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 "...How to Learn From My Mistakes" 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post "...How to Learn From My Mistakes"
Event Planning, Making Movies or How to Learn From My Mistakes
by: Gail Wise

I worked in the movie business for a few years on such films as Jerry Maguire, Dante’s Peak, Hollow Man, Twister, American Pie, Congo, and Starship Troopers to name a few. I started out as a production assistant for a company that created and produced the computer graphics on the storm chasers computer screens in the movie Twister.

After a few years of incredible experiences, horribly long hours, no vacations and unimaginable stress I decided I needed to do something a little different for a while and moved on to other things.

Then a couple of years ago I decided I was tired of working for someone else and thought if I was going to have to work long hours I might as well work for myself. Although I loved my time in the film business it wasn’t something I was dying to do again and I wanted to have my own little company so I thought about what kind of work could I do with my particular skill set.

And then I got what I thought was a brilliant idea... why not start an event planning company. Making a movie I reasoned is about being creative, having the ability to handle details and knowing how to please everyone and all at the same time. I had planned production meetings which included directors, DP’s (Director of Principal Photography), planned and produced company wrap parties, managed big budgets and had played a creative and technical role in film set design. It seemed to me at the time that planning and producing events would use many of the same skills I had acquired working in the film business.

So how hard could it be I thought to start an event planning business. I thought I’ll just throw up a website and I’d be ready for those first client calls. I can now say and with all honesty I had no idea what I had just got myself into.

What had originally seemed like a brilliant ideal, that of owning my own event planning company, slowly turned into a kind of nightmare. I found trying to break into the event planning business was like being in a line with a thousand other actors all trying to get a break. I kept telling myself all I needed was a couple of small parts in even a “B” type of event to get my name out there and then I’d start to get those big parts that paid enormous amounts of money and get my name in lights. Well, maybe not my company name in lights but maybe a lot of cash. But the reality was that there was a long line of people in front of me wanting the same thing I wanted and I was at the very bottom of a very very long list.

I soon realized that although I had a lot of business skills that would help me in starting an event planning company I also realized there were things I didn’t know enough about. And one thing I knew almost nothing about was how to sell my company services using my website as a marketing tool.

Reality dawned and I realized that if clients couldn’t find my company website I’d never be getting those calls that I was so anxiously waiting by the phone for.

All this rambling now takes me to the point of this article, which is; I wish I had known then what I know now. Or how to learn from my mistakes.

Although I had a graphic design background and I knew I could design a visually presentable site what I didn’t have was the technical know how and skills to create a website that search engines would like and would then hopefully place me in a spot on their pages where clients could actually find me.

To further illustrate just how naïve I was at the time I actually thought all I needed to do was design a visually decent looking site describing what I do and people would come to my site.

I remember the horror I felt when I first googled the word event companies expecting my company name to come up in the search. What did come up in the search was hundreds and hundreds of event related companies but with my company name nowhere in site! To say my new business suffered as a result of my lack of knowledge is an understatement.

Just recently I have started a new company offering a different kind of event service and one, which I feel, is more suited to my likes and talents. And I decided this time around I was definitely going to do things a little bit different when it came time to creating my website. This time I decided that I was going to put some real energy and time into learning how to get traffic for my site.

I knew I needed to get the attention of those big bad search engines so potential clients could find my company website…But how?

Unfortunately I didn’t have a clue as to where to begin or what I needed to know. Although I had seen words like SEO, page ranking, and back links tossed around on different sites and knew they were a clue to a successful site I had no idea what they meant or how important understanding them was to getting visitor traffic for my site. What did it mean to optimize a website? Or what were keywords? And how did they affect my ranking? What did it mean when a search engine “crawled” your site?? I was absolutely lost!

My lack of “know how” seriously worried me and what where the chances of my web site’s success when I was competing for a spot with countless numbers of event related business sites already on the web: wedding planners, event planners, event vendors, event production companies, vendor referral services and more. How could my little site when thrown in among all those hundreds and hundreds of other sites going to be noticed by anyone if it was always listed on page thirty or forty or even page fifty of a Google or Yahoo search.

I definately felt a serious panic attack coming on!

Since I didn’t have the money to hire one of those high price Internet marketing companies to help me with my site I begin to do the only thing I could do and that was to educate myself. I researched web site after site on event planning businesses, web design and promotion. I read everything I could find and I mean I read everything. I was not going to post a site this time around and set back and hope that clients would miraculously find my site.

Well, to make a long story short I’ve learned a lot in recent months about the business of web site design, marketing and promotion and I understand even more than when starting out just how complicated and confusing trying to create and maintain a successful site can be. And believe me I now know that creating a successful site is not an easy task to accomplish and even more so if you’re doing it without the help of skilled professionals. But I think it can be done.

So for you all newbies faced with the seemingly daunting task of creating a successful website, or to put it another way a site with lots of visitors, allow me to aleve some of your anxiety about this challenge by sharing some simple yet important beginners advice.

1. Just because you put a web site up doesn’t mean anyone will visit it. You have to realize that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of websites out there so you need to work like the devil to get the search engines to notice you. You’ll never get much business if your site is always on page thirty of a client’s Goggle Search.

Just listing your company name on an Event or Wedding site along with the hundreds and hundreds of other names doesn’t automatically bring clients to your web site or lead to paying clients.

On many of these sites unless you put out some cash for top placement you’ll be listed with hundreds of other vendors and unfortunately if you’re not on one of the first few pages most potential clients will search no further than page one or two and so they’ll never see your listing. You’ll most likely be waiting by a phone that never rings.

So how do you get noticed… how do you set yourself apart from all those other hundreds of companies on the web...It may seem like a losing battle but you just need to start at the beginning and go from there. First things first.

2. Learn everything you can about web design and site promotion. Long gone are the days when you could put up a site and just sit back and you’d get visitors. There are way too many sites now.

When you begin the process of planning your website to use as a marketing tool learn everything you can about the how to make your website work for you. Learn everything you can about how to best design your site for those pesky search engines and understand the process of how to promote it.

Research, read and learn everything you can about the event planning business, website design and promotion by attending seminars, going to networking groups, and finding and learning from online information sources.

3. Understand that your site is your business calling card. Don’t just throw up a site. Your site speaks for you. It’s got to say I’m a professional and this is what I can do for you. If you can’t pay for a professional web site designer there are sites that help novices like I was to create a simple yet professional site. Or put out an ad to design schools with talented students who have knowledge of how to design a search engine friendly site.

Don’t put up a site that you’re not proud of. If a client goes to your site and it’s a mess with graphics placed anywhere, or tons of different fonts or misspelled text or one that’s designed so poorly the client can’t figure out how to navigate from one of your pages to another I can tell you that as a client I wouldn’t be looking at your site for very long and I certainly wouldn’t be inclined to do business with your company. And you can pretty much bet no one else will either.

4. Learn everything you can about SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is critical to the success of your site. There’s loads of free information online. Just do some research and be aware that the information is out there just be determined and keep learning everything you can.

So to reiterate: For all you website newbies who want a website that helps sell your company; be aware of how absolutely critical it is that you have a knowledge of web design and web marketing, how important it is to your survival and how this knowledge or lack of can mean the difference between a profitable or a non existent company

Remember if you want a starring role you want to see your company name in lights you’ve got to study your lines, understand your character and audition every chance you get. In other words learn everything you can about the business of promoting your company, learn the business of web design and promotion and take every opportunity to promote your company by making your website the ultimate salesperson.

Gail Wise

About The Author
Gail Wise worked for several years in the movie business on such films as Jerry Maguire, Twister, Dante's Peak, American Pie and Hollow Man just to name a few. She has since turned her attention to the event industry and now owns a event vendor referral service.

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[Note: Due to a size limitation, the title, above, had to be abbreviated. Apologies to the author and - Admin]
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:19 pm
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