Observations of Campaign Techniques-It’s Who you Know

A lovely older woman I know asked me to attend an event to see a nationally renowned Congresswoman. She didn’t say why, just asked me to come and who I could bring. I know the ropes, it’s actually a pep rally to get a group of people excited about the upcoming election. But none of that was discussed. Reminded me of an Amway pitch-I once was suckered into doing that for a while too.

I went because I know this woman, because she asked. I also had in the back of my mind that two interns should go for an opportunity to meet this federal representative. So I shared the appointed time and location with students and gave up a Sunday to attend.

Room was filled with 150-200 people. There wasn’t enough coffee. The food didn’t recognize today’s standards to eating issues–most women my age have given up donuts and fattening muffins for breakfast. Did I mention there wasn’t enough coffee?
The location had the worst accoustics. If you want to plan an event for 200 people you certainly need parking and space. But you also need to be able to have sound. Someone set up the microphone in front of the speakers–assuring hideous feedback every time the Congresswoman moved. Had the speakers been placed closer to the audience so she could walk…er…pace…behind them, she could have stuck with the microphone. In the end she abandoned the microphone to bellow. She was able to reach most of the room, but not those of us in the back. It’s okay, it was a pep rally, I know the drill. She wrapped up and people started to head out. The political aids were all poised at the back to capture departing guests to sign up to volunteer.

What they lacked in setting logistics they made up for in understanding their purpose–get the enthused audience to volunteer. It’s the only reason for the event. I’m sure they succeeded in getting several. Except me and my interns. We have our own campaign. But that’s another post.


100 “Likes”, Barely 10 reads, Let alone 1 action

From the Progressive Libertarianism Facebook page

Facebook can be an extraordinary market place for businesses, as other social media outlets can be. Blogger Dan Herr shares a story about a landscaper getting $150k worth of business from a viral posting in ONE day.

It takes time to develop that list of friends. Make sure you drive traffic to the social media which in turn should drive traffic to your website with awesome content.

It takes time to get people to move from voyeur to activist.

Jakob Nielsen, shared from Bernard Warner on Social Media Intelligence

It’s easy to get “likes”. Much more difficult to get people to take action-like sharing a link, let alone actually leaving the computer and going to volunteer.

Just means you need to know what you want from your audience and where you reach them to do that. Activists for campaigns don’t come from social media. Online shoppers might.

Earn the Right to Be Heard

A recent client for my students reminded me about the marketing adage “the right to be heard”. It’s a reference to the need to demonstrate that you know the client, so that when you pitch them an idea about how to move their business in a direction, they’re more likely to trust you. Same holds true when you’re offering clients solutions as a business owner.

And why targeting your audience is so important. How can you speak to them and motivate them to action if you don’t really know them? How you talk to your family, your co-workers, your friends, your local barista–all different approaches. Why would business be any different? It’s not.

People do business with people they know, like and trust. Sometimes they don’t really “know” you, that’s the role of public relations. Developing a connection with people you want to do business with, provide solutions for, etc. The reason television ads work so well is because you’re in people’s homes. Showing up in their social media often also in the homes, and cars, and boring meetings. Think about how to earn the right to be heard-know the people you want to talk to.

It’s so much easier for them to accept the pitch when you do.

6 Tips on How to fill your Event

You’ve planned the event. You’re hosting a coffee Q&A, a fundraiser, a workshop, a networking gig. You set the date, picked a venue and orchestrated the logistics of refreshments and a program. Now how do you get the people to come?

First step-know who you want to attend. Is this for prospects? To raise money from long time donors? New benefit for clients? Don’t tell me everyone–nothing on this planet is a product for everyone. If you think about water, which everyone does need to exist, then tell me in 10 seconds the different waters you can purchase, you realize my point.

Second step-plan in advance enough to be able to notify people. You can’t get 100 people to an event with less than 2 weeks notice. Part of the plan is having a tracking mechanism to know how many are coming. But know the formula for attendance. Used to be invite twice as many as you hope to attend. Now people would give an arm to have that. It’s really about 10x the number of people. Put another way, however many you invite, across platforms, expect only a 10% return.

Promotion and publicity happen in four platforms: in person, on the phone, online (email to social networking) or third party (local newspapers, client referrals). You need a plan to promote across every channel.But keep in mind that in-person, super time intensive. Not likely to happen-if you have that kind of time you probably should be retired.

Most of you try to hit the most number of prospects by going to the local news. It’s a broad reach, a little work. But results are limited. Certainly from a public relations perspective send out a news release and submit your event to calendar options to all the news outlets. And this includes newsletters such as the Chamber of Commerce, not just the local paper. Know what’s available in your community. You aren’t likely to get 100 people to attend with just this tactic. Works for awareness (making it worthwhile to do), not so much for the trial/adoption buy-a-ticket phase. Think about how many news calendars you look at for stuff to do. Usually you find an interesting event you might want to attend only after you’ve gone to looking for a specific event for you kids’ soccer team or your mother-in-law’s senior club.

Then be sure to push the event on your social media (blogs and tweets) and your social networking (Facebook and LinkedIn). And repeat. Friends/clients aren’t on their social media all the time. You want to post when people are likely looking at their sites. And vary that to catch as many of your target as possible.

You absolutely must share with your list and more than once. You can include info if you have a scheduled newsletter, but don’t just leave it at that. You need to be sure to send a stand alone email to your list with specifics about the event. Make it easy to sign up and calendarize by adding these features in the text.

Finally, pick up the phone. Especially for a fundraiser. People forget; you may need to remind them about their RSVPs or that they usually go and they haven’t signed up. Don’t expect that your fabulous information is always read and by 100% of the people you sent it to. Even your mom won’t read all your stuff.

If it’s a one time event try to schedule it when there aren’t competitive events for your same clients (i.e. fundraising). If it’s a regular club event, be sure to set the schedule so members know it’s every third Tuesday at lunch–makes it easier to calendar.

Be sure to repeat the communications-social media posts and event invites and emails. And plan for fewer folks to attend than RSVP on those social media platforms. Follow up phone calls, best way to get people there.

Tragedy Strikes! Sharing best practices.

Newsletters are hard to do. You need to be brief, provide value and be engaging. This is the best newsletter I’ve seen. Printed with permission.


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Tragedy Strikes Vino 100
Last week on Tuesday Phil and the crew moved the cash register down 35 inches in anticipation of the arrival of our bar which was built off-site and was to be moved in like furniture.Thursday the trailer got hooked up and our bar was on it’s way to Vino 100!! Maury (who built the bar) noticed the trailer unhooked, the safety chains both broke and the trailer kissed the retaining wall on the freeway, 396 North near College Parkway. The granite top came crashing down and broke into 4 pieces. The 1/2 wine barrel (which was the corner of the bar) hit the trailer, got banged up and went sliding along the freeway!! Lots of dam age.

Our bar attempted suicide.

We are in mourning.

The bar was rushed to the ER where the physicians got out the paddles, yelled “CLEAR” and began resusitating our new baby!! The bar is still in urgent care but is expected to pull through with a little TLC!!

The new tasting bar is expected to be at Vino 100 by around Nov 10 or so. Come see if they did a good job on the repairs!!

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Five tips for trade show booth planning

If you have a booth or attend a trade show as a vendor, make sure you keep these basic rules in play:

Determine the purpose for your participation.

  • Are you going for new prospects? Then create a mechanism for capturing names. Drawings are good; freebies for a signature are good. But promise not to spam them or abuse their contact info.
  • Need to demonstrate a new product? Think through all the elements you’ll need to be able to do that well. Samples a possibility.
  • Trying to be in the community? Be sure you can be seen-sign up early so you aren’t at the back of the room, usually given to last minute reservations.

Make your booth or table visually interesting and branded. This means investing in table cloths in your brand colors and ideally printed with your logo; table runners or banners for the table top if not pre-printed; a stand-up poster on the table and a banner/signage for above and behind the table and/or to the side of the table.

Bring manageable materials. Trifold brochures or postcards or even business cards are easy to carry, but 8×11 get folded or rolled and eventually never read or not even picked up. Consider being the vendor to provide the bag–great promotion all over the trade show with your logo being displayed.

Creating an engaging display. Visually is a start-less is better. But also try for a game or some interactive testing of samples or something for the participants to DO. They’ll be more likely to stop at your booth if there is something to do. Think of the pyramid of design concepts:

Staff your booth the whole time; so figure out bathroom breaks and meal breaks for you or your helpers. An empty table/booth is a missed opportunity to engage with prospective clients.

Now talk to the attendees. It’s not a reverse circus.

Even Alice Knows Why Matters

Many non-profits or clubs want to hold events-it’s a way to raise money. Sell tickets to something and hope enough people attend to make it net a number that’s worth the effort. People like parties, should be easy. Problem is much more than¬† goes into an event and why so many non-profits or clubs/organizations ultimately fail.

First to consider is what is the purpose of the event? Is it to secure new clients or prospects? Is it to generate media attention and publicity? Is it to raise money? Raising awareness? Interesting new clients to repeat business? Creating a trial stage for clients or donors? An event is not going to be all of those things for all the attendees. Prioritize.

How much time and effort does it take to conduct an event and what are the real costs associated with the event? Not just talking food, beverage and decoration here. How much staff/volunteer time goes in to logistics, media relations, marketing? Who’s doing the sales–you know actually getting people to buy tickets? How many tickets at what price will net the result you want? Many non-profits or clubs set a ticket price for what people can pay but don’t back out the costs to know what they need to net to make it worth it.

If the event is to attract new prospects, does it relate to the image you want for your company? It’s easy to sell tickets for alcohol related events (from wine tasting to all-you-can-drink vodka), but does that fit the image for a professional association for college students or for non-profits working in social justice? Might be easy money, but is it worth the image? What about students who aren’t 21 or people with families? Can they attend or have you made the event exclusionary? Might work for your club, might not. The key is to ask the questions.

Do you have a program to connect the attendees to the organization? Do you need one? If it’s prospects, what point do they know your organization is the host and you want their engagement? Is it the same 25 women who always come-are you just bilking the membership for a few dollars at a time? Wouldn’t it just be easier to forgo lunch and have them write a check monthly check for the equivalent of lunch? You’d have more money.

Here’s an important question: what are you going to do with the money? For non-profits it often offsets the operations costs that donors don’t particularly want to fund. Contributions that directly impact the lives of young girls far more exciting than paying the executive director a livable wage or buying ad time to spread the message. Many service clubs give back to the community, which is great. But the clubs often decide who gets to receive the funds–for many donors, they’d just as soon give directly to an established organization. So what are the funds for again? And why do you need them? How much do you need? Why are you doing this event?

Events done well, with the right image, the best program content and the price that meets the net goal are terrific tools for RELATIONSHIP building–wither with current clients/donors or future ones. They are a tool for connecting to people at various stages of involvement with your organization. The consume a lot of time and energy-bigger they are, the more likely they are to consume valuable resources. It can be worth it, if you know exactly why you are hosting the event and what you want to get out of it and who you market the event to. But THAT topic is a whole other blog.