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What "Dancing With The Stars" Can Teach You
About Marketing Your Event On The Web


Michelle Girasole - President, Precision Web Marketing, N.E. Division

Ken Owens- President, Owens Marketing Group

What can “Dancing with the Stars” teach you about making your next event a success?

ABC TV’s hit show dramatically demonstrates that using the Internet for promotion is critical to successfully promoting your event and is integral to creating a long-range marketing impact.

ABC promotes the broadcasts of live events on its website and uses multiple means to drive people there. The site contains content (text and video) about the show, its cast, and weekly outcomes that you can’t get by watching the TV show.

Whether you promote live or Internet events, such as TV shows, trade shows, live seminars, web chats or webcasts, sports clinics and more use your website. Learn from ABC and look to the Internet to help you create an interested audience.

Just don't expect to do it overnight
You must start well in advance of your event. We suggest you begin now to plan an event ten months out. Decide what that event will be, how it is useful to your current and future customers, how people will participate and who they might be.

Then, over the first three months build or re-build your web presence. It’s neither as good as you think, nor as good as your brother tells you.

Consider having your site analyzed by pros who understand both marketing and the Web. Make sure it is a solid business tool, is believable and extends your branding posture to each of your audiences, including customers, prospects, the press, financial markets and employees. In short, make sure it tells your story well.

Build it from the customer's viewpoint
The first rule is build your website from your customer’s point of view. Your website helps provide visitors with a deeper understanding of your expertise and what it means for them. It must educate them and at the same time, peak their interest to learn more.

When these visitors engage with you by providing their contact info, they become new leads, giving your sales force the opportunity to learn about potential clients before a sales call. This gives you a distinct competitive advantage – and an open door for future communications about your company and event.

Look at and assess your site content. First, make sure you are using “customer speak,” not “company speak.” Assure that your site is content-rich so that it will draw people to it and offer opportunity for interaction. Include articles and links.

To get the website design and content right, marketing must work with sales and both must work with your information technology resource, internal or external. Structure your site to generate traffic – being sure to include search engine-friendly elements - and to start building conversations by giving existing customers and prospects an excuse to ask you questions, request information, or subscribe to an e-newsletter.

Build Customer Relationships
The conversations you generate through this process are preliminary to building online relationships that lead eventually to customers. This is also a way of learning what’s on the minds of current customers when a salesperson contact isn’t needed or possible.

You want to capture contact information, especially e-mail addresses, of those who come to your site. Requiring registration for white papers, newsletters and other content is one technique for acquiring that information. Send out an e-mail blast that provides new information of value to your contacts and positions you as the source of important expertise. As the date of your event draws near, send a series of email invitations: i.e., save the date, early registration, event reminders, and registration deadlines.

As an example, the American Marketing Association and regularly e-mail subscribers and others to participate in their Webinars about important marketing topics.

Importantly, you must track each e-mail to see if it is opened and read. Analyze fully your data and determine what changes you need to make to optimize prospect and customer interest. This is where many companies fail. They don’t analyze their data. Make changes and send out another e-mail blast. Analyze the results and tweak your site once again.

See where this is going? Take action. Analyze the data. Improve your site. And do it again. The goal is to hone this process until you create an online environment that promotes conversations and relationships with clients and potential clients.

Build a Steady Stream of Customers
During the second three months of this process, begin some solid Search Engine Marketing (SEM). This includes researching your keywords, your competition’s websites and employing two approaches to getting your site placed on the top pages of search listings for each keyword phrase.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of putting a target keyword into strategic places on a page of your website - and building incoming links to that page from other sites - in order for it to rank highly on the free, or “organic” side of the search listings.

Search Engine Advertising (SEA) is a paid or sponsored listing on one of the advertising networks, such as Google AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing. As your event date moves closer, you may want to use SEA for important keywords that would attract your target audience. You have full control over the budget and the content of these ads. SEA can connect you quickly to the right customer who is searching for something you can provide.

When you have placed your site in the search engines, use the next three months to promote your event. You want to generate a qualified and interested target audience for your events. The day after the season debut of “Dancing with the Stars,” a Google search brought up a paid ad as well as the organic link to the ABC website.

In addition to Internet advertising, and depending upon the nature and location of your event, consider other media such as radio or print advertising and direct mail, i.e., personalized letters to your current and potential client list and your list of “influentials.” Once again, send more e-mail blasts to your e-mail list. Make your website central to audience response.

One political wag said that it takes eight contacts with a potential voter just to make an impression. Don’t think your job is any easier. Plan on multiple contacts to make an impact.

Track your ROI
When the date comes, hold your event and track the results. These include the number of persons who attended, who they were and whether they are potential customers, any conversations begun and the ultimate indicator of ROI (Return on Investment), “conversions” - any new clients acquired or sales made.

Once you have analyzed the data from the event, immediately make any appropriate changes to your website (SEO) and begin planning your next event. You don’t need to wait as long for the next event because your site is ready and you have valuable experience and knowledge you can use in planning and pulling off your next event, as well as an expanded e-mail list.

A consistent theme in this process is to use all the data available to you. Understand what it really means. Analyze the web addresses of those who visit your site. Know how they got to your site. If it was from a search through one of the search engines, what terms did they search? Did they come to you through your advertising, direct mail or links with other sites?

When you analyze fully the data available to you and use it effectively, you can continue to optimize your site, hone your events, and, eventually bridge the gap and develop the conversations that lead to relationships and eventually to sales.

So the next time you go online to learn more about the dancers or to vote for one of them look at the way “Dancing with the Stars” uses its website to help drive attendance at its live TV events. And then make this work for you.

* * * * *

Michelle Girasole is president of Precision Web Marketing, New England Division,, a full-service internet marketing agency that provides comprehensive research, strategy, implementation, results tracking, and analysis services in the online arena.

Ken Owens is president of Owens Marketing Group,, and develops and implements public relations, marketing and event marketing strategies for both corporate and not-for-profit.

Both are members of the Kullberg Consulting Group (KCG),, a twelve year old unique strategic alliance of sixty senior level professionals, representing all disciplines of marketing communications, who own their own businesses, but come together to work on KCG assignments as needed.


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