A brand new venue could be a breath of fresh air for your event. Thinking about trying one out? Here are 5 Killer Tips to Finding your Perfect Venue! What could you do with an extra hour in your workday? Check out these 5 Tiny Email Tweaks That Will Give You Back an Hour of Your Day.
ADA compliance is one of the most important pieces to a website in 2018. As marketers, event planners and coordinators, it’s important to make sure that EVERYONE is able to access all of the awesome things we create – both in person and online. However, accessibility isn’t just the right thing to do, it also affects your business. Over 7,500 businesses have faced ADA-related litigation, and this number is growing. Luckily, so is our understanding of what we need to do to provide great online experiences for everyone alike!
What does it mean and why do we need it?
ADA compliance is about making your website accessible to EVERYONE. In theory, this sounds simple, but in practice it can be a bit confusing. That’s why it’s best to get started with compliance before your website is even built. Here at Saffire, we keep ADA Compliance in mind from the very beginning.
Why? Think about this: Nearly 1 in 5 Americans have a disability. Since the internet is used for all kinds of important things these days, like registering for services or paying bills online, it’s important that every member of our society has the same access to things they need. Plus, it makes it much easier for them to find information about your organization!
Here are the first six steps to making your website ADA compliant:
- Write Better Link Text
Each link should make sense when read by itself. Provide context and avoid using phrases like “click here” or “continue.” Instead, say things like “read the article” or “tickets here.” Avoid long URLs, and if an image is the only thing within a link, make sure it has ALT text! Which brings us to…
- Use ALT Tags for Images
Add meaningful ALT tags to important images. That means images like logos (especially if they lead to your homepage), images that are links, images used as placeholders for text, or any other image that adds context to a page. The ALT tag gives context to people who can’t see the image, so make sure it makes sense! How can you tell if you have good ALT tags? Describe the image and get specific! What is happening in the photo? Who or what is in it? Where are they? Don’t repeat phrases you’ve already used in the text or caption, and don’t begin with phrases like “image of” or “in this image.” Take time to learn how to place and write good ALT tags. They’re important!
- Think About the Page Structure
People use your page design as a guide to find information on your website, so build your pages in ways that make sense. Utilize headers, bullets, blockquotes, and other ways of organizing your information. Always start your page with an H1 tag and follow the hierarchy for the rest of the headers (H1 > H2 > H3 > H4, etc.)
- Test Your Colors
Did you know that color blindness affects 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women? Together, that makes up more than 25 million people with color blindness in the U.S. alone. To make sure that color blind people can still understand everything on your website, it’s important that color is not the only tool used to organize information. Test your site using a free tool like the webAIM contrast checker to make sure your web pages are up to par.
- Caption and Transcribe All Videos
Every video or audio piece must have both captions and a transcript to be ADA compliant. Luckily, many tools like YouTube and Facebook now allow users to add captions to videos. Don’t forget to include a separate area to describe what is happening in the video, and always make sure that the video is accessible by mouse, keyboard and screen readers!
- Test Your Site
The best way to know for sure if your site is accessible? Test, test, test! There a few free tools online that can help you test the accessibility of each page within your site. Our favorite is WAVE. It can get a little pricey to check your whole website at once but testing sites like PowerMapper can help you get there.
Remember, accessibility is the law, but that’s not the only reason it’s important! Accessibility affects millions of people. Meeting compliance standards is a sure way to provide the best user experience for everyone.
Saffire is very excited to announce Joy Whitman as one of its newest team members. Joy hails from Hutchinson, Kansas, a city not too far from Wichita. However, Joy says she is a Texan at heart, growing up in a small town near another Wichita–Wichita Falls–which true Texans know as “just Wichita.”
Joy served as Convention Services Manager for the Wichita Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau before moving to Kansas in 2005. In Kansas, she worked as the Association Sales Manager for a convention center in Hutchinson. For the past 12 years, she served in various roles at the Kansas State Fair, with the latest being the fair’s marketing director.
Joy says she has already had great experiences in her position as Client Experience Manager for Saffire. She will put her background in CVB, venues and state fairs to use as she helps our clients every day.
When Joy isn’t solving problems across the nation, she spends time on her Harley with her husband and four children – all of whom love to ride the highways. Other hobbies include pumping iron in the gym, along with fishing, hunting and enjoying the outdoors.
Are you using your Instagram account to showcase your merchandise? Instagram May Soon Launch a Standalone Shopping App, making it even easier to sell things online. Millennials are traveling in record numbers, learn about Transitioning Travel To The Millennial Market and what that means for destination marketing.
The Saffire Team is so excited to welcome our newest team member Thema Reed to the fold! Thema (pronounced Tay-mah—she says like “Taylor” but with “ma” at the end!) is dedicated to connecting with the Saffire family and sharing all the fun and helpful things Saffire has to offer.
Thema is the third person to join the Saffire team from Albuquerque, New Mexico (shout out to Jessica C. and Austin!). She is taking on the role of Marketing Manager and joins Saffire with 3 years of communications and digital marketing experience working on social media, content marketing, PR and communication strategy for nonprofits. Before that, she was a Journalism major at Howard University, where she interned in many D.C. newsrooms, including CNN, C-SPAN and WUSA. Thema will be working her writing and editing magic all over Saffire’s marketing efforts!
When she’s not writing all the things, Thema enjoys exploring Austin with her husband and two big fur babies, doing yoga outside and eating lots of tacos.
To learn more about Saffire, Thema or just to say “hey,” feel free to email Thema directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on Linkedin at https://www.linkedin.com/in/themareed/. We hope you can meet her in person at a conference or future Saffire Summit!
Can you smell the cotton candy, turkey legs and funnel cakes cookin’ yet? Fair season is right around the corner and (besides the food) that means lots of new ways to wow visitors. New and exciting experiences at your event are one of the best ways to keep people coming back each year. Although event trends can be as hard to pin down as the giant stuffed bear prize at the fair, this year Saffire has you covered.
Here are five ways to take things to the next level and make your event a success!
- Getting Active
If last year was all about getting your crowd to whip out their smartphones, this year is about encouraging participants to put down their phone, be in the moment and move their body. Whether it’s pop-up dance parties or yoga in the midway, getting active can be a memorable way to help visitors connect with the sights around them and burn off all those corndogs. For really athletic fair-goers, offer a chance to get competitive. The Tulsa State Fair is taking on the trend by challenging participants to a 5k run around the fairgrounds, and at the Fort Bend County Fair & Rodeo visitors can fish to win over $6,500 in prizes. For people who are more interested in doing their own thing, walking tours are a great way to get moving and see all the fun things to do at your event.
- Local Pop-ups
Fairs, festivals and other local events are celebrations of all the great things your area has to offer. Encourage your visitors to immerse themselves in local culture by creating pop-up shops and experiences that are full of local flavor. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be just food! Partner with local favorites to create fun experiences like mini-museums, craft making areas or experimental dining (blindfolded beer tasting anyone?). By creating fun experiences with local businesses, you can create a sense of place and remind everyone why you love your community!
- Virtual Participation
Tech interaction is far from over at events. This year, trendy event coordinators are mixing tech interaction with real-world experiences. That means that instead of just using things like hashtags and Instagram-worthy photo-ops, events can take interaction to the next level by creating fun activities like phone-guided tours and real-time voting via apps or text message. Even something as simple as introducing online ticketing can be a big boost for visitor experience.
- Engaging the senses
Food! Lights! Music! If there’s one thing fairs understand, it’s the power of your five senses. There are so many things to see, taste and hear that visitors can always find something to keep them entertained. What if we cut the noise and allowed visitors to fully immerse themselves in one sense for a memorable experience that they’ll always associate with your event? How can we do that in an area that is already so engaging? Silent discos are a popular choice popping up in the festival scene that allow visitors to groove to their own music and drown out the rest of the party. Paint lounges can allow attendees to let out their inner Picasso and relax. Psychologists agree that targeting our five senses is one of the quickest ways to create lasting memories, so get creative with ways to engage senses and visitors could remember your event forever.
- Personalized Experiences
In case you haven’t heard, Gen Z and millennials LOVE personalization. That’s why this trend has been taking over the marketing world for the past few years, and now it’s taking over events. It’s not enough to just add names to emails and merchandise anymore. It’s all about creating personal itineraries that can help guests find things to do that they’ll love. Got a killer art show, craft beer lounge and a concert from an up-and-coming indie band that your hipster crew will love? What about a Ferris Wheel, winery and local ice cream stand that are what first date dreams are made of? Create some custom itineraries, stick them on a Plan Your Visit page – or in a welcome bag, or at the ticket counter – and ta-da you have some personalized experiences that millennials will love you for!
Whether you’re promoting your fair, festival or networking event this fall, fun unexpected ideas are sure to stick with your attendees. Keeping up with trends can be a lot of work, but with the right methods, they are sure to pay off!
It’s June, which means extreme HEAT and the kids at home… ALL THE TIME! But, June also brings love and weddings! ♥♥♥ Check out this great article about how your destination can cash in on wedding tourism: Marketing love and marriage in tourism. Plus, we all know how annoying it can be to post to Instagram as a busy organization, so check out these 6 tools that schedule Instagram business posts to help you get a handle on your Instagram!
FLASH SALE! Everyone seems to be having a flash sale these days. But why? Because they work! Flash sales are a proven method of driving more people to your event or venue. Giving discounts is a way to pump up your fans and make them feel like they are getting a special deal. When utilized correctly, discounts can be an essential part of a successful promotional strategy. Most people do not go to events alone, so if someone gets a discounted ticket, there is a good chance they will end up bringing additional attendees that might even purchase tickets at full price, and of course, spend more while on site.
We came up with these six easy steps you can follow for a successful flash sale.
Define the Goals of the Flash Sale
Start by clearly defining what you want to accomplish. We all want to sell more tickets, but it is important to decide what type of tickets you need to sell.
- Do you need to increase the volume of people through the door?
- Does a concert need to have 75% or more attendance?
- Are there shows that need promotional help?
- Do you need to sell more of a certain type of ticket, be it children’s tickets or VIP seats?
Make it Simple
Don’t over complicate your sale if your goal is to sell more tickets. Sales that make customers jump through hoops and click on multiple pages to earn a discount will result in your customers becoming frustrated and less likely to purchase.
Define your Audience
Take the time to research which customers you want to target. The more focused the target audience, the easier it will be to develop a message. Targeting a specific audience does not mean you are necessarily excluding people that do not fit your criteria. It just allows you to focus your brand message on a specific audience that is more likely to buy tickets from you than other markets. Targeting is much more affordable, efficient, and effective way to reach potential ticket buyers. No one can afford to target everyone!
Pick the Right Time and Date
You want to make sure that your flash sale is at a convenient time. Sunday mornings are probably going to perform less than Friday at noon. It is important to keep the time window of your sale short. Don’t run a 4-day sale. Your goal is to create a sense of urgency. Make sure that your flash sale feels special. Don’t run a new sale every single week, this will make your sale less successful. We also recommend tracking the effectiveness of your sale times for future marketing plans.
Make Sure the Savings are Worth It
In the event industry, early sales can have a major impact on your bottom line. Flash sales help you better prepare for your event. The discount you are offering should be something that people will want to stop what they are doing to purchase your tickets. Only offering $1 off is not going to get people moving. The deal has to be worth your customer’s time.
Build the Hype
Announce your flash sale on all your social media channels and in an email blast. Announce the sale via press releases to your local media. (Make sure to get them the info early in the day so it can make the morning news!) Social media is a good place to focus your efforts as these platforms allow your customers to share the sale organically with their friends.
Running a flash sale can be an easy way for your event to get a boost in ticket sales and is a great tool to add to your marketing plans. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t create a Black Friday mob, like all things with social media and developing your brand, it will grow over time!
You may have heard some buzz about experiential marketing lately, but what exactly does it mean? After the Saffire Marketing Team attended the branding track of South by Southwest this year, we got a pretty good taste of experiential marketing firsthand! This unique marketing strategy helps engage audiences with awareness of a brand, by allowing them to be a part of the brand creation itself rather than just passively receiving a message. The brand’s value is activated, or realized by the consumer, creating a stronger relationship between the consumer and the brand.
SXSW has increasingly become one of the greatest places to show off your brand to festival attendees, and during the conference, downtown Austin becomes one giant advertisement for 10 days. Instead of online campaigns, brands focus on taking over bars, restaurants and venues to transform them to experiential marketing wonderlands. Some of the activations this year included: German Haus, E.U. House, Peru House, Pinterest House, and Snickers House. These brands swooped in and transformed trendy bars into billboards full of free food and drinks, swag, and live music.
On a tamer side of things, some brands chose to have small lounges scattered throughout hotel and convention meeting spaces. These typically monotonous meeting spaces were transformed into places for attendees to relax, recharge, rehydrate and learn a few things about the lounge’s hosts. Two of our favorite examples were the Brazil Lounge and a giant cheese spread by the state of Wisconsin. It is definitely better to TASTE cheese from Wisconsin rather than read about it on social media!
One of the best activations was the Google Assistant Fun House, an entire house focused on immersing the consumer into a smart house powered by Google Assistant. Check out the house by clicking on the video below:
— Google (@Google) March 12, 2018
How your organization can utilize these fun ideas? It doesn’t have to be super fancy! All you have to do is let users experience your brand or your sponsor’s brand firsthand. Here are examples of things that your organization can implement:
- Experiential marketing is a great way to grow an event and offer your sponsors something different and unique. Have a sponsor cover the cost of a lounge, bar or booth and let a sponsor deck it out with their branding. Attendees LOVE free samples of any kind, so encourage sponsors to come with fun giveaways. Rather than a traditional booth for a sponsor, make it something more fun!
- Have a brand? Why not travel with it! Look for outside events where you can bring your brand to life. This works especially well if you are marketing a destination–bring food samples, mini drinks or small crafts to events and festivals and let consumers get a taste! As mentioned above, various destinations had activations at SXSW, including Germany, Peru and Fort Worth, Texas!
- Set up a pop-up booth about your organization in a market you are hoping to grow. (You can either partner with that city to do something in your hometown or at your event, or just get permission first.) Pick somewhere with high traffic like a park and do a fun giveaway! Offering a special discount to people that visit your event or destination after meeting you at a pop up is also a great way to measure the ROI on your effort.
As our world becomes more digital, sometimes the best way to connect with your audience is to let them experience your brand off-screen. Think of another way you can utilize experiential marketing in your marketing mix? Feel free to share it with us!
Facebook sure has been in the news lately, but don’t worry, they will weather the storm just fine! In fact, here are three brands still killing it on Facebook. Looking to take a break from Facebook? Well, since Facebook owns the next best platform, Instagram, that is kind of hard to do! We found this great article about how to reshare an Instagram post to your Instagram stories!