Anyone can put on a party, right? But what about a large-scale event surrounded by incredible amounts of buzz and hashtags galore? Marketing your event can seem like an easy, yet daunting task all at the same time. Sure, you’ve gathered the fun elements: the food, the drinks, the promotional items, the games, and so forth. It all seems so easy to get in front of people… until you actually have to get it in front of people.
As part of your accredited association event marketing strategy, it is important to ask yourself key questions that will shape the plan you will be rolling out to the rest of your team for implementation. It is important to acknowledge and remember that every association, just like every business, will have its own strategic plan and vision. We all want and plan to have a widely popular, publicized and talked about event… but how we all get there is different. If you are doing media outreach, the types of media you reach out to will vary. With different types of media requires varying types of messaging. Who is your audience? What do you want them to know? What do they want to know? How will you reach your audience? What platforms should you be using? Is your audience more print driven or do they spend a substantial amount of time on the web?
Media outreach is just the beginning in shaping your accredited association event marketing strategy. You also will need to think about other forms of outreach to your current list of members. ENewsletters and social media have become key platforms in achieving this very goal. By leveraging who you already know and have a relationship with, you can build excitement around your event simply be keeping it top of mind. When you keep the event top of mind, it should not simply be an outreach where you are constantly reminding them of the date, time, location, and so forth. All of those are crucial elements for people considering attending your event; however, after the save the date goes out, this should be a secondary piece of information to promote. Your focus shifts from the who, what, when and where to fully concentrated on the why. Many people planning events and responsible for marketing them completely forget about the why. In today’s world we are saturated by invites. And depending on what time of year your event is, the more difficult it may be to convince someone to actually RSVP to yours. However, when we provide time and time again powerful and exciting pieces on social media and/or via eNewsletters, it garners an interest and curiosity for your event that builds and strengthens over time.
Your accredited association event marketing strategy goes beyond social media, eNewsletters and media outreach. Many times, event planners are so focused on finding new attendees or prospective attendees to join their event, that they tend to forget about the ones that showed up to the party last year. One of the greatest strategies to kick start ticket sales is to reach out to those who attended your event last year and reward them for coming once more. Rewards can occur in several ways: discounts, limited-time rate for tickets, special pricing on sponsorship packages and hotel room rate discounts are but a few examples. Last year’s attendees will be one of your frontline supporters. They will be one of the first to consider event registration as the sales cycle has softened due to their attendance and involvement the year prior.
Another tool that often goes overlooked is your website. It works best to consider your website as your digital storefront, displaying and showcasing all you have to offer. Oftentimes, organizations will simply write a small blurb or have a dedicated page for an upcoming event. In some cases, many simply have it on their website’s calendar plugin. Try to be more impactful – sprinkle “calls to action” throughout your site to encourage event registration or, at the very least, learn more about the event and all it has to offer. Sprinkled “calls to action” will keep the event top of mind as they navigate throughout your site and will help tremendously in succeeding with your accredited association event marketing strategy.
A key part in all that you promote for the event comes down to a single question: “Who cares?” Many times, events and conferences are an opportunity for the individual to grow as a professional, possibly gain some great networking contacts and to be a part of the fun – whatever that may look like for your association. Sometimes the fun begins right at the beginning with the venue choice. Some associations choose to amp up their accredited association event marketing strategy by luring event registration sales in the form of choosing a location, such as Hawaii, Rome, or New York City. Oftentimes, a day of learning and professional growth is best followed by evening events, such as cocktail hours, shows, group events or dinner. “Fun” is defined by the individual but the secret to having a “fun” event or conference is to keep the learning portion of the event stimulating, interactive and upbeat. With stale event planning comes a stale reputation. With positive and exhilarating event planning comes a positive and exhilarating reputation. See the correlation? All the effort and energy that you pour into creating an incredible event should not (and will not) stop once the event is over. The idea is to craft such a memorable event that attendees will be talking about it for days, weeks, month, (and if you’re lucky) maybe even years afterwards. This traction, or verbal endorsements, offer a validity and confidence to your event that no Yelp review, Facebook comment, or email campaign can offer.
There are many ways to craft your accredited association event marketing strategy. Once you solidify the strategy, focus on the masterful execution of your event to create memories to last a lifetime (and also boost ticket sales for years to come).
If you would like to leverage CMA Association Management’s experience in helping your association maximize effectiveness, we’d love to chat. Please contact Art Cianfano, Association Manager, at 609-269-2390 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org