Effective Conference Marketing Strategy – Tips & Advice

There seems to be an interesting trend occurring – event design concepts are growing, and most associations are on board with trying newer formats (at least, in part), but we are starting to see in some cases that attendance patterns are dropping.  There are more opportunities out there for people to access education; and as a result, organizations are fighting more and more for the same professional development budgets.

How can you combat this?  Part of overcoming this is an effective conference marketing strategy; that includes activity in advance, onsite, and post event.  Here are some tips and advice:

  • Stay traditional and go digital at the same time – they need to compliment each other.  You need to plan your social activity leading up to the conference, and your digital marketing assets too – but you should also be incorporating traditional marketing opportunities (phone, mail, etc.)
  • Outline your “Why”, and early – why hold the conference?  How is it different from a competitor? What purpose does it serve?  Reinforce this message in each marketing touchpoint.
  • Create a timeline for your marketing – and include all departments at your organization – membership should know the key points; as they have a high touchpoint (or at least they should) with your target audience. The Board should know the key highlights, and other committees too.  While they may not have the authority to tweak the operational plan, they should be able to access when key messages are going out (like, keynote speakers, or CE credit evaluations); so that everyone can actively talk about the conference, the program, and the special events should the need arise.
  • Budget appropriately – you should be accounting for any and all spend that relates to marketing your conference – and add a cushion just in case you need to implement something that was not initially thought about – for example, if you have the opportunity to exhibit at an industry tradeshow last minute, but don’t have the funds to prepare appropriate marketing material to promote your conference – what will you do?
  • Create a dedicated landing page – that has brief info for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors, re-directing to more detailed info (and registration of course!).
  • When going social, incorporate hashtags – and not just yours, see what others in the industry are using and pull them into your messaging
  • When onsite….keep the promotion consistent and exciting, creating FOMO – it is never too early to start promoting for next year, and keeping your social media accounts active with short live videos, fun images of activity, etc will create some FOMO and get people thinking about the next one.
  • Can you afford to live stream? It’s become more affordable as time goes on…can you stream the awards ceremony, or a keynote speaker to drive some interest in future participation?
  • Post-Conference Takeaways – are you asking the write questions in your evaluation? What worked for the attendee? What didn’t? How did they hear about the conference in the first place? What would they like to see continue? What should you try next year?  This data is critical to continue to create successful conferences that are attractive to your attendees – and critical to how you are going to promote them going forward.

These are just a few things that have worked for us – what has worked for you?  If you need assistance in creating a marketing plan for your conference, and get more people out to it, please do not hesitate to reach out.

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