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Marketing Takeaways From All Things 'Viral'


When something goes “viral” on the Internet, it spreads exponentially like its namesake contagion. Hundreds of thousands – or even millions – will almost spontaneously view a video on YouTube, like or share something on Facebook, or “retweet” a photo or tweet on Twitter.

image of recent viral hits and popular social media buttonsEllen Degeneres’ Oscars “selfie” photo, for instance, has been "retweeted" 3.5 million times in just two weeks. A story posted about a UPS driver who helped save a man’s life has garnered over 800,000 “likes” and 40,000 “shares” on UPS’ Facebook page. And if you want to see videos that captured the hearts and minds (and shares and views) of millions, look no further than YouTube for the “Charlie Bit Me” home video (13.3 million views) or Chipotle’s masterful “The Scarecrow” short film (12.3 million viewers).

This phenomena, made possible with the social media boom and the “everyone’s connected” Internet Age, has become a holy grail of sorts for marketers, a get-discovered vehicle for others (Kardashian, Bieber) and self-fulfilling chum for the social media vanguard.

It’s morphed from dumb luck on one end of the spectrum to clever science on the other. Marketing gurus today have reverse-engineered enough viral sensations to actually arrive at “do’s” and “don’ts” for creating your viral bit.

For instance, a quick search of “viral” on the Internet revealed 10 tips and tactics for going viral, 15 tips for creating a viral video, and five viral “killers.” Among the do’s:

  • Focus on current events and trends
  • Pay attention to keywords and tags
  • Start a contest
  • User humor
  • Get noticed by someone big
  • Be shocking and controversial
  • Use photos and visual content

Among the viral killers (or don’ts):

  • Lack of emotional appeal
  • Not share worthy
  • Bad timing
  • Poor design
  • Poor distribution

And one could add “stupid idea” to either list. Most bad ideas never go viral, but some, unfortunately do, like Chevrolet’s Tahoe “Roll Your Own Commercial” campaign that allowed viewers to build their own commercials. Instead of paying homage, many participants created ads that attacked the vehicle for being a gas guzzler, having safety challenges and so on. Chevy shut down the site in a week, but some of the caustic commercials live in infamy on YouTube.

What’s most interesting about the tips for making viral videos is that with few  exceptions, those tips mirror the advice one would give to anyone making a marketing video. Check out their pointers:

  • Create a tight script (three minutes or less)
  • Hook your audience in the first 30 seconds
  • Share a story, make a personal connection
  • Make the viewer the hero
  • Make the viewer act (call to action)
  • Focus on emotion
  • Generate reactions
  • Use smart typography
  • Use dynamic music
  • Brand it

Two tips do stray slightly from more traditional marketing to more viral-oriented: don’t be afraid to polarize, and use your social network to create a herd effect. In fact, if one could pinpoint two differentiating tactics of viral marketing efforts in general, they would likely identify 1) targeting social media platforms (duh) and 2) creating content that seeks to polarize, shock or be controversial.

More often, what worked for the viral examples also works for marketing across all media. Three commonalities that help spawn viral successes – the content is shareable, it tells a story or it’s simply remarkable – are laudable goals for any marketing initiative, from a product brochure to event listings.

A blog says: “Compelling content hinges on one key detail: its sharability.” It explains further that people want to seem smart, so if a particular piece of content makes the sharer look smart, cool or the first to find, they are going to share it. Shareable content might be visual and informative (infographics), funny (K-Mart’s “I can ship my pants”), funny and smart (like the Oatmeal’s piece on Tesla) or trendy (“tebowing,” “planking,” etc.).

Often, the shareable content tells a story. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at, advised marketers to focus beyond their wares to the bigger story. In a recent blog, she wrote: “How does your product or service live in the world? How does it help people? Shoulder their burdens? Ease their pain? Your story is always about the people who use the thing you sell, not about the thing itself. Cast your customer as the hero – not you or your product.”

In so many viral examples – Chipotle’s Scarecrow, Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches,” RedBull’s live “space leap” event, Microsoft Internet Explorer’s “Child of the 90s,” and Nike’s Ronaldinho ad – that’s exactly what the marketers accomplished.

Of course, remarkable content drives most great marketing and much of what becomes viral (though for the latter, it appears there will always be room for the occasional drunken tweets, video bloopers and really bad music videos). Great writing, compelling design, engaging photos and inspired videos seem to garner an audience much faster than the alternative.

If you would like to share your thoughts on the viral phenomena and marketing in general, please use the Comments section below. If you have questions about ABC Signup or online registration software, feel free to call toll-free (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail us anytime.

Two New Customers, Twice the 'Dining-Room Cred'


Launched more than a decade ago, ABC Signup practically pioneered registration software. Today, we’ve got customers in more than 40 states and Canada. Our software helps a wide variety of organizations process millions of registrations for their equally wide variety of programs and events.

So naturally, you’d think we’d be more of a hit on the Rotary circuit. Maybe get a few invites to our school-aged children’s show-and-tell days.

image of person with medal glowing downtownOur clients include Fortune 500 companies like ADP, General Mills and Principal Financial. We serve higher education leaders from the Ivy League to the ACC, Big10, Big12, MAC, MVC, SEC and beyond.

We facilitate registration administration for professional development, after-school, summer school and other activities at school districts, educational cooperatives, service centers and individual schools across the country.

We’re the king of dental schools’ continuing education programs and are a provider of choice for childcare resource centers, hospitals and faith-based organizations.

We help manage registrations for everything from conferences to cooking classes. Planetariums, museums and botanical gardens deploy our software. We enable folks to sign up for field hockey camps to police training, underwater sports to underwater welding. An event company is at this moment using our software right now to register sellers of hot tubs for a convention of sorts in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

We think all of this is kind of a big deal, and our customers refer us to prospects all the time. But outside of our work environment, there’s not an overwhelming interest – even at the dinner table – to hear about our latest client wins or newest software features.

Until recently, that is.

With two specific, new client wins, our stock soared with the spouses and the kids. We became a lot cooler, even though we already have plenty of cool customers.

The first big name was Target, a store of choice for many in these parts. We are helping them with employee education programs, and can only hope they do as much business with us as our employees – and their families – do with them. Adding the Target name to our already impressive list of customers has garnered universal approval and an “ooh and ah” or two from our adult friends and family.

The second name stuck a chord – like a Guitar Hero – with the younger set. We signed up Activision, the electronic game creator responsible for franchises like the above-mentioned as well as Call of Duty, Diablo, World of Warcraft and much, much more. Our role with Activision is slightly less sexy than saving the world and fragging the bad guys – we are assisting them in administering corporate training programs. And – once more for the record, kids – there are no special perks involved.

That said, hearing “My Dad’s (or Mom’s) company works with Activision” sounds pretty neat no matter what your age or videogame ability or perk-less affiliation. There might even be a request for a parent show-and-tell appearance in our future.

If you would like to add your two cents to this blog – or maybe just tell us that you thought we were special even before adding these new customers – please post your thoughts in the Comments section below. If you would simply like to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or shoot us an e-mail.



Great April Fools’ Day ‘Whoppers’


Tax season aside, this is a great time of year. March goes out like a lamb, winter thaws, flowers start to bloom and we get to put away our heavy coats, sweaters, gloves and scarfs for… a while. Best of all, April ushers in April Fools’ Day, the unique, 24-hour period where we purposely try to hoodwink each other.

It’s the one day of the year in which an octogenarian mother can phone her kids at 7 a.m. and tell them she fell and broke her hip – and it’s funny.

image of left handed whopper adBusinesses play along, too  often to great fanfare. Here’s a list of some of the all-time best examples of April Fools’ Day hoaxes that may have fooled many of us and definitely garnered publicity for the organizations involved:

  • Virgin Air gave us its glass-bottom plane in 2013 and purchase of Pluto (with the intent of reinstating it as a planet) the year prior
  • offered to book hotel rooms on the moon in 2009 (travel not included, of course)
  • Last year, Scope promoted a new product – bacon-flavored mouthwash
  • Burger King, in 1998, announced its re-engineered “left-handed” Whopper
  • Taco Bell unveiled “Taco Liberty Bell,” claiming it had purchased the Liberty Bell to help reduce the national debt (1996), which in turn prompted thousands of calls to Taco Bell headquarters and the national park service
  • Starbuck’s debuted new drink sizes, Plenta (128 fluid ounces) and the Micra (2 fluid ounces) on the first of April in 2010
  • Sports Illustrated fooled 99% of its readers with its “Sid Finch” (the phenom with the 168-mph fastball) expose in 1985
  • Twitter said it would begin charging for vowels in 2013, prompting a lot of "f00lysh" and "fnny" tweets
  • In 2004, Yorkshire Water received 10,000 calls in response to its fictitious new product, “diet tap water”
  • Netflix created new movie categories, such as “Movies That are in English but Still Require Subtitles” and “Movies Featuring an Epic Nicholas Cage Meltdown”
  • Video upload site Vimeo created a new network, “Vimeow,” for cat-video uploads only
  • The BBC pulled the wool over folks’ eyes with its announcement in 1980 that Big Ben would be given a digital readout, and again in 2008 with its “discovery” of flying penguins
  • Youtube (in a homage to Rickrolling) redirected every video request on its home page to pop singer Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (2008)
  • And keep your eye on Google – one year it presented the “comic sans font for everyone” promo, another it claimed to be hiring autocompleters (to complete your search as you are typing it), another it introduced “Google Nose,” and in another it renamed itself Topeka (returning the favor to Topeka, KS, which said it would rename the city “Google” to get a high-speed, city-wide network Google offered)

Be on your toes Tuesday. In the age of viral media, a good April Fools’ Day hoax is marketing gold. A lot of organizations see the day as a once-a-year opportunity to be wildly creative, and perhaps wildly successful, at least in a PR sense.

If you have some April Fools’ Day tricks you would like to share, please use the Comments section below. If you have some ideas for an awesome ABC Signup hoax, don’t use the Comments section – e-mail it to us so we can possibly thrust it upon an unsuspecting populace.

And as always, if you have questions about ABC Signup or online registration software, feel free to call toll-free (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail us anytime.

Is This Type of Internet Marketing 'Creepy'?


Various sales pitches and presentations for marketing intelligence products juxtapose two key Internet statistics to make their business case: the first, the fact that more than 75% of all buyers now go to websites to research products; the second, that less than 2% of these buyers actually identify themselves on said sites by completing some sort of “more info” form.

Consequently, company X’s market intelligence software vows to help capture and quasi-identify the bulk of formerly anonymous prospects (total visitors minus the 2%), giving you a fertile list to cultivate.

image of a spy looking through a whole in a newspaperIn basic terms, these tools discover the Internet source visiting your site, identify the specific organization that source belongs to, and then align that information with a database of contacts at that organization. You can then pick the relevant contacts, and either inform them you noticed their organization poking around your site as you market to them, or just pretend that coincidentally you thought it would be a good time to pitch them.

It is illegal for such software to actually track and reveal the information down to the specific individual visiting the site. But, the software coupled with a good database can get you there – or close.

If you weren’t aware this was out there, now you know why you sometimes get a call or an e-mail after visiting a site, even though you didn’t fill out any forms requesting further information.

We subscribe to inbound marketing software that provides a number of tools (such as this blog platform), one of which displays in broad terms (the name of organization) who has visited our site and what pages they visited. While we could theoretically dig down and try to find relevant contacts for that visitor, we don’t. We believe if they liked what they saw, they will come back. Instead, we use the information more to see which pages are important to various segments, lead to “conversions” (completing a form) or perhaps turn people off.

The array of targeted-marketing tools available in the Internet Age certainly raises a dilemma for marketers, and can be a bit disconcerting for consumers.

What do you think? If it isn’t breaking any laws, is leveraging this kind of not-quite-NSA-level intel fair game? If so, would you deploy such tools? If not, would you reconsider if all of your competitors were using it?

And as a buyer and prospect, how do you feel about someone using this kind of intel to reach you? Do you think this is intrusive or normal behavior in today’s information society? Or both? Have you become accustomed to it?

We would love to hear your thoughts about this particular practice in Internet marketing. Please use the Comments section below or shoot us an e-mail.

If you just want to talk about ABC Signup and online registration software, feel free to e-mail or call (866.791.8268 ext. 0) us anytime (preferably during business hours, unless you want to leave a message).

What Would You Read?


Note: This article was published in our e-mail newsletter on March 12, 2014. If you are a newsletter subscriber and didn't open it, we'd still like your input on the very quick survey linked below. If you aren't a newsletter subscriber but would like to be, just enter your e-mail address in the newsletter signup box on our home page.

Good news:  Since we launched the monthly version of this newsletter three years ago, the number of subscribers has tripled.
image of female reading outdoors

Bad news:  Like most e-mail newsletters, the number of times the publication is actually opened and read is more than zero but less than acceptable.

With your help, we can do better. We vow to deliver good content, enticing subject lines, zippy writing and complementary graphics to create a piece that’s a quick read and “edutaining.”

We just need you to put us on target.

If we’re writing about wombats and you want to read about wallabies, no witty prose or snappy design is going to keep you engaged. So, take two minutes of your time, provide some feedback on our one page newsletter survey, and we’ll take it from there. To make it even more worth your while, one survey participant will win a local staple for winter survival, the official Derby Pie.

As always, if you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup or online registration software, always feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail.

16 Tech Tools That Will Whet Your ‘App’etite


A quick perusal of the current top apps on iTunes reveals that eight of the top 10 pay-for apps are games, as are seven of the top 10 free apps. The highest ranked paid “productivity” app is Emoji emoticons at #12 (no kidding).

image of businesswoman with smartphoneFor those of you hoping to use your smartphones and tablets for something besides gaming or emoting – perhaps with an app that helps you accomplish tasks beyond a new high score – keep reading. We’ve scoured the Internet to find some pretty awesome technology with productivity angles that could prove beneficial to you, your organization and even your programs or events.

For instance, would you like to create a to-do list and manage daily tasks such as making better use of productivity apps? Check out, a list- and task-management app that includes time, date and geolocation reminders that keep you committed to the action items and goals you’ve jotted down.

If you want a tool that actually helps you get the most out of online services (such as e-mail, calendar, social media and so on), try EasilyDo, which is also free. EasilyDo is a virtual personal assistant that looks for things it can do for you. For example, an EasilyDo notification might ask you if you'd like it to add the contact details to your address book of someone who has recently e-mailed you.

Do you have a lot of files that you want to be able to share with others or access from any device? Or do you just need space to store large files so that they don’t use up all of the memory on your device? Try Dropbox, which gives you 2GB of cloud-based, accessible-anywhere space to start out (you can earn more through referrals), or Bitcasa, which offers 20 GB of free space accessible for up to three devices.

Sometimes, you don’t need a storage space for files, you simply need a repository like Evernote for a quick dump of ideas, photos, notes, to-do lists, recipes, contact info, song lyrics – you name it. The beauty of Evernote is that unlike your basement, you can quickly identify and retrieve anything and everything you’ve stored there.

Do you like staying on top of trends in your industry, keeping tabs of current events or seeing the latest viral videos of animals doing crazy things? Feedly is an RSS feed reader that helps you keep an eye out for content online that's important to you, from social media feeds to YouTube videos to news sites, blogs and more.

And if you aren’t able to read or view that content right away, you might want to download Pocket, the bookmarking app that makes it easy to story articles and videos. Pocket’s “read-later” experience syncs with all your devices and doesn’t rely on an Internet connection, so you can peruse your bookmarked content whenever and wherever.

If that backlog of bookmarked materials becomes so overwhelming you feel the need for a speed-reading course, never fear, a solution is on the way. Spritz is software that optimizes the format of words to match the eyes’ natural motion of reading, potentially enabling you to read up to 1000 words per minute, a pace that could knock out a novel in 90 minutes (click the link to see it).

Google search is typically our go-to source for answers. But if the question is a little off the beaten path – or perhaps visual, like a picture of a plant you want identified – try Jelly, which reaches out to your social network. Or, if you are in a nano-second-type hurry, use Wikipedia’s app, which is typically faster than mobile search.

Most of us travel, and most of us are familiar with the many online travel tools on the market. Of those that have morphed into apps for smartphone and tablets, Kayak provides one of the best user experiences for booking flights and hotels. And if you want to really get to know those airports you will be waiting in, try GateGuru for suggestions and reviews related to food, retail, services and even the amount of time needed to travel between gates and terminals.

To keep track of all the money you earn and spend – including expenses on the go, like when you are traveling – see It connects all your financial accounts and helps you create and keep a budget.

A great resource for ideas and motivation is the Ted app by Ted Conferences, which presents video of the many educational and informative presentations that have made the Ted Conference the shangri la for thought leaders around the world.

We all know YouTube is a great site for tutorials of all kinds, from learning Calculus at Khan’s Academy to replacing a broken smartphone display or changing your brake pads. If you are that into doing it yourself, you’ll definitely want to tap into Instructables, the site that teaches you how to do everything from building furniture to cooking gourmet meals to creating custom circuit boards.

And finally, while we are on the topic of videos and do it yourself, many of you in the training and events fields are likely encountering more and more opportunities for video in your work. The Directr for Business app gives you video production tools that include a library of templates that make it easy for the novice to produce videos. Each template (think: tutorials, product announcements, etc.) contains a storyboard style shot list that lays out how to approach each shot complete with directors notes and visual suggestions. You just need to look pretty and memorize your lines.

How might this all apply to you, you ask? Try this hypothetical.

Say you are planning a conference in another city. You go to Ted for ideas, use Kayak to set up your travel arrangements and to log expenses. As you are in the air, you read some of the info about the city you are visiting you’ve collected via Feedly and saved in Pocket, and look over the speakers’ presentations you’ve stored in Dropbox or Bitcasa.

Once on location, you methodically complete the to-do list you’ve built in Later on, in that breakout session where the audio-visual fails, you use Instructables or Jelly to quickly learn to toggle the display to the laptop’s screen and set the correct source mode for the projector. You note a particularly awesome slide during the presentations and take a picture of it and store it in Evernote for future reference. During the wrap-up Q&A session, you have Wikipedia in hand just in case someone gets stumped.

On your return trek, you get a reminder notification from Easilydo to use GateGuru to find the PandaExpress in the airport. Once back in the office, you use Directr to compile a post-event video using some of the conference footage you captured on your smartphone. With the time you’ve saved using these apps, you might even have time to kick back with a little AngryBirds3.

If you would like to share some of the cool apps or technology you deploy – or your experience with some of the apps mentioned in this blog – please use the Comments section below.

If you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup or online registration software, always feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail.

5 Tips to DIY Your BYOD


byod imageA recent trend sweeping education and training is BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – whereby participants use mobile devices to help facilitate or enhance the instruction. The movement has spread from students toting laptops to college classrooms to their high school contemporaries wielding iPads from one class to another, with a lot of instruction and resources being shared digitally.

The newest BYOD frontier appears to be continuing education and professional development programs, where often participants arrive with smartphones, tablets or laptops to the surprise of providers armed only with handouts and a PowerPoint display projected on screen.

There’s a reason business and other organizations appear to still be slightly behind the BYOD curve – or just taking it slower. While making instruction and resources available to personal devices can increase productivity and reduce costs, it can also increase security, privacy and legal risks.

The latter issues – and a focus shift from what’s good for the user to what’s good for the enterprise – drove tech giants like IBM and Cisco to create platforms and solutions for large organizations ready to dive into BYOD. But those solutions aren’t for everyone, especially providers hoping to do it themselves or maybe just dabble in BYOD.

To help persons more in the DIY category, we searched the Internet to find some of the best resources for those ready to embark on a BYOD build out. Below, we list the five most important steps you should consider in establishing a BYOD component to your training or development programs.

1. Create a policy
If your BYOD program will allow access to your system or network, you will need to develop a policy that specifies things like what devices will be permitted, what apps will be allowed, what determines acceptable use and how to turn off the program to employees are participants that have “exited.” Check out’s seven tips for a successful policy, Symantec’s interesting infographic on the topic and TechRepublic four different BYOD policy templates, including one for school systems.

2. Develop a security protocol
Again, if your BYOD allows access to the organization’s system, several security measures must be in place to limit security and legal risks. Among these: the individual’s devices must be password-protected; corporate info should never be stored locally; and devices must support the ability to be remotely wiped should they be lost or stolen. You can dig a little deeper on some of the best practices by viewing articles in, and

3. Determine functionality
In broader terms, BYOD can be as simple as an employee using his/her smartphone to access company e-mail, contact and calendar information, or as complex as logging in to company CRM systems or other technology platforms. In training circles, it might be an employee – or program participant – accessing online resources, an app, or social media that support the training. You determine what is going to be made accessible to the BYOD program, weighing potential benefits versus costs, capabilities and security/legal risks.

4. Build Awareness
If you got it, flaunt it. With mobile device saturation approaching two billion and the majority of devices brought to work or your event today being individual-owned, your BYOD program has a captive market just waiting to be engaged. Inform constituents about the offering, how to access it, who to call if they have issues, etc.

5. Get feedback
Making resources and tools accessible to individuals’ mobile devices won’t do much for productivity or cost reduction if no one is taking advantage. The best way to match what your BYOD program delivers to what your constituents want is to constantly get their feedback. And, with your connection to their devices, you have an easy means to gather such input.

When you are nearing your BYOD launch, pre-empt the many potential technical hurdles with good planning. suggests that you carefully explain Wi-Fi use to reduce download time and costs for your participants, put your materials in small chunks (e.g., adjust your video quality) so they are downloadable and reviewable on a small screen, build for the lowest common denominator, and make it as easy as possible with links directly to content.

If you happen to be a voracious reader and want to become an expert on the topic, you could bypass all of the links posted thus far and go to the special guide, where you will find the most comprehensive collection of articles about BYOD on the Internet.

If you are already practicing BYOD and have some helpful tips you can share with ABC Signup customers, by all means, tell us about it. Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts about BYOD or what you’ve read in this article.

If you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup or registration software, always feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail. 

Cool Things Customers Do With ABC Signup


image of people creatingEvery so often, we share some of the things customers do with ABC Signup’s registration software that make us smile.

It might be the efficiencies customers gain from the software or the interesting events facilitated by it. It could be a unique usage or a creative design. It’s often an educational or informative program that we can just tell will make a difference for participants and perhaps the community. And on occasion, customers leverage ABC Signup in a manner that motivates us to do something differently (and might have a similar impact on you). For instance…

  • Ready to deploy the software for a completely different, standalone event? The Medical Center - Bowling Green regularly uses ABC Signup for everything from daily parenting and wellness classes to health screenings to periodic conferences. They go the extra mile with a customized webpage for the annual running event they sponsor, the Medical Center 10K Classic.
  • Want to see a winner play? The Missouri Valley Conference, through member (and ABC Signup customer) Creighton University, used our software around this time last year to help fans purchase tickets to the men’s basketball conference championships.
  • Interested in becoming a hot tub salesperson for a week? What if the week happened to be during the sales conference in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico facilitated with ABC Signup by Latitude Events?

Sometimes, our customers just wow us with sheer volume. Our bandwidth proves its mettle each Spring when the Howard-Suamico school district opens its popular summer school registrations and thousands of parents hit the site almost simultaneously to select the programs they want for their children.

image of mobile site built for KACTEOther times, customers simply inspire us. Last summer, KACTE asked us to put their entire annual conference materials in a mobile format. We built a site, uploaded volumes of information, and created a sensible navigation that helped KACTE deliver an electronic version of the event binder. The experience created an “Ah-Ha” moment for us that led to our creation of a do-it-yourself tool for mobile event content we call MeetingZilla.

The downside of publicly marveling about our customers’ creations is that we undoubtedly miss much of the awesomeness out there. You guys offer tens of thousands of programs or events or fundraisers or memberships or surveys or something yet to be thought of usually involving an event page and a registration form. Not everything catches our eye.

So, if you have something unique, creative, awesome or helpful to others that you’ve put out there with the help of ABC Signup – by all means, tell us about it. Use the Comments section below to share it or share your thoughts about what you’ve read and seen in this article. Or, you can e-mail it to us and maybe we will include it in our next blog sharing cool stuff created by customers.

If you happen to need additional information about ABC Signup and the complete registration software platform that helps make the above possible, please feel free to contact us by phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or e-mail.

A Dozen Virtual Roses for Our Customers


Valentine’s Day already? Uh oh. It’s too late to buy one of those grizzly-sized stuffed bears which basically say “Honey, I ain’t even trying this year.” Instead, we’ll rush out to CVS to buy a special something for our loved one. Before we do that, and subsequently receive our punishment, we’ll send a dozen virtual roses your way. You’re a lot easier to buy for.  

animation of a rose, heart, candiesWhy a dozen? One for each of the following attributes that make us crazy for you: 

1.Thank you for your loyalty.
Some of you have been with us for more than a decade, which like saying you like us even though we sometimes forget to put the toilet seat down. On average, more than nine out of 10 of you stick with us each year.

2. We appreciate your encouragement.
From our first customer to our latest, you motivate us to aim higher when growing and improving our customer base, our niche segments, our overall product and our service. We don’t even think of it as nagging.

3. Thank you for your generosity.
You pay a fair price for our product which in turn pays the bills to keep our company growing and our households mostly solvent. That heart-shaped Whitman’s Sampler at the drug store ain’t gonna buy itself.

4. We love your awesomeness.
You do awesome things. Your programs and events annually educate, inform or entertain hundreds of thousands across the country. Now, what did we do with that box of tissues?

5. Thank you for your kindness.
We communicate with you on a daily basis and you are remarkably professional, courteous, kind and respectful. Perhaps our teenage daughter could come to live with you.

6. We love how you open the door for us.
Many of you make great ambassadors of our software as you refer ABC Signup to others looking for a registration management solution. For the record, we are not opposed to this activity on your part.

7. Thank you for your compliments.
If you poke around the “Customer” section of our website, you will find case studies and testimonials full of praise for our product from the best source possible. That source is you, in case we didn’t make that clear enough.

8. We like how you sometimes hold our hands.
On occasion, your challenges are unique, complex and even daunting. Sometimes, we need a little hand holding to guide us both to the appropriate solution. Prior to this hand-holding, we promise to apply copious amounts of hand sanitizer.

9. Thank you for your patience.
There are instances in which some of you must wait for us to change something or notify you of a change that’s coming. Rarely do you complain. Again, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a teenager comes to mind.

10. We are grateful that you make us laugh.
ABC Signup is a sophisticated software solution deployed across six time zones. Between setting up that ABC Signup account and receiving that final post-event evaluation form, our customers find ample opportunity to do and share funny things. Sometimes, though, we’re laughing on the inside.

11. Thank you for being forgiving.
On the very rare occurrence in which we don’t put our best foot forward (e.g., communicating the log-in link’s permanent move to, you typically take the news in stride, make the necessary adjustment and move forward. We hope our spouse will show the same graciousness when opening a box of waxy chocolate.

12. We love how you complete us.
Our software today is vastly superior to the beta version launched in 2002, and much of the improved features and functionality came about as a result of our response to your feedback. We believe the customer-centric nature of our software – and your part of our partnership – differentiates us from the competition. And to prove that we always strive to get better, we promise to never use “customer-centric” again.

Please accept those dozen flowery bits of praise as our Valentine’s Day expression of appreciation for all you do as an ABC Signup customer. If you would like to leave your own Valentine’s message, please post your thoughts in the Comments section below. If you would simply like to know more about ABC Signup and registration software, call us (866.791.8268 ext. 0) or shoot us an e-mail.

Do These Trends Apply to Your Training Programs?


image of a dog jumping through a annually publishes its assessment of trends likely to impact the training industry. In the 2014 outlook posted in Training Industry Magazine (pages 24-28), central to their trends is what they perceive as a major shift from a “learner-centric” model of training to a “business-centric” model. In short, the author sees training today becoming more aligned with the needs of the business as opposed to training geared more toward what the learner wants/needs.

In an area ever-pressed for more efficiency, this seems like a natural evolution, especially in internal corporate training environments. It’s about accountability, about making sure business expenditures produce results. And according to the report, trying to align training with business needs – then finding ways to deliver that training efficiently – is driving all sorts of innovations.

At least five of the 11 trends listed in the article, for instance, entail leveraging new technologies and platforms to better facilitate training.

“Conformance of Content to Modality,” as an example, suggests that instructional designers develop content that can be configured to whatever type of device (e.g., smartphone) the learner uses. Similarly, “Customization of Services & Content” points out that there are now four generations of learners in the workplace, and content must be designed for any learning style as well as device.

For training providers, these trends advocate making your programs more accessible to technologies and methods of learning. So, maybe you add a virtual program to complement your classroom version. Deploy “gamification” for the Millennials. Or, put your conference materials in a mobile format.

A third trend, “Open Access to Content,” addresses the wealth of courses and “how-to” content available through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and YouTube, and the challenge this mass of material and opportunity poses in keeping the learner focused on what offerings actually meet the needs of the business and the learner. A fourth, “Integration of Video,” acknowledges that human learning is mostly visual and there are close to three billion how-to videos available on the Internet and that number is growing exponentially.

With both of these trends, training programs are challenged to not only harness and focus all of the new offerings that are available, but in the case of videos, also create and incorporate their own video productions into the learning experience.

A fifth trend, “Digital Content” speaks to the conversion of classroom training content into digital format, as in course materials being converted to easily accessible e-books. This is already happening in schools, and the technology to do it yourself with your training or course materials is readily available.

Other trends listed included “Consistency,” “Demonstration of Knowledge” and “Blending of Content.” Consistency stressed the importance of effectively delivering learning initiatives across geographies, business units and learners’ levels within an organization. Demonstration of Knowledge, while self-explanatory, highlighted the growth in social badging, certifications and the credentialing bodies that issue certifications. Blending of Content related how learning is achieved through a combination of informal means and structured training. also provided its usual macro trends, offering its projections on corporate training spending growth (will increase by 1%), job growth (to remain flat) and what’s happening in the world of training industry source engagements (deployment will continue to be very tactical).

This assessment is just one of a number of resources offered available on the market to help training providers prepare for what’s around the corner. If you want to share your thoughts on these trends – or share other valuable trend-related resources and ideas – please use the Comments section located below this blog.

If you would like to know more about registration software and ABC Signup, please contact us by e-mail or phone (866.791.8268 ext. 0).

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