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15 Secrets to Successful Ticket Giveaways

Ticket Giveaway Clog PhotoThough it’s tempting to hoard your Brown Paper Tickets (they’re so pretty), we recommend giving some away for free to promote your event.

Ticket giveaways build excitement, attract new fans, create meaningful and memorable interactions.

Ready to Wonka your next event? Here we go.

1. Be selective. You don’t want tickets floating around everywhere because it will devalue your event.

2. But don’t be stingy. When it comes to tickets, always give away a pair. As Harry Nilsson wrote, “one is the loneliest number.” One ticket dooms your prize winner to a night of awkwardly standing against the wall and pretend texting.

3. A caveat: it may be OK to give reporters just one free ticket or pass, so they can interview performers and write about your event. Journalists and experienced bloggers are used to attending events solo, especially if they are interviewing performers. A plus one is sweet, but not necessary.

4. Start with specific, reachable goals. Do you want to attract more followers on social media? Or is your goal to boost awareness of the event? Specific goals will dictate what channels you should use to promote your ticket giveaway. Use numbers so you can measure the outcome.

5. Keep the rules clear and the sign-up form simple. We’re all grossly busy. Too busy, most of the time, to enter contests with long, complex form fields.  If you’re creating a contest entry form, stick to the essentials: name, email address and phone number.

6. Consider a “comment” contest. Ask followers to comment on your blog or Facebook page. When it’s time to pick a winner, you’ll have an organized list of entries that you can easily contact. As a bonus, this type of contest will boost your social media presence.

7. If it’s your first giveaway, start with a basic lottery. Choose one person randomly from a list of entries to receive the tickets. Easy as pie. Can’t pick a winner? Random Picker will do it for you.

8. Review contest rules carefully. For example, Facebook won’t allow you to use the “thumbs up” like button as a way to vote or enter contests. You also must clearly state that Facebook is not sponsoring your giveaway. Instagram and Twitter also have promotion rules. Pay attention. If you’re doing a large-scale giveaway, consider consulting an attorney.

9. Tailor to size. If you have a fan base of 300, it might be best to just ask your following to comment on your blog post or status update. First comment, best comment or random comment wins.

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10. Be creative. If your following is well into the thousands, you can get away with a more challenging, interactive giveaway. It will take some time and planning, but is well-worth the effort when executed properly. Giveaway tickets with trivia questions about the performers. Strong local presence? Take photos around your city and ask fans to comment with where they think you are.

11. Consider timing. You don’t want to create a giveaway too far in advance, because it’s tough to build excitement and plan for an event that’s happening many months away. Likewise, a week’s notice may not be enough to draw the amount of participants you desire.

12. Giveaway free tickets on the day-of. This is your last chance to get more folks in the door and you’ll nab those few who were on the fence about attending.

13. Have a classic, names-in-a-fishbowl drawing at your event and give away tickets to your next show. Not only can you collect email addresses for your newsletter list (clearly state they’re opting in), you’re advertising your next show.

14. Create a targeted list of local media outlets and invite journalists to enjoy free tickets in hopes that they will write about your show. Remember, even with free tickets, there are never guarantees that a reporter will cover your event and many publications forbid their journalists from taking comps. Never demand coverage.

15. Don’t ignore influencers—social media heavy hitters on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Say there’s an Instagram influencer who goes around capturing the special beauty of amber ales with her camera phone. (Believe us, such people exist). If this hypothetical shutter bug has loads of genuine followers and posts rich, thoughtful updates, offer free tickets to your brew launch party.

Have you tried a ticket giveaway? What were the results?

Event Tips >

13 Sizzling Event Trends for 2016

2016 Event Trends Cheers to the New Year. When the confetti settles, you’ve swallowed the last sip of champagne and the tux or little black dress is off to the dry cleaners, it’s time to look forward.

We don’t make claims to be clairvoyant, but with swiftly changing technology, geek culture going mainstream and two Pantone colors, 2016 is going to be a pivotal year in events.

Let’s get to our top 13 trends:

1. The Social Scape is Changing

Social media is here to stay, but the traditional status update about dogs and brunch may be put out of its misery.

More and more users are adopting messenger apps, such as WhatsApp or iMessage because they offer private communication and of course, the ability to send hilarious gifs.

According to the Pew Research Center, “half (49%) of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use messaging apps, while 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages.”

There’s no getting around it. Organizers have to make social part of their events. Which brings us to:

2. “Your Audience has an Audience”

Snapchat is on the rise. No longer just for the vanishing selfie, the service offers live event feeds and is even hiring reporters to cover the 2016 election.

At the 2015 Seattle Interactive Conference, David Shing, venerated digital prophet relayed that brands should consider the experience of their audience’s audience—fans at home in their pjs watching their friends’ videos of a distant festival.

Bleak, weird, incredibly cool? We’ll let you make up your own mind about that.

Just don’t worry, because…

3. Happiness is Live Events 

It’s not just your live-event-lovin’ imagination. Research shows that shared experiences make people happier than things and that millenials are definitely into not-owning things, aka “nownership.” (They’re also into portmanteaus.)

What does this mean? Well, good news for you, because the event industry is booming. But it may also mean more competition as brands try to reach consumers through experiences.

Speaking of…

4. The Whole Experience

Remember the olden days, in 2012 when you would go out to dinner and then to a show? Or you would go to a show and then go out for drinks? Or you would go to dinner and then just go home?

That’s O-V-E-R. (O.K., slight hyperbole.) Food events are incorporating more performance elements and performances are including more food elements. And many of these dinner theater events are taking place in intimate venues, like a person’s home.

Event attendees want new sights, tastes and experiences. Bringing us to…

5. The Pop-Up Explosion

We reported on pop-up restaurants in last year’s trend list, but in 2016, pop-up will take all forms, from pop-up dinners, to flea markets to workshops, concerts and even the occasional dance off.

You’ve may have already noticed the pop-up phenomenon this past holiday season. Many creatives can’t front the hefty rents of a full-time store, so they’re showing their stuff at pop-up holiday craft fairs and bazaars.

These small-time markets definitely draw as the higher appreciation for handmade still stands.

Just don’t expect a lot of heavy drinking at them because…

BPT_NewYear_sq6. Mocktail Madness

Mmm. Welcome the rise of the mocktail: drinks that have all the ice-clinking, lemon-garnished delight of a cocktail with none of the spirits. Or regrets.

Studies like this one indicate drinking—especially among young people—may be in decline. Mocktails cater to the late-twenty or thirty-somethings looking to go out and socialize without getting sloppy.

The 2016 mocktails just might be pink and blue. Bringing in…

7. The 2016 Color(s) of the Year

You’ll see a lot of pink and blue this coming year (excuse us… Rose Quartz and Serenity). And not just at baby showers.

For the first time ever, color expert Pantone selected a duo palette for the “color of the year.” Like every year, the color (er… colors) will influence event décor.

But probably not at…

8. Geeky Events

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Retro video games emerged from wood-paneled basements awhile back. But in 2016, they’ll move on up again from the barcade to the big time arenas. eSports viewership continues to rise dramatically with the first eSports arena opening in Santa Ana in October.

Live video game music is already a thing and there will be more shows in 2016. Musicians shred on instruments while an expert player battles the big bosses in real time level after level.

Intense.

Speaking of battles, we’re stoked about this prediction—in 2016, the U.S. will catch on to giant robot battles, already big in Japan. Hot tip. Start working on your giant robots now.

9. Art Shows Become Immersive 

2016 will make average gallery goers part of the show. No more standing around, sipping wine, pontificating about a piece. It’s all about interactive, motion-based artwork that changes rapidly and is controlled by the observer.

That’s kind-of cool, isn’t it? So are…

10. Chef-Driven Dinners

Perhaps fatigued with walk-around tasting events, foodies are requesting a more intimate experience. Our food event specialists report a rise in chef-driven tasting menus in both restaurants and as an event format. Event Marketer reports that patrons want to know everything about their food and trying to learn from chefs and servers.

And also, in Instagram Age, every dish must be picture perfect. But you might not be allowed to snap that photo because…

11. Phone Bans

We’ve all been there. Your favorite live performer blocked by a sea of tablet and phone screens and you just watch them on the tiny screen in front of you. Like you could be doing at home.

To ban or not to ban is a hot-button topic for event organizers. On one hand, social media promotes your performers and events. On the other, event attendees aren’t immersed in the whole experience as they’re counting likes and updating statuses. If you’re going to ban mobile use, take the high road and focus on the positive with your message.

“Please refrain from using your phone as we want you to be immersed in the experience.”

Speaking of the high road…

12. More Cannabis Gatherings

In 2014 and 15 in the wake of legalization in some states, marijuana shed its stoner image and went all upscale. Interest in herb will grow in 2016 with more marijuana events that cater to a crowd that wants to learn. Expect more cannabis events that emphasize healing (like cannabis and yoga), as well as workshops and food pairings.

Bringing us to our favorite trend:

13. Educational Events

School is cool again in 2016–there’s an uptick in workshops, symposiums and learning retreats. It’s no surprise, as DIY and handcrafting is hot, hot, hot. Our food and farm outreach specialist reports more forestry, farming and water conservation classes than in previous years.

What do you think 2016 will bring? Comment below or add your favorite event trend.

 

Event Tips >

The Essential Guide to Merchandise, Part 1: Selecting a Vendor

BPT_buttons_2_300x300Whenever someone tells me that there’s no money in merchandise, I want to scream. Merchandise programs can become your league’s greatest return on investment. Especially once your merchandise program is established.

This is the first of a three-part series on derby merchandise programs and the best use of your merch committee’s time. Although this series is specific to roller derby, the following applies to bands, performers and anyone else who might sell merchandise at their events.

There is Money in Merchandise 

Two examples that speak to the value of merchandise sales:

-Bands make their name on the road. Most will tell you it is merchandise sales, not a cut of the door sales that support their ramen-noodle habit and van.

-My son loved watching the monster truck TV series, “Monster Jam.” One episode, Dennis Anderson, owner of the iconic Grave Digger, made a prolific statement about merchandise sales. In his early years, he ran the truck until it was wrecked, “to get the most out of merchandise sales.” That’s right, he traveled the country destroying expensive trucks to boost merch sales.

Roller derby merch has the same potential.

Though there are many types of merchandise you can sell, clothing will draw your greatest sales and profit. T-shirts are critical to any merch program. They are relatively inexpensive to make and can generate a strong profit.

Your relationship with your clothing producer is a critical one that’s reliant on trust, so be choosy when it comes to your vendor.

Choose Vendors Wisely 

The three factors to be aware of when choosing a vendor are reliability, the cost goods and the quality of their work. Too often, leagues have “merch problems” from making a poor choice of vendors. Many leagues are offered great deals from startup print shops, a league-mate’s friend or even someone within the league.

What could possibly go wrong?

Reliability

You get a great deal. At first, your orders may not have time sensitivity. Especially if it’s off-season or the league is in early stages. But when you need inventory by a certain date and it doesn’t show up, it’s a big problem.

If you are out of sizes or styles, those are lost sales. How could this happen? More than likely, they’ve offered this same killer deal (undercutting the price of other printers) to a number of others. The print shop is looking to build its clientele. The general concept of creating printed t-shirts is not difficult, but bulk printing is. Problems arise when the printer takes on more work than they have staff, equipment or time. For some shops, it isn’t a full-time business; it’s a “hobby.”

How to Sniff Out an Unreliable Vendor 

  • Ask to tour their shop prior to committing your business. If they keep stalling, they don’t have a shop. They have limited equipment (potentially homemade) in a corner of a basement or garage. One or two screen presses won’t keep you stocked, especially once there are other customers.
  • If they made their own screen printers (fairly easy), the turnaround time on each piece will be a killer. If a tour of the shop shows you professional equipment for creating screens, printing bulk shirts, advanced drying equipment, heat presses, CAD cutters (printers that cut a vinyl material) and the like, you’re working with professionals.

Don’t be afraid to look into larger companies. When I had my own t-shirt company, all of my screen-printing was done by a large facility contracted by the likes of Nike and Reebok. Yes, my orders were squeezed between large corporate ones, but done with consistent quality, available as promised and often less expensive than if done in smaller shops.

Remember, league money needs to be held tight. Spend it cautiously, especially early on and know that every dollar spent needs to earn more dollars. Choosing the right shirt printer is a vital first step.

What’s a “Good” Deal?

There are two ways to maximize the contributions of your merch program—find the right selling price and keep costs low. Your goal is to make quality merch at the lowest price possible. Clothing printers will provide you with shirts and do the printing.

They buy the t-shirts at wholesale prices and mark the price up. If you’re told blank t-shirts are $4, work on driving that price down. Let me arm you with reality. A quality, men’s black tee, at wholesale price, is no more than $2.50. It’s also not uncommon for wholesalers to run specials for under $2.

My goal was to create a final product for $6 maximum and sell at $15, which is an acceptable price for fans. As my own company however, I bought shirts at wholesale and either applied the print myself or sent them to my screen printer to use. Some printers will not allow this, some will–they have to make money too. But if your single-color tees are running $8 to make, force them to bargain or walk away. You hold the cards in this decision, don’t let them pressure you into a cost that is too high.

How to Test Merchandise Quality 

Roller-Derby-T-ShirtT-shirts don’t have to be anything special, but they should be quality. Gildan is just one example, but a very popular choice for good reason. Gildan is popular because it’s a reasonable for the quality, they make a sturdy 5.1 oz. cotton tee and provide them in men’s, women’s and children sizes.

When choosing a t-shirt vendor, ask for a sample. Put your hand inside the shirt. If you can see your hand clearly through the cotton, don’t use them. It indicates poor quality. The shirt will shrink drastically and the print will chip in a short period of time.

As you will learn, start easy with safe bets on merch and slowly build as the demand rises. Begin with t-shirts only; one or two styles with a decent stock of sizes. Upcoming blog posts will explain building an inventory plan, projecting merch needs and the kinds of merchandise that are risky or not worth the return.

What do you think? Comment below with your merchandise experiences or questions.

Roller Derby >

What’s in a Name? (Hint: Everything)

Your derby league’s look and feel affects the success of your marketing and your community relationship. A smart, calculated and yes, creative selection of your logo, league name, team name(s) and tagline is vital.

Derby Branding 101 

97931 Fort Wayne

If you are not familiar with branding, think of it as a consistent look and voice that represents your league. When it comes to derby, branding gives merchandise, boutfits and marketing a unified style.

I’m a flat-out sports fan. I can identify professional teams at a glance. And it’s no accident–a group of experts choose logos, colors, team font (yes, even the typeface stands out) and taglines that fans can spot in an instant. Good branding is a must for any business and sports teams are businesses.

Lovin’ it or hatin’ it, McDonald’s is a branding machine. The signature red and yellow, arches, jingle and tagline make their ads and restaurants recognizable in a few seconds. You want to capture a consistent visual and written style that strives for a McDonald’s-level of familiarity to your community.

Let’s start with the first steps—a logo and a name. I’ll touch on all elements of branding in future posts.

Choose Logo Colors Carefully

Roller Derby Apparel Your logo is a major part of your branding effort. It is the fastest way people will identify your league and an image that’s unmistakably you. It also should make the connection with roller derby very easy.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I owned Flyin’ Squirrel, a derby novelty t-shirt company. I approached a Mad Rollin’ Doll’s fan to create the logo for the company. He was known nationwide for his style. He delivered my vision and my logo kicked butt. This was my calling card, my stamp. It affected how we designed the website and every piece of marketing collateral.

My logo was a tremendous success visually, but it created a few problems price wise.

The success: I was able to sell merchandise that simply had the logo on it, a goal of mine when searching for a logo design.

The problems: the logo was a bit complex, which created some small hurdles. But the biggest issue was that it comprised six colors.

If it looks cool, who cares?

Your bank account cares. Every color in your t-shirt, banners and program printing can cost additional money, depending on technology used. This is a definite when you print clothing. League merchandise, clothing in particular can be a major profit center for your league. Printing costs account for the majority of money invested in merchandise.

My merchandise company’s brand centered around one image (as it should), but my brand identifier was a profit assassin. I sponsored leagues, an actual b-team, and was printing t-shirts with my squirrel. The b-team sponsorship included both home and away boutfits. Making the team’s uniforms was expensive enough without the logo and really expensive with it. The team’s logo was so cool that fans bought loads of the shirts. But my profit was a fraction what I made on other shirts.

So what, you were still making money.

Wrong attitude. You’re a business. Weather, unexpected costs/economic downturns, time and pocket money needed from league members affect the league’s ability to survive. Spend wisely, as if it was your own cash. And remember, the non-profit model does not mean you shouldn’t make a profit.

My branding developed from that logo. The expense of traditional printing of images on clothing grows with every color. Six colors meant I could only print logo clothing occasionally. Even when I received price breaks for ordering a higher quantity, the profit was half or less than other shirts I made.

It may not just be clothing that’s affected by your colorful logo. Color copies, stickers, posters (if screen-printed) will potentially be more expensive.

The Deal with Die Cutting

Though certainly the lesser evil than the color, the logo’s shape also came with a price. If your logo has sharp features, it may not look right inside a circle or rectangle. Die cutting is a process where the vendor cuts the sticker or patch to the outline of the image.

Though I compromised to use a less expensive tagline, I chose to die cut the patches. They were great to sell and I had them pressed onto winter hats and shirts, but I had to order 500 to 1,000 of them to keep the cost down to a reasonable per-piece price. The cost was high, an amount most leagues couldn’t afford to spend, especially ones just starting out.

What’s in a Name?

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What’s not in a name? The logo may be the visual trigger, but early on, the name means more.

I’ll admit it. Coming from a business background, I don’t understand creating a league or team name that has a double meaning, is inappropriate, or represents something negative in the community’s history. There are plenty of these out there. Taglines can be as helpful or damaging as the name itself. Madison’s “Hurt in a skirt” is an example of a fun, appropriate use of words.

New derby used to be more edgy, racy and rebellious, but those comedic names created marketing barriers. Most leagues today describe themselves as family friendly. It’s increasingly important that names avoid innuendos and aren’t disrespectful. I love that roller derby welcomes open-minded, free thinkers. However, our sense of humor and irony get the best of us on occasion.

If your community finds your brand offensive or off-putting, your marketing and publicity opportunities will be limited. I won’t name names (see what I did there), but there are some teams that will never appear in local publications and newspapers. Their brand is too controversial or vile to publish. Think about it: how does the local newspaper report on the league if the league’s name cannot be used? They’ll likely skip the story.

Pick-up teams, regional teams that come together to play exhibition games or closed-door leagues can go outside the bounds with their branding. But if you’re playing in front of a crowd, being covered by media or receiving acknowledgement for charity or community work, craft your brand for the mainstream.

Prepare Your League for the Long Haul

If there is one piece of advice to take away from this entire blog series, it’s that you should take the time you need to prepare your image and build a foundation that will support your league for generations to come. The sacrifice? Playing the game publicly may happen later than members would prefer.

Remember, you can play whenever you are ready; just don’t open the doors publicly until your business is prepared. Marketing and public relations will hit the ground running the moment the league is announced.

If playing to the mainstream is what you desire, make sure your brand won’t hurt profitability in pure cost or the cost of negative public opinion. Back tracking to fix your brand image is a long process. It can take years to win back community love after a branding snafu, so craft your image carefully from the beginning.

What are your biggest derby branding challenges? Don’t be shy–comment below.

Roller Derby >

8 Derby Business Pitfalls to Avoid

Roller Derby Merchandise TableOpening a roller derby business is an exciting, adventurous and potentially dangerous idea. How would I know? I acted on it in 2007 with Flyin’ Squirrel, a novelty t-shirt company. Flyin’ Squirrel closed in 2010 after one of the worst economic crashes in U.S. history.

Exciting and adventurous? Yes. Confidence boosting? Absolutely. I still have the equipment, the know-how and am smarter because of Flyin’ Squirrel. However, unlike playing derby, running a business isn’t something you can jump into with only excitement as your fuel.

The economy improved and so has the success rate of small businesses in the U.S. Fifteen to twenty years ago, only 5-to-10% of small businesses lasted five years. In 2012, approximately 50% of small businesses made it that long. It could be attributed to the popularity of online shopping and various distribution options available for online businesses. A store can sell online with much lower overhead. A creative marketing campaign can have a tremendous impact through social media.

I’ve selected five pitfalls most applicable to derby business from Patricia Schaefer’s article: “The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure and How to Avoid Them,” which nicely summarizes known start-up issues. I added a few tips from my experience.

1. Starting a Business for the Wrong Reasons
Wrong reasons include: making big money, having more time for yourself and your family or being your own boss.

Unless your product is truly unique, highly technological, has a high profit margin and dollar amount or can be marketed beyond roller derby, don’t expect riches to rain upon you.

A reasonable living or part-time income is more realistic. Furthermore, running your own business is more work than most realize. Design, development, production, order management, fulfillment, accounting, marketing and even employee management is what you’ll face. Don’t go it alone.

Derby-Fashion2. Poor Management
Poor management is often listed in reports as a leading cause of small business failure. It’s also one of the top reasons people leave their jobs. If you’re not a “people person,” hire someone who is. Sales, customer retention and employee relations depend on it. Good managers know how to reinvent stagnant business, create a positive image of the company and keep competent employees.

3. Insufficient Capital
Remember, it’s not just the cost of getting started; it’s the ability to fund everything for at least a few years. Most businesses aren’t profitable immediately and you need to plan for that. You cannot mix funds for the business with money you need to maintain for living expenses. It’s one thing to close your company and another to jeopardize your everyday life.

4. Location, Location, Location
Depending on the type of business and its structure, location can have a heavy hand in your success. Oftentimes, skate sales are required to connect to a brick and mortar store before they can be distributed online. That said, you shouldn’t open traditional retail shop just so you can start selling online.

Location factors:
• Customer location
• Accessibility
• Location of competitors
• Building’s condition
• Area incentive programs for start-up businesses
• The history and community receptiveness to a new business

5. Lack of Planning
Roller derby requires a lot of planning. Though leagues vary on their planning abilities, it’s far from a new concept. Planning is the core of a successful business or league.

Business plan components: 
• Goals, mission, vision
• Number of people (employees) to make it work
• Identification of potential problems and their solutions
• Financial analysis
• Competitive analysis
• Marketing and promotional campaigns
• Budget and growth management
• Design of marketing and promotional campaigns

I personally experienced these last 3 pitfalls with my derby business. They are not referenced in Schaefer’s article.

6. Trying to be More Than You Can
I suffered from too-many-good-ideas-at-once syndrome. Not only did I want to sell merchandise online, I wanted to help others sell unique items, post stories about my many trips across the U.S., and try to push forward charities related to derby leagues.

I spent too much time developing material that grew outdated quickly. I should have focused on my business plan to design and sell reasonably priced t-shirts. Instead, I buried myself in projects.

Roller Derby Appearel 7. Not Hiring a Website Manager
(This applies if your website is your main channel of sales and promotion.)

I knew just enough about web sites and coding to be dangerous. The more I learned, the flashier I tried to make the site. Too much time (again) with little payoff. A nice, clean site with easy navigation and payment tools is all you need. Having someone to update prices and prices, or give it a fresh look every year or so takes a big part of the work off your hands.

8. Selling Merch at Far-Away Events
Of course, this totally depends on what type of products you sell. It might work for you if your product is not high-margin or you’re able to take orders and don’t have to provide the product on site.

Most are not moneymakers. If you decide to sell merchandise at an event you have to fly to, consider costs involved:
• Table(s) for your booth
• Shipping merchandise to and from the event
• Flight, hotel and food

In the U.S., with the exception of the top three or four most-attended events, you will likely lose money or break even at best. That might be perfectly fine, if the contacts you make and product exposure pay dividends later on. Let’s do the math: $500 for one table, plus a $650 flight, $90 a night (4 nights) and $200 in shipping would be $1710. That doesn’t even include food. And this is a low estimate, as table fees have probably climbed.

It might be better to attend events close to home with your merchandise. If you can drive and return home at night, the cost equation changes dramatically.

New Derby Project

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I wanted to take a moment and recognize an important derby project. Neil Gunner, a derby photographer in the Toronto area released a book of derby photos and stories. Preview the book, Into Battle: The Roller Derby Experience in Photos and Interviews.

I’m honored to be in the book, but that’s not why I mention it. I love Toronto Roller Derby and so I offered Neil help with marketing advice. In particular, my ticket blitzing strategy, where coordinated blasts on social media multiply ticket sales.

In Neil’s words: “Bob’s plan for ensuring that multiple people share the same post on the same day across social media was directly responsible for increasing awareness far beyond what I would have been able to accomplish otherwise. Needless to say, it was a pleasure to be able to include Bob in the book. The book itself owes its success in large part to Bob as well. The marketing ideas Bob has shared with me, developed as part of his role as a Doer, have proved invaluable in spreading the word and generating both interest and sales.”

Eh, sometimes I know what I’m talking about.

 

Roller Derby >

Derby Ticket Blitzing Via Social Media

derby_big_image-1Online ticket sales low, slow, non-existent? It’s the second post in our derby business tips series and this time, I’m getting social.

“Bob, we use social media all.the.time. And nothing happens.”

I don’t doubt it. But when it comes to social media, it’s not how much you use it. It’s how well you use it.

Common Issues with Leagues and Social Media

-Posting upcoming games is inconsistent.
-There isn’t a link to the ticket sales page.
-You spread the word using only the league’s social media.

Online Sales aren’t Gravy; They’re Meat and Potatoes

“Bob, who cares where ticket sales come from? Online sales are just the gravy on top compared to sales by skaters.”

You can market your event or you can market tickets to your event. Marketing a derby game is like farting into the wind and hoping someone takes notice. Fliers vanish or become unnoticeable. Money spent on late night radio and TV spots has marginal effect. Plus, these efforts don’t provide data for future marketing.

Marketing tickets is totally different. There is a focus on funneling customers right to the “cash register” (purchase page). The goal is measurable and you have data to pinpoint the strongest and weakest geographical areas for ticket sales. Using that knowledge, you can adjust marketing and social media efforts leading up to the event.

Social Media isn’t Over

Don’t put a fork in social media just yet; it’s far from over. Sure Facebook usage purportedly dropped 25%, but that is because of teens moving to Snapchat. Twitter continues to thrive.

Most leagues post to Facebook and Twitter once or twice to promote upcoming games. Fans don’t see this. And what is more compelling? League social media accounts or those of skaters and staff? Skaters and staff are more personable and viable “friends” to sell tickets.

Keep in mind that both Facebook and Twitter promote trending topics. If 50 members of your league post the same Facebook message and ticketing link on the same day, your overlapping friend circle will see the post prominently positioned in their feeds. Maybe those friends share the post to their friends. Use hashtags to target interested parties. It’s as easy as #onetwothree.

Ticket Blitzing for a Standard Game Night

roller derby blog business tips

Ticket blitzing is an organized social media campaign where the entire league and all the event participants coordinate social media efforts, with a designated point person.

One person emails the copy and ticket sales link to the entire league. The language should be creative, under 140 characters and include the tickets sales link (to accommodate Twitter), so that fans are more likely to make a purchase decision.

The coordinator should spot check to see who is participating. The fewer participants, the less effective the campaign.

Establish dates for the social media campaign ahead of time. Three pushes are about right for upcoming games.

Prepare the first big push for immediately after the last game. Get a jump on sales with early bird pricing.

Second push a week prior to your game.

Final push two days prior to the game.

“Sure, Bob. But how do I get league members to get in on this brilliant ticket blitzing campaign?”

Sell the idea to the league. A few points to help make your case:

-Ticket blitzing with social media can save time spent on less fruitful guerrilla marketing tactics.
-If it’s successful, leagues and event producers may no longer need to ask members to sell tickets.
-Blitzing fills their venues and they can buy a small lot of stock tickets for walk-up customers.

Validation

You didn’t just hear it from me. A few words from a grateful ticket blitzer:

“Event is today. Wanted to extend all the gratitude in my heart to you. Your ticket blitzing idea was brilliant. I was unable to coordinate the timing of our team within your advised method, yet tripled the amount of pre-sale online tickets within 3 days. That, by the way, is a record for us. My little 100-person event has turned into an invaluable lesson for 500-person future events.” ~ Saved in SoCal

 

Roller Derby >

Burlesque PR: Attract Media in 5 Easy Steps

Burlesque-Media-TipsFirst-time burlesque event coordinator? Or maybe you already sell out shows and want to nab the attention of a few media outlets. Media builds fans and boosts revenue. Here are five steps to attracting it:

1. Identify 5 Target Media Outlets

Ask your fans what media outlet they read or watch regularly. The answer is more and more likely to be a blog, a newsletter, a social media outlet, or other non-traditional media. This is good news, as it may be easier to get your story included in non-traditional media.

Tally responses. Then take out media outlets that do not influence your local market because it’s unlikely anyone but locals will buy tickets to your event. The top 5 on this list are your targets.

2. Identify Your Objective Value Propositions

To find your unique value proposition, ask yourself two questions:

What is it about your show that makes new ticket buyers want to spend their hard-earned dollars?

What makes your event worth the price? Ticket at any price, but the higher the price, the more you will need to justify value.

The answers to these questions are what will attract press to cover your event and ticket buyers to your show. Add your unique value propositions to the event title, description and headline of your press release.

Now it’s time to brainstorm, research and highlight your event’s objective (not subjective) superlatives. Journalists rely on facts, not opinions, so your event superlatives must be provable.

Find Your Superlatives

Award-winning performers (specify award and date received)

Largest or only event by any measure? Any metric can be used to make the superlative accurate, but you have to be able to back up your claim in one sentence. (Biggest burlesque festival in _____.)

The event had either more performers, more performances, or more square footage than any other burlesque event in ____.

First burlesque festival in ___ .  Because no one had ever done ____ before.

The press won’t be able to use the following superlatives because they aren’t provable by objective measures:

Wildest
Most fun
Greatest
_____ -est of its kind

3. Localize to the Largest Community Possible

Localize your event to create an attractive angle for the press to cover. Readers and viewers have more interest in what happens to people and places they know.

Add a location name to the title of your event and choose the largest community possible (i.e., the Florida Burlesque Festival would attract more news value than the Ft. Lauderdale Burlesque Festival).

However, if the smaller place of localization generates greater interest, use that. For instance, a Hollywood burlesque festival could sell more than a Los Angeles burlesque festival because of Hollywood’s caché.

How to do it

Get the hometown, neighborhood and professional high-resolution headshot for every performer in the event, and write an email to the appropriate reporter at his/her neighborhood blog (if it’s in your possible attendee coverage area) to alert them about the “hometown girl/boy done good story” with your event as the hook.

BPT_Icons_Bull_Horn4. Make Your Pitch Picture Perfect

Media outlets need good visuals to get clicks, likes and shares. Burlesque has an advantage: sequins, feathers and starlets make stunning visuals. Keep in mind that media outlets won’t normally publish a photo or video unless it’s G-rated.

How to do it

Amp the glamour, tone down the flesh. Invest in professional headshots and at least one full body and one performance photo, with high resolution.

If you are producing a show with other performers, ask them for headshots as soon as you book them for your show. You don’t want to lose a story because you don’t have photography ready.

Make sure your videos are G-rated. Also, television stations aren’t likely to use promotional videos with music, graphics, credits or logos embedded over the video. Hire a videographer to get natural sound, close-up footage and then edit out the more risqué parts to maximize your media coverage.

5. Submit Free Calendar Listings

You have a great localized value proposition. You have an enticing event description and pitch subject line. You included at least one dazzling visual. Time to get the word out.

Calendar listings are the low-hanging fruit of the publicity world. They are easy to get and almost always generate ticket sales (as long as you have successfully done steps 1-4).

Submitting a free calendar listing for your event is simple. Newsletter, blog or The New York Times, every one has an event listing. And you can be part of it if you complete the first four steps and closely follow event submission instructions.

How to do it

Take your new top 5 list. Go to the online events section for every special interest group, blog or media outlet. Search for “how to submit an event” and follow the directions. If you can’t find it, send the press contact a short email that describes your event. Ask the publication if they would write about it or include it in the topics they share with their community.

Poof. You just got press attention in every single one of your top 5 media targets.

Yes, it is that simple. And guess what? Editorial teams look at calendar listings when assigning stories. Therefore, this effort increases the likelihood of an additional story. There are many ways to amp the press for your event. But these basics ensure that the press you get goes further to help you achieve your goals and reach new levels of success.

Photo credit: “The Secret Taboo” Elena Gatti

Arts >

The Pronto Podcast — Brown Paper Tickets’ Event Guide for Seattle

BPT_buttonWelcome to The Pronto! Brown Paper Ticket’s event guide for Seattle.

Tune in every Tuesday to check out a few of our favorite events in the Emerald City! You can check back to the blog every Tuesday at 10am or hit “subscribe” on the player and get each week’s Pronto delivered right to your computer.

Have a friend that’s visiting Seattle this week? Why not share this podcast with them and give them ideas of something to do? 

This week’s podcast features burlesque calendar girls, Thai food recipes and marketing tips for indie authors. 

Tonight, Tuesday, January 7, it’s time for Self Defense 101 for Women at University Heights Community Center or Phinney Neighborhood Center. In this six week class you’ll learn everything you need to know to stay safe and defend yourself.

If this is the year you’re going to publish your book, you definitely want to make an appearance at Sell Your eBooks and Drive Reviews at the UW Center for Urban Horticulture also tonight, Tuesday, January 7. Listen to best selling author Ingrid Ricks share everything she knows about being a successful indie author.
Read More…

Arts >