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Bootstrapping Your Startup – Part 1

August 16th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

If you are planning on bootstrapping your next startup, the time to implement that plan is long before your business opens its doors. There are a few helpful measures you can take to ensure that your bootstrapped startup will turn into a thriving one within a reasonable amount of time. Here are a few of those helpful hints.

1. Identify a Co-Founder

There are a few key characteristics you should look for in a good co-founder. You will want someone who has skills that compliment your own. It won’t hurt if they have a lean into another element of your business as well. Having a co-founder who understands your ideas and share the passion as you is important. The most valuable element you can find in a co-founder, is someone who will understand that they may not be able to make a profit themselves until the business is off the ground. It will help to have a good projected time to tell prospective co-founders when they can expect to begin reaping the reward of pay.

2. Start with creating something that is needed in 2-3 years

Keep your big ideas in focus. Maintain that focus by being realistic in your product creations. Do your research, identify any problematic issues in everything from development to sales, and ultimately, make sure to create a product that is not only wanted or needed on today’s market, but one that has viability into the future (Say 3-5 years in the future).

3. Create a working prototype

Start with the creation of a prototype before you kick start the development phase. A good research and development team can actually save you far more on your bottom line than you may have expected. Share the prototype with potential users, accept and brainstorm all user feedback before making the final adjustments for development.

4. Your product will be never perfect, so don’t delay launching version 1

Your product will never be perfect in your eyes most likely. So before you get into coding, it may be best to go ahead and set in stone a soft launch, or beta date to release your product to a pre-discussed and likely limited market of your projected demographics. The best way to handle this issue is to build a minimally viable product and launch it with your target audience. The feedback you get back from your soft launch can go towards improvement or adding any bells and whistles that you may have considered in your initial mockups.

5. Engage users, gather & analyze feedback, making improvements, & repeat

Engage your beta testers in any way you can. It will be their feedback that goes towards making your end product a successful one on a variety of target demographics. When possible, make engagement a rewarding practice for your testers as well by offering them discounts on the completed project. Ask them to share their opinions of your products on their social networks for more rewards. And make sure they are given the opportunity to provide feedback in the most user-friendly manner possible throughout the testing period.

If you implement these techniques for bootstrapping your start up business you will be setting the course for the overall growth and success for your business. Always take the time to brainstorm your ideas with all staff members. You might be surprised at the good ideas you can generate from every corner of your office.

5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes to Avoid While Planning for Your Next Event

August 3rd, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

Whether strategic, or in real-time, social media marketing mistakes can be a real event killer. It’s incredibly important to have everyone on board with a single fluid strategy or problems in communication could end up as problems that prevent your event from kicking off as you had planned. In order to avoid financially or branding mistakes, take a few moments to go over these five mistakes in social media marketing that could affect your event planning negatively.

1. One-Way Street Interactions

One of the biggest mistakes any social media campaign can make is to regularly barrage your fans and followers with push marketing efforts. No one wants to see a constant stream of self-promotional marketing content flooding their feed. Instead, make sure you offer more of a two-way relationship in your social feeds. Here’s your chance to deepen your relationship with prospective consumers as well as your current event attendees.  Use entertainment, awe-factor news and other handy media tidbits to keep your fans on your radar. You should aim to provide a couple agenda-free post for every piece of direct marketing content.

2. Too Much Focus on Quantity

Getting thousands of fans to your site can be a true sign of success for your planned event. However, you should only really aim for the most organic fans. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t appreciate every fan, regardless of where they came from, you should. However, what you shouldn’t do is spend money to gain ‘instant’ fans. If you are going to pay someone to help you aggregate new fans for your feed, pay someone who knows how to do it organically. That is, gather the fans in the demographics you need the most. This does require footwork, and time, but with this method, you will end up with 100 fans who comment and interact. Much more valuable than 1000 fans who have no intention of ever doing so.

3. Using the Same Strategy for All Media Channels

Unless you want to bore your event attendees, you really should plan to use all formats of social media that you can. When you do, remember, they may all achieve a similar end, but they are not all the same. Everything changes. The lingo, the content, the ideal times to post. On Facebook you will want to monitor your updates, be ready to chatter about the event when people communicate on your page. With Twitter, you’ll want to narrow down the best hashtags to use to get your event in front of as many folks in your targeted demographics. On YouTube, you will want to post your videos at optimal times and share them across all of the most relevant social and video websites.

4. The Post and Go

Not interacting with prospective event attendees makes every single one of your social media efforts null-and-void. That’s what social media is for; to be social and sociable. Without that interaction you are just sending your messages into cyberspace where they will be short lived as any type of trending news. There are some great social media monitoring tools out there like Social Mention or Klout that can help you gauge how well you are doing on the ‘social scene.’ Keep track with those mentions, adjust posting times to when your audience seems the most lively, and wait. Be ready to reply to facebook status update posts, comments on your YouTube videos and replies or retweets on Twitter. Thank your retweeters too! They might become new fans if they aren’t already.

5. Not Using the Proper Social Media Platform

Not every platform should be used by every industry for every event. If your event is centered around photography, you may want to have an Instagram and a Pinterest account, but you have little need for YouTube. Slideshows are nice, but they aren’t the most highly viewed items on a video platform. Take those photography slideshows to another platform like Slideshare where they will make themselves useful. Don’t forget the value of Twitter when it comes to on-the-spot social interaction. Make sure to create a unique hashtag for your event where everyone involved can keep in Tweet communications with one another.

Social media is easy once you get used to it. Just make sure to maintain conformity, share professionally designed event invites or other communications and interact! Every chance you get.

Hosting an event? Try Eventzilla to manage online registrations and payments!

5 Ways to Engage Attendees After the Event

July 11th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

Just because your event is over, doesn’t mean you should cease engagement with your attendees. This can be even more important if your event is an annual one and you need to keep in touch during the off seasons. There are many creative methods for keeping your event on the front of attendee’s minds as well as keep them hyped up and interested in future events. Here are five of the best ways to achieve that goal.

Thank You

A thank you note for event attendance is always a nice gesture. However, a plain, basic thank you note will likely be just another mailed item that gets thrown to the side and thought about less than you would prefer. A creative idea will help keep your event on minds and tongues. Consider everyday items that most people can use, or even industry specific items that bring your event to mind. Item examples could include a keychain with the date of your next event, a nice pen for their office, or even a reusable coffee or water cup. Take advantage of any space you have on your item to put event dates, website addresses and phone numbers. A thank you offering itself is a bit different and more memorable than a follow up email or newsletter.

Post-Event Surprises

Many enjoy surprises. Many more enjoy free surprises. Dredge up that email or newsletter list and use it to throw a post-event contest. The reward can be anything from a creative little gift, to a substantial discount to encourage attendees to return to your business and your next event. If you do sponsor annual events, mid-year is always a great time to throw a special post-event surprise into the mix and into the minds of those you want to attend again. Not to mention the buzz it could create when word-of-mouth gets around that you utilize such unique promotions.

Social

Never underestimate the power of social. Whether you post pictures of your events on Instagram, or update statuses on Facebook about its success. Since one of the main focuses of attending an event is networking in some fashion or other, staying connected to your attendees is just as critical to present and future successes. Just as important as pre-event introductions and chatter, post-event engagement is just as critical. Take this time to ask all of your attendees that follow you on social networks what they would improve about the event. Which parts did they like the most? You can also go one step further and ask them what element they would like to see implemented into the next event. Friends, family, consumers, everyone, like to be asked their input and see their ideas to fruition. You may even gain a new volunteer or two for future events in this way.

Acknowledgement

Whether an event attendee helped band-aid a boo-boo or ran out to grab extra cups, always take the time to acknowledge those whose efforts helped keep your event on track. There are also many creative ways to carry this out. This would be unique and interesting newsletter material. Those who can spend a bit more may want to have a few t-shirts made, or even donate a few dollars to a favorite charity in their honor. Regardless of how you acknowledge, not only does it show appreciation to your staff or help, but it also shows general event attendees that you care about those who extend themselves. Happy helpers always make for a more pleasant event.

Network Attendees Networks

For those who plan annual events or even several events throughout the year, take the time to try to extend benefits, bonuses and even surprises to your usual attendees when they can bring or refer a friend, family member or another industry related individual. Give them discount options, promotional codes, an extra entry or five into the next event’s big door prize. Do not be afraid to ask the newly referred for their opinions as well. You can utilize surveys, polls or even short social network questions applications and get the input of attendees new and old.

The most critical element of engaging attendees after your family or business event is to remain interactive, highlight those who extend themselves, and keep up the hype for the next event. You will not only benefit in the short term by gaining new and helpful information, new networking opportunities and new suggestions to make your future ventures more interesting and creative, but you will also be continually expanding your reach and email list, but you will also find post-planning and pre-planning can work hand in hand to make for a fantastic, well-organized series of events.

Facebook vs Twitter vs Instagram vs Pinterest. Which of these will Make Your Next Event More Successful?

June 14th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

There is no doubt that using social media platforms can help to spread the word about your special events, products or services to the masses. These days, family events, impromptu gatherings and outings are often initiated on some sort of social platform. Most commonly Twitter and Facebook.

However, it might be helpful to understand that different platforms have differing specialties of sorts. This could make certain social media sites better for your events’ particular product, less effective for your offerings, or even ineffective entirely in gathering people for some fun. Let’s take a deeper look at how best to utilize social media sites for event planning.

Finding the Best Network for Your Event

LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a mostly business oriented social network. For this reason, those who are promoting business services or products, may want to focus their social media marketing efforts here first, or most intensely. Business related services can be everything from office products to advertising services.

If other businesses are your company’s key demographic, creating groups, invites and running conversation on LinkedIn might be the best social site to target since your focus will be to increase networking with certain elements of any given business. On LinkedIn you can connect directly to the marketing or accounting head of a company, or communicate with them under their own groups.

This cuts out the middle man you may have if you try to focus business related marketing on Facebook or Twitter where the chances are high you’ll be speaking with a social media manager, and not the specific department head you need. When it comes to planning your events relating to business sales, you’ll do no better than inviting those in your demo through LinkedIn’s very event friendly platform. Don’t forget that planning the company baseball game is also possible on LinkedIn and quite often used for such.

Instagram and Pinterest – Arts, crafts, clothing, shoes; if you’re selling it, you are going to have pictures of it. If you have pictures of it, it should definitely be on Pinterest and/or Instagram. We already know that consumers do a lot of their product or service reviews online and we want that content easy-to-see, easy-to-find and even easier to share. Don’t make your customers look through a Facebook page to find your shop tab, to search your shop tab that probably has categories, to spend an inordinate time browsing, because the chances are high you’ll lose them before they buy.

On Pinterest or Instagram, you have platforms designed to display your products in an easy-to-peruse format, even, and sometimes especially on mobile devices, since we now know that mobile device sales have increased exponentially over the last few major shopping seasons. Make sure to utilize the friend or follow lists on these platforms and you’ll find a super way to get event invites out to the exact folks who enjoy browsing your wares. More often these days, these two formats are also being used for

Foursquare and Foursquare Business – Not all event planning organization will include making online purchases. They could be family reunions, training courses, or even just a social event at a physical address. Make sure your locations, whether business or your home, is added to the proper Foursquare platform. Since you will be privy to who checked in to your event through Foursquare, you can also utilize this system to carry out your event contests, games or even just take attendance.

While users get intangible bonuses for Foursquare check-ins, in the form of Badges, there’s nothing stopping you from rewarding your attendees through the information you can gather from this social platform as well. That might help get people off of the internet and into your physical location.

Facebook and Twitter – Though these two social networks are not as similar as some may think, they both certainly do have a great purpose to serve when it comes to event planning, management and helpful services. Consumers, friends, family, organizations, and just about everyone seems to be communicating about something on Facebook and Twitter.

For that reason, open and real-time communication on these two platforms is just about expected. If your are planning an event that will require extensive management, it is not only a great idea, but a super comforting one, to have a Facebook and/or Twitter account where possible attendees can ask questions. Having a potluck for a church gathering? Hook up an account on these media formats so that attendees can chatter about the pending event, discuss possible dishes, organize possible dishes and more.

However, do not, in any case, create one of these platforms for your event and then walk away. You’ll find interaction here to be an absolute requirement.

There are a few that seem a given. If you have video for a special event, it should definitely be posted to YouTube. Link to any of your other sites from there. Having an art gallery gathering? You should probably check out DeviantArt and Dribbble. Sponsoring a music event? Get on Spotify and get that music to the masses. Whatever your interests or industry, there is a social network, fully functioning and active, that you can network into and reap the rewards. You just have to do the work.

5 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid while Promoting your Next Event

June 11th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

While there may seem to be an endless list of right and wrongs in email marketing handbooks, there are a few mistakes that can be absolute killers when it comes to promoting your special event. Any thorough email marketing campaign will require a lot of attention to detail to regulate properly, however, the main focus here is to maintain a viable campaign or improve on its performance by avoiding common mistakes during this element of marketing.

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes to avoid.

1. Spamming

If you do not make sure your email is following guidelines for getting around spam blockers, you’re event invitation is likely to go to the trash can. Common mistakes include spammy subject lines, too many emails in the CC: and attachments. To avoid this issue, make sure you use catchy but unique subject line text, utilize the BCC: or blind carbon copy feature in your email tools and avoid attaching anything to the email. Go with text based email options and platforms.

2. Too Much Content

Another reason your event email marketing campaign could be setting itself up for failure is if it contains just too much information. Don’t use the invitation to share everything your event will entail. Keep away from long blocks of text, keep your language easy-to-read and when and where possible, leave a little mystery where it counts! Use links for any supporting sign up requirements that lead to your event management site for more information. Keep it simple and to the point.

3. Not Optimized for Mobile

Many email campaigns are still failing to remember mobile users when sending out their event invitations. Make sure you are using a quality platform that will enable mobile users to easily view and participate in any requirements the invitation suggest. Considering that over 80% of Smartphone owners use their devices for reading their emails, this is an absolute must. Consider creating responsive email templates for sending event invitations.

4. Using Private Emails and sending invitation using ‘Bcc’

Using your private email may seem like a good idea, that is, until you find that your private email provider doesn’t provide the options you need when it comes to ensuring each recipient’s digital data remains private. Using a private email also means your recipients will not be provided with an unsubscribe option, and that’s a big no-no when it comes to the world of email marketing. Consider using a reputable email marketing software for promoting your next event.

5. No Test Run 

The problem with not doing a test run is that once the invitation to your special event is sent, it’s sent. Any mistakes are now permanent results. Once you believe your event email campaign details are in order, shoot a test invite to a friend, family member or business partner. The human eye can play tricks on the brain. Mistakes you didn’t see proof reading thirty times can be spotted quickly by an unbiased eye. Make sure to have at least one pair check your work.

As mentioned before, a successful event email marketing campaign has a long list of do’s and don’ts. It is up to each event planner or organizer to walk through the process with a critical eye on their own work, to ensure a successful and enjoyable event.

Hosting an event? Try Eventzilla for your event ticketing needs.

Organizing a Summer Event? Here are 10 Tips to make it Successful

June 6th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

As the warm weather flows over the nation, we are once again headed towards a summer full of activities and events. The most well-planned events can sometimes fail if organization goes wrong. While event planning isn’t necessarily rocket science, it can require great attention to the little details. Keep in mind these ten tips to help make your summer event a success.

It’s Never Too Early

That’s it. It’s never too early to start planning your summer event. The larger the event, the longer you will want to plan. A great first step to take is to finalize all related contracts that pertain to your event. Contract your vendors, the venue, the caterers, every outside business that will play a part in your event should be taken care of right off the bat.

Negotiate

The old saying is that Everything is Negotiable. To prepare for negotiations with your vendors, make a shortlist of all that you will need from them when it comes to products or services. Set a budget and bid low. Also understand that you will likely run into unexpected costs. So make sure they aren’t too unexpected by adding a small slush fund to any event planning budget you set.

Discount Practices

If you have begun to plan ahead with plenty of time to spare, you can also take care of some common discount practices that will help bring down your costs. Head to your favorite online event shopping store and load your digital cart with all you’ll need, and then leave before purchasing. In a few days you’re very likely to get an email offering you a discount or even free shipping on your purchases. This can save a lot of cash you can put towards other event needs.

Go Social Early On

Advertising and generating buzz about your summer event can never come too early. For yearly events, it’s completely viable to begin planning your next event just after your last. The more buzz you can generate, the higher the chance of your event being shared with others. Get possible event attendees involved by throwing contests or asking them to help plan the next event with their input and ideas.

Have a Guest List and RSVP Platform

Make sure to create and utilize your guest lists comprehensively. Not only can your guest lists be used for future endeavors such as invites to the next event, but it can also be used for the basic, attendance, meal planning, product needs and more. Offer a small gift to those who RSVP ahead of time and make it super easy to do so by using an event planning platform like Eventzilla.

Have a Plan B

For those critical elements of your event, make sure you have a plan B. Weather can be a real issue in the summer time, so if your event includes an outdoor concert, do not forget to put in place a complete plan to handle a change in venue, or activities that attendees can enjoy while waiting for a storm to blow over. A smoothly done event, probably takes advantage of at least one plan b. Be prepared.

Create a Help Organization Chart

Draw up an organizational chart that shows each team member not only their specific responsibilities, but other team member’s functions as well. Many elements of a summer event will require the teams to work together, so make sure they all have a place to find out who the go-to person for their needs actually is without needing to ask around.

Share Everything

Don’t wait until event day to share media. Share your preparations; costume design videos, food photos, practice sessions and more. Turn likes and views on your social media accounts into new visitors to your summer event. Ask your team mates to do the same. Don’t forget to post a recap of your event minutes just post-event.

Practices and Walkthroughs

Depending on your specific summer event, some activities may require a practice session, dress rehearsal or walkthrough. Do not forgo this task. Often a well-planned event can fail when put to the test. Make sure to give yourself enough time between practice and the live event to handle any issues that arise during the rehearsal session.

Thank Everyone

Never, ever forget to thank everyone who attended your event. You can do that during the summer event and you should. Utilize that guest list you gathered and send out thanks in email, or hardcopy format a few weeks afterwards. Announce contests winners, achievements or congratulations. If your event is an annual one, this is also a good time to let them know you would love to see them next time.

When it comes to managing even a small scale event, pre-planning, organization and a great event planning platform will help it go smoothly and encourage new visitors to attend again. Planning ahead of time means that you will have plenty of room to give attention to all those details that will make your event unforgettable. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and never miss the chance to reward your volunteers and your summer event will be the talk of the town.

Eventzilla now supports Stripe and WePay

April 29th, 2014 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

In addition to PayPal and Authroize.net, we recently added support to accept credit card payments using Stripe and WePay.

  • No monthly fees
  • Transaction fees: 2.9% + 30c per transaction
  • Money is deposited into your bank account 7 days after the sale
  • If you refund a transaction, Stripe will return the entire fee.
  • Supports Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club and JCB

See all features

  • No monthly fees
  • Credit card transaction fees: 2.9% + 30c
  • Bank account payments fees: 1% + 30¢
  • Supports all major credit cards

See details

How to Decide on the Venue for the Next Family Reunion?

August 12th, 2013 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

Each family reunion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to gather your loved ones together from all over the country (and sometimes the world) to spend time together. It gives all generations a chance to meet and learn from one another and this is something that you definitely want to encourage!

Venue is extremely important for these events – how do you choose the right one?

LOCATION
The location of your venue can be everything. You’ll need a location that is as central as possible to all family members so that they do not have to travel very far. Event planning software can help you select a venue by calculating the media distance between attendees and any locations you are considering! When choosing venues for your short list, make sure that they have hotels, car rentals, an airport, and dining facilities with an hour’s drive so that your family members will have a good time.

CATERING
Is there a catering service affiliated with the venue you are considering? If you’re having your reunion at the local park, chances are you’re on your own. If you’re meeting in a conference center or larger building there might be a service that is contracted to the facility that can be prevailed on to assist you.

FACILITIES
This can mean a variety of things from media services (video, audio, etc) for presentations to restrooms and other sanitation services. If you are going to be hosting a gathering of a large number of people you’re going to need access to restrooms for sure, but if you’re planning on some kind of presentation you might want to look for a venue that offers the equipment necessary to make your presentation a success.

How to Embed Your Events List on Your Website or Blog?

August 12th, 2013 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

Step 1: Log in to your Eventzilla Account
Step 2: Click on “Account Settings” tab
Step 3: Click on “Embed Your Events” link on left navigation
Step 4: Adjust the width for the events display
Step 5: Copy the embed code and paste between <body></body> tags on your website.

 

5 Fundraising Mistakes To Avoid

August 12th, 2013 by Eventzilla Team No comments »

We’ve all seen them before; the fundraising mistakes that even fundraising software can’t prevent and make us cringe even as we feel sympathy for the coordinators and donors alike. Even online fundraising doesn’t seem to be immune; event planning software can help you prepare for a fundraiser on the ground or online, but once you’re in the middle of the event you’re often on your own.

Here are some mistakes you should probably avoid:

1 – Impersonal direct mail campaigns
Make sure that you are addressing your postcards or thank you mailers to the right people. Sign your name by hand, no matter how many notes you need to prepare. Make things personal and your thanks heartfelt.

2 – Annoying your donors
Create a communication calendar and stick to it. Don’t send updates or requests for donations too frequently. Don’t request a small-time donor to jump to being a big-time donor with no preamble or even asking them if they’re interested in increasing their donation amount.

3 – Broken promises
No matter what you’re selling or what cause you are promoting you need to deliver on what you promised. If someone has given you money they want to know that it is being used the way you told them it would be.

4 – Taking the wrong approach
Generic mass mailing or impersonal solicitations in front of stores have never brought good results for anything less than the best known organizations. So unless you are the Girl / Boy Scouts or the Salvation Army, stick with more personal communications to attract donors.

5 – Falling behind the times
Instead of relying exclusively on out-dated methods of fundraising, take your efforts into the virtual space and gauge the effectiveness of an online fundraising campaign. Use new technologies like email and social media to give your campaigns a kick!