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These Christmas Characters Are Made For Event Management

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 15:12 PM

In the season of made-for-television holiday specials, we get Technicolor, stop-motion and CGI perspectives of the many trials and tribulations of pulling off the world’s biggest event, Christmas.

Sure, there’s some suspension of disbelief required, because it’s a logistics miracle to get toys (or coal) into billions of households overnight. (And reindeer can’t talk.) But to do it in the face of snowstorms – much less grinches, misers, hackers and even an evil postman bent on ruining the event – is the stuff of legend, or at least highly successful television specials.

“Good prevails” is the seminal lesson from most of these productions, but a closer look might help you hone in on the types of Christmas-making characters you want – and don’t want – on your event team.

elfandreindeer

It all starts with Santa, especially the “Kris Kringle” (Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) version. This individual created the biggest event, sees the big picture, manages the process, is a visionary and a doer, and has equal compassion for fellow workers as well as his event’s audience.

Just as important to an event’s success are the Elves – no matter which show you are watching. Elves turn visions into reality. They handle the details and do the heavy lifting. And special elves solve problems, like Wayne guiding Santa through a blizzard in Prep and Landing or Hermey removing the Abomidable Snow Monster’s teeth in Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer.

Yes, the reindeer are also important, in a UPS or FedEx kind of way. Now, Olive (Olive, the Other Reindeer) – a Jack Russell that thought she was a reindeer, is a different story. She stepped up for others (an injured reindeer), brought a special skill set to the job (spoiler alert: her sense of smell that guided the sleigh to its destination) and doggedly got the work done.

Every event also needs a Cindy Lou Who (How the Grinch Stole Christmas), someone who can deal with others’ mistakes (looking at you, Grinch), win people over and move forward.

When things are going poorly, events benefit from a Linus (A Charlie Brown Christmas), who can pick up a team member (Charlie Brown, whose Christmas play and tree both flop), and pull together an event that makes participants sing for joy. And what event couldn’t benefit from a Frosty the Snowman, whose biggest magic might be his relentless enthusiasm?

There are several others worth consideration, characters like Rudolph (thinking audio-visual here), Ms. Claus (catering) and even the Little Drummer Boy (music).

Some of the characters on these specials, however, aren’t made for event management.

Snow Miser and Heat Miser (The Year Without a Santa Claus), for instance, are too temperamental. Rudolph’s father, Donner, and the reindeer's flying coach, Comet, seem too judgmental and intolerant of things new or different. And guys like pre-dream Scrooge or Burgermeister Meisterburger (boss of Sombertown – go figure) seem to hold events in great disdain.

And Charlie Brown? Save the brooding and soul-searching for after the event. That approach might help in planning, but your attendees feed off of the event’s (preferably) positive vibe.

Back to reality – not every event should strive to deliver the joy of a child opening a present, which seems to be the end goal of so many of these Christmas specials. But, if you’ve got the right characters on your team, who knows what magic you can make? Heck, Rudolph started as a storybook written for Montgomery Ward by one of the department store’s copywriters.

Care to comment on this blog or share your ideal or not so ideal Christmas television special characters? Just type your thoughts in the Comments section below.

If you’d like to know more about ABC Signup or registration software, please contact us by email or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) at your convenience (but not on December 24 or 25, because we will be out of the office, probably watching Christmas specials).

Topics: registration software, event planning, events

5 Resolutions to Optimize Your Registration Software for the New Year

Posted on Sun, Dec 07, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

Lose Weight and Get Fit.MM900315821
Quit Smoking.
Learn Something New.
Eat Healthier and Diet.
Get Out of Debt and Save Money.
Spend More Time with Family.
Travel to New Places.
Be Less Stressed.
Volunteer.2015
Drink less.

Per Time magazine, those are the 10 most common broken New Year’s Resolutions. Did you notice what didn’t make the list?

Resolving to prep your registration software for the coming year.

That’s because getting your software ready for a new year is easy. And getting it done may help you with some of those real-life resolutions, like being less stressed, spending time with family and maybe even learning something new.

Here are a few simple tips that you can do now to make registration management that much easier in 2015.

1. Give your event pages an extreme makeover

What better way to wow your customers and prospects and impress the boss than to roll out your event pages for 2015 in a clean, attractive two-column format customized to your organization’s look? Our new event page design templates feature easy-to-use, drag-and-drop modules that will turn you into a master designer. And like our original event page tools, the new templates can be copied over and over for all of your events (you still have to update the pertinent details, mind you). If there is ever a time to make the transition to the new event page builder, it’s at the start of a new year, don’t you think?

2. Take out the trash

A great feature about ABC Signup – especially as you are learning the system – is the ability to archive events, view past events and even see your test events. It helps you get things right before you go live. After a while, however, your software dashboard will get a bit cluttered if you manage multiple events. If your lists in the “archived,” “past,” “current,” “not posted” or “external” events sections are scrolling off the page, you definitely want to consider a quick clean-up. Use our “purge” tool (just visit Help>Purge Events for details) to delete events you don’t need and make your ABC Signup easier to navigate.

3. Organize your file cabinet

There are several things you can do to your database of contacts to prep for a new year. You can cull out names that might no longer belong on the list. You can import additional contacts to expand your base. Some customers run reports off the database to create mailing lists, maybe to promote the first event of the new year or to send a nice holiday message. Go to Help>Database to learn more about importing and exporting data.

4. Test your many discount options to boost attendance

Our software is loaded with event pricing options – options that might increase participation or encourage earlier signups and less last-minute, are-we-going-to-meet-budget stress. See if our various discount coding options – such as early-bird discounts, group rates, multiple event rates – makes sense for your events.

5. Get feedback on 2014 before the year is over

No doubt you spent time prior to 2014 (and you are likely doing it again right now) curating or creating program content, aligning presenters, vetting locations and addressing all of the other elements that go into planning a successful event program. You certainly want to know how those big picture items mentioned above were received by your customers in 2014 – was the content right, did the presenter nail it, was the location perfect? Use our evaluation tools to find out. And if you already use these tools, be sure to update your evaluations to make sure you are asking the right questions to improve your programs. You can now even “weight” scores on various questions to see how things you emphasized fared. Go to Help>Creating an Evaluation Form to build weighting into your assessments.

A new year brings new opportunities to make your programs and events better than ever. It also gives you the opportunity to get even more out of your registration software. If some of the steps or functionality (we add lots of new stuff every year) mentioned above seem unfamiliar, check out our Help system, view our video tutorials or just contact us for assistance, either by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or email.

If you would like to share some of the things you do to ready ABC Signup for a new year, please post your ideas in the Comments section below.

Topics: online registration software, registration software

Designing Awesome Event Pages Just Got Easier

Posted on Thu, Dec 04, 2014 @ 11:12 AM

ABC Signup just made event page design a snap – more specifically, a click, drag and drop.

ladycomputerdesign
After a few weeks in the lab, we emerged with a new option that allows you to create one or two-column event pages with multiple, movable modules – each complete with full editing and tag functionality.

We’ve pre-populated the template (see image below) with a masthead section that you design, perhaps with your logo and color scheme. Below the page header, the default two-column format includes suggested modules for event info, details, registration, location, sharing (social media links), about us, who’s attending, presenting and more. You can move these modules to the wider (left) or more narrow (right) columns, or completely off the page in the “available content” area to the right.

You can also rearrange the modules as you see fit, change the headings and color schemes, and edit all of the content within each module. You can add new modules, and even take all modules out of the right column to create a one column format.

“You asked for better, easier-to-use tools, and we feel this new design capability delivers,” said Todd Chandler, president of ABC Signup. “You’ll be surprised how simple it is to create more professional-looking event pages yet retain the flexibility to customize and add your branding. We are pretty confident that the new templates will make a great-looking event page and a great impression with your potential registrants.”

With the new tool, users can easily preview the page, and copying events is the same in this format as with the original ABC Signup event page tools – which, by the way, are still available.

Customers access the templates from the Event Page (Events > Event Control Panel > Event Page) by clicking on a new button, “Switch to the event page layout template.”

We will gladly walk you through the new design tool (or view our brief tutorial video), and we welcome your suggestions for improvement. Just try it out – and expect to “wow” your boss and your customers with your newly acquired web design acumen. We won’t tell.

To contact us about this new feature or ABC Signup’s awesome registration management system, send us an email or call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Sample_Event_Layout

Topics: registration software, event registration, events

If We Wore a Cornucopia as a Hat, We'd Tip It

Posted on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 16:12 PM

Eleven years ago, just before Thanksgiving, registration for something called the Textbook Caravan went live using ABC Signup. That event, hosted by an education cooperative in Indiana, was the first to employ ABC Signup; 482 persons signed up. If we were not above using weak puns, we would say that was a textbook example of a successful registration process.

RScornucopiahatOnline registration may seem like no big deal now, but remember this: Most organizations in 2003 still handled registrations via spreadsheets, word documents, emails and something old timers used to refer to as a “telephone.” Some still manage signups the old-fashioned way, but who are we to pick nits in this blog? As long as we’re mentioning blogs, BlogOn, credited by many as the first social media conference, would not take place for two more years. Speaking of social media, Mark Zuckerberg and his college buds hadn’t thrown together the first Facebook site, yet. And Twitter? Still nearly three years away.

The digital landscape has changed dramatically, and so has ABC Signup. The Textbook Caravan, if it had required such functions, could not take advantage of credit card processing, shopping cart, advanced page design, customized reporting, and automated issuing of certificates (or certificates at all, for that matter).

Since registration for that first event went live in November 2003, 171,842 more events, including a lot more Textbook Caravans, have been created in ABC Signup. In the neighborhood of three million individual registrations have been processed.  Some of those events have handled fewer than ten registrations; others have been in the thousands. However, just like the Duggar family with eleventy kids, each event has been equally important to us. We know you may have just as much riding on your event for a handful attendees as someone organizing a major conference for thousands.

So, here’s a belated tip of the Thanksgiving cornucopia to our customers, who have relied on ABC Signup for events that determine their own success. Thank you for your partnership, and here’s to the next 171, 843 events.

If you have thoughts you would like to share about this blog, Thanksgiving, ABC Signup or other sentimental registration software stories, please submit them in the Comments section below. If you need additional information or have a question for us, feel free to contact us by email or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

Topics: registration software, event registration, events

Are Your Social Media Efforts Only Half-Baked?

Posted on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 15:11 PM

Something I learned during a recent social media presentation hit me like a ton of “likes” – a good social media practitioner “curates” as much as he or she “creates.”

In fact, the presenter recommended that your social media content be split 50-50 – with half of the material being blogs, videos, photos and other content you create, and half being relevant information you find and share.

guyandmicrowaveWhile seemingly shifting tens of thousands of words of content off one’s shoulders, this approach requires significant effort plugging in to the broader social media community. To effectively curate, you’ve got to seek out what’s being said online about your company, your industry, your customers and so on – and relay or react to that info on your own social media platforms.

Easier said than done, right?

Well, several pay-for solutions will monitor the various social media platforms and report back to you on just about everything posted about your company, your brand, your competitors, your industry or whatever other keywords you tell it to track.

If you don’t have a budget for that, it isn’t too difficult to set up your own monitoring system via some of the free resources available.

For starters, you should already use Google search alerts to keep apprised of what’s being said about your company and industry. It typically catches news items more than anything else – you’ll need other tools to track blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.

Most of the social media have search functions and other tools to aid your monitoring efforts. In Twitter, you can search things like your company name or industry to see relevant “tweets.” You can also plug in certain keywords and choose to “follow” relevant Twitter accounts.

In LinkedIn, you can join groups relevant to your organization and industry, and you can use its search function to check and see what’s being said about either. Facebook allows you to create a Facebook Interest List that gives you a feed of posts from pages you care about, and you can also a “Pages to Watch” (the option appears in your Facebook admin panel) list to monitor growth of pages that interest you (e.g., a competitor’s).

Tools designed just to monitor social media include Hootsuite and SocialMention, free platforms (Hootsuite also has pay-for premium options) that aggregate information and data from various social sources. Topsy is similar, although it focuses on blogs and multimedia. Icerocket and Technorati are two other monitoring options that specialize in blogs.

Once you set up these monitoring tools, check your results daily then pick and choose blogs, tweets and posts worth sharing or linking. You might share something because it’s useful to your audience. You might share something as a means to comment with an opposing view. You occasionally can share something that’s just interesting or entertaining or positively reinforces the culture of your organization. And, you should look for opportunities to comment directly on relevant third party social media conversations to expand your reach (assuming you are approved by your organization to represent them on these forums).

Make a habit to listen, interact and respond to any follow-up from your curation efforts. Put a little time into it and your content won’t be the only thing that grows. You can accomplish a lot with social media, from garnering leads, to improving your website’s SEO (search engine optimization), to engaging and building relationships with customers and prospects. You are much more apt to be successful in these endeavors – and establishing your company as a thought leader – if your content isn’t just what you create.

Including third-party content suggests your finger is on the pulse, you are knowledgeable about the industry and you will go out of your way to find information that you think is helpful to your audience.

Those are a few of our gleanings on the topic of being a social media curator as well as creator. If you have any tips on the topic, tools to suggest or other feedback on the subject, please share it below in the Comments section.

If you would like to know more about registration software or ABC Signup, call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or email us today.

Topics: registration software, social media

Event Promotion in 5 Steps or Less

Posted on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 @ 11:11 AM

cvrimage-5toolsforeventpromoWe like our new ebooklet so much that we are taking a page out of its playbook and promoting it by social media (this blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn).

The guide, 5 Essential Tools for Event Promotion, covers five tactics and corresponding steps that will drive publicity and attendance for your programs and events. We know these tactics work because we’ve not only used them in our careers, but we also researched examples and included links to them and other resources in the document.

The impetus for the guide was to create something useful for our customers and prospects, who – more often than not – are program and event administrators wearing multiple hats. Event promotion is typically just another item on the to-do list for these folks, who aren’t typically marketers. A little guidance might make that aspect of the job a little easier and a lot more effective.

We only ask for your contact info to access the document, and we aren’t going to bug you with that info unless you express an interest in registration software.

Take a look. See what’s helpful. Put some of the tips to work and step up your promotional efforts.

If you have any questions about the document, ABC Signup or registration software, please contact us by email or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0). If you would like to share your thoughts about the document, use the Comments section below this blog.

Topics: registration software, event planning, event marketing

When to Pay for Event Promotion

Posted on Tue, Nov 04, 2014 @ 16:11 PM

For most event and program managers, advertising and other pay-for promotions don’t make a lot of sense – or budgets.

A television ad (SuperBowl excluded) can cost anywhere from $100 to $2,500 per commercial, depending upon time slot, reach and programming. Twenty spots on radio roughly range from $500 to $8,000 per week, based upon factors such as the size of the market and the particular station’s audience. And that quarter page ad in a daily newspaper, depending upon circulation, is likely going to cost over $1,000 if the publication serves a medium-sized metropolitan area or larger.

monstertruck_adEven billboards, at a minimum of $1,200 for four weeks, are priced out of most events’ marketing budgets. And your direct mail effort starts at $.34 per postcard, with printing and mail lists costs still to come.

So when – and where – do advertising and marketing promotions make sense for programs and events?

1. Your program or event seeks a large volume of attendees
Those rare programs and events created for several thousand participants could likely use advertising to drive attendance, especially if the targeted audience is the general public and even walk-up traffic. Some of the more common examples of such advertising would include tv, radio and newspaper spots – plus outdoor advertising around the venue and high-traffic roads – for trade shows, conventions and conferences. If you happen to run one of these type programs, see item #2 below.

2. Your organization or event has an agency on retainer
Two of the biggest advantages of advertising are your control over the medium (you determine when and where the message will be displayed) and your ability to target your ideal customers (based upon medium, location/timing, etc.). This is accomplished through ideal media placement, which is usually best handled by professionals.

So, if your organization or event is large enough or funded well enough to leverage an internal marketing department or outside agency that has media buying expertise, ads likely make sense for your events. Without such resources, it’s difficult for a program or event manager to have the savvy and experience to find and secure ad placements that fit the budget, reach the target audience and generate ROI. Face it, most event folks’ experience with advertising extends to occasionally watching Mad Men on cable.

3. You use less expensive alternatives
While big media buys might be out of some event managers’ comfort zones, smaller buys may not. There are dozens of less expensive advertising opportunities available that – when targeted and executed properly – can work wonders marketing your events. Some examples:

  • If a program targets students – e.g., ACT test preparation classes or a jobs fair – buy ad space at the bus stops around local schools.
  • If you want to reach a group in a certain industry or field, buy space in the trade publications/websites of representative organizations, e.g., local chamber of commerce, medical/hospital association, HR association, etc.
  • If you are just getting established, try Internet advertising, e.g., Google Adwords, where you pay per click for searches that find your site.
  • If the price is right, explore other Internet sites for display/banner opportunities (e.g., Facebook, your local Yelp site, even the online version of your local newspaper).

4. It’s “free”
The easiest-to-defend means of working advertising into your event promotions efforts is the “in-kind” route, where the placement is free typically through a little “horse trading.” The event provider exchanges free admission or exhibit space or a sponsorship level or a combination of those to an ad agency, marketing firm or media company in exchange for media placements.

This type of trade only works to your advantage if you get results with your advertising. Your pitch needs to be laser focused on your audience, it should create awareness, and make a clear call to action.

Be advised: advertising will draw a focus on your marketing content – what you present needs to deliver the goods. Advertising also lends a perception of more credibility to your programs or events, and it will amplify the attention on everything else you do. Journalists may find you easier, you’ll likely see an uptick in social media fans and “likes,” and even your employees will notice and hopefully take pride in the company’s media presence.

Those are a few ideas we felt were worth sharing on the topic. We would love to hear about your experiences using advertising and other paid promotions to market your events. What works and what doesn’t? Please share your thoughts on those questions and this article in the Comments section below.

If you would like to pick our brains on topics such as registration software or ABC Signup, call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or email us today.

Topics: registration software, event marketing

Browse Some ABC Signup User Data

Posted on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

Browserusage-graphA recent check of the ABC Signup’s admin site statistics revealed some interesting data. For starters, our registration software customers’ browser usage breaks down as follows:

Microsoft Internet Explorer   42%
Google Chrome 19%
Mozilla Firefox  20%
Apple Safari   11%
Other 8%

You guys either love Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), or more likely, that’s how your organization set up your computers or advised you to establish your default browser. We’re not judging, and realize you might not have a choice in the matter.

When you compare ABC Signup customers’ preferences to more global browser usage percentages such as those compiled by StatCounter as of August 2014 (similar findings are available at W3Counter and Wikimedia), you will find that our user group hasn’t followed the general market leadership transition from Explorer to Chrome:

Google Chrome    46%
Microsoft Internet Explorer   20%
Mozilla Firefox   18%
Apple Safari 11%
Other   5%

In fact, our customers’ browser preferences look a lot like the global numbers in July 2011, when Chrome was barely two-years old, Atlantis went on the final Space Shuttle mission, the Arab Spring had sprung, an Australian won the Tour de France and the guy who created Gilligan’s Island and the Brady Bunch died. That doesn’t seem like just yesterday.

Microsoft Internet Explorer  43%
Google Chrome 22%
Mozilla Firefox  28%
Apple Safari 5%
Other   2%

It’s really not that big of a deal that IE is the browser of choice for ABC Signup customers. Our software works with pretty much everything. One thing that does stick out, however, is the breakdown of which versions of IE you are using. Of all browsers used, here’s the portion with IE:

IE 9.x   29%
IE 8.x  6%
IE 10.x   4%
IE 7.x 3%

It’s somewhat surprising that some of you are still using older versions of the browser, specifically the 7.x and 8.x editions. You might want to update, or check with your IT folks about updating. Browsers typically improve with the updated versions.

The data grab also gave us intel into what computer operating systems our customers, as a whole, deploy. With our broad customer base, we weren’t too surprised to see domination by various Microsoft (Windows) platforms. Here’s the breakdown:

Windows 7  63%
MacOS 9%
Windows NT 5%
Windows XP    5%
Google Android    2%
Windows Vista      2%
Other/Unclear  14%

Two things stand out here: 1) no users of Windows 8 showed up as of yet (it is very new, or perhaps you’ve heard the general preference for Windows 7 over 8); and about 5% of our customers still use Windows XP, a platform no longer supported by Microsoft. You definitely want to look into upgrading operating systems if you are on XP, just for security purposes alone.

We expect these statistics to change again every couple of years. When we first went into business in 2002, the browser choices were pretty much IE and Netscape, and some of you were still accessing the Internet through dial up. A lot of us even thought free NetZero was like sliced bread back then.

If you ever have questions about browsers, operating systems and ABC Signup, please feel free to ask us at your convenience. If you have anything to add to the conversation – maybe have an opinion of which browser works best for you when using ABC Signup – by all means, share it in the Comments section below.

And as always, if you would like to pick our brains on topics such as registration software or ABC Signup, call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or email us today.

Topics: registration software, Internet, ABC Signup,

10 Ways to Market Your Events, Guerrilla-Style

Posted on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

Sometimes, the most effective event marketing and promotion is the least conventional.

A $50,000 “B” movie shot in the woods with camcorders and a handful of no-name actors eventually grossed over $250 million worldwide thanks in part to a fabricated website detailing a supposedly real witch that haunts (or hunts?) rural Maryland. With this “urban legend” back story established over several months, the Blair Witch Project film’s tag line – about three filmmakers who trekked to document the witch, disappeared, and only the footage was found – hooked the gullible and the curious.

A videogame company, Acclaim, gained notoriety for its wild promotional ploys just prior to its periodic new game launches. It once paid people to legally change their name to a title character of a game (“Turok”), offered to pay for ads on headstones of the recently deceased for its Shadow Man roll out, and promised to pay all speeding tickets in the UK on launch day of its Burnout II racing game (the latter two offers were quickly rescinded, after garnering incredible publicity).

In a more simple, graffiti-style approach, Folgers painted a few manhole covers in New York City like the tops of coffee cups, taking advantage of the natural steam rising out. And a massive “Frontline” flea spray advert of a 100-foot dog on an atrium floor left quite an impression, especially from the aerial view that makes the human passersby look like the fleas.

greenapple_w_redsThese typically low-cost, unconventional tactics – dubbed guerrilla marketing – are edgy advertising with a twist. The successful campaigns grab our attention, often through trickery, before revealing their true purpose. Their cleverness trumps any angst caused by the usual bait and switch nature of the ruse.

The examples above involve creating something – a press release, surface “art” or a website – to draw attention to and create a buzz around a product or service. Each likely involved some professional assistance on the creative side. The concept of guerrilla marketing isn’t as familiar to event and program managers and probably elicits a muted initial response – it’s just not what you do, or something your organization does.

Or is it? There are, in fact, a myriad of guerrilla marketing tactics, including some you may already deploy, to promote your events. And, you don’t have to score a cover story on Advertising Age via your guerrilla effort to positively impact your events. Here are 10 guerrilla marketing tactics just about anyone can pull off:

1. Hold a Contest
People love to win, and contests are attention-getters. You’ll gain contact information in the process that helps build your customer/prospect database. Your contests can also be leveraged for broader promotion. Hubspot recently unveiled a contest awarding a free ticket to its annual conference to the most popular video testimonial submitted about their product. Anyone hosting a conference or convention can do similar.

2. Do a Public Demonstration
Find a very public place – preferably a place frequented by your target audience – and demonstrate what your program or event is all about. It might be a sneak performance, a condensed presentation – whatever works to tease your event and create interest.

3. Hang Attention-Getting Posters
Fliers and posters have been effective guerrilla marketing tools for events since man began writing on paper. But to rise above the heightened chatter (other fliers and posters), you need to create something that stands out. Your best bet is to try humor or shock or mystery or maybe some play off of something currently trending in pop culture. The Arizona Science Center, in launching its “Never Stop Wondering” campaign, hung semi-humorous, semi-surprising posters involving asparagus and a tag line directly above urinals in restrooms in the area.

4. Give Something Away
Free swag grabs attention and pleases everyone with the possible exception of your finance folks. Put your logo, website, event info or branding on just about anything and people will take it as fast as you can make it. Traditional items such as pens, t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, Frisbees and even thumb drives will help spread the word about your organization and events, but cleverly targeted giveaway items can really move the needle.

5. Fake Publicity Stunt
From the “Taco Liberty Bell” (Taco Bell’s facetious claim that it had purchased the Liberty Bell) to Burger King’s “left-handed Whopper,” publicity stunts can quickly vault a company into the public’s consciousness. No matter how weird or even bad (e.g., Acclaim’s offer to sell ad space on cemetery headstones), outside-of-the-box publicity stunts get publicity. Figure out a way to apply this concept to your events. If you offer computer training, dress up a few folks at IT “geeks” and have them protest your training with signs lamenting your effectiveness and the lack of calls they get as a result.

6. Bumper Stickers
Yes, there are too many bumper stickers – yet there’s still room for originality to make yours stand out. Be direct or be mysterious. Let people know where to get more information, or make them try to find out what’s behind the sticker. Place them just about anywhere that’s legal (as far as you know) – vehicles, street poles, bathroom stalls, etc. Put too many in illegal places and you might have a little more success than you want with item #5 (publicity stunt).

7. Targeted Business Card Placement
Think about the subject matter of your program or event, then visit your local bookstores and libraries and place a business card in as many books as you can find that are on topic. In a similar vein with business cards, re-work your card’s design to make it stand out and promo your offerings, even if you are just placing it in a fish bowl to win a free lunch.

8. Random Acts of Kindness
With your attention-getting business card handy, pay for the person behind you at a movie theater and leave your card for them with the cashier. Give an extra big tip at a restaurant, again, leaving the card behind. Or, perhaps pay for someone’s parking at a garage or lot frequented by your organization’s or event’s target audience. The idea isn’t just to win the one person over. It’s to connect with someone who might then share the story of your generosity on social media. If word spreads, that random act of kindness becomes a not-so-random act of marketing genius. If not, feel good about being kind!

9. Free Food
Nobody turns down free food – unless they fear they’ll have to sit through a sales pitch to get it. Offer the food, and make the pitch more indirect via a contest (#1), a public demonstration (#2), signage about the event (e.g., posters #3), brochures, freebies (#4), bumper stickers (#6) and so on. It’s okay to combine more than one guerrilla marketing tactic.

10. Put on a Gorilla Suit
If all else fails…put on a crazy costume, make sure your logo or branding is visible, throw in a sign with information about the event, and hit the bricks!

With any of these guerrilla marketing tactics, you’ll find more success if you are able to finesse the action so that it is able to target your desired audience. Don’t just come up with a great idea – plan the roll out so that it reaches and entices your prospects.

If you have anything you’d like to share about this article – perhaps some guerrilla marketing tactics that have helped promote your events – please post them in the Comments section below. If you would like to know more about online registration software and ABC Signup, email or call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0) at your convenience.

Topics: registration software, event marketing

How to Get and Nail a Guest Blog

Posted on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 @ 09:10 AM

ladywithlaptopEarlier this month, the registration software evangelists at ABC Signup invited customers to share anything interesting, entertaining or informative about their programs and events in the ABC Signup blog. We think it’s a win-win opportunity: customers get exposure and show their subject matter expertise, and we get great content for our website.

It’s such a great idea that we encourage you to spread your wings and view the whole blogosphere as your open skies. Blogs everywhere welcome good content.

So how do you go about guest blogging?

First, determine your objectives.
Do you seek to put information in front of a target audience? Are you hoping to establish yourself as a subject matter expert? Or is your goal as straightforward as trying to get additional publicity for an upcoming event?

Knowing what you hope to achieve drives what you are going to write about and gives you a starting point on what vehicles make sense to carry your message (a not-so-subtle segue to the next step).

Second, research target blogs.
If your objective is to present event information, what blogs reach your potential attendees? If your topic is more of a “how to” or “lessons learned” pertaining to event management, what blogs reach your peers? You know your customers, you know the industry and you know how to Google – the appropriate blogs are a few keystrokes and clicks away. And, once you’ve identified appropriate blogs, finding contact information is typically a snap.

Third, make the ‘ask.’
Send a note to the contact asking if they accept guest blogs. Explain your subject matter and what you hope to accomplish (inform, educate, etc.), and what value (fresh content, new perspective) your effort would bring to the blog.

If you’ve done your research and write a legible, grammatically correct ask, your offer will be difficult to turn down.

Fourth, write your article.
Don’t be intimidated as if you are writing the cover story for Time Magazine. Do follow any parameters the blog may have pertaining to work count, link restrictions, style and so on. If allowed, create a link back to your website where appropriate in the blog or perhaps in your contact information as the author. In simple terms, this helps your site win Google searches.

Most blogs are more conversational and not overly lengthy. They are typically casual, and presented in more of a storytelling mode rather than journalistic-style. Don’t “bury the lead” (reveal your purpose early) and if you have some call to action, be sure to provide the means to act (contact information, event details, etc.). Also, you may want to send a photo/image/logo that complements the content, if possible.

Fifth, submit your blog.
Send it, and don’t be crushed if it receives minor edits. If the edits are major, you might want to have a quick conversation with the blog owner, either to fix it or to pull it entirely (this is pretty rare). Also, watch the blog’s comments section to see if there is feedback, and work out an arrangement with the owner to be able to respond accordingly. You will also want to get permission to display a link to the blog on your social media sites and website.

Sixth, if you are happy with your work, show it to your boss.
You earned your kudos. Once the blog is live, help the Internet spread information like it is supposed to by sending links to your work. Let your VIPs see it first. However, we advise that you clear the whole guest blogging opportunity with your boss well before your work gets published.

That’s our six-step approach to guest blogging. If you have thoughts, questions or experiences you would like to share that pertain to the subject, please post away in the Comments section below.

If you would like more information on topics such as registration software or ABC Signup, call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or email us today.

Topics: blogging, registration software