At ASAE‘s Annual Meeting held August 7-9, 2011 in St. Louis, MO, many meeting planners shared their thoughts on how association organizations can focus more attention on membership, marketing, and communications.
Here is a summary of their thoughts — pre-event, at the function, and post-event:
Before the Meeting
- Offer Unique Discounts. We all know about the early-bird discounts, but creative discounts, for a limited period of time, can drive attendance up. For example, a special discount for first-time attendees, bring-a-collegue, or discounts for multiple people from the same organization, help bring attention to the event because the discounts are unique. Offering a one or two day discount, offered only through a Social Media channel, such as Twitter, can also be effective.
- Use the Executive Team. Create a marketing strategy where the C-Suite folks are blogging and tweeting about the event on a consistant and rotating basis. No one wants to hear from just 1 or 2 people from the organization. 10 or 20 individuals give the digital marketing effort more variety.
- Create a "Tip of the Week". Have your event services company staff, partners, speakers, and suppliers participate in this. Put it on your website and blog. This short tip will generate more interest about the speakers and sponsors. Start this process as soon as possible, once you know the date and location of your event.
At the Meeting
- Ask Your Members WHY they attended and WHY they joined the organization. Through the use of touch panel kiosks located in areas throughout the convention or meeting, attendees can feel free to write their comments anytime during the meeting. In addition, audience response rentals can be used in a multiple choice format and gain immediate feedback to the event organizers.
- Recognize staff, volunteers, and sponsors. So many times the sponsors get the spotlight because they are the ones with the monetary contribution, but it is important to recognize all the volunteers and staff members that make the event possible. Without their hard work, nothing would happen. A special badge recognizing their contribution can help, as well as, singling them out at the opening session.
- Consider "open" and hybrid meetings. Rent iPads to allow for Twitter streaming, take photos and post them during the session, and blog about the key takeaways as soon as the speaker finishes. Video streaming for virtual attendee is also a way to make them feel connected to the event.
After the Meeting
- Send a "We Missed You" postcard or email blast to past attendees who did not make it this year. Give them a link for photos, blogs, and/or webinars so they can get a taste of what happened and make certain to include the date and location of next year’s meeting.
- Continue the conversation. Let attendees know about upcoming ebooks, publications, events, and research your organization is doing. Don’t overwhelm them; perhaps twice a month.
- Use YouTube to give potential attendees a taste of your event. Have someone interview attendees, speakers, exhibitors, sponsors, and suppliers. Make the clips no more than 3 minutes long. Consider creating "How-to" clips – these are the most popular.