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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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From CalSAE’s #ELEVATE17: Retention Tactics That Work

Posted by Callie Walker

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Regardless of what role you have at your organization (Executive Director, Membership Coordinator, Director of Education and Events, etc.), retention is probably one of your big “bottom lines.” Everything you do is about providing your members with enough value that they’ll want to renew.

So the question is, what can you do to help bump up those membership retention rates? Well at the California Society of Association Executives’ 2017 Annual Conference - better known as ELEVATE - Dave Kilby, President and CEO of the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E) spoke about how to boost membership retention.

He spoke about several tactics in particular, but four specifically stood out:

Go three (or more) deep

This applies to organizational memberships in particular. Let’s say Bob Smith, a Baby Boomer, has been writing membership checks on behalf of company XYZ to your organization for years. But Bob’s about to retire, and his successor isn’t so sure company XYZ needs to renew that membership. What do you do?  

Well, if you’re able to go three (or more) deep - in other words, have additional contacts at the organization - you can then ping those members when a situation like this comes up. If possible, get to know HR, the CFO, the CEO, etc. The more contacts you have, the less likely a new person - that you have no relationship with - is to come in and cancel that membership.

Get creative with your invoice stuffers

Most organizations still send out mailed invoices (in addition to electronic invoices). If that’s the case for you, are you including anything with those invoices? Kilby says you should, and what you include should be centered around “HWWDFYL,” or “Here’s what we’ve done for you lately.”

These can be super simple - 5 bullet points - highlighting what your organization is and has been doing to provide that member with value. In other words, “Here’s what you’ll lose if you don't renew your membership.”

Tip: You can include a HWWDFYL section in your organization's e-newsletter as well. The more you can remind your members of the value you’re providing, the more likely they are to stay/renew.

Reward loyalty

We’re all familiar with rewards programs - Delta’s SkyMiles Program, Marriott’s Rewards Program, Starbucks’ Rewards Program, etc. And those types of programs work. (How many of you fly a certain airline just to get the points?)

That said, does your organization offer any type of rewards program? If not, why? Could you offer members who are heavily involved or who’ve been a member for 3+ years some kind of perk/added incentive? A free educational session, front-row seating at your next meeting or event, a meet-and-greet with your keynote speaker(s) - the possibilities are endless.  

Create (and utilize) member testimonials

Last but not least, there’s member testimonials. Do you have a section on your website that features member stories? Do you have a video on your homepage of a member talking about why others should join? These are highly valuable assets that your organization should consider.

Another idea: Consider creating a member testimonial sheet. Have five or so members tell your organization’s story - then include that sheet in your mailed-out invoices. Success stories from the source are far more compelling than they are from the provider. And if you have a member on the fence about rejoining, seeing another professional talk highly of your organization’s value could be a game-changer.

Want more tips for boosting membership retention at your organization? Check out our free membership retention guide below!

Membership Retention Kit  Best practices (and communication templates) to get your members to stay Download this guide

Topics: association management, member retention, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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