• Published BusinessInfoGuide.com, Red Hot Copy e-zine & Absolute Write July/August 2006

    As a small business owner you know the importance of marketing and investing in your businesses. This means attending workshops, trainings, conferences and maybe even entering business competitions or contests that can increase publicity. The intent is to further your business by networking with likeminded individuals while gleaning wisdom from tried and true gurus. Oftentimes, we find such events online. Unfortunately, not all things are what they seem. Perhaps you’ve been told not to believe everything you hear and only half of what you read. I can personally attest this is a good rule of thumb based on recent occurrences.

    Embarrassingly, I was duped by a great idea gone awry. I found a business competition and conference that seemed like an ideal platform, online. Allegedly, catering to small and micro home-based businesses with less than ten employees, the event promised an impressive lineup of judges and speakers including nationally known marketing experts and gurus.

    The event included a competition for cash prizes in several categories including Entrepreneur of the Year, Best New Product, Most Creative Product and more. With a reputable major sponsor, I was sure the event would be topnotch. Plus, over 130 entrepreneurs had entered the competition. I paid a reasonable fee to attend the event, made travel plans and arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada only to discover the event had been cancelled. No one had notified me. As it’s said ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’ In this instance, I just have to share.

    Feeling rather foolish and quite burned, I set out to find out what happened. Although I had exchanged e-mail with the organizer just weeks earlier when he confirmed I could add an additional guest to the awards banquet and that he looked forward to seeing me in Vegas, the event had been cancelled PRIOR to our correspondence and I was not notified.

    When I connected with the promotions company, I discovered they had severed ties with the organizer because of  ‘contractual difficulties’. Apparently the event had been cancelled for over a month.

    When I returned home, I quickly e-mailed all of the entrants and people advertised as speakers and/or judges. With the responses from those e-mails, I found more issues like the well known marketing guru who was being promoted on-line as the keynote speaker was never contracted for the event, two of the judges didn’t know they were involved and some of the speakers who were booked received notice of cancellation only days prior to the event and others no notice at all.

    Sometimes misery does love company. I felt bad so many people had been misled but strangely better that I wasn’t the only one. Challenges help us grow and it appears that with the help of my attorney, I’ll get full reimbursement for travel and expenses. Plus, I’ve learned how to avoid future *virtual violations. I’ve also made some really great connections with dynamic people who are just as disappointed about the mishap.

    Throughout all of this I wanted to bring something positive from the experience. So, here are some tips to help you avoid being virtually violated on the internet.?

    7 Surefire Signs of a *Virtual Violation

    1)’ Change in Venue ~The event is rescheduled more than once. Be sure to check the website frequently after you’ve booked a conference. If the site indicates there has been a change in date, do some digging to find out why.

    2) Bonus Perks ~ Perks that are promised are not received or ?€?members only login access or links are not active or accessible

    3) Evasive Answers ~ Questions are not answered directly or simply not addressed at all.

    4) Poor Communication ~ Any communication that is not clear and concise and leaves any doubt in your mind should serve as a red flag.

    5) Dishonest Communication ~ Featuring a photo of a well known speaker and advertising they will be at the event when there are no contracts in place is clearly not right.

    6) Information not updated or posted in a timely manner ~ Missed deadlines to post new information or progresses are sure signs something is amiss.

    7) Event Cancelled and not all involved are notified ~ If an event is cancelled, everyone involved should be notified. Unfortunately, if you aren’t notified, you won’t know till after the fact. Hopefully the first six tips can help you avoid such a travesty.

    I promised 7 Surefire Signs and I’m including a bonus as an extra precautionary measure.

    8) If you feel something is ‘OFF’ trust your instinct and investigate. You can never underestimate your gut feelings. Unfortunately, I chalked my trepidation up to being nervous about stretching my comfort zone.

    I won’t make that mistake again and to help you avoid similar situations here are five tips to avoid a *virtual violation.

    5 Ways to Avoid *Virtual Violation

    1) Contact Keynote speakers to verify they’re booked

    2) Request a headcount of other registrants and request testimonials from  people who have been involved in past events.

    3) Do an internet search to check credibility using ‘Google’ and the Better Business Bureau to get background information.

    4) Call the facility where the event is being held to confirm before you travel.

    5) Make sure all registration fees are 100% refundable if the event is cancelled or unsatisfactory.

    Suffering from a *virtual violation is disheartening. We as entrepreneurs assume that others entrepreneurs will operate ethically and deliver what they promise. As noted previously, not all things are what they seem.

    However, we have the power to avoid *virtual violations and I hope this information helps you avoid similar situations. If for some reason you too are duped, try to make the best of it. At the very least, I’ve learned that I’m not alone in my disappointment and I’ve made some great new connections. Most importantly, I know that I need to be more cautious, ask more questions and not take everything at face value.

    *Virtual Violation –  A virtual violation is a dishonest and misleading representation on the internet. This term was coined by Lisa Manyon after traveling to Las Vegas for an event that was cancelled and misrepresented online.

     

    Lisa Manyon is "The Business Marketing Architect" a content and copywriting strategist for mission-driven entrepreneurs. She's the creator of the NEW marketing model for success (as seen in Inc. Magazine) that's changing the way people market today. She specializes in powerfully communicating your marketing message to increase results via Manyon Marketing Web Makeovers, website copy packages and content strategies to effectively market your business. She offers a free Copywriting Action Plan and marketing resources on her award winning blog. Her consulting and coaching is known to help produce million dollar results www.writeoncreative.com/blog

    [pinit]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *