By: Christina Welty
According to the American Marketing Association, “marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large” (http://www.ama.org).
At Partners, we hold a lot of meetings. In fact, three of our clients have their annual conventions this month! Your core members know about the meeting, but it’s important to keep them coming year after year. It’s also essential to attract new attendees to grow your meeting. Here are some quick tips to market the value of your meeting in addition to the standard practices of postcards, brochures, etc.
WEBSITE, SOCIAL MEDIA & E-BLASTS – Highlight speakers (videos are great if you have them!), special events, CE credits available and include testimonials from members and photos. Make it as interactive as possible! Using this medium is important in attracting younger attendees. You can keep members informed in an inexpensive way and one that is more immediate in today’s fast-paced environment.
PHONE CALLS – Even though email and mail are typically used to reach most people, sometimes it makes a big difference when you pick up the phone. Depending on the size of the membership, you may not be able to contact everyone. However, cross-reference your list and contact members who attended last year or the year before, but are not registered yet. If board or committee members are able to participate, this is a great tactic too. Remember, your members are busy too, and that phone call may be the reminder they need to register for your event!
PUBLICATIONS – Use your publication or newsletter to promote the upcoming meeting. Include the registration form, highlight key events and/or speakers, hotel information, etc. One of our clients includes the entire meeting brochure in their publication (after it’s mailed on its own). Plus, it’s marketed as the convention publication, which adds value to the advertisers.
E-BLASTS – This is one of my favorite ideas. One of our new clients held an annual convention last fall and we programmed emails that would arrive in the attendees’ inboxes each evening. They included a short recap of that day and highlighted “tips for the following day”. The attendees thought it was so helpful and a nice touch.
SESSION HIGHLIGHTING THE ASSOCIATION – At some point during the meeting, highlight what the association has done over the past year as well as member benefits that may not be as well known. This is a good refresher for current members and a great way to recruit attendees who haven’t joined yet!
VIDEOS – Collect 30-second videos from attendees and post to your social media account while onsite or after the event.
HIGHLIGHT MEETING – Most people love to see their name in print! If you gave out awards, list them in your upcoming publication, website and on social media. Add photos as well. It’s ok to show others what they missed! And don’t forget to use some photos from the past year in next year’s marketing brochure.
TESTIMONIALS FROM ATTENDEES – Collect quotes from attendee surveys (with permission of course) and post to website and social media. Make sure to use a few of these in your marketing for the upcoming year.
THANK YOU NOTES – Remember to send a quick thank you email or thank you on letterhead to your sponsors and vendors. This is a relatively inexpensive way to recognize them and thank them for their support.
Most of this is not rocket science, but in my experience, it is more natural to do 90% of your marketing before your event occurs and forget that marketing during and after the meeting is just as important. It may be a little overwhelming to use all of these ideas, but try a few of these tips for a particular client and remember to market your meeting throughout the year. Which ones will you use? Do you have any other ways you have been successful in marketing your meeting?