It’s one thing to do a new Web site launch promotion, and by now most folks know what they can and can’t do with search engines, directories, media, etc. But, what if you have a site up already, and then are creating a live event at the site, like a chat or other broadcast? Or say you are launching a time sensitive site that will be up only for a brief period of time. How do you attract people to such a Web event without breaking the banner bank to buy out any available Yahoo inventory?
Promotion of a live Web event or time sensitive Web site is a significant challenge that differs greatly from a typical new Web site launch promotion for a site that’s up permanently. Search engines and directories are nearly useless.
So what’s the best approach? Here’s a real life example.
I recently was asked by Microsoft to help them promote a special one-time live Web broadcast. The broadcast was of the Silicon Valley Marathon, and it was carried live, via MS NetShow, at a special site built just for the event. Complicating matters was that the event took place on a Sunday morning. While my first inclination was to scream the obvious “who the hell wants to get up on a Sunday morning to watch skinny people run for 4 hours?”, I held my tongue…By the way, I also only had 5 days warning for the promotion. It was Monday, the event happening on the following Sunday.
I took the job and guaranteed results (yes, guaranteed).
What were those results? Significant online coverage of the event, downloads of the NetShow software, and thousands of hits at the site.
Here’s how I attacked the task. First, I utilized the many live event guides that exist for such events. Didn’t know they existed? They do. Check out http://events.yahoo.com to see just one. Yahoo is only one of MANY online event guides and directories. And most, like Yahoo, send out a weekly Email notice highlighting the best choices for the week. The folks that make those choices are important to you, for sure. Sorry, but you’ll have to make those relationships like I did, on your own, over time. Most of the live event sites I promote get selected now, but this is not because of me so much as because I’m cautious to take on only top-notch events to promote. A personal relationship with the selectors doesn’t amount to much if the event stinks in the first place.
Use this Category Navigation List to quickly move through my site
There are perhaps 10 general Web event guides you need to research and submit to for most events. But this is just the appetizer.
I also made sure to reach the editors at USA Today’s “Cyberlistings” section. Yeah, it’s in print, but with millions of copies out there, a mention in that section could be huge. I hit the San Jose area media, as well. I then did a search for running magazines, looking for those with significant Web content and editor contact info. It paid off. Turned out Runner’s World had an online “Daily Running News Site”, with contact info. Yes!
Now we’re getting warmed up. Newsgroups searches for running and marathoning were successful, and a very delicate and brief post was sent by me personaly, AFTER reviewing each newsgroups charter. I did this 5 days prior, and again the evening before the event. Not only did I not get one negative response, I got 10+ thank you’s.
Next, I did a search at the many mailing list directories, looking for lists related specifically to distance running. I found plenty, but rather than dump a post into a group where I wasn’t a member (dumb), I contacted the moderator personally, and shared the news with him/her (not dumb). They then could make the choice of passing the news on to their subscribers, and gues what? All of them did.
Now it’s time to really focus. I call the below technique the “SurferAlpha” technique. SuferAlpha represents the absolute exact type of person most likely to be interested in the event I’m promoting. For a running/marathon event being carried live on the Internet, from San Jose, SurferAlpha can be identified a step at a time, as follows:
1). A person who is interested in running.
2). A person who is interested in running who has a Net connection accessible on a Sunday morning.
3). A person who is interested in running who has a Net connection accessible on a Sunday morning who uses the Web.
4). A person who is interested in running who has a Net connection accessible on a Sunday morning who uses the Web who lives near the event.
The above is a more simplified technique than I used, but the approach I took is clear:
#4 is my SurferAlpha.
My first hunch then is that that if there are any running clubs in the Sab Jose area, which have a net presence, I should have a great chance at finding a person there who can get the word out. SurferAlpha. My Search at Yahoo and AltaVista locates exactly what I was hoping for. Not only is there a running club, but they have a Web presence, and even an Email mailing list for members. This means they obviously have an Internet connection if they are on a mailing list, they are runners, and they live in San Jose. The contact person for their mailing list was listed, along with his Email address.
Among the other activities were submissions to a large collection of the finest running links/news sites, as well as some carefully selected sports and cool site pickers, and a news release sent individually to appropriate site/event reviewers media folks. The campaign took a couple days to execute, and did not include a single search engine or directory submission. Advertisement
The efforts paid off. The Web site itself attracted thousands of hits, and downloads of the NetShow software increased significantly. Microsoft has asked me to handle their future events as well.
I’ve done similar campaigns for Fruit-of-the-Loom’s Countryfest Web broadcast, and small events like a Financial Aid Chat for high school kids.
The bottom line for all of them is that it takes a willingness to get online, roll up your sleeves, look way beyond search engines, and get hammering on the keyboard. Every event has SurferAlpha. My goal is to find them.