Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Russians hack into Tennessee farmers' market website - steal domain

You never know when someone is going to come along and steal your website and/or domain. That happened to me in 1999. I was one month into a new job when my organization's website went dark. I learned the bill had not been paid several months earlier, thereby allowing a local jerk to buy up the domain name. He kept it for a year and we bought it back. Yes, it was part of a local political vendetta and my organization survived, but we took a hit. We had not been hacked, but robbed.

Now I see that Russian hackers stole a farmers' market's domain. The farmers' market is located in Tennessee. There is no logic here. It's just plain theft and meanness. What are some ways to prevent this from happening? One way is to make your site private and to make sure you own it. Not sure? Who Is and Go Daddy have online portals to help you find out. If you can, so can robbers.

MARKETING TIP: Your website is not only your best online portal, but it is an investment. Protect it. Keep your passwords in a safe place and share that information with one more person. Who knows what might happen to you? Consider paying a few dollars more to have your site private. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Non-profit boards sometimes go 'round in circles

Do you sit on a non-profit board? Are you part of an organization which has a board of directors? If so, check this out.

Boards go through stages and it's important to recognize which stage your board is in - and how to react and work with the members.

Keep in mind that when a board becomes dysfunctional, donors see it. Customers see it. Staff sees it. The end result is a downward spiral which can kill an organization.

MARKETING TIP: Putting your best foot forward often means looking inside first.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Changing Taxes and Your Bottom Line

The tax structure in the United States changes all the time. It affects small and large businesses, festivals, non-profits, educational institutions and individuals. For instance, an effort is afloat where I live for professionals (CPAs, lawyers, etc.) to charge sales tax.

As a result, if you hire one of these, you'll need to be prepared to pay more. Where do you get the money? You increase your fee, find new ways to make money and find new customers or sponsors.

It's important to keep up with legal changes and budget accordingly.

MARKETING TIP: If you have to increase your rates, feel free to explain why.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fundraising for your festival or event? Setting your budget?

If you have a festival and no start-up seed money, you're not alone. Thousands of festival organizers see that same scenario each year. So this year, start something new. When you're creating your line items for your budget, add a line called "2015 seed money." When your cash starts coming in, put some there - first. Resist the temptation to touch it. Treat it as a savings account. You may even want to open a separate bank account just for your seed money - just so it won't be easy to touch.

At the same time, ask your donors to sign up for two years. Be sure to get their commitment on paper. A signature goes a long way. Granted, we don't know what next year will look like financially. But, at least you've got their commitment now to include you in their own 2015 budget.

MARKETING TIP: Save yourself, and your sponsors, by making it easy for them to partner with you. Think ahead.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Are you the right person?

Are you the right person to be the spokesperson for your business? Your festival/event? Your attraction? If you're unsure, here is a short list of criteria:

Enunciate clearly. I find some small business owners really want to be the point person for their product/service, but hearing and understanding what they say can be a challenge. In a case like this, the owner should find someone else to do the speaking.

Be available 24/7. You never know when you'll get a phone call from a reporter. You never know when your product/service - or an employee or member of your team - suddenly is in the news. If you don't want to be "on the clock" all the time, find someone else who is capable.

Be knowledgeable. Learn as much as you can about your product/service, festival/event or attraction. If you're asked something you don't know, then quickly find the answer and provide it to the reporter.

Answer the question. Reporters aren't looking for people who love to talk. They're looking for concise answers. Someone who loves to ramble probably isn't the best person to be your spokesman.

MARKETING TIP: Putting your best foot forward includes having the right person for the right job.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Want financial satisfaction? Listen to The Stones!

There is a business side to any successful musical act. Members want to perform, be creative and have fun. But they also want to make money. Here are some great tips from The Rolling Stones about how to do it.



MARKETING TIP: Keep an open mind. Good advice can come from the most unusual places!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can people actually read the copy on your website?

When you're creating a website, the copy is extremely important. You want to make sure it can be read. So here are some points to consider ...

1) Use a font large enough for people to read. Keep in mind that when your audience gets a little older, the font needs to be a little larger.
2) Use a standard color for your text. Search engines don't really like it when you jump from one color to the next in your regular text. That's okay if it's part of an ad, but not in your text.
3) If you insist upon using more than one color in your text, make sure it can be seen. Look at this one from the NC Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame. Blue does not show up against black. Red is a color which cannot be seen by 25% of the population. That's right. If you're color blind, red and green may show up as a gray.
4) Make sure your own contact information is clear and on the home page.
5) Keep your copy enticing and short.

MARKETING TIP: When you're creating a website, check it out on different computers to see what it looks like. It's your #1 sales tool and you want it to be seen.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What are people talking about? What are their reviews?

Are you checking your reviews for your festival, event, attraction or small business? Why not? Your customers are.

Regardless of how much effort you put into advertising, word of mouth and social networking, REVIEWS are what is driving a purchase.

And I admit, I look there first, too. I want to see what other people have written - their experiences, their likes and dislikes. I want to know what others are saying. And if you're a hotel, check out this article. Your customers are setting the pace for all of your future activities.

MARKETING TIP: Every now and then, search your festival, event, attraction and small business to see what others are saying about you. Hope it's good!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh where oh where .... I receive a lot of press releases. Some are very good. Others aren't. I received this today. Initially, it looks okay, but for those people who may be traveling to the coast or who are new to the coastal area may not know where the Oceanic Restaurant is physically located or where to park. That information should have been included. Once I receive a physical address, then the release is ready to be used in print. ... But not before. And, since not everyone uses the Internet, include a phone number for more information.

Wrightsville Beach, N.C. - Prime oyster season has arrived and Wrightsville's Chamber of Commerce is launching an annual Oyster Roast on Sunday, Nov. 3, 5-7 p.m. This all you can shuck and eat festival will be surfside, on the new pier at Oceanic Restaurant, located at ______. Parking is available at ___________. All who love fresh local oysters and the beach are invited to attend.
Event proceeds will benefit historic Howell Cottage, built in 1940, later relocated to burgeoning Historic Square on Wrightsville Beach. Historic Square, off Salisbury Street near Town Hall, is also home to Myers Cottage, built in 1907, and Palmgren-O'Quinn house, built in 1946.
Wrightsville Beach has over 20 historically designated properties, representing a span of Carolina coastal living and architecture from 1907 to 1955.
Howell Cottage is home to the Wrightsville Beach Visitor's Center and Chamber of Commerce.
Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization, "serving the interests of citizens, tourists and the business community for over 30 years," says Sue Bulluck, Chamber president.
Due to the generosity of local sponsors, Chamber Oyster Roast tickets are only $25. This includes all you can eat local oysters, sides and one drink ticket. Ticket sales are limited.For information, call _______To buy tickets visit: www.wrightsville.org 

MARKETING TIP: When you're writing a press release, consider people may be reading it who are unfamiliar with your area. Be specific. 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Got camera? Got photo release form?

It's pretty much always been that if you're photographing at a public event, you don't need to have a form signed by the person you're photographing. However, if you're going to use it for financial gain, you do.

It's a good idea to get a lawyer to draw up a release form for you, just to protect you. For example, if you have a photo of a nice looking couple sitting by a water fountain and you want to make a post card out of it, the couple might want to collect some money from you. However, if you set the shot up and have them sign a release acknowledging that you can use the photo for commercial purposes, then you're okay. Or, you may want to pay them up front.

Oh yes, there are some  terms and agreements to look into. That's why you need a legal eyeball.

MARKETING TIP: Photos are truly your best promotional tool. Just be careful.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

LinkedIn is a great portal to connect with peers and learn

LinkedIn is often overlooked as a resource for small business owners and festival organizers. So many understand Facebook because it's so well advertised. Everywhere you look you see someone's FB logo. But you don't see that with LinkedIn. Why? Because LinkedIn is completely different from Facebook. The purpose is totally different.

I view LinkedIn as a personal and business development portal. I can join groups, such as small business, art, festivals/events, human resources, marketing or whatever. Once inside the group, I can ask questions - and answer others. I use LinkedIn as a place to seek advice and bounce ideas.

It's a wonderful platform to learn from others and share knowledge. We should all consider seeking out as many opportunities to learn from others in our chosen fields. I highly endorse the use of LinkedIn.

MARKETING TIP: Knowledge is power - and money in the bank - if you use your knowledge wisely. Continue your learning process by joining LinkedIn and get active on the site.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seeking Feedback from your festival vendors and customers

What makes your festival so great? Your customers and vendors. So why not feature them in your promotion? This year, get your smart phone or video camera and wander the streets. Be sure to carry a release form with you.

Ask your customers and your vendors why they like attending and participating in your event. What have they purchased? What time did they arrive? What did they come to see? Have they been to your festival before? Will they come back?

Be sure to get a release form signed giving you permission to take their photo and post the video online. Make sure you have a place for them to print their name, as well as sign it. Get the city and state they're from. This way, you can also track where people are coming from and use it to promote next year's festival.

MARKETING TIP: Engage your customers and vendors in your promotion.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gone fishin' ...

I took a hiatus this summer from posting, but am now back at it.

We're entering fall, a time of church bazaars, yard sales, street festivals, estate auctions and holiday markets. The events calendar is full of activity. So how do you stand out?

Do you have a smart phone? If so, point the camera towards - you. Turn on the video record button and talk. Yes, that's you - not someone else. Talk to your camera just like you would be talking to your best friend and personally invite people to your event. Post that video on your social networking sites. Ask all your friends to help you share your invite.

MARKETING TIP: If you're organizing an event, you really need to become a shameless self-promoter - of the event. Let people begin to associate you with it, particularly if the event happens on an annual or regular basis.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Festivals: Promote your Arts and Crafts Exhibitors - PLEASE

If I had a penny for every festival which lists "arts and crafts" in a press release or poster - without any explanation - I would be rich. Organizers seem to not understand that one reason people go to festivals and events is to see what kind of craft is there. Yes, food is the #1 reason, but flea market crap got old years ago.

A good festival organizer should showcase what kinds of arts and crafts are being exhibited. So as we enter the festival season, keep in mind that if you want to increase the number of people attending your event, increase the amount of money they spend, increase the success rate for your vendors - then you absolutely have to increase the visibility of your exhibitors.

Here is an example.

MARKETING TIP: It's not good enough just to promote your festival. Tell potential customers - and media - what exhibits your event will include. Promote your arts and crafts; don't leave them on the side of the road.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sales Going Down? Get in the Classroom!

One of the most important things you can do as a small business owner is keep current with the times. One way to do that is to take classes. Your local small business center, college or chamber of commerce offers classes you can attend in person or online. Usually, they're free.

One way to gauge if you need training is to look at your bottom line and your customers. If your bottom line is stagnant, that means it's not increasing - and your customers tend to be the same ones with no new faces - then it's time to spend some time in the classroom.

Business in 2013 is not what it was a few years ago - not even last year. As life changes, so must we as small business owners.

MARKETING TIP: You may have a fantastic product or service, but if people don't know about it, you may wind up getting a job instead of owning your own business. It's that simple.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Creating Tabs on Your Facebook Page

Not all Facebook pages are the same. Some have individualized tabs. They're a great way to promote aspects of your life or company.

For instance, Coca-Cola has done a remarkable job developing their brand on their Facebook page. You can too.

Hubspot and Mashable are the two primary sites I use in learning about social networking. Hubspot shares details on how you can add and individualize tabs for your own site.

MARKETING TIP: Find and develop any portal you can to promote your business products and services, your events and your destinations. The more you're available online with information people can easily access and use, the more you'll deposit at the bank.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Searching for Free Publicity for Your Event

It's the holidays and you're looking for free publicity. So is everyone else. To make sure your event stands out in the crowd, here is a simple guideline:

1) Send written information to your local media outlet. You can use fax, email or deliver your written message in person.
2) Include a contact name and day and night phone numbers. Include area code, as many communities now use the area code when dialing.
3) Be specific. Include what the event is, the exact street address, hours, cost, parking information and anything else which is pertinant. Is this an indoor or outdoor event? Is food available? Is the event handicapped accessible? Can you provide a hi-res digital image by email or on a flash drive?
4) Most media will not respond to let you know they received your information. So it is appropriate to give a phone call to make sure they got your written information.
5) Keep in mind that all media outlets are working with reduced staff while still preparing 5 or more hours of TV content a day or a full newspaper a day. So the easier you can make it for them - "spoon feed info" - the better. Your information will rise to the top of the stack.
6) Send a short thank you note after your piece has been printed or broadcast. You can do it by postal mail or email.

MARKETING TIP: To avoid errors and to get your information where you want it to be with your local media outlets, provide information in writing. Do not expect reporters and editors to call you as  they may have done in years past. Their plate is overflowing.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Using Facebook as an inner-office communications tool

Do you feel like an outsider looking in on your organization or company? Do you feel left out? Do you have to depend upon inner-office rumor? Do you feel left out in the dark? One great way to remedy the situation is to set up a closed group on Facebook. It is limited only to the people you want to include. For example, a non-profit can set one up for staff and volunteers. A company can set one up for all employees.

It's simple. You just set up a group account and keep it closed to the public. Everyone in the page can see all the postings.

Why should you keep everyone in the informational loop? It's simple. If you don't, employees and volunteers get discouraged and unhappy. Their lack of enthusiasm is picked up by customers. Discouraged and unhappy volunteers and employees result in poor customer service - which IS noticed by current and prospective customers.

MARKETING TIP: Keep your employees and volunteers in the informational loop. Meetings can be very time consuming and unproductive. So set up on online communications portal. It's easy and worth every post!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Promoting church events

For many religions, this is the time of year when there are a number of celebrations. Many are open to the public. However, most church pastors are not accustomed to having to promote an event. They will gather a group from their congregation to produce the festivities, but often times people forget to promote it.

Every church, regardless of size, should have someone in charge of publicity. That person should have a current list of area media, a list of deadlines and ad costs, email addresses and should maintain a photo file of hi-res images. Usually there is someone in the church who can take a decent photo. Churches should recruit that person to be the official photographer.

A photo sells a story better than anything. So send one photo along with a press release, flyer or announcement to print and broadcast media.

Taking a flyer or a photo to your local media outlet may or may not work. Most prefer a digital format. You should call first to find out. You may wind up saving yourself a trip.

MARKETING TIP: Churches, in particular, need to promote themselves, especially during seasons celebrating faith. Assign one person to be in charge of all publicity.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sound Can Make or Break Your Event

Not all sound systems are the same. Neither are the people who set them up. This comment comes from Lizzy Long's Facebook page. She is a bluegrass entertainer who performs all over the United States:

"The number 1 rule for a good bluegrass festival.... Is spend the best part of your $$ on a good sound system AND sound person.... Then everything will fall into place...When I see XXXX sound products for bluegrass I want to stay in the bus."

I have deleted the name of the company. But you can see that entertainers do not like performing when the audience cannot hear them properly. Sound which is too loud distorts music and vocal sounds. Sound which is too low stresses the audience too. Either way, you've got a bad situation.

MARKETING TIP: Spend money on your sound. Do not cut corners. People come to hear what is being said and performed. If they have trouble hearing it, they won't return.