“People who own a business wear a lot of hats. They get caught up in the day to day and don’t have time to step back and look at the big picture and do strategic planning,” Sanfilippo said.
The SCORE team’s advice:
Identify a target market
The U.S. event industry is worth $6.4 billion annually, with about $400 million in Florida. The SCORE team advised Marin and Katz to figure out what piece of the pie they want.
“How big of a player do you want to be?” Sanfilippo said. “Where do you want to play — just Florida? Internationally?”
Katz said they have made steps to think strategically, but know they could do more. The out-of-town events they staff are big enough money makers to be worthwhile. On the other hand, prestigious events such as the NFL Experience are great resume-boosters, but don’t make a lot of money. They are starting to evaluate more strategically, he said.
“We’ve found we can’t just say yes to everyone,” Marin said.
Re-evaluate the marketing budget
The SCORE team suggested that they look at trade shows from a return-on-investment standpoint, and add public relations and marketing to the mix.
“When you buy a piece of equipment, it’s easy to figure out the return on investment,” Sanfilippo said. “But with marketing, it’s challenging. You have to figure out what will give you the biggest bang for the buck.”
Katz said they’ve seen the return when they go to a big show, and know it’s valuable. They have decided to participate in trade events for air shows and golf tournaments. “We have sales guys for a reason,” Marin added. “We have to be out there.”
The SCORE team suggested that pre- and post-event surveys could help Complete Ticket Solutions learn about customer needs, identify cross-selling opportunities and promote other services.
After an event, a post survey should be a gratitude campaign, Hernandez said. “It’s a chance to say thank you for your business, and to look for opportunities for the future,” he said.
Marin said they already do a pre-event meeting on site, for the operations side. They’ll look to add more structure to make it valuable for the sales team.
Set up a database
A central database of information on clients and prospective clients will help streamline efforts to follow up, cross-sell and promote their products and services, the SCORE team advised.
A database that every employee can monitor, add to and edit will give you information at your fingertips to help in relationship building, Leve said. Even tracking personal information about a client, such as their dog’s name or where their kid goes to college, can help to solidify relationships and make follow-ups more personal.
And if you properly categorize your leads, it will help you target the information you send them, Hernandez said.
Katz said the backend software system they use, AudienceView, has a content management system available that they can tap into. They will decide what information to track, set up a system this spring and populate it by the summer.
Set up email blasts
Leve suggested a monthly email update to keep current and potential customers in the loop about new services.
And when you do an email blast, always test different versions to see what works, Leve said.
“The good thing about digital marketing is it’s an experiment. If you have a large database, then break it into three,” she said. Send emails out at three different times, or in three different colors. Try a variety of subject lines, to see which ones get opened, she said.
Katz said they would like to start an email newsletter.
If you’re going to offer more than ticketing, your marketing materials need to clearly say that, the SCORE team advised.
First, identify the key features and benefits of your product, Hernandez said. That will be the source file to create your materials.
“Think ‘How do we communicate with the outside world about what we do?’” Sanfilippo said. “Your brochure just talks about ticketing, if you want to do more than that, you have to communicate that better.”
Hernandez suggested adding a QR code to printed materials that link back to their website. “Offer people something educational, such as ‘10 key things to help run your event,’ or a free ticket printing job,” he said.
Marin said the makeover process and SCORE team’s advice turned on the light for them. “It has helped us focus on things we have in the company already that can help us,” he said. “Our whole goal is to get the word out about how much more we do now than 13 years ago.”