the users just read the article and leave. The traffic is of little or no use to my business.

The Right Traffic
It isn’t about how much traffic you get to your web site, it’s about how much of the right traffic you get to your web site. Traffic to your web site is analogous with foot traffic into a retail store.  If you get enough people through the doors, some people will eventually buy something. Yet, if you get the right people through the door of your store, you’ll sell significantly more.

Continue reading "Your Web Site as a Traffic Filter" »


Knowing Your Event Patron

Over the last three years I’ve spent an enormous amount of time researching marketing techniques for businesses and events.  Throughout all the books, courses, and seminars there is one dominate ideology for marketing success. That marketing technique can be broken down as follows:

  • Find a good niche market
  • Get to really know the customer in that niche market
  • Give them what they want (not what you think they want or need)

Knowing Your Event Patron
The idea of knowing your market and giving them what they want directly applies to event organization and promotion. If you can find out what your patrons want and deliver it to them, it’s hard not to have a successful event. In many cases the organizer’s mindset and that of their patron are very far apart.  Most event organizers put an event together, do some promotion, and then hope a lot of people show up.

Here is the irony, very few businesses engage in any market research. If you don’t know your market it’s going to be near impossible to provide for them. Knowing your market is also a constantly evolving process. You can’t just fire and forget.

The Market and Your Event Promotion
Intimately knowing your event patrons plays a huge role in your event advertising and promotion.  If you know what your patrons want, you can plug those wants directly into your event promotions.  Your target audience is much more likely to take action when you hit their emotional hot buttons.

What You Can Do
Before thinking of event planning or promoting your event, take the time to make sure you have an event that people want to attend. By doing a little market research you can save yourself a lot of time, money, and grief. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to do market research. Something like an online survey of your target marketing can have a huge impact on your event. But you have to listen to what your target market is telling you. I can’t think of a better marketing technique for event organizers and promoters.

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Promotional Headlines for Your Event Marketing

Over the years I’ve seen numerous advertisements, posters, and billboards promoting various events.  They've run the gamut from very simple, just a headline and a call to action, to overly detail oriented, trying to fit in every possible piece of information into a small space.

The first place people usually start reading advertisements is from the top down.  A strong relevant headline is one of the oldest advertising techniques to capture a reader’s attention. If you do manage to come up with a really great headline, you can use it across multiple forms of advertising.

What Your Headline Needs to Do
Knowing your target market will greatly assist you in writing powerful headlines. If you’re going to write a headline to promote your event, make sure it really resonates with your target market. It needs to be in a language that your target market understands and in a way that evokes an emotional response.

Recently, I found some information that can assist you in writing better headlines for your event.  In a copywriting course presented by Bob Bly, he outlines what he calls the 4 “U’s.” You ask yourself a series of four simple questions that pertain to your headline. Then rate each question on a 1 – 4 scale.  One being the worst, Four being the best. You want to strive to get 4s across the board. 

Continue reading "Promotional Headlines for Your Event Marketing" »


Collecting Real Time Feedback on Your Event

During a brief stroll of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport I found an interesting feedback idea for events. There were some signs posted around the airport terminal encouraging people to text message their comments.  I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something to the extent of “text us on how we’re doing.” I believe the same concept could be used to collect live feedback on an event.

Text Messaging
Today almost everyone has a cell phone. Text messaging is all the rage, especially with young people. It’s hard to go anywhere and not see someone text messaging. Even my parents are text messaging.

Quick & Easy Feedback
The ability to for patrons to comment easily and quickly is a big positive. In most cases patrons make a quick observation about your event and do little about it. Patrons leave your event and then get back to their personal life. In my experience, you get a feedback rate of around .001 for most events. Text messaging can potentially bridge the gap in getting quick feedback.  When you ask people for feedback, then give them a quickly and easy way to comment, I believe you’ll get significantly more feedback. Yes, you will receive some feedback that is going to be over the top and in some cases very negative.  Some people just love to complain. But, I believe that the virtues outweigh the vices. Any feedback on your event is good feedback. There might be something very important you can learn and greatly improve your event.

Basic Idea
Text messaging feedback would probably be most applicable to larger events with at least a few thousands people. You would have to find a company that could collect text message feedback. An event organizer could post signs in the exit areas encouraging people to “text us what you thought of the event.”

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A Friendly Event Promotion Reminder

A few days ago I had a brief discussion with a client hosting an upcoming conference. We talked about some ideas to generate additional attendee sign ups before their sign up deadline. When you mention the word deadline to someone, thoughts of pressure usually follow. It is very easy to think “I don’t want to pressure my list to take action before a deadline. If they want to attend they’ll buy or sign up on their own.” There are ways to get people to act before a deadline without pressure. In today’s crazy world of distractions every other second, a friendly reminder usually doesn’t hurt. In a few cases I’ve seen simple reminders make a big difference in promoting an event. 

Don’t Sales Pitch Them to Death
I’m not a big fan of sales pitching people to death or pressuring someone to buy. Some people use the “OMG! Buy Now before the World Ends!” rant. The previous approach tends to be a turn off.  There is a better way, it's called the friendly reminder.  Instead of using pressure, try something like this: “Hello this is to reminder you (insert something interesting or a good story) . . .” You'll be surprised by the response.

Real World Example
Here is an example of the friendly reminder. Last month I was involved in an event promotion campaign with an air show client. Part of the campaign included promoting discounted tickets to be purchased by a certain date. The first time around only a few people bought tickets before the deadline.  It was clearly stated on the web site when the promotion ended.  An email was sent a week before reminding people on the list.  The client then decided to extend the deadline to encourage additional ticket sales. The second time around we decided to send a 48 and 24 hour reminder email. There was a significant increase in ticket sales between the first and second deadlines. 

Next time a deadline for your event approaches try to think of creative ways to get people to act before a deadline. An extra push, or two, maybe three, does more good than bad. The important part is in your approach and messaging. Keep it interesting for them.

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Keeping Your Event Promotion Emails Interesting

In “Don’t Be Afraid to Engage Your Prospect Repeatedly” I wrote about the importance of engaging your list more frequently as your event approaches.  In order to be really successful with your email event promotion you must combine frequency with a high level of interest.  The best way to keep things interesting is to send the reader relevant information that’s compelling and in a style of writing that is easy to understand.

Open Rates Decrease when You Send More Email
One trend that I notice with my own clients is that when you send more emails your email open rates go down.  A 40%+ open rate was typical when sending promotional emails every few weeks for event clients.  As the frequency of emails increase to every few days, in some cases once a day, the open rates on emails decreased to around 30%.

How to Get Response and Email Open Rates to Go Up

A simple way to getting both response and email open rates to go up is by keeping your information relevant and interesting to the reader.  It was Joe Vitale that said “Get out of your ego and into their ego.” Give them what they really want! The best response rates were the emails that the client provided their target market exactly what they wanted.  In the case of an air show client, it’s was schedule of the flying acts. For another client it was a map of where Brewfest attendees could fine their favorite breweries.

Discovering Relevancy - What Are They Interested In?

You can find out what your target market is looking for by asking them what’s important to them. Consider writing your target market an email asking “what do you want form this event?” or conducting a quick survey.  People are most responsive when you ask them relevant and meaningful questions.
In many cases your target market will automatically tell you what information they seek.  Take a look at your email inbox. My air show client received countless emails requesting a schedule of flying acts. For years the client didn’t want to release the schedule to the general public.  Fortunately a middle ground was found and the target market was elated when the schedule was released a few days before the event. 

Write Using the Target Market’s Language
When writing email try to write in your target market’s native language.  Simple writing is the best writing style to use.  Don’t try to use big stuffy words and write in simple sentences.  Write so that the average reader doesn’t have to get a thesaurus to decode an email. Appealing to the target market’s emotions and desires is also of significant benefit.  You want your readers to think “this person gets me.” If you can achieve that connection, you’re response rates and open rates are going to go up.

Additional Info:

Tell a Story
If you can craft your emails into a story your target market will take notice. Why would you want to tell a story to your target market?  Because people love to hear interesting stories that are meaningful to them. 

Hopefully the information above gives you some ideas for better connecting with your target market via email.  You can’t afford to send boring emails to your target market before your event.  If you make them anticipate your next email, you can't go wrong.

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Online Comments About Your Event

Yesterday evening, I had a great discussion about event feedback on the Internet with one of my good friends.  In today’s world almost anyone has the power to post information online.  Look at the latest Bigfoot hoax.  Two guys went out and posted a YouTube video that turned into a media frenzy. How many hours were lost to a rubber Bigfoot costume in a freezer? If you are an event organizer you should be aware that people will comment online about your event.  These comments could be positive or negative. There are steps you can take to mitigate the risk.  One angry Internet comment justified or not, can turn into a public relations disaster for almost any event.

Stand By Your Critique
This part is a bit of a personal editorial. I have no issues with people who want to criticize an event. I believe that feedback, good or bad, is beneficial to every event.  Event organizers should recognize that any feedback is a good feedback. But event feedback should be done responsibly. I’ve seen a disproportionately high number of ‘Anonymous’ comment criticizing events. If someone is going to criticize an event for any reason, be man or woman enough to sign your real name to the comment. In some cases the comment posted was a complete fabrication.  What’s more dangerous is that you don’t even need to attend an event to make comment. Almost anyone can post a comment on a blog or forum about your event.  Because of this, event organizer must become increasing more vigilant of their event’s online reputation.

Become the Information Authority on Your Event
Event organizers are going to need better situational awareness in the Internet 2.0 world. A way to deal with ‘Anonymous’ comments is by becoming the online authority for your event. Having your own web site is crucial in this process. If you’re aware of unsettling comments about your event, use your own web site to your advantage. People are more likely to believe an authority web site than some random forum post.  If there is a critique of your event and is significant enough to warrant a response, use you’re official event web site to respond.

Use Google Alerts
You can use free technology to monitor the Internet for comments about your event.  Go to alerts.google.com to find out additional information on setting up a Google Alert. You can setup an alert for your event. Google’s search engine will automatically send an email sent to you when the phrase you entered is detected on their search network.  The email sent to you will contain a link to the information posted and brief excerpt.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s far better than scouring the Internet manually.

Find an Online Champion
In another post I wrote about utilizing online champions to support your event.  You can utilize the same people to keep a watchful eye for any potentially troublesome comments.  If you have enough trust in these people, have them take the lead responding to critiques.

As the Internet becomes more popular and technology evolves, event organizers are going to have to become increasingly more mindful of information about their event online.

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