Sunday, February 25, 2007

What do airlines and arts organizations have in common?

Let me leave you with this before I depart for NYC.

There has been a lot of talk about pricing tickets similar to the way airline tickets are priced. Well check out the story in the Chicago Tribune.

New posts coming...

Sorry guys...I am frantically trying to get ready to fly to New York tomorrow. I am presenting a session on viral marketing and the arts at the Arts & Business Council of New York. I have many things that I want to blog on including "tryvertorials," direct mail testing and online fundraising. So as soon as I am back from NYC, I promise I will catch up. Thanks for understanding. Now I have to cross my fingers that the huge snow storm coming doesn't mess everything up. Sometimes I wish I still lived in Los Angeles.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Personal Rant: If you are going to criticize the NEA, at least get it right...

As reported by Americans for the Arts:

"NEA Grant to Sundance Festival Falsely ReportedFebruary 12, 2007—An “Action Alert” issued by the American Family Association falsely reports that the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) gave grants to the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival to support the showing of the films Hounddog and Zoo. The organization has urged its members to write and e-mail their members of Congress in protest.

To set the record straight: The NEA did not provide support for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The NEA did not fund the two films. The NEA had no connection whatsoever to the films. Regarding the NEA, the action alert is all wrong. The NEA did fund the summer educational workshop last year at the Sundance Institute, which trains people working on careers in film, including directing, screenwriting, and producing. In the past, the NEA has sometimes been criticized for programs it doesn’t fund. This instance is another such example."

Granted--the National Endowment for the Arts has funded controversal things in the past. Whatever your feeling are on these types of instances, I think we can all agree that if you slam the NEA, at least have your facts right.

As late as 11:21PM EST on February 13, 2007, the homepage of the American Family Association still maintains the falsely reported information. If you feel so inclined, you can contact the American Family Association at (662) 844-5036 or via their website.

Check out Andrew Taylor's Blog on Enabling Your Fans...

There has been much talk in the last week about how 2008 presidential canidates are going to use the web to activate their masses. I have even heard one blogger refer to this phenomenon as Politics 2.0 which I found to be very clever.

Andrew Taylor wrote a great blog entry today on Enabling Your Fans, Connecting Their Friends. Check it out.

In his posting, he cites Barak Obama's new social networking website, which offers "lots of opportunities for any supporter to start a blog, build a buddy list, schedule local events, and raise money for the cause."

Now a time for a shameless plug. I can't wait for Americans for the Arts annual convention in Las Vegas, June 1-3. Primarily because it will be the first time that I get to meet many of our members, but also because Matthew Gross is a speaker. For those of you who don't know Matthew, you definitely know his work. He was the one who rewrote the rules of presidential politics by launching Howard Dean's blog and designing an online campaign for Dean which raised over $25 million in 2004.

Don't Wait, Innitiate!

The key to any successful viral marketing campaign involves finding and activating innitiators. Different marketing directors call these people different things. I prefer the use of the term innitiators. Basically, these are people that have two things in common: 1) they have a lot of friends (and are usually early adopters), and 2) they have a lot of influence. The idea is to sell them on your product, and them have them peddle it to their friends. Social networking sites are great for finding initiators because many of them tell you how many friends a person has, and therefore how large their network in. In the above graph, you can see our friend network graph from our Care2 site. All those in blue are people Americans for the Arts has a direct connection with, and then all of those in purple are the friends of our friends. Our Care2 site is relatively new, so we only have around 120 friends, however because we have purposely sought out innitiators, we have over 77,000 people in our network.

So how is this appicable in your everyday life? Take for example Virginia Stage Company's fall production of CROWNS. I was still working at that time as the Company's Director of Marketing and Communications. CROWNS is a "play with music" based on the African American gospel tradition. Early in the marketing campaign for the show, we developed an innitiator strategy that proved to be quite effective. We invited all the ministers of the numerous historically black churches in our area to an exclusive preview on a Saturday evening. We provide them not only with a sneak peak of the performance, but dinner and drinks as well. We gave them promotional kits and asked them to advocate on behalf of the production. The hope was that the following Sunday morning, they would mention the show to their congregations and activate them in spreading the word. It worked like a charm and we had several very large group orders (100 tickets plus) come from local churches. The production went on to being the third best selling production in the company's 28 year history.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Quick Tip: You like filet, but you only need hamburger...

Remember that when you are looking to get a better return on investment (ROI) for your direct marketing campaigns, that you need to increase returns AND decrease your expenses for maximum impact. Seems simple enough, but most folks fixate on getting better returns without looking at the expenses.

When examining your expenses, remember that almost every study that has been conducted on the effectiveness of direct marketing campaigns has showed us that the "creative" element of the campaign (i.e. design, print, etc) has less to do with its success then the proper targeting and pitch. However, how many of us get sucked into spending a majority of our budget on high dollar graphic designers and top end printing?

So here is my advice: unless your campaign absolutely needs a top dollar graphic designer and premium printing services, save your money and invest more time and energy into compiling your mailing list, analyzing the data in your database, and putting together your pitch.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If you want to be a guerilla...

I guess you should have a good attorney?

Check out CNN's article on the two men who were arrested today for a guerilla marketing stunt in Boston.