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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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Amplify Attendance: 4 Ways to Drive Conference Registrations

Posted by Callie Walker

Tips to Drive Conference Registrations

Event season is here, and a big part of planning is promoting. It’s all about those registrations!

To drive interest AND actions (AKA members and prospects actually registering), check out these four promo tactics:

1. Campaign past attendees

Of course you want to market your event to everyone, but spend some extra time marketing it to people who’ve attended in the past (if you’ve hosted this event before). If they had the resources (time, budget, etc.) AND the interest to attend it once, chances are, they’ll have it again this year. You may even want to offer them a special “alumni” discount. For example, “Use the code ALUM2019 for $100 off registration!”

2. Offer time-sensitive discounts

Speaking of discounts, that’s always a great way to drive registrations. But the key is they need to be time-sensitive. Otherwise, what’s the point of acting fast?  

Get creative with your discounts! Early-bird discounts are always good, but in addition to that, consider having flash sales, holiday-related sales (a Fourth of July sale, for example), a bring-a-friend special, etc.

But note: Be cautious of how many discounts you offer. If you offer them too frequently (to the same audience), people won’t feel the need to act because they know another discount is likely right around the corner.

3. Have your speakers help promote

If your event involves speakers, encourage them to help promote your event. Tag them on social media so all they have to do is reshare your posts. And if you can create graphics with their name and headshot and/or graphics that say “I’m speaking!,” the chances of them sharing that info will increase. (It makes them look good!)

Below is an example of a graphic we made for one of our speakers at MC LIVE! 2018, a conference we hold every other year for association and chamber professionals. (Be on the lookout for MC LIVE! 2020 updates here.)

MC LIVE! Speaker-bio images_Lowell (1)

And pro tip: Check out Canva for a free, easy way to make graphics for your organization!

4. Leverage resources from your last conference

If this is a conference you regularly hold, use last year’s content to promote this year’s event. For example, in your promo materials, use pictures, videos, clips from session recordings (so people can see how valuable the content is), etc. And if you can get any former attendee testimonials, that’ll make your marketing messages 10 times more compelling. (Remember, you can say something 100 times, but the second someone else says it, it immediately becomes more credible.)

Now these are just a few ways to drive registrations. But as you know, event promotion involves a lot more than just that. There’s your website, social media, printed materials, etc. To fully leverage all of those platforms and truly get the word out there, check out our Small-Staff Guide to Event Promotion below!

The Small-Staff Guide to Event Promotion  Everything you need to make your next event POP Download this guide

Topics: event planning, Association Views

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