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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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Marketing Your Unsexy Association

Posted by Christina R. Green


Some of us are blessed to work for associations that are well-known and represent hot industries or causes. They’re the Macs of the association world, charging high member dues yet people still line up to be associated with them.

While some of us...well, not so much.

Here are a few tips to turn your sleepy association into the next cool kid’s table.

Content Marketing

While this concept may not seem sexy, the idea behind giving people what they want in a format they find appealing is hot. Maybe your association of super serious scientists just needs a laugh every Friday. If so, why are you serving up white papers? Give them what they want, even if it’s not directly related to your mission. If it keeps your members coming back, or talking about you, you’ve accomplished your goal of getting them engaged.

Take a Risk

You hear it all the time in human relationships, people lamenting how the object of their eye only likes people who are bad for them. Most people are drawn to risk takers. They like rebels. They want to follow someone who’s speeding down the road. They want excitement. Boring rarely receives a cult following.

If you want more loyal followers, if you want people to join, you must do something different than what you’ve been doing. Let more of your personality show. Let your members’ personalities shine through. Host a membership drive that expresses your members’ stories, not just a spotlight that gives their name and employer. Remember the tattooed librarian calendar from the Rhode Island Library Association?

Play up your Best Feature

What is the best thing about your association? No, don’t answer that. Ask your members. Ask them why they renew. Don’t ask them in a poll; ask them in person. Have a few conversations with them. Once you have a good understanding of what makes you amazing, play it up. If your events are well-known as being the best in the industry, make sure you give them lots of coverage on social media. “Flirt” with potential members by sharing deeper looks into your best feature. Let them see what it was like at your latest event; let them “hear” the conversations that were had; and see the relationships that were built. Don’t tell them, show them. Try a RebelMouse page for your next event, for instance.

While all of our associations are special, some are just a little easier to market than others. Hopefully these tips will help get your association noticed.

What marketing tips do you have for other associations?

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Topics: association leadership, social media for associations, member engagement, Association Views

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