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SQLAndy

I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

Building the SQLSaturday Orlando Marketing Plan–Part 3

Not to short change fund raising, but the toughest goal to meet for this year is registration/attendance if we’re going to hit our 20% growth target. No, it’s not all about numbers, but our stance is that we’d like to deliver as much learning as possible – both to do good and to leverage our effort. We can train 60 more people for very little incremental effort or cost.

Where do we find those 60 people? Early ideas:

  • Decrease the cancellation rate. Tricky because it can lead to fewer signups, we can’t make cancelling a bad thing – it going to happen and we need to understand that. I’m not optimistic we can change the number by much, I’ve seen it across too many events. Better to be happy about them signing up so we can at least try to get them to attend next year. What we can do is try to get people to reserve time on their calendar now. We tend to live by our calendars and decline commitments if they overlap with an existing one. We can also work hard at making the event seem as interesting as possible the week prior when they are juggling life priorities.
  • Make sure we’re marketing to the combined universe of oPASS, MagicPASS, and past SQLSaturday Orlando lists. We should have that, but we need to make sure.
  • Notice in the local paper. We have a contact for this already, just have to execute. I’m not thinking this will be huge, but it’s worth a try (and we need to try to measure the impact).
  • Get regulars to bring someone they know. Attending the first time can be scary, a buddy helps. We might also look at incenting this behavior somehow – extra raffle tickets or an extra drawing maybe, but ideally something guaranteed for the ‘bringer’ and maybe something for the ‘bringee’ – free lunch maybe. Needs more thought.
  • Cross pollinate. We have a good relationship with ONETUG, the .Net group here in Orlando so the channel is there, we need to do more. I’d like to try to get on their speaking schedule, or at least make an early pitch for attending SQLSaturday. We need to think about being developer friendly, and also about how to get them to get the event information to their DBA’s.
  • Not just DBA’s. We need to be inclusive and cast a wide net, make sure SSIS developers and report people and .Net developers know about the event and have a reason to attend. This is maybe something we message to our core audience as part of the bring someone campaign.

Thinking about that more, I remain convinced that we have to focus on list building first and the event will largely sell itself….if we have contact with them. I’m also convinced that our most effective marketing channel is email to the list, far more so than blogs, Twitter, newspaper ads and all the rest. That doesn’t mean we don’t do those, they help (in very intangible ways sometimes), but a well defined (and pretty, per Kendal!) message to a very targeted/interested group works very well. True, or trap?

I’ve grown to believe in the power of flyers (brochures). I very much doubt the value of sticking them up at Starbucks, but they are perfect to give someone to email around at the office or print a copy to hand to a colleague. We need a formula for generating this. It needs to look good, but doesn’t need (or even should) be complicated.

Clearly we need a plan for posting to social media and meeting sites – any surface that might trickle down to a potential attendee.

Is everyone on our LinkedIn group on our mailing list? Could we explore InMail to do more? I need to talk to Craig P about this idea.

The other piece that I don’t think we’ve used well in the past is our friends in the staffing business. They have lists. Big lists. And they love reasons to “touch” their list in a way that delivers value to the recipient. They also reach hiring managers – we mostly don’t. What message do we have them deliver to those managers? It might also be useful to think about a very low noise mailing list for manangers – people that want to know about training opportunities once a month.

More tomorrow.

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