Building the SQLSaturday Orlando Marketing Plan–Part 4

I spent some more time last night thinking about the event and marketing it. Biased I am, but I think the event has a great value proposition and doesn’t require “selling” except to first timers (seminars are different). We seem to do pretty well at getting first timers to attend, so it worth extra effort to target them? Finding them is hard (and we may not that they have “found” us), so what they see in the message and/or web site is probably what is going to influence their decision. Maybe they would look at a first timer guide if it was there and easy to find? What would it say? We should talk to some first timers (this year and last year) perhaps to see if they found the site useful enough, or what made them hesitate, if at all.

Perhaps more interesting is to think about what we tell the previous attendees that are trying to convince a colleague to attend. That seems worth some effort. What works and what doesn’t?

I really like the idea from the last post about a list that we could use to reach managers, structured so that we can ask our people to introduce us in a way that won’t be annoying –  ideally that’s giving us the email address. I don’t think we can do enough with it to make a huge impact this year, but for next year it could be very very interesting. Going to set this aside for discussion outside of the marketing plan.

It might be interesting to run a contest for most attendees from a company. Not sure this helps unless there is an immediate win; “cmon, one  more and we get ……….’”.

We discussed providing day care. I’m not opposed to the idea, but it’s a lot of work and avoiding the liability takes more work. Can we figure out what impact it would have? Do we get x more attendees, or perhaps x fewer cancellations?

As far as we can tell the $10 lunch fee is not a problem for attendees. They always have the option to bring their own and the year we dropped it to $5 (less than our cost) we saw no difference in registration.

I’ve always thought that we don’t get a lot of people who just won’t work on a Saturday. Could we come up with a message they could try on the boss about “if I go Saturday can I take Monday off?”. What else could we do to convince these people – and how do we quantify if there really is such a set? It’s tempting to dismiss these people, but I prefer to think of them as people that just haven’t had the experience yet. Free training, bah – how good could it be? Come see!

I wonder how much a billboard on I4 would cost at rush hour? I suspect far beyond our budget.

Is there some crowd source thing we could do? Monday before the event try to blanket the area with signs on elevators and stop signs and whatever else? This has me thinking about when. We do a stream of emails (and some tweets and blogs to go with it) to try to get people to commit early. What can do the week of the event that might break through the filter to those who haven’t said yes yet?

if it feels like I’m doodling so far, I am. None of the ideas above are horrible, but we only have x time to invest overall. It has to be simple and/or effective. We can’t spend a dozen hours on idea X to net 3 more attendees. Even at 30 it’s tough to justify (though we probably would!).

Kendal has for the last couple of years distributed a chart that shows year over year registration count progression and its pretty consistent (Kendal, will you post it?). Thinking about this as far as when. When do we start, when do we push hardest?

I also believe it’s almost impossible to send too much email about the event. Early on should be slower of course, but we want to share with them the work and the fun of planning and/or attending.

Is there a CIO group in Orlando? How about an HR group? Those seem like good places to try a top down push.

Let’s regroup here. Nothing I’ve thought about so far seems to take me much away from my first thought that the plan is:

  • Email marketing is best channel
  • We need to leverage partners who also have an effective email channel (so much so that I think we should make this part of sponsorship)
  • Build the list

To that I’ll add that the “bring someone” idea seems to hold the most promise and seems like a decent tradeoff of work vs gain.

I’m not done yet. I’ll take any ideas you have.