Your upcoming conference has a great venue, high-powered speakers, and a wide range of focused, practical sessions. Here are some simple ways to get members to attend.
1. Make it Personal with Video Invitations
In associations, all members are equal—but in reality, some may be more equal than others. If that’s true for you, consider a personal video invitation from your Executive Director or President to your most important individual members or member organizations. Video invitations can cut through the barrage of emails and phone calls these vital members receive every day. Moreover, they’ll appreciate a personalized message.
You might be thinking: But many email platforms don’t support embedded video and weed them out with spam filters.
True, but you don’t need to embed a full video. Instead, you can create an engaging teaser with an animated GIF that uses four or five images from the full video. Alternatively, you can embed a static image from the video with a Play button. Either way, you’ll get far more responses than a simple text or HTML email.
2. Promote Your Speakers and Agenda with Social Posts
Several months before your conference, start using Twitter and possibly Instagram to give members a weekly or twice-weekly taste of what they can expect. Your posts could include profiles and short video clips of your speakers, descriptions of panel discussions with brief bios of panel members, video clip testimonials from last year’s attendees, must-see attractions in the host city, and so on.
3. Create a Highlight Video Reel
If you shot video at last year’s conference, create a highlight reel that captures the best of your speakers, sessions, and panels, as well as the conference's social aspects. Share the video with members via your homepage, and through email and social posts. By conveying the energy and impact of your previous conference, the reel will make it easier for members to commit to attending the next.
If you didn’t shoot video at your last conference, do it this year. Livecast to give members who can't attend a taste of what they’ve missed. After the conference, create a highlights reel for promoting next year’s event.
4. Go Where Your Members Go
You may aim to be the authoritative source of information about your industry or profession, but members usually have complementary sources, such as blogs and online and print magazines. Find out which of these are most popular through a very brief member survey email. Then, develop engaging promotional material to advertise on these properties. This could be a short video testimonial or an engaging ad (e.g., 4 ways attending our conference has made these members more successful).
5. Put Speakers, Exhibitors, and Sponsors to Work
As part of your contracts with speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors, require them to promote your conference on their social media channels, websites, and blogs. You can also ask them to generate content for your website. For example, keynote speakers and session facilitators could offer brief pre-event webinars during which they provide an overview of their conference content.
Jamie McIntosh is President of Ottawa-based inMotion Video and Digital Marketing. Clients include the Canadian Automobile Association, Canadian Council on Aviation and Aerospace, Consumer Health Products Canada, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, the Canadian Wood Council, the Canadian Curling Association, Forest Products Association of Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and many others.
For more information about inMotion, visit their website.
For some inspiration, check out the videos CSAE and some of the conference speakers have created to boost attendance at the CSAE 2018 Annual Conference.