If your association or chamber hosts an annual meeting or conference, you likely put a LOT of work into marketing that event — getting it on your members’ radar and convincing them it’s worth attending.
But many times, the real challenge isn’t really convincing your members it’s worth attending, it’s convincing their bosses (or board of directors).
Many people need approval from their direct manager or another higher-up within the company or organization to not only have those expenses covered, but to be out of the office for one or more days. And that’s not always an easy sell, particularly for companies and organizations that are already understaffed.
To help your members make their case, it’s wise to have a few collateral pieces they can leverage. Think of those pieces, collectively, almost like a conference justification toolkit, which your members can tap into prior to approaching “the boss.”
What exactly should go in that toolkit? Here are two must-have materials:
1. A justification letter
First, you’ll want to include a justification letter. This would be a letter that your members could give to their boss explaining, 1) what the meeting or conference is, and 2) why they should attend...the value they’ll get from it.
When drafting this, you’ll want to keep the letter fairly short. (Bosses, as you know, are busy!) But don’t worry quite so much about the length of the letter. Focus on the content. Above all, it needs to be informative.
Start your letter off by outlining the benefits of attending the meeting or conference. For example, you may want to say:
This conference will allow me to…
- Expand my professional skill set
- Bring that invaluable knowledge back to the office and our team
- Network with others in the industry
- Talk to exhibitors first-hand (This one is important for companies and organizations that may be seeking out a vendor partner)
Next, include a short blurb highlighting notable speakers and sessions. The more specific you can get about what the attendee will learn, the better.
And last, clearly state the price of the conference. If rates are expected to increase, mention that. But also mention early-bird pricing and/or other discounts you may be offering. Remember, you’re trying to sell this thing!
So, a brief outline of your letter might be…
- This conference is…
- Who, what, when, where
- This conference will allow me to…
- Benefits of attending
- Notable speakers include…
- The full price to attend is…
See — short, but informative!
2. A fact sheet
In addition to the justification letter, you’ll want to include a one-page fact sheet with hard and fast facts about the meeting or conference. Now, some of the content here may actually overlap with what’s in the justification letter...but that’s ok! Like we mentioned, bosses are busy, so if you can provide that same information in a different (shorter) format, well...that definitely wouldn’t hurt.
A simple who, what, when, where, and why may be enough to get the A-OK from some bosses. Having both pieces allows your members to cover their bases and almost gives them two shots at getting the “yes.”
Now let’s say (fingers crossed) your members DO get approval. Well, the last thing you want is for them (or worse, their bosses) to be disappointed upon return. So, for tips on making sure your next event is a HUGE success, from conception to execution, check out our free guide below!