So, you’ve mastered the experience at in-person learning and networking events, and your digital strategy is top notch. Take your engagement strategy to the next level by blending the two to create a seamless experience from initial event discovery to post-event debrief. After all, members don’t live in silos, and your member experiences shouldn’t, either.
Chances are, your hybrid events process looks a little like this:
- You send an email out to your members to let them know about all the events coming up this month
- Your members RSVP online to the event following your announcement
- Maybe you send a reminder out the week-of the event
- Your members show up at the event and have a fabulous experience! Yes!
- You send an email out to all event attendees thanking them for their participation and sharing any recordings or PDFs from the session.
Sound familiar? Truth be told, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the methodology listed above. If it’s been working for your association and your members are delighted, great! Keep on keeping on. However, chances are your events are never quite as sold out as you’d like them to be, and improving your practices on either end of the event itself can help boost engagement and overall satisfaction in the experience. We’ve compiled a few event marketing best practices for you to consider, which (surprise!) create the perfect blend of driving excitement and community online to support your already-fabulous in-person event experience.
Show, Don’t Tell
No one wants to attend an event that sounds like a bore. Duh. So why does your event marketing begin and end with sending out boring event details and nothing more? Try using dynamic content to build excitement for the event. Did you take video at last year’s session? If so, cut it together into a fun hype reel showing what your members can expect. If not, be sure to pull out those smartphones this year. No need for fancy camera equipment, an iPhone can easily get the job done. Seeing is believing in this digital age, so it’s important to actually show - not tell - your members what the experience will be like.
Spread the Word Far and Wide
Events can be a great way for current members to meet and form solid communities, but events can also be used as a new member recruitment channel. Are your social media channels optimized to reach new audiences who are primed to become new members? Invite them to join the event - maybe even for free, for their first one. Your engaging hype video will make it an easy sell, and once you’ve got potential new members at the event itself, chances are the community will be enough to convince them that your association can make big waves in their career.
Personalize the Experience
So your members (or potential new members!) have signed up. Now what? Just because you have them on the hook doesn’t mean they’re excited about coming. Prime them for the experience by teasing session content or sending relevant third party content to help them prepare for the session. Your marketing is great, but if they’ve signed up for your learning or networking session, chances are, they have a compelling personal reason for being there. Maybe they need to learn a critical new skill to get them to the next level in their career, or maybe they’re in the middle of a job-change and they want to meet other professionals in their field. Figuring out your members’ reasons for attending isn’t hard - maybe you can infer their “why” based on the content of the session itself, or, when in doubt, just ask. Add a simple question to your signup process: “What do you hope to gain out of this experience?”. Having important data like this at your fingertips will help you create a more personalized experience for your members as you gear up for the session itself.
Wow Them in Person
After all the hype-building, your in-person experience better be killer. Make sure your speakers and facilitators are top notch, and brainstorm ways to get better with each and every event. We call this process a “retro” - after an event, your events team should sit down and discuss what went well, what could have gone better, and ideas for taking the experience to another level at the next event. Your events team should have a culture of wanting to one-up themselves at every pass.
Make it Stick
After the event is over, it’s easy for members to fall back into their old habits. If you truly want to provide value for them, you’ll do everything in your power to make sure that doesn’t happen. Include multiple digital or virtual check-ins as part of your post-event experience. One tactic we love is having members write and self-address letters to themselves at the end of the session. Ask them to make commitments to the lessons they’ve learned in the session. Collect the letters and put them in the mail one month after the event. We live in an age where snail mail is rare - your members will enjoy receiving a love letter from themselves! Digitally, be sure to send any related third party content, further learning, and additional reading materials along to your attendees. Taking this extra step will show your members that you truly care about creating a transformative career experience that sticks with them.
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