Blog Post

I took my eyes off the ball (or disc in this case.)


I took my eyes off the ball (or disc in this case.)

If you’ve ever played sports, you’ve got a story like this:

I was on a fastbreak across the field after dropping a short pass to our Ultimate Frisbee team’s “Handler.” Think of Adam as the roving quarterback to whom midfielders like me pass a catch until he can launch it downfield for a goal.

I dropped him the pass, took off, cutting behind the player guarding me, and struck out across the field. Adam saw me and flicked the disc a little high, but right on the money. I jumped up to catch the disc and noticed a defender had left his player and was launching himself up after me.

When I turned back to the frisbee, it smacked me right in the mouth and fell away. Pass dropped. Possession lost—lip split.

It’s been a weird season so far. I was trying to maximize time with my soon-to-be-departing college son. Grab time with my daughter between her summer musician event. Snag some family vacation. Care for corn maze clients. Grow sunflowers. Recruit more staff. Ship Mega Slides, and on and on.

I don’t have to tell you about being busy. We all are!

I’m telling you that it wasn’t until last week that I realized that I had taken my eye off the ball- The marketing ball.

I casually logged into my TicketSpice account to check on Sunflower Festival pre-sales and was confronted by a lower-than-expected number.

This was when I had something happen inside my brain that I’ve heard from staff, friends, and clients over the years. Immediately, my brain started making up reasons why this was happening…

  • It’s really hot. No one’s buying yet.
  • It’s too early, don’t worry about it.
  • Maybe sunflowers are on the way out. Nothing you did wrong.
  • People will probably just buy on-site this year.

I want you to listen closely to those phrases and dozens more that you’ve heard others say and said to yourself because if you listen to things like this, you are in the Danger Zone.

Those aren’t reasons. Those are unfounded opinions, excuses, and phrases designed by your brain to dismiss an oncoming problem without further thought.

If you choose to believe ANY of the phrases above, you will take NO FURTHER ACTIONYour brain loves this because you don’t have to think very hard to ‘give up’ on a problem.

The Danger Zone is the zone of inaction. Luckily, I hate being a failure, and I don’t trust anything that sounds like an excuse for inaction. I’ve been burned too many times listening to internal and external voices telling me to “wait and see.”

If you stay stuck in the Danger Zone, delaying action too long, you run out of time, and marketing takes time. So here’s what I did:

  • Accurately define the problem. “A Problem Well Stated is Half Solved” – Charles Kettering. I delved into the numbers on TicketSpice by exporting the orders, number of tickets, and order date from 2021 and 2022 year-to-date. This showed that we were running about 60% of 2021 orders by July 28. (i.e., down 40% of orders)
  • Gather all the variables. Next, I reset 2021’s dates to the TicketSpice analytics page to match Year-to-date with 2022 to find out how many Total Visitors , Total Tickets sold, and Conversion Rate. (i.e., June 1, 2021 – July 28, 2021, compared to June 1, 2022 – July 28, 2022)
  • Discover some facts: I found that the most significant variable difference was that in 2021, by July 28, we had pushed 25,000 visitors to the Ticketing Page. As of July 28, 2022, only 6,500 visitors to the ticketing page.
  • Final variables – Ad Spend. A quick review syncing up the dates 2021 compared to 2022 made the problem obvious—no doubt where I had dropped the ball. On Facebook and Instagram, I had spent $2,300 by July 28, 2021. In 2022, just $450.

Talk about an obvious misstep. I was nearly $2,000 short on ad spend.

No wonder I was down 74% on traffic to the ticketing page.

No wonder we were down 40% on orders.

Thank heavens I hadn’t listened to the excuses in my head! No excuse in the world would have been as useful as digging into the numbers and finding out what was really going on.

With two weeks to spare before opening weekend, we immediately took action to boost our ad spend specifically to generate more traffic to the ticketing page, created new campaigns, and I track the variables daily to make adjustments. My eyes are back on the ball.

Does this work? YES.

Does it happen instantly? NO.

I cannot stress this enough: You cannot wait until the day or week before to start marketing! It simply doesn’t work.

Results: We are (thankfully) slowly closing the gap over the last six days. Total site visits are up to 12,000+, and ticketing is tracking up, too, though not up to 2021 numbers yet.

More importantly, it is not some undefined, vague feeling of dread. I know what the problem is and I’ve taken action to solve it. That is drastically different from “Ticket sales are down, I don’t know what’s happening. I guess things are really bad.” By defining the problem and taking action, the vague fear is gone replaced with a solid plan, definitive action and real numbers.

The budget increased over the past two weeks on campaigns providing results, but remember that we were $2,000 TOO LOW in ad spend, so we’ve got a lot of room in the budget for this week.

Flowers are good, bloom timing is going to be perfection, and I write this to you in the middle of much-needed rain. I wish rain and temperature relief to you all.

If you find yourself inside for heat or rain, I challenge you to watch your numbers and ignore the excuses your brain, spouse, staff, or friends may try to use to soothe the pain of flagging ticket sales.

It was frustrating and embarrassing to take that frisbee to the face as I looked away and I lost possession for my team. In Ultimate Frisbee, however, the action never stops. My lip was throbbing, but the opposing team simply picked up the disc and launched their offense without a moment’s thought for me. Nothing to be done but shake it off, get back in position and fight for another chance to score.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes developed long ago with a buddy of mine, Shane,

We deal with reality sooner or later. It might as well be now.”

Have a great week,


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