in: Business Strategy
by: Katie Hellmuth Martin
Get your notebook out, because you're about to take a lot of notes. If you've been booked on the Today Show's Steals and Deals with Jill Martin, you are in for a very fast ride that repeats itself over several time zones. It's great that you are planning now for what to expect when your brand airs on the Today Show, and then how your website will handle the traffic. If you are trying to book a segment on Jill's Steals and Deals, we do have a direct lead into the producers for those with the right product. It is one of our Ongoing PR Leads here at Tin Shingle, and is available to members of Tin Shingle. You can click here to learn more about membership with Tin Shingle.
Before we get into the details of your game plan, let's go over what will generally happen when you are booked for Jill's Steals and Deals - from a website point of view.
When you are booked on the Today Show for this segment, you will work with producers who have done this many times before. They will warn you about your website crashing, and then they will warn you 30 more times. They will ask what your back up plan is. Listen to them. If they insight panic in you, good. Because your website will go down. The Today Show's own website was super slow in the first hour or so of the deals airing, so if that's slow, you can imagine what will happen at your website. :)
You will work with your website team and whoever hosts your website to develop contingency plans. Your deal spot may be shared with two or three other companies, so competition will exist between the sites in terms of who is still alive, and who's got a good deal. People will email the Today Show if your site is down. If the Today Show isn't hearing problems about your website, they just may feature you on their home page. Surge of more traffic! The Today Show producers will be in contact with you during the deal, because they want their viewers to be able to buy what they want. The pressure will be unending for the entire day. Prepare your lunch early. Eat breakfast at 7am. Brew a few cups of coffee, because you're going to need to be on your game.
Here is your ToDo list for developing your backup plan. Oh who are we kidding, you're going to have 3 backup plans. :) This all may sound overwhelming, and it is, frankly. But I don't mean it to deter you. Just trying to arm you with information as you prepare for the big debut.
Alert Your Website Team Early
If you know 3 weeks in advance of the booking, great. Alert your team when you know you are a go. Not a possibility, but a go, because your website team is going to need to start working for you to prepare the website, and you only want to pay them if you're really going to be on the show. If your website has any known bugs or hiccups that you've been putting off fixing, now would be a good time to clean them up, if they interfere with user experience. Otherwise, your customers will find them, and will email you if they can't do something. You're going to be getting a lot of emails this day and for weeks beyond, so if you can nip this now, that would be good.
Alert Your Host Early
This is a tough one, because hosting companies get a lot of phone calls about supposed spikes to a website. The truth is, their servers can usually handle them. We use MediaTemple, a great hosting company who has a pretty good system in place to handle spiking traffic. Trouble is, they probably will smile and nod at you, and not realize just how much traffic will come. If you can, get cozy with someone there on the phone. Don't be rude or demanding. You need these guys. Chances are, they won't give you a dedicated support specialist for your site. Work your magic to get someone's name who promises to be aware of your website when they come to work on "the day" - the day your product airs on the Today Show.
You can also have your website company make these phone calls for you. In fact, I recommend it, because your website company will be dealing with your site and knows the under the hood parts of it well. I had a few names at different levels of customer support, and even in different departments.
CRASHED: Why Your Website Might Crash
There are two big reasons why your website might crash:
- the amount of traffic hitting it causes it to freeze
- if your website is handling the traffic ok, but the database that is serving information to the user crashes.
If you have a modern website, chances are, it uses a database to store all of the content on your website, both pictures and text. Depending on how the site is programmed, the "calls to the database" can overwhelm the server that is serving that information. You usually have two servers (I know...just when you were getting used to worrying about one). If the server that holds the database gets overwhelmed and crashes, then it will probably need to be rebooted, and your web team may need to recode some things so that it doesn't repeat itself 5 seconds after rebooting
Hire your website team for the day
You're going to want your website team on high-alert for you from 8am-7pm. The segment will air across time zones, so you're going to get big surges of traffic throughout the day from different regions of the country. Your web team may need to make changes to the code on the fly. They will need to be in contact with the host if there is any trouble. The host can't make changes to your site, but your web team and your host can assist one another in fixing trouble areas pronto.
Program Your Speed Dial
You will want the following people on speed dial:
- your web team
- your host
- the Today Show liaison who has been assigned to your deal
- your publicist if she booked you the gig
- your assistant (obviously....this assumes he/she is already on your speed dial)
- that's it, you won't have time to talk to anyone else.
What to Expect from The Today Show on "The Day"
The Today Show wants their viewers to buy from you just as much as you do. They want to make shopping easy. They may post helpful information on their website to aid people if the website is down. For example: an alterior web address, or an email. If you need to change a customer service email or phone number, alert your liaison right away. Keep an eye on the Today Show website as well, as they just may feature your brand if you're doing well, aka, staying alive.
Your Website: The Simpler The Better
If your website has a lot going on at once, like, if it pulls a lot of products to display at once, consider tweaking this down for the big day. This will lesson the load on what your website needs to deliver to potential customers. You may want to show customers everything you sell, and get more promotion out of this deal, but it may slow the shopping experience, and right now, people are focused on scoring your deal. You can nurture your customer relationship with them after the sale.
Design a Crash Page
If your site blips out for a moment, your generic "we're experiencing some down time" page will display. To capitalize on sales, design this page to direct people to another way of buying the deal/product. Or, tell them to hit their Refresh button to hit the website again, just in case it's back. This page will display if your website has crashed due to lots of hits at once. However, if your database crashes, this page will not display.
Your Merchant Bank Processing Credit Cards
Most likely, your merchant bank who processes credit cards for you will not be affected by the amount of orders coming in. Do call them, however. If it's PayPal, you should be good to go. I've had experience with PayPal before, and they did not falter.
About Those Orders - You May Get 5/second
A great return would be if you were getting 5 orders per second. Yes, per second. That's how much traffic you're going to get, and how badly people want to score your deal.
You're going to learn all kinds of things on your big day, so make your plan, and good luck!!
Knowing how to pitch the media is a major step to securing press for your brand. At Tin Shingle, we empower small businesses, experts and young and established brands to make this happen through our unique membership program. Once you unlock membership, you can have instant access to Media Contacts at major magazines, Editorial Calendars, select PR Leads, an all-access pass to all classes in our .EDU Education Program, a connection to a trusted community of other businesses who are going through what you are experiencing as you grow your brand. Click here to learn more about membership with Tin Shingle.
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