EventNook Interview Series – Guus Goorts

Behind The Scenes Of Event Planning and Brand Building

At EventNook, we witness from the start and to the finish of numerous events and the evolution of many brands. From business conferences to musical festivals, what is constant for these various events is the never ending hard work involved in its planning, much like the marketing efforts of different brands. How do you plan a successful event? What is it like to build a brand name for a company? We reached out to some of these professionals to share their stories.


Guus Goorts – Founder of Yago.sg & Co-Founder Crystal Marketing

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Guus Goorts is the founder of Yago.sg and co-founder of Crystal Marketing. Both of the companies succeeded in the face of the fast-changing world by having strong vision and leadership. Yago.sg is a directory of language courses in Singapore that helps to find language courses that best fits for you. The company strongly believes that “The world will be a better place if we can appreciate other people and their cultures” and by proving directories it makes easier to connect people to each other. 

The Google partner, Crystal Marketing is a firm that focuses on the key marketing areas of businesses such as connecting supply and demand by using Google Search, Digital Marketing, Design & Advertisement, Media Planning and helps companies to become an A player in their respective industries .

What was the main purpose to start Yago and Crystal Marketing?

I found that while some language schools had websites, it was very hard to get a feeling of what was happening inside the school. By bringing all schools’ course offerings into the same place for search and allow students to review on yago.sg, people who wanted to learn a language could get a much better idea of what was available before deciding where to learn a new language.

So, now I had a directory site. But it would be if the little value if people couldn’t find it. So I learned everything I could about search engine optimisation (SEO), literally starting with the book “SEO for dummies”, and applied it to the site. It soon ranked #1 for searches relating to learning Mandarin, English, Korean, French and a number of other languages.

As it did, language schools started to approach me, for being listed on the website, but also for advice on how to market their courses in a broader sense.

I realised that I really enjoyed helping business owners achieve their goals, so I started offering consulting on the side, first to Yago clients, and later more broadly to others as well.

What challenges did you face while starting it and how did you overcome it?

There were many challenges along the way, but most of them center along how to find clients and be profitable. For a long time, Yago had revenue, but it was barely enough to get by. Why? Looking back, just building a directory of language schools within Singapore was casting the net too small. There is a positive cashflow, but there are only that many people signing up for a language course in a year. Correspondingly, my total potential client base only had a certain combined advertising budget; and they also wouldn’t spend 100% with Yago.

The problem naturally solved itself as people started to approach me for SEO, AdWords campaigns and other digital marketing services. I realised that the skills I had learned to market Yago were applicable much more widely.

What are the most important qualities you look for in your team members and the people? How do you describe the best and the worst relationship with team members?

Different team members have different roles and so it is good if each has different skills. E.g., you can have someone who is good with design and perhaps not a great writer, another team member who is very creative, and someone else who is very good with numbers and process. Each have a role to play and if each handles the tasks they are best at, the team delivers great results.

But regardless, I look for people who have a hunger to learn, and who can be very open and transparent. I really don’t need to be the smartest person on the team, challenge me if you think you can do it better. But I also don’t hire for intelligence or skill level alone. If team members are hungry to learn and open, they can pick up any skills they are still missing.

My worst experience has been a staff member who suddenly disappeared after intensively working with her and training her for a month. She was obviously very talented, wrote great copy and learned fast. But one day to the next, she just turned completely uncontactable.

I don’t know what happened, whether we asked too much of her or didn’t challenge her enough. We might have been able to work something out had she spoken up.

Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time? If you have to choose one, which one will choose and why?

Good and on time. I don’t believe anything can ever be perfect, as the world is changing and we are always learning. But “good” can become “better”. It tends to become “better” from experience. And we can only gain experience from delivering something.

Clients count on us sticking to deadlines so that they can deliver what they promised to their clients or superiors. So deliver something “good”, but never stop looking for ways to make it even “better”. Don’t let the illusion of “perfect” hold you back.

What was one memorable lesson you’ve learnt through personal experience during the course of your career? What happened?

When I was a training specialist, I once greatly upset a client by sending an e-mail where I addressed them by the name of another company. I had used an old e-mail as a template and forgotten to update the company name.

My director was furious.

My manager said something to the effect of “shit happens, how are you going to prevent this from happening again?”. With her encouragement, I came up with a step-by-step process for organising group trainings that helped streamline the process and make this kind of error much less likely in the future.

The immediate lesson I learned, as an employee doing the work, was to have a structure for everything and never rush into doing things. Rushing makes you make mistakes which you then need to spend time on to fix.

Now that I have staff myself, how my manager acted at the time is a great inspiration. Don’t heap blame if something goes wrong, but make maximum use of the opportunity for learning.

If you are given time to do anything you want without work obligations, what will you do? How do you spend it?  Where will you go?

I’d like to experience Tristan da Cunha. It’s the world’s most remote inhabited island with 266 inhabitants, at 2,400 km from South Africa and 3,360 km from South America. Ships pass it only 8-9 times a year. At some point in my life, I’d love to spend a month there to experience what life is like without all the distractions.

What is your favourite quote and explain it in depth why?

“if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

It’s very applicable to my situation right now. For years, I’ve been virtually a solopreneur; I would occasionally get help, but basically try to handle everything myself as much as possible.

But Crystal Marketing is a partnership between 3 partners. I contribute the digital marketing and copywriting experience, Cheok is a designer, and great at building trusted relationships with clients and business strategy; Alex is driven, hungry, challenges us and gets things done fast.

When I was still doing things alone, I just had to make the decision and stick to it. Can’t be any faster. Now, in this partnership, there are others to be convinced. Often, deciding may take a couple of days longer, but it will result in a better decision, and we have the execution power and commitment of three people behind it.

What is one advice you wish you had received when you first started out your career and what advice would you like to give for young entrepreneurs?

I have received lots of advice during my career, good and bad. Sometimes, I wasn’t ready to listen to the good advice, and I realised years later, that it was actually good advice. It’s very hard to separate the good from the bad if you’re still learning.

So, building on that, I would advise young entrepreneurs to find a few people that they trust who are willing to give them feedback and advice. The litmus test is “if this person tells you to do something, are you prepared to follow their advice?”. Find advisors / coaches / friends around them whose achievements you respect and if they advise you to do something scary, you are compelled to try it just because of your trust and respect for them.

What are the changes you’d like to make to the industry through Yago and Crystal Marketing?

Too many agencies are “brief takers” – if the client says they want to run banner ads, they’ll provide a quote for exactly that.

The problem is that what the client request, may not be what is needed. Or it may only be part of what is needed to meet the objectives. For example, if the landing page (where people end up after clicking the ad) is confusing, the marketing campaign may fail because of that.

So, we will always take a step back and see whether what the client requests is truly what is needed to achieve success. Instead of a “brief taker”, we like to see ourselves as a “doctor”. Our clients know their businesses well; we have a lot of experience with different marketing approaches and platforms; together we work out what is the best fit.

About EventNook:

Event Management Software company, EventNook is an online event registration & ticketing platform where organisers can set up and customise their very own event page. Through it, organisers can collect attendees’ information and their payment using a real-time dashboard. Features such as Automated Email Confirmation and QR Code Check-In make the job of event organisers much easier and more efficient. Recently, EventNook launched an Event Venues Directory which provides information on more than 5,000 venues in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, making one of the best places on the web to look for venues in South East Asia.

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Contact us:
Email: hello@eventnook.com
Phone: +65 6681-6571
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eventnook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eventnook/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Eventnook/

EventNook Interview Series – Will Lee

Behind The Scenes Of Event Planning and Brand Building

At EventNook, we witness the start and finish of numerous events and the evolution of many brands. From business conferences to musical festivals, what is constant for these various events is the never ending hard work involved in its planning, much like the marketing efforts of different brands. How do you plan a successful event? What is it like to build a brand name for a company? We reached out to some of these professionals to share their stories.



Will Lee – Founder of That Marketing Guy

Will Lee


Will Lee is the founder of That Marketing Guy, a marketing consultancy that believes that all brands deserve good marketing.  Founded in 2012, That Marketing Guy has since worked with locally known organisations such as NTUC, Tower Transit Singapore, Auston Institute of Management, Society for the Physically Disabled, Spa Esprit Group and Fatboy’s. As its Principal Consultant, Will is responsible for the internal brand development, marketing strategy, and the overall management and execution of campaigns. We spoke to him and asked him a few questions about That Marketing Guy, here’s what he said.

How did you come to name your company That Marketing Guy?

In my previous employment, I had a chat with the CEO during an internal “get to know you” session about how the company’s efforts at marketing weren’t successful. At the time, I was just a Junior Executive, but I highlighted what the company could be doing better and the CEO took note of it. As one of many employees, he couldn’t remember my name but he remembered my ideas. So from then on, when he needed to look me up he referred to me as “that marketing guy”. It became a name that fit perfectly with what I wanted my consultancy to be. We want to be “that marketing guy” for other companies.

What does your schedule of a busy day look like?

Every day is different! My schedule varies and each day has different levels of business as I don’t really follow the 9-5 schedule. I usually have meetings with clients (both prospective and current) or partners that go on throughout the morning and afternoon. After my meetings are done for the day I tend to emails well into the evening, before going to dinner, then home. It’s usually at night that I plan for the week and check on what’s been done or what needs to be done.

If I don’t have any meetings (which is very rare), you’ll find me in the office with my team, strategizing.

What are the important qualities you look for in your team members and the people you work with?

When it comes to team members, I look for people who can bring something to the discussion table; I’m big on diversity of skills, interests, and opinions. I like it when there are (manageable) conflicts within the team as I believe it’s these sorts of situations that ignite creativity.

When it comes to clients, I prefer down to earth individuals who have a clear idea of their goals and what they want to achieve. I look for clients who believe their company/business can add value to society, with making money simply being a byproduct of that value-add.

What do you do to help you generate fresh ideas for the companies you work with?

I always open myself to marketing ideas from other sectors, and I read a lot of news from other industries like PR, design, advertising, etc. and try and see how I could adapt their strategies for marketing. I also like to ask my team about their thoughts on campaigns to get different opinions on what works and what doesn’t. But no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m always thinking about marketing. Whether it’s a photo or a friend telling a story, I’m always looking at the marketing angle of things so I’ve always got lots of ideas brewing.

What was one memorable lesson you learned through personal experience during the course of your career? What happened?

It’s hard for me to choose just one lesson as I’ve had many important experiences that have helped me get to where I am today and there’s lots of little anecdotes. I guess it depends on who I’m speaking to. If a fellow entrepreneur asked me this, I’d tell them to just go for it. Whatever they want to do, just do it and if you fail, you fail but at least you now you know. But I guess what I’ve learned from my years in the working world is that SMEs need support because they don’t have access to the big bucks the way the big companies or MNCs do, so I want to help them with that.

If you were given time to do anything you wanted without work obligations, what would you do?

Honestly, I’d want to run a lemonade stand (or a cafe or stall, something small and cosy) and apply what I know about marketing to make it the best damn lemonade stand in Singapore.

What is your favourite quote?

“Believe and it shall become” — ‘nuff said.

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received when you first started out your career?

I would tell me 10 years ago that everything happens for a reason, so don’t get disheartened. No matter what’s happened, retrospect will show that it all makes sense.

What are the changes you’d like to make to the industry through That Marketing Guy?

I really hope that smaller businesses in Singapore can be kept alive; that they can survive in the face of behemoth chains and businesses. I think this can be achieved if Singapore embraces marketing more, and with That Marketing Guy I want to show that marketing is more than just design or PR or social media — it’s all of that and none of that depending on a business’ needs. I want to show that good marketing brings results, but you need to have a specialised marketing plan in order to be successful in it.

We’d like to thank Will Lee for participating. Please stay tuned for our upcoming interview series posts every week!

About EventNook:

Event Management Software company, EventNook is an online event registration & ticketing platform where organisers can set up and customise their very own event page. Through it, organisers can collect attendees’ information and their payment using a real-time dashboard. Features such as Automated Email Confirmation and QR Code Check-In make the job of event organisers much easier and more efficient. Recently, EventNook launched an Event Venues Directory which provides information on more than 5,000 venues in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, making one of the best places on the web to look for venues in South East Asia.

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Contact us:
Email: hello@eventnook.com
Phone: +65 6681-6571
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eventnook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eventnook/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Eventnook/

EventNook Interview Series – Carolyn Oei

Behind The Scenes Of Event Planning and Brand Building

At EventNook, we witness the start and finish off numerous events and the evolution of many brands. From business conferences to musical festivals, what is constant for these various events is the never ending hard work involved in its planning, much like the marketing efforts of different brands. How do you plan a successful event? What is it like to build a brand name for a company? We reached out to some of these professionals to share their stories.


 

Carolyn Oei – Founder of The Creative Voice

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Carolyn is the founder of The Creative Voice, a company focused on arts and culture. She has organised and curated numerous festivals and shows including Musicity Singapore 2014, Lit Up Singapore, Singapore Heritage Festival (Tiong Bahru Night Programme), and Sarah Kay & Phil Kaye – A Spoken Word Experience. Other festivals and events Carolyn has supported include Singapore International Storytelling Festival, Singapore Night Festival, and Chemistry’s Makan Matters. Carolyn is also the co-founder and principal writer for Mackerel, a culture magazine that she started with poet/photographer, Marc Nair. She is also an Associate Lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. On the community front, she is a long-term volunteer with the Riding For The Disabled Association and is a member of her local resident’s committee. Carolyn is currently Festival Manager of Neon Lights, a music festival featuring international and local acts as well as robust arts programming.

1) What made you realize, and when did you realize creative directing was something you wanted to do instead of following the typical attorney route?

CO: “Creative directing” is an interesting term. I think it’s more relevant to what I do now with my company The Creative Voice than the public relations & communications work that I did previously with agencies and in-house. I left the law a long time ago. Although I am not practicing now, the skills that I learned have been invaluable. And they are basic yet critical things such as being able to read and draft a contract. These are fundamentals that everyone should be aware of, creative industry or not.
What made me realise that creative work was for me were motivation and natural inclination. I finally tuned into those two things and made the decision to do what I was more naturally gifted to do.

2) What does your schedule of a busy day look like?

CO: Something like this –

5.30am: Wake. Potter around slowly trying not to hurt myself fumbling about in the dark. Feed the cat.
5.45am: While water for tea is boiling, check email and phone messages to see if anything urgent needs to be attended to.
6.15am: Wolf down some breakfast, shower, and dress.
6.45am to 6pm: Get cracking. For me, this could mean going out to teach my classes at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, sitting at my computer to start writing an email, or going out to do an event, photo/video shoot, conduct interviews, and meetings.
8pm to 10pm: Catch up on work that I couldn’t do during the day because I was out. I find it difficult to incorporate the creative process, ie: the writing, into the frenzy of the daylight hours. So, my creative work is usually done at night and on the weekends.

3) As someone who works with ideas, have you ever felt stuck when working on projects? What do you do to get new inspirations?

CO: Yes, I have. I think it’s a very natural part of the process to plateau or to hit the proverbial wall. From experience, I’ve found that feeling stuck typically happens as a result of fatigue. Low batt is low batt. You just have to recharge. So, I stop work and sleep the sleep of the dead. And I try not to overextend myself on a daily basis. Fresh air and the sunshine are, quite literally, my way of “getting unstuck”.

4) What was one memorable lesson you’ve learnt through personal experience during the course of your career? What happened?

CO: And this is the lawyer in me speaking, document everything. Ideally, in an email and/or an actual document. Do not rely on SMS or WhatsApp communications. It’s good governance generally and keeps everyone honest.

5) If you are given time to do anything you want without work obligations, what will you do? Where will you go?

CO: I would work on a vegetable farm that also had an animal sanctuary attached. Where? Wherever that farm might be!

6) What is your favourite quote?

CO: “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.” – Bertrand Russell

7) What is one advice you wish you had received when you first started out your career?

CO: I’ve found that just because I love what I do doesn’t mean that I must love it every single day. There are days when I downright hate it, but that’s because of a particular situation or even person. The most important thing to feel about your work is whether you can see yourself doing it in a fulfilling and mostly happy way for a long time.

8) What is one change in the industry you would like to see?

CO: In the context of writing, I would like to see writers stop undercutting their colleagues in the industry. And for writers generally to be paid fairly for their work. Nothing angers me more than some smart-ass client saying things like, “I could have written that myself.” Well, why didn’t you?

We’d like to thank Carolyn for participating. Please stay tuned for our upcoming interview series posts every week!

About EventNook:

Event Management Software company, EventNook is an online event registration & ticketing platform where organisers can set up and customise their very own event page. Through it, organisers can collect attendees’ information and their payment using a real-time dashboard. Features such as Automated Email Confirmation and QR Code Check-In make the job of event organisers much easier and more efficient. Recently, EventNook launched an Event Venues Directory which provides information on more than 5,000 venues in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, making one of the best places on the web to look for venues in South East Asia.

Contact us:
Email: hello@eventnook.com
Phone: +65 6681-6571
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eventnook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eventnook/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Eventnook/

Why Event Organizers Love QR codes and e-Tickets

From music concerts to business conferences, if there is one thing in common for these events, it will be the long queues they entail. To save time, cost, and the sanity of their participants, event organizers have looked to technology to find a solution: QR Code e-Ticketing.

True to its name, QR codes deliver Quick Response(s) to the systems with just a quick scan. With a QR code embedded ticket, a quick wave in front of a camera is all it takes to check in within seconds. However, as a disruptive innovation, users often tend to compare QR coded e-tickets with traditional ticketing.

Time Effectiveness:

– QR Codes: QR codes are known for being fast and effective, allowing data to be downloaded within seconds. In its application for event registration, there will be no need to fumble over excel sheets to search for attendee names, or to go through the trouble of verifying the tickets. One scan is all it takes.

– Physical tickets: Most people would have experienced misplacing their tickets before the start of the show. Not only is it time consuming to collect and search for the tickets, it also dampens the mood for participants. With e-ticketing, organizers no longer have to worry about ticket distribution, and attendees will always have access to their tickets as long as they have their electronic devices.

Cost Effectiveness:

– QR Codes: Though sending out e-tickets and QR codes through email might be almost free, it could be difficult to find a service provider that does it well for you at an affordable price. Well, that is why we are here.

– Physical tickets: Event Organisers would have to consider not only the designing, manufacturing but also the distribution costs.

Aesthetics:

– QR Codes: Contrary to popular beliefs, QR codes can have special designs. With up to 30% error margin, you are free to change the colors and designs of a QR code, as long as the contrast between it and the background color is strong enough. E-Tickets can also be used to further promote an event or a brand through customized and innovative designs.

– Physical tickets: Though not as effective, physical tickets are often used as a keepsake to reminisce about a significant and memorable event, such as wedding invitations etc.

 

While QR coded e-Tickets are effective, it does have certain limitations in terms of designs and usage as compared to physical tickets. Most event organizers who adopt such technology will be those who seek simplicity and effectiveness. QR Coded tickets can also be printed out as formal invitations. For example, event organizers such as CloudAsia and SMU have been adopting QR coded ticket check-ins to better their registration process.

About EventNook:

Event Management Software company, EventNook is an online event registration & ticketing platform where organisers can set up and customise their very own event page. Through it, organisers can collect attendees’ information and their payment using a real-time dashboard. Features such as Automated Email Confirmation and QR Code Check-In make the job of event organisers much easier and more efficient. Recently, EventNook launched an Event Venues Directory which provides information on more than 5,000 venues in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar and Hong Kong, making one of the best places on the web to look for venues in South East Asia.

Contact us:
Email: hello@eventnook.com
Phone: +65 6681-6571
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eventnook
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eventnook/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Eventnook/