The power of DIY

Wow. We’ve been building big websites for a long time.  And for about a decade, we’ve been telling people that not only would we never build a website without tools to manage it themselves, but we feel that web developers who do are borderline unethical.

I know, “them’s fighting words.” But think about it. There is great technology out there to manage website content. So why would a web developer not allow a client to make changes themselves? We think it’s because they want to charge for changes, thus keeping their revenue stream flowing.

Again, having worked on big websites for so long, we rarely think about the fact that many smaller websites don’t have the choice but to depend on their web developer to make changes. Yesterday, I talked to someone who could get instant changes from their web developer (So rare!).

But today, the fair manager I talked to isn’t so lucky.

He had gone through nightmare experiences with web developers; promises were made and broken. Even simple changes could go 7-10 days without being made. All from a guy down the street.

When I explained the features of Saffire, he didn’t mince words. He said that lots of fairs and rodeos can’t afford web agencies, so they try to get it done locally. And they’re frustrated. He said people need what we offer. They know they need it. But they don’t know how to get it. So I see our job as to help them by showing them!

Saffire creates event ecommerce websites that people can manage on their own, and it’s simple. One of our favorite things to do is to show it to people. They literally can’t believe how easy and even fun it is to see changes they make on their password-protected admin site appear on their customer site… instantly!

So if you want to see Saffire in action, just give us a call at 512-480-8566. We’ll be happy to kick the tires with you and show you just how fun DIY can be.

Rodeo Austin Goes Mobile

Event ecommerce and more on Rodeo Austin's mobile site
Mobile Event Website

We couldn’t help ourselves. We simply had to release a new mobile site for Rodeo Austin.

We spent years telling clients “not yet” when they asked about mobile sites, but now that the stars have aligned so that the time is right, we were excited to help them get on the mobile bandwagon!

The Rodeo Austin mobile event website released today. We’re super proud of it. From this site, you can:

  • See a calendar of events by date, event type or location
  • Get directions
  • Buy tickets
  • Sign up for updates

Please visit this new mobile event website from your smartphone at http://m.rodeoaustin.com.

The guy down the street

I started doing market research today on what people are looking for in their event websites.

On my first phone call to a fair about her event website, I found out that she was pretty happy with the guy down the street who does their website. This was great to hear, since most of the time, I only hear from people who have had very bad experiences with their web developers.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to know how to sell against this guy. Our team isn’t that big, but we have people who specialize in project management, writing, marketing, user interface, HTML, graphic design, programming, server/security management, etc. And they are all different people… in some cases more than one who perform the different skills needed to build a high-quality event website!

What I want to tell event directors is, we want to be your guy down the street! What would it take for you to give us a shot? Seriously, we want to know!

We know it’s scary to call a company in Austin, Texas. Whether you’re a couple hours away or a several hour plane ride, you may be concerned about being able to get a hold of us.

But having been in business since 1998, we can assure you we’re not going anywhere. And we give you the tools to manage your site yourself (and with all our resources, your site will surely be so much higher quality than a one-man show). So you can rest easier that you have everything you need to manage your website.

Since a  picture says a thousand words, here are photos of some of our team members. See? We’re really not that scary!

New and Improved Rodeo Austin Website

We just launched several updates to the Rodeo Austin website for this event season, all of which are now in Saffire Websites.

As you can see from the slideshow, we kept all that was great about the site and just made it better.

  • VIEW ALL EVENTS TAKING PLACE AT A SPECIFIC LOCATIONVIEW ALL EVENTS TAKING PLACE AT A SPECIFIC LOCATION
  • MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR EVENT DETAIL PAGESMORE FLEXIBILITY FOR EVENT DETAIL PAGES
  • ADD SPECIFIC ITEMS TO SELL ASSOCIATED WITH AN EVENTADD SPECIFIC ITEMS TO SELL ASSOCIATED WITH AN EVENT
  • IMPROVE THE USERS EXPERIENCE ON THE SITEIMPROVE THE USERS EXPERIENCE ON THE SITE

We added a “Locations” page so you can view all events taking place at a particular location.

We also added a lot of options for Rodeo Austin to control an event page, including all the new tabs in the Admin Site view above like specific event sponsors, important PDFs, URLs, Results and even the order in which all these new features appear on the page.

We also added a way for you to associate particular “Items” with an event.  This can be used in several ways, including selling tickets from various price levels, different times of an event and even different dates of an event.  This allows Rodeo Austin to give their customers even more specific information about an event.

Overall, we are so happy with the site improvements and glad we were able to make the site more user friendly for both visitors and Rodeo Austin!

2011 Austin ADDY Awards

The 2011 Austin ADDY Awards were also Saturday night, and we were so excited to hear the Rodeo Austin website had been nominated for an ADDY!  We did a little party-hopping so we could attend the Rodeo Austin Gala and then run over to hear the ADDY Award announcements.

We were excited to finally take a look inside Moody Theater, the new home of Austin City Limits and the location of the ADDY’s.

There it is!  Our award-winning website.

Kendra and Jessica showing off our entry!

Jeremy was excited when they announced our award with Rodeo AustinSilver ADDY Award Website, Consumer Flash, Service.

The view of the stage from our seats on the front row.

Our team was excited to be among such great company at the ADDY”s including Shiner Beers, Whole Food Market, Frost Bank and many more.  Congratulations to all of the 2011 ADDY Award winners.  Check out the complete list of winners here.

Fun at the Rodeo Austin Gala

Our team had lots of fun at the Rodeo Austin Gala Saturday night!  We were so glad Jeremy and his wife, Shelly, came to Austin to join us.

Kendra and Jeremy are excited to get going to the Gala!

The Palmer Events Center was the perfect location for the evening.

Our table and cute centerpiece

The guys were all smiles when having their picture made with the Rodeo Austin Princess!

Vince Gill did a great job entertaining the crowd.

Jeremy and Shelly danced the night away to Vince Gill and Jack Ingram.

A Wright Strategies team picture (We missed you Aaron, Justin, Chris and Mike!)

These cupcakes were delicious!

The Austin Office Girls

Lauren and Shane

Thanks for a great evening Rodeo Austin!  We’re already looking forward to next year.

Why Event Ecommerce Websites

I started doing websites in 1995, less than a year after the web came to prominence. I didn’t go to school for it…because it didn’t exist.

But I love marketing and I love technology, so I anxiously embraced this new marketing medium when I had the chance.

And it’s been a wild ride.

Looking back, ecommerce has always been my first love website-wise. It’s the ultimate “rubber meets the road” metric that’s totally trackable. And I love being on my clients’ revenue side of the spreadsheet, not the expense side (like we would be if we just put up a brochure website, for example).

We’ve had the opportunity to do some great work for companies like Nike, Jeep, Chrysler, Panasonic, Widmer Brewing, PG Tips and many more.

Right now, we do all the internet strategy for www.keenfootwear.com, and it’s never a dull moment!

But a couple years ago, we got one of those life-changing, out-of-the-blue phone calls from Rodeo Austin. They invited us to submit a bid for their event’s website redesign.

I think maybe a dozen firms submitted bids, and we were ecstatic when we became their interactive partner. Two rodeos later, we’re still their partner and are always improving their event website.

We started looking around and saw the fair and rodeo industry as one we could really help.  I mean this in the most respectful way, but it’s rare that I get to see an industry anymore that could benefit from better event websites than fairs, rodeos and other events. And let’s be honest…

We just love fairs and rodeos!

So we took the ecommerce platform we’d been fine-tuning for years with products, customized it for event websites and released the platform you now know as Saffire.

We are just wrapping up a new website for the South Texas State Fair in Beaumont. We’re working on deals with others, and we couldn’t be more excited about it.

Let the wild ride continue!

They Like Us, They Really Like Us!

I love award ceremonies. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s seeing and hearing from stars when they’re vulnerable but trying really hard. Maybe it’s seeing George Clooney in a suit. Or maybe it’s just because I love movies and music, so the Oscars, Globes and Grammies are all on my Tivo list (and I even forgive my son Hudson for being born during the entire span of the Grammies two years ago).

But awards have started to take on a new meaning with Saffire. We’ve entered Rodeo Austin, a Saffire Client Pro website we did last year and the craziest thing has happened.

We have won every award we entered.

I’m not trying to brag, but I’ve got to tell you; it’s felt pretty good. It’s made me feel validated for thinking there was a place for us in the fair and rodeo industry!

I couldn’t be more excited about our offering. And it’s awesome to have so many others confirm that they like it too.

Next time, I’ll tell you why we decided to launch Saffire in the first place. Stay tuned!

Getting Up Off the Couch

I’ve always told customers that it’s really hard to get online leads and sales from offline marketing efforts. I’ve said this not to discourage them from doing it, but to set realistic expectations. It’s just really hard to overcome inertia to get people off the couch where they read their email and to their computer to type in a URL.

Well now I’ve experienced this for myself.

We sent out about 1,700 postcards to fairs and rodeos across the country, and we’re holding our breath to find out if anyone is interested enough to call us. I have to remember that it will take several exposures to our name before people respond, but like I also always say, patience isn’t my virtue!

Here’s the postcard. I think it’s so fun, but let us know what you think.


What are your experiences with direct mail? We’d love to hear success stories!

Eight Followers

As a consultant who has built websites across many industries since 1995, I’m accustomed to (and love) helping people build their brands online. But it’s been awhile since I’ve done it for myself. Now that we’ve launched Saffire, I’ve gotten a taste of building our own brand from scratch. And let me tell you one thing I bet you already know.

It’s nerve-wracking!

I’m used to having the feeling of never getting to do quite as much as I’d like. But it’s taking it to a new level for it to be about something so near and dear to our hearts.

Eight followers. That’s how many Twitter followers we had last night. And we knew all of them. It’s a dauntingly small number, especially thinking about how to increase it dramatically. (Please follow us! :))

So we followed a bunch of fairs and rodeos, which is our target audience for Saffire. In our dreams, they’d follow us back, or at least come check out our product that creates best-in-class event websites. But either way, we look forward to keeping our finger on what’s going on in the industry… and sharing it when we think it’s something our customers would care about.

I’ll try to document what we’re doing to build the Saffire brand and product, so check back to see what we’re up to and offer us ideas if you have them. And cross your fingers for us that we’re well into the double digits soon!