Categories
Product updates

Our proudest website design yet.

Earlier today, we shipped the latest version of the SimpleCrew website. It’s the culmination of about 6 weeks of labor and love, and while its still a work in progress, it’s our proudest website design yet.

(See it live here: www.SimpleCrew.com)

The SimpleCrew website has been through a good half-dozen or so iterations since the first version back in 2012.

With each update, the site’s improved incrementally – continuously building off everything we learn with each new version.

And man, are we proud of this one!

From the copy to the pages to the images, we wanted to put together a site that would help our visitors understand the benefits and potential of the product in the most powerful way possible.

We designed a new hero graphic (with a heavy hat-tip to Intercom.io) that shows the benefit our product in a simple illustration.

The pages, designs on each, and copywriting on each were thought through to give the clearest and most concise descriptions of the benefits possible.

The new blog design took major inspiration from Medium.com – a site that has designed one of the best reading experiences on the web. Content is a major priority for us going forward, as we look to publishing more helpful articles, essays, and blog posts as ways to deliver more value to current and future customers.

And the rest of the pages throughout the site – we built with readability, clear communication, and beautiful design in mind.

Take a look, and we’d absolutely appreciate it if you shared the new website with folks you know in the music or real estate investing industries. (And we’re sure they’d appreciate it to!)

– Alan VanToai

Categories
Product updates

Major product update! Say hello to the new Team Member pages!

Hey folks!

Mike’s been crazy hard at work over the last month, and today we’re happy to release an awesome, highly-requested product update to you guys. Say hello to the new Team Member pages!

Before, the only way to view photos was by campaign. There was no way to see what an individual team member had done across all campaigns.

Now, with the new team member pages, you can click on any team member on the Team page or inside Campaigns to see all the photos they’ve submitted:

You can see their timeline and map across all campaigns, or select individual campaigns from a dropdown menu to see the work than any individual team member has submitted to a campaign.

Finally, you can click on any team member’s “Campaigns” tab to see their stats for each campaign, and to Add/Remove them from any of your active campaigns:

With the new feature, you guys will be able to get even more insight and accountability on your team’s work on SimpleCrew.

-AVT

PS – you might notice that all team members can now upload profile pictures!

Go ahead an upload yours on your “My Account” page. You’ll be seeing more of that in the near future 🙂

Categories
Marketing

5 Proven Ways to Promote a Concert

Concert promotion matters.

While that might seem like an obvious things to say (especially coming from us), you can, at times, come across concert promoters who believe that the gig will “sell itself.”

What these promoters don’t realize is that, most of the time, that’s just not the case. You can have the best artist in the world booked to play, but if no one knows about the show, no one’s going to turn up.

So once you’ve got the date, the venue, and the band in place, you need to sell tickets. And for that, you need to know how to promote concerts.

It’s not a dark art – although it might sometimes seem like one. Rather, it is a skill.

Marketing and promotion is a huge subject area, but there are a few basic rules that can help you on your way.

Figure out who your audience are, and be led by them.

Almost everything you do will be led by your audience, rather than the band.

If you don’t know who your existing and potential customers are, how old they are, where they hang out, or what matters to them, you’re not going to have the first clue about how to market to them.

Selling a gig to rock kids between 14 & 25 is a very different job to selling a jazz gig to the over 50s.

Some audiences might be very similar, but they’re never identical. You can very easily waste a lot of time (and a lot of money) on the wrong path, and the best way to avoid that is to put the audience at the center of your marketing plan.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time.

I’d honestly say that you need four weeks minimum, to promote a concert. Ideally you want much longer, but if you get offered a job with less than a month to go, for a band who don’t have a solid local following, you’re going to be up against it.

When you’re learning how to promote concerts, time is one of your most precious resources. And unless you’ve got a really hot show – which will need minimum promotion in the first place – fans probably won’t buy a ticket the first time they’re asked, and you’ll need to remind them.

That means leaving enough time to make sure that posters get refreshed, and flyers that go out several times leading up to the show.

You also want to make sure that word of mouth has time to build, for Facebook event invites to get some circulation, and for fans to invite their friends.

Leveraging the networks of a band’s fans is a powerful way to promote – word of mouth is still pretty much the most trusted form of recommendation – but it takes time to reach its full potential.

Set a budget, and stick to it!

How much cash you’ve got to spend will define how much promotional activity you’re able to do. Is the budget realistic? If you only have a small amount, and you’re expected to sell a huge number of tickets, you may want to reassess.

You may want only to pick those marketing channels which give you the best return. Remember it’s very easy to overspend, so getting really complicated and really pretty posters printed might be less important than making sure you have enough of them.

If you’re not in charge of printing, make sure that you’ve asked for enough to cover your area, and don’t be scared to ask for more if you need them.

Learning how to promote concerts isn’t just about which kinds of activities you’re able to carry out, but also how much of each you’re able to do.

Decide on your channels, and get the right balance of offline and online

Posters and flyers are the mainstays of concert promotion. Even in a digital world, it’s worth having them in the right places around town.

If you’re worried about being able to see where they’ve gone (and indeed if they’ve gone up), then that’s where our street team software comes in.

Press ads can be great if you’ve got the budget, but unless you get a good deal from the publication in question, they can be expensive, and it can be pretty difficult to measure ROI.

Editorial space in the right publications (online or offline) is highly sought after, but you need a good angle, and a good relationship with the publications. Learning how to write a press release might well be time well spent!

Online promotion on blogs, Facebook and Twitter is essential, but it can be time consuming – so like posters and flyers, it’s something that your street team are really well placed to do.

Get them to upload screenshots of their postings to SimpleCrew and you’ll be able to keep track of their work in the same way you keep track of their work on the ground.

Getting the balance between offline and online promotion is important, so remember to be led by your audience: what will they respond to?

Monitor, evaluate, adapt

This is probably the most important factor in making your gig promotion a success.

If possible, link the work you’ve been doing to ticket sales, so that you can very easily see what’s working, and what isn’t.

If posters in one particular neighborhood are effective, that’s worth knowing. If activity on a Facebook event page is getting lots of attention, put more energy into that.

The point about linking it to ticket sales during the promotional period is that you’re able to adapt: by the time the gig’s happened, it’s too late!

If you’re working with a street team, and using our app, the Stats tab will help you monitor how much work individual team members are doing, and so you’ll know who needs a push, and who you should congratulate – which will help you in the long term, as well as the short.

Lastly… and this is one that you won’t find in marketing textbooks: wherever possible, only work with people you trust, and once you’ve found good people, stick with them.

The concert and events industry can be hard work, there can be long hours, and it can require a serious amount of flexibility. But the joy of pulling off a successful show with a team of people you trust is worth the effort.

So go out and do it! We’ll see you on the dancefloor.

Categories
Street teams

6 Street Team Software Applications To Help You Manage Your Street Team.

Managing a street team can be a time consuming job, and one which can end up being particularly resource heavy.

Fortunately there are a number of street team software applications that can help you get the most from your team.

From recruitment to ongoing communication and motivation, there’s usually a digital tool to suit.

We’ve picked out a few of the most useful…

1) Google Forms
One of the simplest methods of street team recruitment is the time honored clipboard and sign up sheet at events, particularly at concerts.

However, it’s not without its problems: bad handwriting, mis-spelled email addresses and a lack of depth of information are all common issues which can decrease the effectiveness of this form of recruitment.

Using a tool like Google Forms can enable you to obtain a greater depth and range of information, as well as decreasing the likelihood of bad quality data.

Depending on your resources, taking a tablet pre-loaded with your form to an event instead of a clipboard can be a great way to marry these two recruitment methods.

Alternatively, the link for the form can be sent via email, or easily posted to a website.

What’s also useful about Google Forms are the ways in which you can manipulate the data once you have it.

For example, if you’re communicating with your team mainly through email, Google Forms will allow you to easily get email data into a format suitable for a bulk upload to an email client like Mailchimp.

2) Mailchimp
Mailchimp is a bulk email client, which is particularly well suited to use with smaller operations.

You can use it as a direct sign up tool (although you will lose out on depth of information compared to using something like Google Forms), or you can upload lists which you’ve gathered elsewhere.

The Mailchimp interface is very simple, and deals well with administration and data protection tasks such as the unsubscribe option.

The functionality and reporting facility aren’t as good as other tools such as Campaign Monitor, but it is free for up to 2000 addresses, which makes it very attractive to those on a tight budget.

It’s also very easy to use, more so than Campaign Monitor.

One of the features that both of these services have, and which can be very useful in measuring how engaged you team are, is to measure the open rate and click rate of any email you send out.

This is a massive advantage over other email clients such as Outlook, where sending bulk email is impractical.

3) Google Hangouts
When you’re working remotely, you don’t often get the chance to talk to team members face to face.

The Google suite of products have a lot of potential uses in terms of street team management – Groups, Forms and Documents in particular – but one product you might not have thought of is Hangouts, one of the more interesting G+ features.

It’s group messaging with the ability to add photos, but which can then also be turned into a video call for up to 10 people, which makes it good for small teams, or for groups of more senior team members.

Users will need a Google account (and obviously a webcam of some sort for video chat) but that’s all, so there’s a low barrier to entry.

4) Mobomix
With small teams, texting members is easy, but once the group gets over a certain size, it’s impractical.

Bulk text messaging can be used as a prompt to action, to confirm details or to provide sub 160-character updates.

There are quite a few text messaging services to choose from, and they tend to be country-specific, but Mobomix in the US, and Textlocal in the UK, both have some good features.

One feature of Mobomix which makes it great for recruitment is keyword signup: prospective team members send a keyword to your shortcode, which signs them up to your messaging list.

Pricing is either by message or by month, so it’s fairly flexible, and one nice touch is the provision of sign up widgets which you can add to a Facebook page, or a website.

5) Basecamp
Basecamp might not be the first piece of street team software you’d think about, but with packages starting at $20 per month, it’s surprisingly affordable.

This piece of project management software is more often used in corporate contexts, but with the ability to add files, to-do lists, and chat with other group members it’s well suited to working with a street team.

It also has a mobile app, and you can have multiple projects going on at once under your account, so if you’re working with different teams in different parts of the country, or teams working on different events, you can easily partition the work.

There’s also a calendar feature, so it’s easy to set deadlines and reminders for getting posters out, for example.

6) SimpleCrew
Our own piece of street team software would dovetail well with any of these apps, or any combination of them.

Because it’s specifically focussed on internal photo sharing, and analyzing the data from those photos, it’s a tool that can give you some great insight.

The storage space on Basecamp might not be enough to handle the amount of photos you’d need to keep track of a particular campaign, but it is great for sharing task lists.

If you’ve noticed that one member hasn’t posted as many photos as others, and you’re concerned, you could drop them a call (or a message) through Google Hangouts.

If you find that tickets aren’t going well in one particular city, and you see a correlation with the number of posters which have gone out, you could send out a quick text message blast to see what you could do to increase distribution.

There are a number of other applications that could help you get the most from your team, but one thing’s for certain: the days of driving round a city to check up on a street team are most certainly over, and that this kind of street team software can give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the job’s been done.

Categories
Product updates

Heads Up: We’re Updating SimpleCrew Pricing

Hey folks.

On Sunday, November 16, 2014, we’re updating the SimpleCrew Pricing structure.

The new plans will be as follows:

  • Hobbyist: $49/mo – Up to 25 team members
  • Professional: $129/mo – Up to 75 team members, Personal Team Member Pages, Download All Photos
  • Business: $249/mo – Up to 150 team members, Personal Team Member Pages, Download All Photos

Enterprise customers with over 150 team members can Contact Us to get set up.

Any existing SimpleCrew customers, including any free trials initiated between this announcement and November 16, 2014, will not be effected by the price increase.

Free trials that are initiated after November 16, 2014 will fall under the new pricing structure.

Click here to start a free trial now.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected]

-Alan

Categories
Street teams

[Video] Street Team and Brand Ambassador Marketing for Local Businesses

Earlier this week, I was featured on Carmen Sognonvi’s local business and entrepreneurship blog.

In the video, Carmen and I discuss:

  • What is street team marketing?
  • How did I originally get involved in street team marketing?
  • What are some tips on doing hand-to-hand flyer distribution well?
  • What was it like working for Red Bull’s marketing team?
  • What can local businesses learn from Red Bull’s street team?
  • What’s the importance of wearing branded shirts, hats, polos, etc. when street teaming?
  • How do you hire and find street team members?
  • Where did we get the idea for SimpleCrew?
  • What is SimpleCrew, and how it can help local businesses manage their street team marketing campaigns?
  • How do you use SimpleCrew to manage hand-to-hand flyer distribution?
  • How can less glamorous businesses like a dry cleaner start a street team?

It was awesome speaking with Carmen, and she recently got ramped up with her own street team on SimpleCrew and has been loving it 🙂

Categories
SimpleCrew Story

Looking back on the first SimpleCrew sketches.

As people, we tend to normalize our current state, and take it for granted after a few weeks.

Like that whole idea that 2 months after getting a raise, it’s not your raise any more, it’s just your salary.

A similar thing happens in business. Every time we ship a major update or feature, we get a big rush seeing it make it’s way into your hands and getting feedback from you.

And then, after a few weeks, it becomes just another part of the app. Something we take for granted.

You might notice the same thing in your life or your business. How impatient do you feel right now about getting to the next milestone? Happens to us all the time.

With that in mind, it really helps to look back – over 3 months, 6 months, a year, or more – and remember how far you’ve come.

This is all a ramble… in the spirit of an old notebook I just stumbled across earlier this week. The notebook included some of the earliest sketches of SimpleCrew, from when it was just an idea.

I dated them late 2010, making it almost 4 years old today. It’s great to look back on these and remember the progress we’ve made and where we’ve come from.

Check it out:

Classic.

If you ever get hungry and impatient, just look back over a year or two years and take a minute to appreciate the progress you’ve made.

It does wonders for the soul.

Categories
SimpleCrew Story

How we came up with the idea for our startup.

I’ve been asked how we had the original idea for SimpleCrew a couple times in the last week, so I thought it’d be a fun story to share with you folks here…

An original SimpleCrew Development Screenshot

When I was in high school, I started doing street team work for 930 club and Steez Promo around Baltimore/DC.

Later in college I started managing street teams for regional music festivals, FanManager.net (Disco Biscuits, Crystal Method, and Shpongle, to name a few), and eventually Red Bull as a Brand Manager.

At the time, I was managing spreadsheets of 1000+ team members around the country, and I was having them all email me photos.

Can you imagine? It was brutal.

The iPhone came out in 2007, and for the next 5 years I waited for the app that would connect all the cameras in a “private photo sharing app” so to speak.

By 2012 I figured if nobody was doing it yet, I might as well give it a shot.

My friend Mark introduced me to Mike, and together, we started working on it.

We launched in September 2012, and have been building since 🙂

What can you learn from this?

The takeaway here is this: If you’d like to start a business or a startup but you’re not sure where to begin or what idea to pursue, just stop and take a minute to look at what’s around you.

Observe where the pain points are in your every day life. Think about industries that are underserved. Think about problems might be common throughout the industry and what services or products you might be able to build to serve those markets.

And once you get started on your first idea, new ones will keep rolling in. In fact – the tricky part once you get started will be learning which ideas to say “No” to.

Finally, don’t fret about competition. If your brilliant idea has any respectable market for it, the market can support multiple players. A competitor in a big market killing you would be like a whale trying to kill a dolphin by drinking all the water in the ocean.

If your market’s real, go for it. Otherwise, don’t bother. Don’t worry about competition when you’re just getting started.

Categories
Street teams

3 Awesome Apps for Street Team Communication

SimpleCrew solves a very particular communication issue for groups and teams – namely, internal photo sharing for businesses.

Whenever your group needs to take and share photos internally – whether for documenting work, accountability, project management, or communication – SimpleCrew makes that sharing process easy, efficient, and painless.

But whenever you’re working with teams, broader communication is important. Whether through email, chat, or phone – other tools can help you keep in touch with your team, so you can work together more effectively.

Here’s a few tools we recommend that will fit nicely alongside SimpleCrew as you and your team do your thing:

1. HipChat (Group Chat)

HipChat is a group chat application for teams.

Remember those old AOL chatrooms back in the day? A/S/L?

HipChat’s kind of like that – it gives your team a common room to chat in.

With group chat, you’ll be able to have a single, central communication channel to communicate things like project goals, ask questions, have general chit-chat, etc…

If, like most street teams, your team is somewhat loosely associated and doesn’t meet in person very often, it can be helpful to have a central chat like HipChat to bring everyone together and give everyone a chance to connect and interact.

One killer thing about HipChat is that it’s cross-platform. Meaning you can download HipChat apps on iPhone, Android, Mac, Windows, and you can even use it from the browser.

Other features of HipChat include file-sharing, the ability to go 1:1 chat with anyone else in the group, search history, and even video chat and screen sharing as a premium feature ($2/mo per user).

The only thing I don’t like about HipChat is that you can’t join multiple groups with one email address. Meaning if you’re a part of multiple teams using HipChat, you have to use different email addresses for each group.

That’s kind of a pain in the ass for folks like me (and, most likely, you) who juggle multiple projects.

Other than the premium video and screen-sharing features, HipChat is free for unlimited users. Check it out at HipChat.com

HipChat Alternatives:

  • Slack – Very close HipChat competitor. More functions/features and more polished design. A little more complex UI. Free for unlimited users, premium features additional monthly.
  • Flowdock – Free for up to 5 people, $3/mo/user after
  • Check out this comparison chart of HipChat vs Slack vs Flowdock
  • CampFire – 37Signal’s group chat offering. Plans start at $12/mo for up to 12 chatters.

2. Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are an awesome, free central communication channel for your team.

First, everyone’s already on Facebook and checking it regularly, so the on-boarding process is painless. Just enter everyone’s names and they’ll be on board.

You can use the group to coordinate your team, share files/photos/videos, start discussions, and engage your team.

And because of the social aspect, you can give your team a chance to interact with each other and connect on a social level if they don’t all already know each other already.

We see a lot of SimpleCrew customers using Facebook Groups as a great free compliment to SimpleCrew, so it might be something your team can implement as well.

To create a group, go to Facebook.com/groups and click the “Create Group” button.

3. Google Groups

The last tool I wanted to share was actually what inspired this post. I set up a private Google Group recently for some business contacts and realized it would be a perfect tool for street team communication.

If you’re not familiar, Google Groups (https://groups.google.com/) are kind of like a hybrid between an email list and a forum.

In fact, I have mine set up to do both.

Basically, when you create a Google Group and invite a bunch of people, Google Groups sets up a group email address.

When anyone in the group emails that address, it goes out to everyone else in the group, creating an email thread that people can reply to and see everyone’s responses.

In that way, it’s like a group email list.

The group also accessible as a message board-style interface (pictured above). You can access the groups message board on the Google Groups site, or even embed it as an iframe on a page of your website if you like.

If you access the group from the message board and create new topics or respond to existing topics through the board, your team will receive updates the same way they received email responses, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

So there you go.

Wanted to share the quick run-down of group chat and communication tools I thought might help you guys work together alongside SimpleCrew.

Do you have any other project management tools in your arsenal? Or any questions about the tools I listed above? If so, drop a line in the comments and let me know.

Read Next: 6 Street Team Software Applications To Help You Manage Your Street Team.

Categories
SimpleCrew Updates

SimpleCrew.com Gets A Makeover

Over the last few weeks, I implemented a redesign of our marketing and sales page here at SimpleCrew.com.

This is the 5th design we’ve implemented for the site since first launching it in February 2012, and with it has come the most significant structural change to the website so far. Namely, I built this version of the website using a website builder tool for WordPress called OptimizePress, but more on that later.

Here’s a look into some of the past designs of the SimpleCrew website, and some insights behind the inspiration, design, and development for each.

The first design we implemented in February 2012 was a simple one-page email capture:

This was our site before we had a product available for testing, when the app was just an idea. In fact, as you can see, back in 2012 the original name for the app was “FanMobilizer” – an homage to a marketing agency for artists and bands that I’d worked with before (FanManager)

From our friend Dan Schwartz, a real estate wholesaler, we learned early on that the app was going to be useful for industries outside of entertainment, so we changed the name to SimpleCrew to reflect the broader potential.

The original website design was inspired by the GroupMe website. Both featured a one-page scroller, a rich, descriptive product graphic, and sign-up inputs on alternating sides:

Starting out in 2012, I’d played with HTML a little bit, but I had no experience with CSS or WordPress. I designed a mock-up of the site in Photoshop, and then sent it to Mike to hack together in WordPress.

We recognized that Mike’s time was better spent building the actual app as opposed to the marketing site, so I started to play around with WordPress, and by the time the first version of the SimpleCrew app went live in October 2012, I was able to implement a new design on WordPress:

This design featured a fixed header, with pricing, sign-up, and log-in fixed along the top, a descriptive graphic in the middle, and input fields horizontally along the bottom.

A few months later, I slightly modified this version:

I kept this design for the longest so far – it stuck with us for almost a full year from the beginning of 2013 to the beginning of 2014.

At this time, I was still designing in Photoshop, and painstakingly hacking a theme together and placing images using custom CSS and HTML in WordPress.

It took a couple days to put together a single page. And once I had pages together, I really wouldn’t want to touch them for fear of breaking the custom CSS I was hacking together for each page.

It was a really slow process to make any changes or to ship new landing pages, so I started experimenting with Twitter Bootstrap and in March this year, I implemented this design using Bootstrap on top of WordPress:

Bootstrap looked great and was faster to use than customer coded HTML and CSS, but ultimately it was still using HTML inside WordPress which is messy, and it still took a couple hours to ship new pages.

Then in May this year, my friend Anton showed me OptimizePress – a website page builder for WordPress.

With OptimizePress, I’m able to build a ship pages in a drag-and-drop editor in minutes. It saves a lot of the deploying time, and is extremely thorough and flexible so I can pretty much get everything I need from it.

Here’s what the SimpleCrew website looks like today:

Now, I’m using a Vimeo Pro widget to put a tour video on the front page. I also have a new “customers”  section under the home page for social proof, and created a new Testimonials page where I share some testimonials from out customers.

I’m really happy with the current version of the site, and especially with OptimizePress. With the new setup, I don’t have to mess with HTML or CSS beyond a couple tweaks if I want anything customized beyond the (quite flexible) customization options already build into OP. And I can ship new pages in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days.

Click around the site and the blog here, and let me know what you think. And if you have any questions about OptimizePress for your website, let me know. I’m happy to help!

-Alan