Ticketing – We are Switzerland

While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, it is how we approach the ticketing vendor options both within DWG and to our clients/potential clients. Sprechen sie Deutsch?

Very often, clients are in the midst of making a decision regarding a ticketing/development/CRM vendor. We are happy to consult and provide our expertise to help them make the correct choice.? But, there is no one size fits all answer.

First, we ask these questions:

  1. What do you / don’t you like about your existing ticketing vendor?
  2. Who are your internal constituents?? (marketing, box office, development, finance)
  3. What must it have?
  4. How do you price?
  5. Cost considerations?
  6. Do you have any specialty events/uses that are important?? (i.e. very complex CYO, donation add-on, products, integration with another system).

After that conversation and a some discussion, we can give you some ticketing vendors to consider.

In most cases, this is a discussion about features and functions.? However, there are ticketing vendors that we know provide great customer service and are open to working with us to meet customer needs….we will certainly pass along those impressions.? And, if we have a vendor that hasn’t played well with others, they probably won’t make it on our option list.


5 Ways to Get Sponsors and Donations for the Arts

Receiving new funding, raising donations, and even keeping ongoing sponsors for the arts can be a very difficult task. While difficult, it is not impossible. It is important to believe in your vision and that you are serving the public interest. In order to gain the resources that are needed to support your cause and business, there are important steps to take.

Step 1:

Research, know your audience, and ask appropriate questions. What influential people attend your events? What entrepreneurs support your cause? All of this information can be found with a quick search in Google, peeking at your analytics, as well as paying attention to who is actually attending your events.

Step 2:

Network, Network, Network. It is important to network and let people know who you are and what you are offering to the public. Attending conferences and upscale events are two great examples of circulating with the public, distributing business cards throughout the process. A key winning point is to ALWAYS follow up with those you meet along the way.

Step 3:

Next, develop an online presence. Organizations that have created social media profiles have a much better opportunity to connect with influential people online. This will certainly make an organization stand out from the rest of the crowd. People love to be thanked, so reach out after they attend events, and ask them to join the organization’s newsletter.

Step 4:

Showcase your strengths everywhere. Whether your organization is an art gallery or a theatre, make sure to highlight any milestones to show upward mobility. People like to be a part of something that is always progressing. Send out newsletters that showcase your accolades.

Step 5:

Give Incentives and always thank them. When anyone does donate or sponsors you, make sure to say thank you on paper and in person. Offer them a thank you dinner, free tickets to an event or even a shout out on your website or newsletter. When people feel appreciated, they are more likely to keep sponsoring you.

Start by doing what?s necessary; then do what?s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. -Francis of Assisi


Missed connections at INTIX Convention at Disneyland

I attended INTIX in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel Convention Center with my Dream Warrior Group colleagues Nami our CTO and LaMae our Bossy Pants /CEO. INTIX focuses on bringing ticketing companies, CRM providers and the venues that need them, together.

As a digital website agency, Dream Warrior Group was one of the few developers at the event which I thought was strange. Without a developer to connect all the pieces, from website to CRM / Database to ticketing software, you are not selling any tickets online.

Even the keynote speaker Martin Clarkson (link goes to a similar talk not the INTIX keynote) partner of MC LTD mentioned repeatedly the need for integration in the industry around issues of primary versus secondary sellers, adapting to disruptive influence and accommodating new markets (see Beijing pop. 28.5 million) and embracing the technology to get to 2020. The website is the partner to ecommerce (mobile optimized please) but a silent partner only noticed when it goes down.

With the proliferation of sites anyone can build a website but can any website build your ticketing business?
Spoiler alert, I work for a website company that caters to performing arts and live event producers and
shockingly my answer is no.

Here’s my case:

A self-built website is typically not:

1) Search Engine Optimized
2) Designed to get patrons to purchase in a minimum of clicks and scrolls
3) Supported by a team that can make adjustments (including coding) as needed in real time.
4) Easy to use on the back end. The ARTdynamix™ Content Management System is optimized for the user.

So, we spent our week talking to great live-event, ticketing companies and CRM providers that need to connect and also hanging out with anthropomorphic animals. If we didn’t connect at the conference and you have a question reach out at john@dreamwarrior.com or 310-341-3930.

Look for LaMae and Nami in NYC in for Arts Reach March 17-19, 2016


To Do’s For A Successful Nonprofit Website – Part 2

Part 2  Essential Tools

Some of you may find it hard to believe, but some nonprofits we have worked with are unfamiliar with the essential tools used to promote and monitor the well-being of their site or where to find them.

So here is the run down:

You must own your own domain name:

While that may seem obvious, some nonprofits (and for profits)? that we work with don’t have this information – or at least readily accessible. They have relied on the good will of others to make sure their site is pointing to the right server – and most importantly to make sure they will be able to regain control should it be needed.

Whether it is GoDaddy, Network Solutions, or Hover (among others), you should have immediate access to your DNS. Recommended practice is to make sure that all the detailed name service routing is done on the DNS provider?s server and that your IT support people have access to it.? It is fine and often necessary to ensure that your trusted web partners can access this also.

Always keep a screenshot of the latest version of the DNS page of your site on file (and even back a few).

You must own your own analytic/social properties:

One of the best practices we adopted in the mid 2000?s was to setup a default Gmail address for our clients, and whenever there was a new social media service out, we would use that account as the default email, so our clients have a common mailbox for their social properties. Your marketing director should have immediate access to that account, and the password to that account should be VERY STRONG (8 to 12 characters minimum, with numbers, lower and upper case letters, and if the service allows, use special characters such as @, !, or #).

The same practice applies to your Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and other analytics accounts (e.g.: Marketo) ? we create a separate email just for our client?s analytics and webmaster tools (or an email they prefer) and then use that to permit our default user to grant full access to their analytics.

Is the software behind your site appropriate for your needs:

This subject is one that I can write quite a bit about and in the near future probably will again. But in short, the type of content management system (CMS) that you use to manage your content will affect your site?s ranking and your traffic (not to mention ease of use).

-The First option is No CMS, with a side of code. That is a workable option no matter what kind of site you have, but depending on how large your site is, the site maintenance, edits and SEO can get quite expensive. Out of some 40 nonprofit organizations that we work with regularly, only one is currently running a static HTML site.

-The Second option is WordPress. WordPress is a good software. If your site is informational only or is a blog, WordPress will be as good as any CMS for managing your content. There are situations, however, where WordPress is not ideal – and many of those can have a significant impact.

-A Third option is Joomla/Drupal. Both these CMS’ are robust and they are more appropriate if you have a content heavy site with a lot of events, shows or similar data. At the end of the day, WordPress, due to its inherent coding, is unable to present your DATA as data and thus hurts your Google ranking if you are relying on your show data to improve your site ranking.

-Magento, X-Cart, and OpenCart are all robust environments for e-commerce and are extremely good tools for setting up a shop.

Every week, at least one person is asking me, ?So why shouldn?t I use one of these free content management sites like Squarespace?? The answer is simple: you get what you pay for. These sites are made simple-to-use by removing back end functionality that is essential to your success. In addition, even when you get the paid version, the tools have been modified to accommodate everyone, thus not truly effective for anyone.

Get yourself some proper instruments:

There are some things that you will be using over and over on your site. Newsletters, forms, image storage/video & audio streaming, site security (SSL or Secure Socket Layer), and Social Media are some of those.

There are dozens and dozens of newsletter creation and distribution sites. You should research them and decide on the one that is appropriate for you. Some of the ones that we happen to prefer are Mail Chimp and Constant Contact.

Using forms on your site will improve your visitors’ user experience. Allowing a customer to fill out an online form, instead of printing and hand filling a PDF, may keep a customer/visitor that would otherwise have found another site to get the same thing.

Forms are valuable marketing tools. They allow you to gather information about your visitors and identify potential leads:

– Subscription
– Registration
– Payment
– Contact form
– Giveaway forms

It would be great if you could keep that data somewhere off of the website where you could easily manage it and have it interact with your other software such as your newsletter software.

As with Newsletters, there are many form generation and management sites, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is important that you research them. We happen to prefer Formstack for the needs of our customers.

Your site getting hacked is a real and constant threat, which is why it’s so important to protect your website.

If you are conducting any transaction on your site, you have to be sure you have an SSL Certificate installed on your website to keep your data secure.

You also need to be sure that you have daily backup of your site and that your provider and/or? IT department is running a daily Trojan and virus scan on your site.

Another essential item is displaying your social media. There are two ways that you must utilize the social media: one, to provide interaction for the end user and the other to display that you are interacting with the end user.

So what do I mean by that?

First, you must help your visitors help you by providing social media share buttons on your blog and other shareable website content. It is best not to use commercial share tools such as the “Share This” button for this purpose since you cannot guarantee your visitors? privacy. In fact, almost all governmental sites (city and state) that we have worked with do not allow the use of commercial share buttons due to the very same concern.? There are dozens of code snippets, both free and for 5 to 6 dollars, which can provide the exact same functionality, but give you complete control.

Second, you must show your visitors that your social media is active. This is easily achievable by displaying your Facebook and Twitter feeds on your social media or home page. More importantly, Google bots will like you better if you have these on your site.

As a final step, it is best to include social media icons that link to your organization’s profile pages. These buttons can be placed in the header or footer of the site if you are running an informational site, but if your site is transactional (events, shows, e-commerce, etc.) then it is best to have the icons only in the footer. It is a given that you should only display the icons of the social media that you use.