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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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Don't Market Your Association on This Alone

Posted by Christina R. Green


Marketing is an essential part of an association professional’s job. From content marketing (providing your members and prospects with content that educates, entertains, and/or entices) to referral marketing (and building membership ambassadors who help you reach out to prospects), small-staff associations are busy coordinating it all.

Are You Marketing Your Association Effectively?

Marketers will tell you not to market your association on a list of features and benefits. Lists just don’t resonate with the average person who’s bombarded daily with more information than he can digest in one week.

Next, you hear you should market in terms of “what’s in it for them” (your members). So you pull out one of the things your association does (and focus on how it will make your members’ lives better) and you tell it to everyone you see.

However, if you have been busy telling people about (only) the networking opportunities at your association you’ve hit a time warp because it’s not a message that will appeal to today’s audience.

The Web is the Only "Association" Anyone Needs to Join for Networking

If you are marketing your association solely based on networking events or opportunities, someone will eventually say to you what I just wrote in this header.

No one will pay to network with her peers when she can get online and do it for free wherever she wants, whenever she wants. With one exception...

People may pay to network, if it gains them access to people they otherwise can’t reach, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Kim Kardashian.

Your Association Offers More Than That

Your association is not a networking group. You can network in it, but it offers more than that. It may offer opportunities in:

  • leadership
  • continuing education
  • travel
  • publishing
  • speaking
  • advancement (in a career and professional development), and so much more

Whatever you do don’t give it to your members in a bulleted list. Lists never moved anyone to join anything. Yes, bulleting makes it easier to skim but those opportunities won’t sink in.

The best way to communicate what your association can do for its members is by showing them through telling a member’s story.

Conveying the success a member has experienced through a story is much more effective because that prospect sees themselves in that member. Whatever your member was struggling with, and whatever chamber membership solved for him, will be projected onto her own membership joining decision.

Reaching prospects on that emotional level is so much more effective than suggesting they can meet people in their field by paying you.

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Topics: association management, small staff association, Association Views

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