If your association regularly plans sold out events, good for you! But if you are like most small staff associations, you would love to have more members and potential members at your events.
So think big! Swing for the fences! If you build it they will come. Well, OK maybe not all of the time. But here are some ways to generate “sold out” buzz that could really get people clamoring to attend!
1) Limit tickets
Say your budget and venue allows 30 people and you were planning on releasing 25 tickets, reserving 5 for your planning committee or board. Consider only selling 20 tickets with an ever-so-slight price bump. Nobody will notice an empty chair here or there, and you’d be surprised how advertising a “SOLD OUT EVENT!” makes me people want to go all of the sudden. You can always change your mind and start a waiting list or release the last five at the last minute.
2) Marketing, marketing, marketing
There many ways to spread the word about your event, but the ones that really matter are the ones that are already proven to get your members attention. If you’ve been successful reaching people through social media, that’s a great way to generate buzz! If you know you’ll reach a bunch of people promoting your event through your members and committee’s employers, go for it. Set up a specific time line to send out E-mail notifications and add the event to meeting agendas. If you have a partner organization, let them take on some of the promotion too!
3) Encourage your friends and attendees to talk it up
Word of mouth really is the best way to spread buzz about an event. People want to go to events where they will have fun and learn something with people they like and respect. If you have an honored guest or keynote speaker, make it easy for them to share or post pictures or statuses about your event.
4) Consider atmosphere
Meetings and events, no matter how cool or unique the subject matter, can get repetitive. A feature of association events that often gets overlooked is atmosphere. Committees spend a lot of time focusing on unique subject matter that they tend to rely on the same “look and feel” that worked in the past. There’s no rule that says decisions can’t be made and knowledge can’t be shared at a bowling alley, and that has a completely different feel than a boardroom. Maybe a bowling alley isn’t the best example, but you get the idea.
5) Follow up. A lot.
Post pictures! Again, fun begets more fun, so if your members see their friends and colleagues interacting, smiling, and having a great time, they’ll be more likely to come in the future. Also consider an event hash tag if your members are big tweeters! It’s a great way to solicit immediate feedback for planning future events and generate buzz.
In other words, you’re not going to knock out a home run with every event you plan, but you can certainly try! Don’t roll out the carpet quite yet, but one day, perhaps, you will have to.