event

Why You Might Need Event Management/Scheduling Software (Part 1)

Do you schedule your own meetings and appointments? Depending on how often you do this, manually scheduling can be a huge hassle. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to have all of this taken care of for you?

Something to consider is adding some type of online scheduling to your website.

Examples where this might be a useful feature to have:

  • Scheduling employee shifts
  • Booking an appointment with you (if you’re a personal trainer/masseuse/hair dresser/therapist/anyone who trades time for money)
  • Selling tickets to an event

Before you wade through the variety of options available, take some time to consider what you’re looking for in scheduling software. Some ideas:

Frequency of Booking. What is the common duration of time that will be scheduled? Is it by hour, day, week, etc.? Some programs you pick have pricing determined by number of events/appointments so even having a range is helpful.

What are people scheduling? A common example is time (appointments, meetings, etc), but it could also be something physical (rooms, seats, a car, etc). Some programs are built for theaters, allowing people booking to pick specific seats or allowing the venue to set different prices for different seating areas. Thinking about what information you need to collect might help you pick between options.



Does it need payment processing? Some businesses prefer to take payment at the time of booking, while others prefer to use the scheduling simply to make the reservation but accept payment at the time of service/pickup. Note: if you already have an online processor and want to use it for your online booking, make sure the payment processor and your software are compatible.

Do others need to be able to collaborate? If you have a team of multiple people scheduling things, or if they need to share their own availability, it may be helpful to have them able to access the scheduling system on their own. Some software charges by number of users so this is also helpful to know.

How much control do you want over it? Do you mind if all bookings are automatically approved, or do you want to manually approve because only certain people can book 1-2 p.m. on Thursdays and interrupt your yoga class? Remember in general manual equals more work but also more control.



What do you need to integrate? If you already are using a POS system or run a Shopify website, you may want your new event management software to integrate with it. Thinking about what you are already using might help narrow the field.

How much are you willing to pay? Depending on the features and control you would like to have, you may need to throw down some extra money. If you just need something simple, you’re more likely to find it for free. As far as software goes, some charge you a flat fee, some for a number of events/users, and some based on the features (for example one price based on basic ticketing and a second higher priced for a package of software with flashier features).

What online scheduling options do we know about? Join us for the next blog post where we’ll talk about the ones we’ve worked with and what we like/don’t like about each. In the meantime, what could you be booking/scheduling online that could free up your time?



Marketing Monday: The 1932 Criterion Theatre

Bar Harbor is a town with a lot of history. The 1932 Criterion Theatre lives in a building with a particularly rich history, which it manages to preserve while also putting on programming for modern times.

Admittedly, I have a special place in my heart reserved for The Criterion after they hosted one of my all-time favorites, Brett Dennen, this past August (it was a really big deal in terms of nostalgia and one of the only things that would have lured me out of the house in the first week after giving birth), but this post goes beyond my own reasons for loving the Criterion.

Community Involvement. It’s always nice to see businesses and nonprofits in the community banding together to create something that we can all enjoy. This winter alone, The Criterion has joined forces with other local businesses to put on various events, such as a Star Wars Costume Parade with Atlantic Brewing during the opening week of The Last Jedi. They’ve also created a Christmas movie series, where local businesses can sponsor a Christmas movie of their choice. And then there’s the upcoming Spectacular New Year’s Eve Carnival with The Barn Arts Collective, an event for the whole family from 2-4 p.m.

Mix of Live Events and Movies. In addition to blending past and present, the Criterion also blends live events with film (not at the same time, of course). These events are separated out on their website. Live events include concerts by local favorites and well-known celebs (Clint Black and David Crosby, for instance), performances (like the Acadia Community Theater’s Christmas in Oz earlier this month), and the occasional visit from the ballet. A list of upcoming movies is also available both on the website and Facebook. It never hurts to have this information in more than one place!

All the information you need, in an easy-to-find layout.

Marketing with a Smile. When it comes to marketing, finding a blend of informative and humorous can be a delicate balance. They aren’t afraid to show their goofy side (see below) which makes for interesting content. After all, you might as well have a little fun with your marketing!

Online Purchasing. This past summer, I went to see two concerts at the Criterion with my mom. For both of them, we were able to buy our tickets in advance online, which made the process super easy. If you want to secure seats ahead of time, make a gift of tickets to a show (or their ticket booklet), or become a member, you can do it all from the convenience of your home (which is especially appealing during the winter months).

A clever thing in their checkout process also allows you to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar to make a donation or give a donation as a separate line item as you check out.

In terms of event marketing online and offline, The Criterion is a nonprofit to take notes from.

 

Cross Selling With Others

So you’ve been reading our posts about selling more and I know what you’re thinking: “I want to make more money without creating the complimentary product/service myself; what are my options?”

The good news is, you can sell more online without the responsibility of creating a whole new product/service! Here are a few ways you can cross sell while working with other businesses or non-profits:

Figure Out Referrals

Looking through your contact form inquiries, social media comments, and email inbox, I’m sure there are some things that people are asking you for that you are unable or unwilling to do.

Let’s say you are a greenhouse but you get lots of comments asking where people can get sod. What you could do is contact companies and get their information and make it available on your website. “Hi Debbie, thanks for asking us about sod. We don’t sell it but Company X and Company Y both do. Here is a link on our website about their services, price points, and more: thewebsite.com/faq/all-about-sod.”

You can create a more formal relationship with a complimentary business in the way of an affiliate relationship, partnership, or joining a referral networking group like BNI.

No matter how formal or informal, working with complimentary businesses means you can steer your customer (or potential customer) in a good direction so they still feel taken care of by you and hopefully, that other company appreciates and reciprocates, either with a portion of the sale you generate or by sending referrals your way, too.



Consider The Subscription Box

Let’s say you sell something that goes well with other somethings… but you don’t necessarily want (or need) to carry it in your retail shop. Consider making a subscription box, where customers subscribe for a monthly price (or slightly lower quarterly/annual) price to get a box of stuff around a theme.

An excellent example of this is Willie Wags right out of Bangor Maine. They send out boxes of stuff collected from different businesses celebrating women entrepreneurs (they’ve recently moved to a retail location in downtown Bangor too but they could have kept it subscription box only if they wanted I’m sure).

Maybe you sell stationary and have connections with others who sell cool pens, stickers, etc. You could probably make some boxes including the products of your business friends (and yours) at a price that is lower than retail but allows you to get in front of new customers. (Aside: I’m not sure why no one has done a ‘Bar Harbor Box’ yet, I think that would kill!)


Host an event together

Events take a lot of bandwidth but they are good ways to attract new customers whether it’s an open house, a workshop, or something else.

Finding a complimentary business to help you host an event is a great way to not only divide the work but make the event more fun. For example, if you are a hardware store but you don’t do party rentals, it may be cool to have a cookout/block party with sales going on while you have a few rental pieces of equipment (bouncy houses and slush machines anyone) set up too. There’s also a likelihood of more attendees because you get the draw of two (or more) businesses- customers of one business may show up and decide to become customers of the other business, too (especially if there’s a bouncy house involved).

In other words, cross selling doesn’t just have to be your stuff. It actually works well when it isn’t. By figuring out ways to work with other entrepreneurs in a complimentary space, you can all win together.


Promoting Your Webinar

So you’ve thought about the technology and content of your webinar… Now it’s time to get the people in the ‘door’…so to speak.

Like most events, most of the work is done before the event even happens. Whether you have 5 or 5000 people attend, you do the same base amount of work, so it makes sense to maximize the amount of people who know about (and will potentially attend) your webinar.

Email a ‘save the date’ to your list.

Start with what you’ve got: your customer list. Whether you have an email list, a Facebook group, or any other ‘platform’, it is good to begin getting your friends and customers excited about the event long before the webinar happens.

When they RSVP, allow them to add it to their Google calendar or share it on social media. Getting some initial interest will encourage you to go further.

Make a Facebook event and invite.

I am always surprised at how many people want a direct invite to something on Facebook. Even if publicly posted, people seem to want me to personally invite them to every workshop we do.

Hey, if that makes them come, I’ll take it. If you have a Facebook page or group, make an event and invite away! Ask your friends to pass on the invitation to those who would appreciate it.



Make several ‘teaser’ videos.

If you are going to listen to someone talk, you want to have an idea of what you are in for. So give your webinar audience an idea of what they are in for!

Post a few teaser videos, they can even be a minute or less, to let your prospective webinar attendees get to meet you and know what it’s about. Think of it as a trailer for your webinar.

If you feel bold, ask them to tag any friends who might be interested or RSVP to the event (which of course, you’ll link in each video caption like the smarty pants you are).

Add ‘calls to action’ on appropriate online properties.

Your webinar is going to be the most exciting thing you have going on while you’re leading up to the event. Think of changing things like the homepage of your website or the link in your Instagram profile to reflect this.

Also creating multiple calls to action on each social platform, multiple email sends, and multiple personal invites (online and in real life) will remind people this is coming up. Trust me, they need the reminders.



Consider ads to appropriate audiences.

Let’s say you’re doing a desk yoga webinar. Taking out a targeted ad to human resource managers of mid sized companies as an example audience may be a really smart move for you. Make sure your ad creative (the image you make to go with the promotion) seems specific to that audience only. You want them to feel like you are talking to them.

This may also be a good time to use remarketing data you’ve been collecting from Google and Facebook on your website, making a targeted ad for people who already have ‘met’ you online.

Paid ads have their place and you may find in attracting 100 more people and converting three of them to customers that your ad spend was well worth it.

Seek opportunities to cross promote.

Let’s say you’re doing a webinar on writing for the web. Consider connecting with university writing centers, libraries, and writing groups (online or off) to let them know what is happening.  They may not only promote it within their group but want to otherwise be a part of what you’re doing in your business. We’ve found involving more people, while it does take time, allows not only for a better attended webinar but a more interesting one as well.

You’ve already put in the time to create something interesting and of value for people, so it’s worth the extra time investment to spread the word and get your content in front of the right people. If you need any help/have questions about the marketing, we’re always happy to talk about that sort of thing 🙂