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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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Questions to Ask to Delight Your Members

Posted by Sarah Hill


It’s one of the final steps in marketing: delight your customers and they’ll bring their friends. Think about how often you’ve referred a friend to a great service because you had a delightful experience. In this case, your members are your customers, and their “referrals” mean more revenue and engagement for your association!

Delighting your members seems like a no-brainer, right? But for many associations it’s easier said than done. Remember that members often already have pretty high expectations from your association and this can leave you frustrated when a major effort is met with a lukewarm review. 

To help you get on the same page as your members and therefore pass from the expected to the dazzling, we’ve outlined a few questions to ask yourself (or maybe discuss with a committee or board) to feel your way through this sometimes tricky territory.


What does your member want from you?

You probably have an elevator speech already about the benefits to your association and why someone should join, but are those reasons, in fact, why they did join? Here’s a good chance to analyze your strengths and even the “buzz” around your association. Are you known for your events? Service? Programs? Networking? Focus on your strengths and you can bet you’ll find the answer to this question.

What do they care about above all?

Step back from the bubble of your association and ask yourself what your members’ priorities are. I’m talking in their lives. If you’re a hobby club, your association and events might be a little further down on the list. If you’re a professional organization, you’re probably inching closer to the top. If you’re a family or home related group your mission may align naturally with your members’ priorities. Always remember, though, that while you may fit in naturally with a members’ top priorities, membership and participation in your association’s events is likely seen further down on the list. What needs must be met before a member can enjoy what you have to offer? Not that you can necessarily help with these needs (you can’t be a babysitter, for example, or move work deadlines) but compassion and understanding here help a lot. 

What’s the bare minimum to them, and what’s the extra mile?

Now that you have a little idea of what members want an expect, you can pin point the bare minimum and the extra mile. Would it be out of the question to have a kid-friendly event to answer one priority, for example? Many members could find that absolutely delightful as childcare can be tough to book and expensive. 

What are some examples of happy members?

Chat with other association leaders you know. Get some insight into what makes their members happy! Consider groups of which you are just a member and decide what would delight you. Try not to think like an association leader here: think like a member. Trace your steps backwards and see if you can implement some of the same practices in your association. 

A big part of happy members is member engagement in general. Are you looking to step up your game? Download our free guide to member engagement below and start delighting your members!

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