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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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How to Find Event Sponsors That Are a Perfect Fit

Posted by Colleen Bottorff

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Or as I like to call them: your Goldilocks Sponsors. These are the companies that just belong at your event. They aren’t providing products or services that are beyond your members’ needs...and making sense of their presence isn’t a stretch, either. Nope, they are - say it with me - juuuust right!

We get it, sponsors are important for throwing a successful event - necessary, even! Additional funding can go a long way for bringing your event to the next level, so usually this is a “the more the merrier” situation. But by doing your due diligence when hunting for sponsorships, you’ll be providing better quality connections for your members. And isn’t that what it’s all about? As you start planning your next big event, consider these tips for creating a more meaningful, value-driven experience for all:

Make it make sense for everyone.

The best sponsorships make sense for you, the sponsor, and your attendees. The association, of course, benefits from the additional non-dues revenue - however, it’s equally important to consider the value your sponsor gets from using their time and resources to be at your event, as well as the value your attendees get by being connected with the sponsor.

As you start researching opportunities, be sure you can clearly identify where the link is for all parties…and if it’s not there for at least two of you, ask yourself: should I move forward? At a certain point, it has to be worth your time, too!

Identify your members’ issues.

One way to start brainstorming for a sponsorship prospect list is to think about what your members may be struggling with, and find companies that have a solution. This will at least give you a good sense of what category of products and services would be relevant to pursue.

You might even go so far as to simply ask members who they would like to see on-site. Then once you know, pretend you’re one of the investors on Shark Tank and open those doors for your members! If you don’t get my reference: You have connections around town and in the industry, use them to provide all the value that you possibly can.

Think outside the box in terms of assets.

Sure, there are some standard things you’ll offer a sponsor – logo placement, an advertisement in your agenda, booth space, etc. But how else can you tie their product or service into the event?

For example – let’s say you’re a metro area chamber of commerce, and a local restaurant wants to sponsor with the goal of getting your member organizations to host luncheons at their location. Awesome! After you’ve considered all the standard assets, think about ways to help them stand out. What if they had a cooking demonstration at their booth? Or handed out samples as a snack one day? Or took groups of attendees on a tour of their restaurant? The ideas just keep coming! Don’t be afraid to try something different to engage your attendees.

Don’t let the momentum stop after the event ends!

veryone came to your event, sponsors and attendees had a great time, they learned from each other, possibly exchanged a few business cards…and then what? While it’s not necessarily your responsibility to follow up on every connection that was made, try to help keep the lines of communication open. Make sure attendees (and even members who were unable to attend) still have access to your sponsors for some time following the event.

Part of the sponsorship agreement could include post-event exposure on your website; keep up with their social media channels so you can share their news; suggest their product or service as it makes sense in your everyday conversations with members. If you’ve successfully introduced relationships that makes sense for everyone and are relevant to your members, and gave sponsors creative ways to stand out, keeping those conversations alive should be a breeze!

And the best part? Sponsors that are a perfect fit and have a good experience with your event are much more likely to return year after year!

Sponsorships are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to planning an event. SO many details to consider, and never enough time! How can you keep up with it all without losing your sanity? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back with our free guide: Association Event Planning: The Complete Guide. Check it out!

Association Event Planning: The Complete Guide  Best practices for before, during, and after an event Download this guide

Topics: event planning, member engagement, Small Staff Chatter

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