Case Study: Pretty But Powerless

A recent mailing I received from the New Mexico Advertising Federation gives us all an opportunity to commit a few key points to memory when developing online business tools. Trust me, after over 10 years in the web development business, we have tremendous respect for the challenge of creating a useful business website that plays well online as well as offline. There are a lot of things to remember!  Maybe it’s my background as a trainer, but I like to seize upon “opportunities for improvement” and blogging gives us a conversational way to help each other.

h3. Overview

I received a beautiful postcard invitation to a NM@F public event scheduled for next Tuesday, June 19th. My partner Shane is actually working in Santa Fe for two weeks, so I mentioned it to him. He said, “Send me the link.” Hmmm, and that’s where the story begins.

People are really good at helping themselves, if you give them the tools.

To save time and cut to the chase, there are several barriers to attending this event. Here’s what is missing, from an online and offline point of view.

OFFLINE: Missing Ingredients
The postcard invitation is over-sized and attractively designed to get my attention. However, someone forgot the basic checklist, so I’ll provide them here:

* No price or RSVP instructions.
* No name or phone number to contact.
* No web site address.
* No street address, only the name of the venue.

Bottom Line: There is no easy way for me to contact them. At first, I think, OK, no problem, I will search on Google for their web site.

ONLINE: Missing Ingredients
Good news! I found the site easily. Unfortunately that leads me to the Online problems:

* There is no mention of the upcoming event on the home page.
* There is no mention of the event in the News & Events page or on the Calendar page.
* There is not Contact link on the site.
* There is no contact information on the home page.

Screenshot of the New Mexico Ad Federation home page Here’s a screenshot of the Home Page. No mention of the event or any contact information. (Click the thumbnail to see full size.)

Screenshot of the New Mexico Ad Federation news pageHere’s a screen shot of the News & Announcements Page. Wow. Look at all that white space that could be helping people who want to attend an event. (Click the thumbnail to see full size.)

To be fair, on my final run through the site, I did finally find a phone and email address as text on an inside page. But as a busy person with a goal in mind, I was looking for “CONTACT.” I was not wanting to stop and read the text on individual inside pages. I strongly recommend having a prominent “Contact” link on every page of your site, especially the home page.

I did call the phone number, but alas, it is 6:30 pm in NM so I got the voice mail. It did include the event pricing (yeah!) and said I could RSVP by leaving a message. Cynical me, I don’t trust people to leave clear messages about how to spell their names or remember to include a phone or email in case I want to follow up. A nice form on your web site does that very well though!

h3. Big Bottom Line

Here are a few of the opportunities being missed, that could be substantial if only there was integration of offline and online activities, combined with a checklist for basic standards for each:

* Difficult for NM@F to plan this event. I have no clue how they are getting RSVPs and what number will be provided to the hotel for a meal count. (It’s a luncheon.)
* Shane can’t easily RSVP; not likely to invest two hours of driving to take his chances. People online don’t want to pick up the phone (high chance of getting voice mail) just get basics like the price of an event.
* He was going to take our Lead Programmer. Now that’s two seats that are lost.
* We would love to blog about this and help spread the news digitally. Unfortunately, they didn’t provide any way for us to tell our friends about it.
* The most concerning thing to me, is that NM@F represents the best and brightest advertising minds in New Mexico. There is a serious credibility gap here. You can put an “at symbol” in your name, but that doesn’t mean you understand how to do business online.

In case you want to take your chances, I’m typing up the details for you. I don’t know many people who would bother to do that, do you?

h3. NMAF Upcoming Event

Mary Nick – Honoring, Inspiring, and Unleashing Vision
Pierre Barbeau – The Birth of a New Media

Mary and Pierre worked together previously at Sprint Nextel (where they helped shape the future of mobile marketing) and will tell us what advertisers should be doing with this technology to market more effectively to their customers.

Date: Tuesday, June 19th, 2007.
Time: 11:30 am
Place: The Embassy Suites Hotel, 1000 Woodward Place NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87102 (505) 245-7100, Google Map Link (link has expired)
Fee: Free to members; $30 to guests.
RSVP: 505-265-1286 or try

Please feel free to email this page’s link to anyone you know who may want to attend!
Short URL already prepped for you: (link has expired)

h3. Takeaway

* Include your website address on every printed piece!
* Tell people how to attend the events you are promoting. (Date, Time, Place, Price, RSVP Details)
* Have a prominent “Contact” link on every page of your website.
* Use the Events section of your website to post your upcoming events.
* Give us some spice about the speakers. I found Pierre’s page on “LinkedIn”: but was not so lucky with Mary.

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