Is it time to get a new website for your West Coast Swing event? Shall I be honest, the answer is probably yes!
Why? Because the vast majority of established West Coast Swing events never had to worry about attracting people to their event. They were the only event for hundreds (or thousands) of miles, with no other events happening in that same month. If people wanted to dance and compete for WSDC points they were already coming, having a good or bad website really made no difference!
Now dancers have more choice
The reality today is a little different, four to six WSDC events in a month (and many more non-points events), sometimes multiple events on the same weekend, other WSDC sanctioned events in your state within a few months of each other. Things are…. complicated.
Take a look at New Years 2017-2018. Four events in the USA, and one in the UK. Florida, Massachusets, Michigan, California……. dancer proximity doesn’t always equal attendance, either. With low-cost air travel, dancers from Boston who want to spend holidays in the sun can easily choose to head to Florida, instead.
Dancers can travel cheaply
Cheap air travel has allowed dancers to within the US to cheaply travel to events anywhere in the country, its one of the reasons so many events are based at airport hotels. Proximity to your event is no longer a guarantee that your local community will support you. Chicago to Boston for $60 with Southwest Airlines! Denver to LA for $100…. you get the picture!
Dancers are not all active on Facebook
Your website also matters because not all of your dancers will be active on Facebook. They may be too young to care about Facebook, as demonstrated below. This is important to note especially if you have, or a building, a Juniors Division. Conversely, Facebook use is growing dramatically in the 55+ age category, which is great for marketing, however, you should be aware that usage does not equal literacy, and that some users may still miss your news and updates because of their notification settings. Don’t assume that becuse you put it on Facebook once, four months before the event, that anyone saw it or remembers!
Your website matters because it is the home of your event. It is the place where you can showcase the history of your event, videos and photos that convey the look and feel of your event, and of course, its where you will share all the relevant information about your upcoming event.
The “vibe” of your event
Given the wider choice that dancers now have, the most important thing your website can do is convey the “vibe” of your event. What does that mean? Most events follow a pretty standard format but try to differentiate themselves in terms of the atmosphere. Swinging Dance Party puts the emphasis on fun, rather than competitions. Sweet Side of Swing emphasizes levelled learning experiences over competition, with a focus on learning from female instructors. MadJam offers SIZE – one of the largest events in North America, meaning massive amounts of new people to connect and dance with. Conveying these differences is about more than just words.
Here are some examples of websites that clearly display the “vibe” of the event. Write down 2-3 words that come to mind just looking at these homepage images from various events. Your first impressions are important, how these websites make you feel should convey how the EDs want potential attendees to think of their event.
Spotlight New Years
Paris Westie Fest
Canadian Swing Championships
Here are my thoughts:
Spotlight – Modern and classy
Paris Westie Fest – Quirky and cute
Swingsation – Music, party atmosphere
Canadian Swing Championships – Friendly and social
How did these pages make you feel? More importantly – do this exercise with your own website, and ask three to five other people to do this exercise, too. Compare the results with what you are offering, and decide if you need to make some changes.
Worst case scenario…..no one can tell anything about your event experience from your homepage.
Ease of getting information
As a result of growing opportunities for dancers, you must make it easy for people to choose you! Your website must:
- Be easy to navigate
- Be easy to register on – BIG BUTTON PLEASE
- Be up-to-date!
- Contain, at a minimum, the essential information – prices, staff, schedule, early bird deadlines, etc
- Be mobile optimized / mobile friendly
Your website is your sales tool
So, you can define your “vibe” and know how to display and communicate that vibe online. Your website contains the minimum information needed for someone to consider your event. Now you need to take it to the next level in order to sway people into choosing your event.
Here are some examples of things you can add to give some personality to your website and to help dancers choose you over another option:
- Anything unique and special about your event
- A personal message from the ED(s)
- Promo video that captures the action at past events
- A link to your Facebook event page
- A way for people to sign up for your email updates
- Quotes/testimonials from past attendees
- Photos from past events
- Results! (bonus points if you get those up immediately after awards)
- A way to contact you
Naming and shaming!
Nope! Chances are if you have read this far and your palms are a little sweaty, then you already know that your website could use some work, it’s not up to me to “shame” you, or anyone else.
WestieMarketing offers website services to EDs, contact me at clare@WestieMarketing.com if you would like to know more.