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MC Talks
The MemberClicks Blog

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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MC Talks to Association Leaders: Lindsay Jennings

Posted by Lindsay Wilson


Lindsay Jennings from SBI Association Management is being spotlighted on MC Talks today. Lindsay is the Director of Marketing and Communications at SBI, which is an AMC located in Seattle, Washington. SBI was founded in 1987 and Lindsay has been very involved since she started working there over 5 years ago.Lindsay oversees marketing and communications at SBI. She got her start with SBI by spearheading the creation of the events department after leadership saw a need for focused expertise and management of events and marketing for SBI’s nonprofit clients. As the company continued to grow, she refocused her energy to provide specialized marketing and communications services for clients, as well as managing marketing and business development initiatives for SBI.

Lindsay Wilson (MemberClicks): You’ve been at SBI for over 5 years, what sets SBI apart from other AMCs?

Lindsay Jennings (SBI): It’s all about our amazing team and our never-ending quest to improve our services, explore new ideas and utilize new technologies to serve the long-term interests of our clients. We have a very collaborative atmosphere and have structured our organization so that we serve each client with a team of specialists in the areas of executive and member services, marketing, events, and finance depending on their unique needs.

LW: As a customer of MemberClicks, there are many Clickers here that can testify that SBI is always looking out for their clients and they want to streamline their technology to be more effective and efficient for their clients. We love working with SBI!

All companies and organizations are faced with challenges. What is one of the main challenges as an AMC and how to do you work to overcome it?

LJ: Change management, especially as it relates to managing staff and working with volunteers as we, and our clients, grow and evolve. It takes an immense amount of time and effort to build strong relationships with volunteers as they rotate through various roles in the organizations that we serve. I am a big believer that the toughest challenges we face are also the most rewarding. I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of passionate, dedicated volunteers in a wide variety of fields – they have made me stretch as a leader, event planner, marketer, and graciously allowed me to share in celebrating successes and learning from mistakes. It’s truly inspiring.

LW: Maintaining and keeping volunteers happy can be a pain point for many associations. It’s good that you have found the positive in working with volunteers in various organizations and have acknowledged how this challenge has made you better in all aspects of your job.  

As the Director of Marketing and Communications, how do you stay organized (and sane) when you are managing SBI’s marketing plus 30+ nonprofit associations?

LJ: One of SBI’s values is operational excellence – we are committed to providing a solid business infrastructure and systematic approach to operations. We have several team members that really geek out on creating and implementing project management and communications tools and templates that can be used across clients to increase efficiencies and keep us in sync and well-organized.

One of the best examples is our partnership with MemberClicks – we invest a lot of time training our staff to be experts in MemberClicks and developing our own best practices for using the AMS platform. For instance, we have monthly quality assurance checklists for our client websites and databases, and registration form build guidelines and a review process. When everyone works together to adopt similar systems and contributes to continued improvements to those systems, tasks that used to feel cumbersome happen like clockwork and feel less overwhelming.

LW: So happy to hear that MemberClicks has helped SBI and will continue to help you strive to uphold operational excellence, internally and with your clients.

What is one secret that you wish you could tell every association on what they should be doing?

LJ: You mean, besides recognizing the power of the AMC Model, and partnering with SBI? I had a huge ‘aha’ moment a couple years ago when SBI’s President, Marlis Korber, shared a TED Talk by Dan Pollatta, which helped me realize that non-profits should actually strive to make a profit, and then reinvest their profits in order to grow. I still think it’s very relevant. Every association wants to thrive and become sustainable in the long term, and in order to do that, they need to be managed more like a profitable business. Our clients that are growing and thriving are disrupting the norm, challenging their volunteers to rethink programs, and challenging our staff to be more creative and use technology in new ways. They also ask tough questions and seek to understand what keeps their members awake at night and then aim to solve those challenges through their programs and services.

LW: Great advice! This will give our association leaders something to think about and consider.

Now to wrap this interview up, you have mentioned that you enjoy hiking. What is your favorite hiking trail?

LJ: Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I am spoiled with thousands of trails and vistas to enjoy. One of my favorites is the Heather-Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades – it’s especially great in the fall when larches turn gold. Views for days.

Look at these awesome views!

FullSizeRender-3.jpg IMG_4865.jpg

It was a pleasure talking with Lindsay and learning more about her and SBI! If you would like to speak to MC Talks about your role in association leadership, email marketing@memberclicks.com. We’d love to hear from you!

Topics: association management, association leadership, Small Staff Chatter

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