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RSVP now to secure your attendance at London’s finest event venue showcase, The Westminster Collection’s ‘Destination Westminster 2014’, this year being held at the iconic BAFTA 195 Piccadilly. Famously the home of British film, BAFTA 195 Piccadilly is looking forward to opening its doors to event planners from all across London and beyond for a productive morning of networking, event planning and conversation with 43 of the city’s most celebrated venues, available for corporate or private hire.

Exclusively promoting venues within central London’s City of Westminster – which encompasses Pimlico in the south, to Regent’s Park in the north and from the borders of Kensington in the west, to Covent Garden in the east – guests of this enjoyable breakfast networking event can look forward to discovering luxury hotels, world-renowned conference centres, training facilities, historic institutes and societies, celebrated attractions, galleries, museums and private members clubs.

It’s free to attend. All you need to do is click here to register!

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For updates follow @Venues_Wminster #DestinationWestminster

Entries still being accepted for brand new Event Photography Awards 2014

Ever fancied yourself as the next David Bailey CBE? Now’s your chance to make that leap to professional acclaim with the brand new Event Photography Awards (EPAs), judged by such talents as internationally acclaimed photographer David Loftus and award-winning designer Paul Daly.

Inviting entries from amateur and professional photographers, across three categories – Amateur, Professional, Social Media – the EPAs are a celebration of the incredible and diverse nature of the events and hospitality industry, its personality and its influence.

Launched by energetic events staffing agency and training academy Off to Work, whose portfolio of clients includes award-winning catering companies, major sport, music and arts events, acclaimed UK venues and luxury hotels, the EPAs are an opportunity to capture the essence of what makes live events so special.

If you work in events or hospitality, in any discipline, the EPAs are for you, whether you pursue event photography as a professional, full-time career and are keen to scoop the acclaim and publicity opportunities this new award guarantees, or you’re a budding amateur, handy with your digital SLR and with a sharp eye for a stand-out photograph.

A particularly exciting category for bloggers, creative marketing and communications professionals and social wizards is the Social Media photography award. Storytelling with images accounts for reams of dialogue and social sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other sites. Submit your best smartphone or tablet photography, Instagram pictures and photos cleverly modified using editing apps to be in with a chance of winning this imaginative category.

Speaking of the EPAs, Philip Atkins, managing director of Off to Work, said: “I am delighted to call for entries to the Event Photography Awards 2014, which we hope will capture the dramatic settings, stunning occasions, memorable moments and emotive reaction that events deliver. With different categories for professional, amateur and those photos purely used for social media campaigns, we look forward to seeing the huge creativity in the events industry, captured by those who make it all come together.”

All category winners will receive the acclaim of being named Event Photographer of the Year in their respective category, coupled with a great selection of prizes, which include prominent exposure at the Event Photography Awards Exhibition, a gallery of the exceptional photos scooping the individual awards.

The Event Photography Awards Exhibition will run throughout April and May at the London Irish Centre (LIC) in Camden, north London, a charming meetings and events venue much loved by the Irish community for its role played in celebrating Irish culture and arts. The VIP exhibition launch party takes place at the LIC on 8th April 2014.

How to enter

Photographs can be from any event that has taken place between 1st January 2013 and 31st December 2013. To enter, send photographs (hi-res) as JPEGs or TIFs to [email protected] and include:

  • Clear indication of which category is being entered
  • Date and location of capture
  • Title and brief description of the venue / event / experience captured
  • Type of equipment used to capture photograph, plus any effects used etc.
  • Name, job title, company, email address and phone number

Entrants are allowed to submit up to THREE photographs in one single category.

Closing date for submissions is Saturday 8th March 2014. Entry to the competition is free.

For more information on the entry process and the criteria for taking part, visit

Creative gurus accept challenge to Unleash Your Creativity at TWC showcase

Don’t miss incredible nuggets of creative wisdom from true experts in their fields at a special panel debate taking place at Destination Westminster, The Westminster Collection’s annual venue showcase and networking event.

On Friday 13th September, events professionals are invited to get together and enjoy a delicious, free breakfast prepared by our host venue 8 Northumberland Avenue, while chatting with the 50 wonderful venues we have within The Westminster Collection – all of whom are exhibiting within 8 Northumberland Avenue‘s stunning Ballroom.

At 9:00am, our panel of marketing, food, social media and live event gurus will kick off the Unleash Your Creativity forum. They aim to open your mind to what can be achieved when you inject imagination and resourcefulness into event planning and focus on creating new and memorable experiences.

The Unleash Your Creativity forum panellists include:

Jonathan Byrne, chief operating officer, No.4 Hamilton Place (chairperson)

Katie McPhee, senior community manager, Eventbrite

Jez Paxman, creative strategy director, Live Union

Katy Hadcroft, general manager, Harbour & Jones at RSA House

Sam Michel, founder, Chinwag & executive director, Social Media Week London

Stephen Moore, founder & chairman,

Click here to read speaker biographies.

Learn why you need to think ‘big picture’ and broaden expectations of what an event should do for brand awareness. Be inspired by the digital and social engagement techniques that can be built into an event or marketing campaign to give it legs, to really grip the target audience and to ensure there’s conversation across channels.

Hear how to bring innovation and the ‘wow’ factor to the canapé, lunch or dinner plate and nod to food fashions, while remaining firmly within budget. Discover more about the psychology behind live experiences and how you can maximise the value of your event by viewing your venue as part of a destination, not a standalone site. Take the opportunity to ask these experts questions about your own event plans in a dedicated Q&A session.

Chair of the panel Jonathan Byrne, who is chief operating office at No.4 Hamilton Place and board director at The Westminster Collection, said:

“Destination marketing is vital in order to grow business tourism and to reinforce the breadth of opportunities in London right now. Westminster is so well located, with a wealth of arts, culture and entertainment to absorb in and around the West End of London. This showcase and particularly the panel is about harnessing this energy, bringing together a cluster of seriously creative people and sharing techniques for engagement, event planning and delivery. Our challenge as a panel is to inspire you to be original.”

Destination Westminster takes place from 8:30 – 11:30am on Friday 13th September 2013, at TWC venue 8 Northumberland Avenue. Discover 50 incredible central London venues and network with each of their events teams during a special 10th anniversary showcase, complete with complimentary breakfast and refreshments.

To register for FREE, and for more information about the timings and full programme for the showcase and panel discussion, click here.

Tweet about this event using hashtag #DestinationWestminster #UnleashYourCreativity and our Twitter handle @Venues_Wminster.

Unleash Your Creativity forum: The speakers

Don’t miss incredible nuggets of creative wisdom from true experts in their fields at a special panel debate taking place at Destination Westminster, The Westminster Collection’s annual venue showcase and networking event.

At 9:00am, a specially selected panel of marketing, food, social media and live event gurus will kick off the Unleash Your Creativity forum in the Old Billiard Room. They aim to open your mind to what can be achieved when you inject imagination and resourcefulness into event planning and focus on creating new and memorable experiences.

Katie McPhee, Senior Community Manager, Eventbrite UK

Katie McPhee, EventbriteKatie joined Eventbrite from the BBC in 2011 and was the company’s first employee in Europe. She runs the UK’s social media, co-ordinates all Eventbrite events, sources partnerships and manages a growing community of event organisers in the UK. Katie also works closely with event organisers advising on social media strategy.





Jez Paxman, strategy & creative director, Live Union

Jez Paxman, Live UnionJez helped found Live Union in 2009, based on a belief that the role and potential of events within the business and internal communications landscape was rapidly shifting.

An approach anchored in understanding where the true delegate value lies for a particular audience has seen Live Union build a client base that includes EDF Energy, Oracle, AXA, TripAdvisor, Nokia and Amnesty International.

A particular passion for Jez is the merging of live and digital channels to redefine what an event can be and what it can achieve for audiences.

Jez regularly participates in industry forums, blogs on all things live and contributes to the Narrative Environments MA course at Central Saint Martins.


Katy Hadcroft, general manager, RSA House for Harbour & Jones

Katy Hadcroft, RSA House Katy started her career in London after four years of studying Hospitality Management at Manchester University. She quickly became the Event Manager for Searcy’s at the Royal Opera House which saw her organise many high profile and glamorous events including the BAFTA awards for over 1000 celebrities, Condé Nast flagship GQ Man of the Year Awards and Chelsea Football Club’s Centenary Dinner.

Wanting to develop her skills further, a move into outside event catering led to experiencing a career defining moment…Lewis Hamilton arriving by helicopter to Exxon Mobile’s Silverstone Grand Prix party for 650 with oysters and amazing cocktails.

Katy’s career path then entered the world of contract catering where she joined boutique and sustainable catering company Harbour and Jones as a General Manager in 2010 working at 76 Portland Place before taking a short career break to travel. She re-joined Harbour and jones in January this year firstly working on projects and then becoming the General Manager at the Royal Society of Arts.

Katy is happiest when she is putting together creative quotes for clients, organising events and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for food.


Sam Michel, founder, Chinwag

Sam Michel, ChinwagSam founded Chinwag in 1996 to support the nascent digital marketing industry. The organisation has grown alongside the industry, whilst Sam has held positions as arguably the UK’s first paid webmaster for Time Out magazine, part of the founding management team of the UK’s first web agency, Webmedia and the start-up team at digital off-shoot of TV firm Carlton (now part of ITV).

He’s launched numerous events including Chinwag Psych, international startup series Digital Mission and he’s the Executive Director of Social Media Week London, part of a global collaborative event series taking place in 26 cities wordlwide. Sam is a member of the global advisory board. Consultancy clients include UK Trade & Investment, Open Data Institute, the BBC, the Technology Strategy Board and he’s an active participant in a number of start-up accelerators.



Stephen Moore, founder & chairman,

Stephen MooreStephen has 25 years’ experience in business, founding, financing and operating a number of companies, including, a business performance consultancy specialising in innovation and growth. Stephen is also chairman of 8 Northumberland Avenue, HarvestDigital and Visual Voice. He believes that innovation is an evolutionary process for survival, differentiation and sustained business growth. An essential component of every business, the skill is running innovation effectively and making it a core cultural component of the organisation.


Jonathan Byrne, chief operating officer, Royal Aeronautical Society at No.4 Hamilton Place

Jonathan ByrneJonathan Byrne has a wealth of experience in the Events and Hospitality industry, culminating in his current role as Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Aeronautical Society where he is responsible for the operational functions of the learned society, including marketing its Park Lane, Mayfair, headquarters No. 4 Hamilton Place as a meeting and events venue.

Jonathan joined the Society from Westminster’s Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre where, as Commercial Director, he oversaw the planning for the Chilcot Enquiry. He worked previously with Mint Hotels in the group-wide role of General Manager – Meetings & Events, developing the hotel group’s meetings and events product. For the seven years prior to this, Jonathan was Group Sales & Marketing Director, responsible for driving the brand and leading the sales and marketing functions at a strategic level across the nine businesses of the Crown Group.


To register for FREE, and for more information about the timings and full programme for the showcase and panel discussion, click here.

The Ri launches new venue hire website

The Royal Institution of Great Britain (Ri) is pleased to unveil its new-look website, which has undergone a virtual make-over designed to showcase the stunning and historic architecture of its Grade I listed building, near New Bond Street, London.

Built with the event planner in mind, the Ri’s new website has been made fully accessible, so it can be navigated with ease by event type or by room. It also offers a large choice of event packages, room specifications and event menus, which can be browsed at leisure.

Taking full advantage of the wonderful photography from past events, the new website offers visitors a unique virtual tour of the Royal Institution’s many diverse event spaces. Emma Hill, events and conference sales manager, said, “This new site underpins a wider digital strategy for engaging new clients. We recognised a need for an image led site to allow event planners and potential clients to fully understand the spaces we have available to hire. After all, we are delighted that the revenue from the venue hire business supports the charitable work the Royal Institution does in science education and communication.”

For more information on events at the Ri please contact the venue and events team on [email protected] or call 020 7409 2992. Visit the new website at

Get creative whatever your event budget

It’s a misconception that cost limits creativity, says Robin Parker, marketing director for The Westminster Collection (TWC). Venues face this challenge daily but it’s incredible the impact you can make when you deconstruct each stage of the planning process and apply a little imagination.

Not every event organiser has the luxury of large event budgets at their disposal. Fortunately they needn’t panic that they have to work miracles alone. Just because funds aren’t excessive doesn’t mean events have to present any less of a wow-factor.

Venues are used to their clients’ tightened purse strings. In the same way that event organisers feverishly brainstorm for the hook that will snag delegates (who are dubious about whether it will be time well spent), so too do venue event teams and their suppliers. We’ve become extremely resourceful at conjuring up alternative ways of working to deliver maximum value.

The real definition of being creative is being resourceful, practical and (dare I say it) original. At Church House, generally we can be more flexible with our hire prices on Mondays and Fridays. Buying into a package with a fixed day delegate rate (DDR) is not always the most cost-effective option. Sometimes it is worth looking at the breakdown of costs and questioning if you really need everything that is included.

Plan ahead and think about what comes next. Expressing interest in booking a series of events in one go creates great bargaining power, as does trying to negotiate with people face-to-face whenever you can. It’s a lot easier to be shot down with a ‘no’ over the phone.

If entertainment is on your agenda, be smart about how you source your act. Is it really essential to blow so much of your budget on a big-name, high-cost performance? How about unearthing an act that’s less well known? Showcase new talent, introduce something new.

The Westminster Collection will be discussing the challenge of cost versus creativity and bringing practical solutions and advice within a dedicated ‘Unleash Your Creativity’ workshop at Destination Westminster 2013, our annual London venue showcase event, featuring all 50 members of TWC. The event will take place from 8.30 – 11.30am on Friday 13th September, at 8 Northumberland Avenue.

Here’s what some of our venue members have to say about how to marry resourcefulness and creativity:

Anna Peters, marketing director, Evolve Events at Kent House Knightsbridge, says:

“Creativity in the event industry is about bringing a brand or someone’s vision to life. Increasingly we are being asked by our clients how they can make their events more impactful, punchy and memorable.

“Providing an ‘umbrella’ concept, under which all activities fall, helps the event become more focused and effective. Taking 1920s style influences from The Great Gatsby and Bugsy Malone, we recently created a themed conference for our client Pret. Delegates were invited to dress the part with feather boas, spats and headbands galore and they were welcomed into our townhouse with Prosecco served in saucers. After lunch, a flapper girl troupe performed the Charleston and blackjack and roulette tables encouraged team play and socialising.

“Styles and themes are particularly successful for private conferences where we are seeing companies combining their annual conference with an away day, by adding an entertainment element to an information based day. Holding the two events together saves on time and budget and maximises the benefits of having all staff or delegates together.”

Charles Boyd, director of 8 Northumberland Avenue, says:

“Any fool can be creative with a pile of money. It doesn’t matter if it’s £500,000 worth of lights and software or an interesting toilet roll holder, show the client, your staff or your boss that you have engaged your mind positively and have created and tested an imaginative solution that will in turn engage the client and guests.

“But first you need to talk, get into the culture of the company or situation, then ask what do you want to achieve, what are the key concerns, what is the true budget?”

Nikki Hird, events sales coordinator, 41 Portland Place, says:

“It is paramount for us to create an environment that our guests want to spend their time in, whether for corporate meetings and press briefings or dinners and drinks receptions. The finer details really are essential.

“I use a lot of references from Pinterest, where I find ideas for DIY event dressing and creative ways to set up the rooms. The 41 Portland Place summer showcase was no different. The theme was Street.Food.Party which took influence from the fashionable street food culture of East London. Our venue isn’t in the east, nor does it resemble anything like a warehouse that could be found in the east end. It was therefore my job to bring Shoreditch to Marylebone.

“My favourite trick is to use fishbowls which I borrow from our florist, fill them with fruit (chillis, lemons, limes, apples) and top up with water. Instantly you have a centrepiece or room filler. We also made garlands from chillies to hang around the venue and we filled every surface with spice scented tea lights.”

Claire Bowman, sales manager, etc.venues Victoria:

“Creativity is a big focus at etc.venues as we try to have both creative and functional space in the venue. We have lots of contemporary art work and bright colours throughout the venue to provide discussion and stimulate the attendees. We also have a few pieces of art work from one of our members of staff that he created him self from recycled coffee stirrers.

“As we do everything in house at the venue it really gives us the ability to work with clients’ budgets closely. Our chefs can do food challenges and really get involved with the delegates and we work closely with teambuilding companies, which means they know the space well and can offer the best value for money. They’re also always happy to come along for a show-round with the client at our venue which means they can rest secure in knowing they are being looked after and can brainstorm face to face in the space they want to use!”

Feed your imagination with ideas for how and where to hold your next event within London’s most illustrious business and lifestyle destination, Westminster, at our special 10th anniversary venue showcase, taking place at London’s most central venue, 8 Northumberland Avenue.

This is a FREE breakfast networking and educational event for anyone* in the business of booking corporate and private events, meetings and conferences. Click here to REGISTER NOW.

Central Hall appoints new sales manager

Central Hall Westminster is delighted to announce that Lucy Rae has joined the venue team as sales manager.

Lucy brings a wealth of experience from 11 years working in sales and marketing roles across multiple London event sites. She has a strong track record of building relationships with blue-chip, FMCGs and financial corporations, turning these into loyal client accounts.

Her new position at Central Hall Westminster sees her enter into a proactive sales role to promote central London’s largest conference and events venue to the public, private and agency sectors.

Speaking of her appointment, Paul Southern, managing director at Central Hall, said: “Lucy has a well-rounded, professional profile and her proactive drive and great knowledge of venue sales and marketing will make her a valuable addition to our team.”

Central Hall Westminster is central London’s largest conference and events venue, located opposite Westminster Abbey. The historic venue holds a 2,200 seat auditorium and over 20 additional meeting and seminar spaces for various capacities, all equipped with state-of-the art conferencing facilities and free WiFi.

Grow your event & collaborate remotely with livestreaming over the web

By Kevin McLoughlin, audio visual manager, One Wimpole Street

Recognising the importance of connectivity and state-of-the-art technology for the events industry, One Wimpole Street, London’s acclaimed conference and meetings venue, has recently launched a streaming facility enabling customers to stream their audio visual content over the internet to be viewed live or ‘on-demand’.

Online streaming enables audiences to grow and engage, reaching people in other parts of the country, or indeed the four corners of the world. It’s the ideal opportunity to expand the capacity of ‘physical’ events such as masterclasses, meetings, conferences and award ceremonies.

Live and on-demand streams provide powerful benefits to both the event organiser and online viewers. Live streams enable people to contribute, collaborate and watch the event unfold in real time. And if you want to attend in person, but can’t, it really is the next best thing.

On-demand streaming extends the shelf life of your event and can be watched until the link is removed. Both methods can be readily shared via social media channels and have the potential to reach hundreds if not thousands of people, often achieving high ROI as a result of the exposure.

So for this blog post, One Wimpole Street brings you our top tips on live and on-demand streaming, before, during and after your event.

Before the event

Start by thinking about how you will promote the event. Websites and e-newsletters are the ideal location to point people to your live stream or on-demand url, and trailers featuring interviews or the previous event will really go the extra mile to whet people’s appetites.

Think about where to host your urls. Ideally you should direct people to your website; that way they are well placed to find out more about your company and your latest news. Cunning!

What about the cost? Well once the technology is installed, costs are fairly minimal. In addition, getting a sponsor on-board, can cover your production and event costs and their logo and brand message will feature on the broadcast by way of return.

To get a ‘real time’ indication of who is present during your live stream broadcast, create an online registration page to capture names and email addresses. If the event is a masterclass or webinar you should encourage remote viewers to gather as a group to collaborate on discussions and contribute questions at the end.

Testing, testing, 1,2,3. However good the technology may be, blips can happen so ensure you test everything in the days leading up to the event, such as the slide show, microphone, server, url link, lighting and video equipment. At One Wimpole Street we’ll manage this process for you, for your peace of mind.

During the event

So the day has arrived, everything’s set for live steaming and the camera is poised. What now? To boost collaboration and user experience, encourage your online viewers to contribute by typing their questions into a text box on your webpage. These can be used in the Q&A or discussion session at the end of your event.

Most importantly, ensure your live and on-demand viewers don’t have second class participation in the event. Include extras to the on-site event such as vox pop interviews with delegates and further interviews with presenters.

For a more information and a demo of our new livestreaming web cast technology, contact us on:

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7290 2951
Email: [email protected]

Email marketing: a logical tool for event organisers

By Melissa Morris, sales and marketing manager, One Wimpole Street

The colourful mix of channels available to marketers and event organisers has created explosive potential for concocting immersive campaigns that successfully push customers’ buttons. Email marketing is one of the most logical, cost-effective and high impact ways to get this started, allowing you to communicate a message to your valuable database of contacts with relative ease. Maximising your event’s immediate and long-term impact requires planning, publicity, slick execution and a well-oiled feedback strategy.

Results measuring is a high value aspect of an email marketing campaign. Measure open rates, undeliverables and click-throughs; view results for a campaign as a whole; view the actions of a specific recipient to understand what makes that person tick. Capturing this sort of information can prove a valuable lesson for improving future targeted campaigns, making your messages more reflective of that person’s behaviour, preferences and location.

When creating an email marketing campaign, what should you do and what should you avoid?

Plan, publicise, promote

You hold events to raise funds, close deals, nurture relationships and educate colleagues and prospects. First up, you need to let people know what you’ve planned, whether its a trade show, a launch party or a business workshop. If you’ve not yet got a list of invitees, get to work on creating a page on your company website that details your event. Invite interested parties to sign up with their email address to receive more information. You could even offer email subscribers a free entry voucher, or other promotional incentive, like a glass of wine on arrival. Allow plenty of time to execute this initial data grab.

If you’ve a ready-made list of dedicated clients, you’ve a captive audience primed to receive offers. Don’t get sucked into thinking you have to have thousands of people on your list — focus on quality rather than quantity. Then plan, plan, plan.

Avoid email overload and create a schedule. Map what you’ll communicate when, then if and how you’ll segregate your data into groups, e.g. event organisers versus booking agencies. Plan to send a ‘save the date’ announcement, then a detailed invitation, then a reminder. You need to tell guests what they will learn, who they will meet and if there are any free resources or prizes. They’ll want the date, the location, the cost and the link to register.

We buddied up with to share news of our Confex trade show promotions with its 70,000 subscribers. Our eDM to them featured an interactive iPhone-style fascia with graphic buttons representing click-through links to various pages of One Wimpole Street’s website, including HD virtual tours, facilities, location and late availability. Hits leapt to 531 on that day, accounting for the busiest in our company’s website history.

Consider sending a morning digest containing updates on presentation times, speakers and locations if the event spans more than one day. Finish up with a post-event email to thank your contacts for attending, whether that’s done hand-in-hand with a feedback survey, an event re-cap with a link to download presentations, or an invitation to connect on Facebook or LinkedIn — or a combination of all those things.

Customise, integrate, schedule

Email marketing tools can be integrated with databases or CRM systems allowing event managers to easily customise emails with details such as name, job title and address. Perceived lack of technical skill is no longer a hurdle to engaging with email marketing. Content management systems (CMS) require no knowledge of HTML — they mask all that jargon behind easy-to-use templates that can be customised to mirror your company branding. You can even automate email scheduling and send test emails before they go live to your database.

Content should be viral and sharable — increase the reach of your campaign by allowing recipients to ‘Forward to a Friend’. Tweet about the event and include a link to the sign-up page. This is something you can continue to do throughout the campaign. Create a hashtag too, or link to one that’s relevant. We took advantage of the #confex hashtag to market ‘a chance to win money every 30 minutes’ live from our Confex trade show stand. This put us in front of new Twitter followers and increased foot traffic to our stand by those keen to get in on the lottery ticket promotion we’d devised especially for the show.

If appropriate, bolster your efforts by creating a Facebook page. Mirror marketing messages, link to your website and consider creating interactive content like YouTube videos, podcasts and opinion polls. As consumers, we have control over who we ‘like’ on Facebook. By expressing affiliation with a brand, we are inviting and giving permission to that company to engage with us. It’s often worth our while, as we become part of a community that is given exclusive access to promotions, information and product previews we might not have otherwise been privvy to. Use that logic in your own campaign and reward your loyal Facebook fans with unique content. It’s a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than to sell to a new one.

Email often seems a less intrusive way to be contacted, but respect your customers and be explicit with permissions — ensure people are very clear about what they’re signing up for and what they can expect to receive from you. A user’s ability to control the lifespan of that relationship is theoretically just a click of an ‘unsubscribe’ link away. Be aware that it’s a legal requirement that all commercial emails offer readers a simple one- or two-click mechanism to opt-out.

There’s no cookie-cutter solution to event email marketing technique. Learn tactics from other businesses, but through testing and results monitoring, find what works best for your customers. Never be afraid to ask questions.