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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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The Secret to Member Engagement Is… Careful Analysis

Posted by Sarah Hill

“Many look at engagement through the eyes of their meetings and volunteerism.  The philosophy being that if you don't come to meetings or volunteer, then you aren't engaged. That couldn't be farther from the truth.” –Tom Morrison, CEO MTI Management 

Back in June Association Pro Tom Morrison posted a blog discussing some data related to his association’s member engagement. It was a groundbreaking moment, he said, because for the first time they “had the data right in front of us to truly measure our membership engagement in an easy and readable format.” In breaking all of that down they found one important distinction: the meetings, volunteerism, etc is a PERCIEVED value of a member. Not a real one.

The fact is that it’s up to the association to provide value beyond events. If the only measure of a member’s worth and engagement is participation in events, then the flip side of that is the association’s only measure of value is those events. That can’t be right!


Tom goes on to point out there are three types of engagement that you should pay attention to:

1) Informational - They get data from you in one way or another

2) Transactional - They purchase something from you

3) Emotional - They volunteer or attend meetings for face to face networking

Tom goes on to explain that members stick around because of a personal or emotional connection. He encourages readers to list every benefit your association offers, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this benefit a "perceived" value or "actual" value to the member?
  • If it is "actual" value, state on paper the answer to, "How does the benefit have a lasting and measurable impact on a member?"

Tom brings up an excellent point. How can you really expect a high level of member engagement if your association isn’t offering knock-out value?

Definitely write out that list that Tom recommended. What’s on it? Are you missing any key areas that would interest your members like career assistance, programming, mentoring programs or conferences? Consider if that’s a good solution for you!

A big thank you to Tom Morrison for sharing his thoughts with us. Be sure to read his complete blog post!

Topics: member engagement, Association Views

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