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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... The Personal Touch

Posted by Sarah Hill

This week's latest installation in the MemberViews Association Blogger collaboration "The Secret to Member Engagement" series is a post by Christina Green, association and chamber consultant and long time association blogger. Check out her website here!  She shares insights into how to make the member engagement process simpler by personalizing the experience for your members.

Stay turned for another installment next week!

Member engagement is as elusive as courtship and love. There are plenty of dating experts who will tell you how to “land” the person of your dreams, but ultimately member engagement - and love - come down to personal desires and timing.

If you’ve ever won someone over, you know it can be done. The key is personalizing your efforts in attracting and retaining your ideal member. You must also reevaluate your approaches periodically.


Know Your Ideal Member

It’s going to be hard enough to personalize your efforts for several hundred or thousands of people as it is. Knowing your ideal member is essential and will maximize your ability to meet their needs. Don’t waste time on someone who’s not a good fit for your association.

Segregate Your Member Base

Using data in your AMS (or other reporting system) break down your membership into your most loyal, average and disinterested members. Don’t worry about your disinterested members. If the changes you make to engage the others work, maybe they will get more engaged too. If not, they probably already had their mind up to leave.

Be Everywhere

I know many of you have been tempted to turn your social media efforts over to an intern. Now you can. Give an intern your membership list and ask him/her to follow your members on Twitter and Google+ or, better yet, ask your members for the social media profiles and follow them. That way your members have some say as to which profiles they share. Make sure you are following, sharing and liking their content regularly. Flattery goes a long way towards engagement.

Tell Your Story

While most of engagement focuses on what members want, there are times when you must communicate about your association. People want to believe they are a part of something that matters. They want to get behind the organization or the brand and proclaim they are a part of that too. Members cannot get excited about your association without a good story. Make sure you are sharing yours.

Listen to Social

Someone should be doing regular searches on your association’s name as well as monitoring alerts. Listening and responding is as important in building a relationship as tailoring your offerings to member interests.

I recently tweeted about a conference I was considering attending. I called the organization out in the tweet and yet no one responded to me. A simple “we’d love to see you there,” would’ve gone a long way to guaranteeing my attendance.

Personalize Your Efforts

The hardest, and most exhausting part, of the engagement process is finding that magic combination of offerings and actions that inspire your members. This means if they’re into programs, you offer programs. If they are big on social, you’re there too. If they love you only for your newsletter, you want to make sure they have content they find valuable.

This is a daunting undertaking when you have a large member base, but making your approach as personalized as possible is the key to standing out and being remembered. After all, people rarely discontinue membership because of a bad experience. Most of the time they don’t renew because they see no value in membership. If you engage your members (in a way that’s meaningful to them) throughout the year, this is less likely to happen.

While engagement is billed as the panacea for lagging membership, it’s not easy to achieve. Just as in romance, you must first understand your ideal significant other, then you find him/her and get to know how they like to be courted. Next you put that knowledge into action and you repeat the process – not over and over again in a mindless automated way, but checking in and making sure they still respond to your efforts and adjusting accordingly.

Engagement is a large undertaking but it’s the pinnacle of the member relationship.


Thanks, Christina! Be sure to check out the MC Talks Blog next week for another secret to Member Engagement from an association pro. 

Topics: member engagement, Association Views

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