Well, yesterday I made it back from following the Tour of Missouri for the week, as mentioned in previous posts it was a large marketing event and press event for us. The results far exceeded our expectations and I could probably come up with blog topics for a month from the one week of travel and the experience we gained from it. Do not worry though, I will keep it to just a few.
One thing that was very nice to see was that in two different stops I had domain investors come visit our booth, we were working hard to cover the event but I made it a point to get some domain discussion time in, its not often we get out in public and meet in such an ad hoc manner as domainers so it was absolutely great to meet some the people that read my blog and talk with them about their perspective on domains and how they build their business from them. What I found most interesting about this was that new domain investors are still coming in. Even though the economy has shrunk many peoples budgets people are still looking at ways to get in. One thing that was great to hear from both individuals I ran into was the focus on quality rather than quantity. I think the recent comments by fellow domain bloggers and myself are starting to resonate with new people coming in. This is great news for all (although not necessarily for registrars…).
Next thing of note, I gained both major respect for some media organizations but also lost it for others. Excluding some of the top TV media organizations we had the same access as anyone else in the “media pits” as I liked to call them, also had access to the free food and gifts each city gave each day to the press (note to self, that does not mean its calorie free). But it was funny seeing legacy media teams feel entitled and not hustle for their position, it was the web centric folks that were smart about their access and made sure they got in position first. Seeing old-school newspaper photographers have to fight for position when it was obvious they normally had the upper hand was actually quite entertaining and became a nice discussion point between ourselves and some others.
We actually had the first videos and pictures up on some days at Tour.Missouri.Me, in a couple cases we had pictures and videos up within 10 minutes of the video being taken. We made it a point to be raw and uncut, that had been our plan initially (to put out pictures and videos as fast as possible) but after discussing with a few other cyclists and one of the media representatives from one of the teams it became even more apparent that would be the smartest move. Well, it worked, one of the team press officers actually pulled the team owner over and said “Did you see what these guys are doing, its like an AP news feed except faster and its pictures and video.” We are new at this obviously, but to get compliments and kudos from these people who deal with the press everyday it was pretty cool stuff. It was also nice to be in one of the team cars (Thanks Team Type 1) and be sending out tweets with pictures from the car real time.
Another nice thing was seeing the amount of links and comments we got from other websites, at the beginning of the week we had actually put together a Google Adwords budget to drive initial traffic, by mid week it was only 20 percent of our traffic/pageviews just based on links from other cycling sites and traffic from type-ins and search engines (another note, galleries of podium girls on sites do well in cycling events).
And for the biggie for us, Lt. Governor Peter Kinder of Missouri took a liking to us early and our story. During the Ste. Genevieve stage 2 start we had the opportunity to meet him and talk a bit, we discussed the fact we are cyclists and thanked him for supporting the continuation of the event (a whole other story). We informed him of the link we were adding to our site to directly contact the governor to petition for the event to be held next year. Well, the rest from there on was great, he pulled me aside on stage during a stage a couple days later and asked how traffic was, and indicated he had been telling everyone about Missouri.me and asked me to connect with his staff to discuss further what we were doing. Obviously something we are very excited about.
Back to media organizations, I read VeloNews.com daily, it was actually quite fun to sit in a Paneras in Rolla, MO and chat with them while they posted their pics and stories on their site (which is the de facto cycling news site on the web) while we were sitting right there with them posting on ours. The Internet has changed media, although we all realized it before, once you realize that the newspapers are still working on getting printed for the next day, and the TV organizations are trying to figure out what 30 seconds to show, we were posting 10 stories a day and getting traffic because of it. Velonews is the best of both, they have the top cycling news site but also have their print magazine. It was nice to see them working hard to get their stories up fast (although we did beat them a couple days on pics).
As a fan I gotta say that it was nice to get to actually spend some hang-out time with some of the guys I watch in the Tour De France yearly, that alone helped us get exclusive access on team buses during the event and get some video and pictures others did not. Not something we really expected but it turned out great.
After all the effort was put in to put out behind the scenes pictures and videos it was nice to see the reaction across the web, we could see links popping up on various high traffic cycling sites, some nice comments on a few actually stating that Missouri.me was the place to go for fast coverage which was interesting since we had never really covered an event before, looks like guerilla reporting may actually work….. What is even better is the more than 80 posts (and dozens of videos on YouTube.com) we made stay as content and the links created from other sites stick around as well, content is king.
As far as the marketing side of the event, we handed out THOUSANDS of brochures to people coming to our booth, had great reaction from people across Missouri and a ton of people asking about when we will be launching in their states. The water bottles we passed out went quick, probably could of had a thousand more or so but we exceeded expectations so no need to dwell on that.
Well enough rambling, just a lot of stuff in the head rolling around after the past week, and as luck would have it we just signed a new intern on today that graduated with a journalism degree from a top University, more reports to come…..
UPDATE: Funny little thing I just noticed, I was watching the Versus coverage of the first day of the race which I had recorded on DISH, the first couple minutes of the coverage has me in it next to the Team Type 1 team car with my Missouri.me shirt on, free logo branding:) Got lucky:)