Tag Archives: TourneyCentral

QR Code on the back of our event van

Fun with QR Codes

Whenever I take the event van out, I get annoyed and frustrated with people tailgating. Everyone should have to drive a cargo van so they understand that when you get right up on the bumper, the driver, really, really can NOT see you behind him. Nor can he see you when you drive behind the right quarter panel.

Apparently large, bright spot lights and air horns are illegal in most states. That is really what I want to shine and blast when I know someone is back there but I can’t see him. Instead, we dipped into our bag of skills and thought we might have a bit of fun with technology.

QR Code on the back of our event van

Who knows, maybe one day QR Codes will replace the “How’s My Driving” on the back of trucks. Shoot the left QR Code for “really crappy driving;” shoot the right one for “outstanding, good job!”

PS Shoot the QR Code in the photo.. I know you are dying to see where it leads….

Write me a blog post and then we’ll talk

20090119blogicon

I just came back from a trade show for the soccer industry. Since we provide a soccer tournament management system to teams and tournaments with our TourneyCentral product, all the soccer publications will come up to me and try to get me to advertise. In addition we get approached by companies looking to sell their products to either the teams or the tournament directors. Because our reputation is on the line and tournament directors look to us to “shield” them from the snake oil salesmen and charlatans, we’re generally not interested in partnering up with other brands without a thorough vetting.

It is almost always hard to say no. But, I have stumbled upon a solution that quickly decides the direction the relationship will go. And, it gets pushed back to the party that had approached me to make a deal so it gets me off the hook for saying no. The request is simple:

Write a post for my blog, then we’ll talk. 300-400 words, talking to my audience about why your product/service will help them is all I ask.

I’ll get a couple reactions. One is a blank stare, asking either “what is a blog” or “you guys write a blog?” This usually ends the conversation pretty much there. If the company approaching me has not bothered to go to my Web site and read a few blog posts, I’m not interested in “partnering” with them on any level.

Another common reaction is an enthusiastic agreement to write a post followed by a firm handshake. It is almost never followed by a blog post.

I have used this response for the past 8 months or so for most of our brands. Of the hundreds of sales pitches I’ve received, only one has resulted in a blog post being submitted.

In my mind, that is the real business power of the Web 2.0 tools that separates the players from the posers.

*The icon I am using for this post was provided by PaintBits.com.

The ROI of “social networking”

Soccer photo from the Mead Cup Soccer Tournament in Dayton, Ohio

Soccer photo from the Mead Cup Soccer Tournament in Dayton, Ohio

I received a panic email from a graphic designer at a local city magazine yesterday who desperately needed some photos of a soccer tournament. “Anything you have showing local kids playing soccer!” she said. Since she was referred by someone who had faith that I would come through for her, it was hard to say no, even though I really didn’t have the extra time.

Fortunately, we had commissioned a photo shoot for TourneyCentral a few months back and the photos were still on my MacBook Pro. So, I opened the folder, pulled out a few dozen photos, threw them in a gallery using Photoshop, put them up on some Web space and sent her the link.

“Email me the file names of the ones you want, give the photographer credit,” I wrote back.

Within an hour, she had her local photos, I made another contact in the local publishing community who sent me back a huge “sigh of relief and gratitude” email (on a holiday week), reaffirmed my value with the local chamber contact who referred me, gave some more exposure to a local photographer, subtly plugged the Mead CUSA Cup Soccer Tournament and maybe created some business opportunity for myself later on down the line.

What I did not do was calculate an ROI for this act of networking.

Why didn’t I? I’m in business and the responsible thing to do — I’ve been told — is to have an ROI for everything I do. What was the return on my spending an hour of time and effort I did not really have to spare? How did your actions affect the bottom line of your business? You paid to have those photos taken; why did you just give them away to a publication? What is the ROI on spending another hour writing the blog post you are reading now? All of these things I heard in the back of my head as I was doing this act of kindness for this very desperate graphic designer who probably was behind schedule through no fault of her own.

Again, knowing all this, I did not calculate an ROI.

Is what I did considered social networking? Yeah, I think it is. It is no different than sending folks tweets on Twitter and helping out with requests for code or software recommendations or sharing a MacBook Pro power adapter when someone sends out a “help me” tweet. Nor is it any different than spending time commenting on a blog post that may not have examined all the facts entirely.

I propose a new standard for ROI on social networking: If you ask what the ROI is for social networking, you are already convinced emotionally that you need to do it. Go with that, jump in and tweet, blog and link in and the “financial ROI” will fall into place.

Originally published at: DogWalkBlog

A funeral dirge for trade shows?

maclogoApple announced today that will no longer participate in Macworld Expo, the largest annual show for Mac enthusiasts. In a press release, Apple says:

Apple is reaching more people in more ways than ever before, so like many companies, trade shows have become a very minor part of how Apple reaches its customers. The increasing popularity of Apple’s Retail Stores, which more than 3.5 million people visit every week, and the Apple.com website enable Apple to directly reach more than a hundred million customers around the world in innovative new ways.

Are trade shows becoming obsolete? Apple seems to think so.

At TourneyCentral, we’ve scaled back from a couple dozen local shows and two national shows (NSCAA and US Youth Soccer) to just one per year, the NSCAA. In short, much of the material was a repeat of the shows, the exhibitors — with the exception of the NSCAA — were treated like second-class citizens that were allowed to pay, but not participate.

Perhaps this was Apple’s experience, but most likely not because of their size and heft. But, for smaller companies who have other choices to reach their audiences, this sounds like “permission” to break away from the “must show” trade shows.

Yet there still exists that fundamental human need for touch. As trade shows become less and less attended, what will replace that? Tweetups? Webinars? Live TV shows? More likely, the answer will be some combination of all of these, initiated or complemented with Twitter, blog comments and posts.

With any luck, we’ll start meeting people again in laundromats, grocery stores, bars and dog parks. And, maybe we’ll even unplug the cell phone from our ears and turn to them and have a real conversation.

What do you think is the future of trade shows?

Originally posted at: DogWalkBlog.com

The recession will affect soccer tournaments

Make no mistake about it; the current recession will hurt some soccer tournaments. Attendance will be down as teams will travel to fewer and fewer tournaments. And some tournaments, especially the ones that attract teams from more affluent areas where wealth is based on stocks and high home value may feel especially high pressure to limit soccer tournament travel.

The only bright light in this whole financial mess is the low cost of gasoline. Or, is it?

While teams may be cutting the number of tournaments in their schedule, it really only matters if they cut yours. If you have worked to create a must-attend tournament event, most likely you will survive the cut.

Here are some must-attend qualities:

1. You have consistently worked to make the teams feel at home while they are guests at your event.
Have you worked to make sure their questions were answered quickly via email? If they have had hotel problems, did you help to resolve them? When there were disputes about scoring, rules, etc, did you work with each party to resolve for a win-win-win? Are your volunteers cheerful and helpful? At the end of the tournament, did the most loosingest team remark in some fashion, “We lost every game, but had a blast! We’ll be back next year!”

2. Your organization is solid.
You have control of your data and everyone knows what is going on, from the host coach at a league game to the advertising coordinator to the person in charge of registering the teams. Your web site is up-to-date at all times, even to the minute during the tournament weekend. Your front page has news, maybe even hourly during the competition.

3. You have solid sponsors
This may seem like a little thing, but adidas doesn’t just sponsor anyone. And, once you get their sponsorship, you don’t get to keep it forever without working hard at it, especially in this economy. Parents and coaches are fairly savvy about what it takes to convince a corporation to spend sponsorship dollars at a youth soccer event that only takes place for 2-3 days in a limited geographic area. A display of some well-heeled sponsors get you respect.

4. Games are played on time and are well-controlled
Don’t underestimate the power of keeping a tight control of the games on the field. Many teams have been to a lot of tournaments where nobody seems to be in charge, games are played when referees stroll onto the field and all sorts of loosey-goosey standards. Don’t be one of those events! Expect everyone to show up on time, schedule enough referees to over-cover the games and make sure the volunteer field marshals know the times, locations and duties. And, if you can’t find volunteers, pay your field marshals. They are that important, for safe play and for your brand protection.

5. Advertise and market, market, market
A lot of soccer tournaments are going to be scared of this economy and pull back their advertising. DON’T LET YOUR TOURNAMENT BE ONE OF THEM! NOW is the time to go out and become visible. Now is the time to grab market share. Now is the time to be bold. Make sure your TICO Score is up-to-date, your tournament is listed correctly at your state association and your other media like podcasts and bulletin board advertising is intact. And, get some postcards/business cards for all your coaches to hand out (ask for Don Denny.)

6. Web site
I saved this for last, but it really is the most important of all. Make sure your web site is up-to-date, and uses the latest technology to bring your guest teams real-time information including scores and standings. We recommend any and all tournaments on this list. Your web site is your front door so it should be easy to find out information. (Who, What, Where, When, How Much does this cost) The application form should be readily accessible and work without any fancy log-ins, pre registration, etc. All TourneyCentral soccer tournaments have these capabilities built in from the ground up.

Our advice: Firstly, if you don’t already have a TourneyCentral web site, get one. Secondly, if you do, make sure it is turned on and ready for 2009. Thirdly, be visible everywhere. If you can, go to the NSCAA in St. Louis. Make sure your TICO Score is current. Advertise and get cards to hand out. But mostly, believe in your event and make sure your club/host coaches, teams, parents and players are your greatest champions and they know and love your tournament as much as you do.

2009 could be make or break for a lot of events. Make sure yours is on the “make” list.

Meet us in St. Louis for the NSCAA.
We’re in booth 1735 and we won’t even try to sell you anything, so you can stay and chat as long as you want. Really. And, if you want to make a podcast promoting your soccer tournament, Back of the Net will help you with that. You don’t even need to be a TourneyCentral tournament.

Originally published at: TourneyCentral.com