Creating Engaging Association Meetings

(adapted from Ignite Magazine’s February/March 2016 Issue)

“Hey are you going to this year’s conference?  You really should consider going, I went last year and it was fantastic!”

Is this the message your association members are communicating to one another?  Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful conference marketing tool, and using engaged members to spread the word is the easiest and most trust-worthy way of spreading the word about your event.

When you chat with your association members, are they genuinely excited to attend this year’s conference?  Most associations plan an annual conference as part of the membership package, a mandatory offering to members and association suppliers.  However without the support of your engaged members, and a solid conference offering to back it up, your annual event will look more like a chore rather than an adventure.

Ignite’s Magazine recently published an article about association conference best practices – do a quick check-in on your event to ensure your next conference is using these tips and tricks!

  1. Great programming – this may be an enticing keynote speaker, or content that incredibly relevant and timely for your industry (the “must know and get in the know” stuff that pops up based on market conditions).
  2. Budgets – Yep, you knew it had to be on here. Association meetings have tight budgets, but you can get creative with expenses:
    1. Décor – pinterest is FULL of great ideas that may cost much less than rental expensive centrepieces
    2. AV and lighting – it can transform a space, at typically a much lower cost – include your AV suppliers in on this discussion!
    3. Food and beverage – check out my blog from last month for tips and tricks
  3. Event history – keeping accurate post-event reports and surveys will set you up for success for future events, whether its negotiating power with venues, or looking for new sponsorship dollars.
  4. Partnering with another association – we’re seeing this more and more, even in our industry (check out MPI Greater Calgary Chapter and ISES Calgary’s upcoming ONE Conference). Combining expenses and sharing in the revenues is a great way to learn from one another, and share in the risks of holding an event.
  5. Marketing – Outwit outplay and outlast your meeting’s competition – what makes your event unique, a must-attend event? Get the word out and keep your branding consistent.

Need more ideas?  Meetings and conferences are my life – please do reach out and we can chat about where your meeting is at, and where you’d like it to be!

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