What "Dancing With The Stars" Can Teach You
About Marketing Your Event On The Web
Michelle Girasole - President, Precision Web Marketing,
Ken Owens- President, Owens Marketing Group
What can “Dancing with the Stars” teach you about making
your next event a success?
ABC TV’s hit show dramatically
demonstrates that using the Internet for promotion is critical to
successfully promoting your event and is integral to creating a
long-range marketing impact.
ABC promotes the broadcasts of live events on its website and uses
multiple means to drive people there. The site contains content
(text and video) about the show, its cast, and weekly outcomes that
you can’t get by watching the TV show.
Whether you promote live or Internet events, such as TV shows,
trade shows, live seminars, web chats or webcasts, sports clinics
and more use your website. Learn from ABC and look to the Internet
to help you create an interested audience.
Just don't expect to do it overnight
You must start well in advance of your event. We suggest you begin
now to plan an event ten months out. Decide what that event will
be, how it is useful to your current and future customers, how people
will participate and who they might be.
Then, over the first three months build or re-build your web presence.
It’s neither as good as you think, nor as good as your brother
Consider having your site analyzed by pros who understand both
marketing and the Web. Make sure it is a solid business tool, is
believable and extends your branding posture to each of your audiences,
including customers, prospects, the press, financial markets and
employees. In short, make sure it tells your story well.
Build it from the customer's viewpoint
The first rule is build your website from your customer’s
point of view. Your website helps provide visitors with a deeper
understanding of your expertise and what it means for them. It must
educate them and at the same time, peak their interest to learn
When these visitors engage with you by providing their contact
info, they become new leads, giving your sales force the opportunity
to learn about potential clients before a sales call. This gives
you a distinct competitive advantage – and an open door for
future communications about your company and event.
Look at and assess your site content. First, make sure you are
using “customer speak,” not “company speak.”
Assure that your site is content-rich so that it will draw people
to it and offer opportunity for interaction. Include articles and
To get the website design and content right, marketing must work
with sales and both must work with your information technology resource,
internal or external. Structure your site to generate traffic –
being sure to include search engine-friendly elements - and to start
building conversations by giving existing customers and prospects
an excuse to ask you questions, request information, or subscribe
to an e-newsletter.
Build Customer Relationships
The conversations you generate through this process are preliminary
to building online relationships that lead eventually to customers.
This is also a way of learning what’s on the minds of current
customers when a salesperson contact isn’t needed or possible.
You want to capture contact information, especially e-mail addresses,
of those who come to your site. Requiring registration for white
papers, newsletters and other content is one technique for acquiring
that information. Send out an e-mail blast that provides new information
of value to your contacts and positions you as the source of important
expertise. As the date of your event draws near, send a series of
email invitations: i.e., save the date, early registration, event
reminders, and registration deadlines.
As an example, the American Marketing Association and ChiefMarketing.com
regularly e-mail subscribers and others to participate in their
Webinars about important marketing topics.
Importantly, you must track each e-mail to see if it is opened
and read. Analyze fully your data and determine what changes you
need to make to optimize prospect and customer interest. This is
where many companies fail. They don’t analyze their data.
Make changes and send out another e-mail blast. Analyze the results
and tweak your site once again.
See where this is going? Take action. Analyze the data. Improve
your site. And do it again. The goal is to hone this process until
you create an online environment that promotes conversations and
relationships with clients and potential clients.
Build a Steady Stream of Customers
During the second three months of this process, begin some solid
Search Engine Marketing (SEM). This includes researching your keywords,
your competition’s websites and employing two approaches to
getting your site placed on the top pages of search listings for
each keyword phrase.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of putting a target
keyword into strategic places on a page of your website - and building
incoming links to that page from other sites - in order for it to
rank highly on the free, or “organic” side of the search
Search Engine Advertising (SEA) is a paid or sponsored listing
on one of the advertising networks, such as Google AdWords or Yahoo
Search Marketing. As your event date moves closer, you may want
to use SEA for important keywords that would attract your target
audience. You have full control over the budget and the content
of these ads. SEA can connect you quickly to the right customer
who is searching for something you can provide.
When you have placed your site in the search engines, use the next
three months to promote your event. You want to generate a qualified
and interested target audience for your events. The day after the
season debut of “Dancing with the Stars,” a Google search
brought up a paid ad as well as the organic link to the ABC website.
In addition to Internet advertising, and depending upon the nature
and location of your event, consider other media such as radio or
print advertising and direct mail, i.e., personalized letters to
your current and potential client list and your list of “influentials.”
Once again, send more e-mail blasts to your e-mail list. Make your
website central to audience response.
One political wag said that it takes eight contacts with a potential
voter just to make an impression. Don’t think your job is
any easier. Plan on multiple contacts to make an impact.
Track your ROI
When the date comes, hold your event and track the results. These
include the number of persons who attended, who they were and whether
they are potential customers, any conversations begun and the ultimate
indicator of ROI (Return on Investment), “conversions”
- any new clients acquired or sales made.
Once you have analyzed the data from the event, immediately make
any appropriate changes to your website (SEO) and begin planning
your next event. You don’t need to wait as long for the next
event because your site is ready and you have valuable experience
and knowledge you can use in planning and pulling off your next
event, as well as an expanded e-mail list.
A consistent theme in this process is to use all the data available
to you. Understand what it really means. Analyze the web addresses
of those who visit your site. Know how they got to your site. If
it was from a search through one of the search engines, what terms
did they search? Did they come to you through your advertising,
direct mail or links with other sites?
When you analyze fully the data available to you and use it effectively,
you can continue to optimize your site, hone your events, and, eventually
bridge the gap and develop the conversations that lead to relationships
and eventually to sales.
So the next time you go online to learn more about the dancers
or to vote for one of them look at the way “Dancing with the
Stars” uses its website to help drive attendance at its live
TV events. And then make this work for you.
* * * * *
Michelle Girasole is president of Precision Web Marketing, New
England Division, www.PrecisionROI.com,
a full-service internet marketing agency that provides comprehensive
research, strategy, implementation, results tracking, and analysis
services in the online arena.
Ken Owens is president of Owens Marketing Group, www.OwensMarketingGroup.com,
and develops and implements public relations, marketing and event
marketing strategies for both corporate and not-for-profit.
Both are members of the Kullberg Consulting Group (KCG), www.KullbergConsultingGroup.com,
a twelve year old unique strategic alliance of sixty senior level
professionals, representing all disciplines of marketing communications,
who own their own businesses, but come together to work on KCG assignments