Your annual meeting or trade show is a BIG opportunity for your association. Not only is it a primary way to raise revenue, but it’s a huge opportunity to engage your members and attract potential members.
But believe it or not, there’s even more opportunity at your annual meeting or trade show than just that! Because you’ll be around members (and potentially prospects), you’ll have the opportunity to obtain several valuable items that you can then use at your association throughout the year.
Here are five things you should aim to “get” at your next meeting or trade show:
1. New social media followers
If you’ve been trying to grow your association’s social media following, your annual meeting or trade show is the PERFECT time to do it. But you have to put some effort into it. In your pre-event marketing, be sure to encourage attendees to follow you on social media - but give them a reason to do so. Let them know you’ll be posting updates, takeaways, highlights, etc. (and give them an event hashtag so they can do the same).
Then during the show, continue to promote your social media accounts. List them on any handouts/signage you may have, and if/when you speak (say during breakfast or before the lunch keynote), be sure to give them a little shoutout then too (again, explaining to people why they should be following you).
This is your opportunity to grow those accounts - so take advantage!
2. Member/attendee testimonials
If member testimonials are something your association has considered (and would like to pursue), now is the perfect opportunity to obtain several of those. You can either do it on the spot (ask people questions in the hallways) or if there are particular people you know you’d like to speak to, schedule times/meet-up locations in advance.
Now there are two directions you can take with these testimonials. 1) You can ask members to explain the value they get out of membership (to encourage more people to join), or 2) You can ask attendees to explain the value they’re getting out of the meeting or trade show (to get people to attend next year). Both are good options, and both will be incredibly valuable. (And if your attendees have time, consider asking them both questions and then creating two separate videos. Different content, but both equally valuable!)
3. Member/attendee insights
Ever wish you could ask your members questions - without having to put together a formal survey? Well at your annual meeting or trade show, you can! Most of your members will be there, and it’s a great way to get feedback in a more casual setting. (Plus you can ask all the follow-up questions you want!)
Not sure what to ask your members/attendees? Well don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking questions. Make sure they’re questions you genuinely want the answers to. Questions could revolve around your newsletter, website, dues renewal process, non-dues revenue ideas, etc. Get creative - and smart! - here. This is a HUGE opportunity for your association.
4. Content for your newsletter/blog
One of the best things about meetings and trade shows is they’re educational in nature - and that education doesn’t have to stay at the event. Pull insights/key takeaways from the educational sessions and highlight those in your newsletter and/or blog. Not only will this this be valuable for the people who could not attend, but it might actually encourage them to register next year. (Plus your speakers will likely love it - more publicity for them!)
5. High-quality pictures/video
You should always be striving to get new, high-quality pictures (and video) of your members in action. You may have great images on your website now, but at some point, you may want to update those - just to keep things fresh. That said, it’s good to have an arsenal of pictures and video to choose from (and your meeting/trade show is a great place to capture those).
Note: Even if you don’t put those pictures on your website, they should still go on social media and in your online social community, if you have one. Pictures are a great way to engage people AND remind them of all the fun they had at your event!
Want more tips for making sure your next meeting/trade show is a MAJOR success? Check out our free guide to association event planning below!