Email is a essential to staying in touch with our clients and we know it’s key for how you keep up with your donors, members and sponsors. Because it is vital to communications today, we like to stay up-to-date on what people are saying online about email marketing and communications.
Sometimes we run into some great blog posts with good tips about the frequency, design or purpose of email marketing – but just like many things online, we also run into some horrible, misguided information.
Recently we came across a blog post criticizing the efforts to make email, print and online communications consistent. The author claimed that consistent branding leads to readers ignoring the message because everything looks the same.
This is obviously someone who doesn’t understand how to develop a strong and effective brand.
He doesn’t realize it, but his example is a great sample of how consistent branding works. Yes, he may delete the emails now, but at some point he read them. Every single one of them, and we know this because he confesses to knowing the association’s brand. He knows the look, feel and tone of their emails. And, more importantly he knows they offer educational courses.
What he calls a failure in email marketing, is in fact, a great success.
Have you ever had a chance to watch kids during story time? A good storyteller can captivate young audience members all the way till Happily Ever After, which is not an easy task because these young listeners are often found running around, incapable of sitting still and definitely not able to stay quiet.Yet, they can be hypnotized by a good story.
Seated in one place, eyes glued to the storyteller and pictures on the pages, they are quiet except for the occasional “WOW.”
They are a tough audience to reach, but once the storyteller has their attention the reward is great. However, these young lovers of a good story are not the hardest audience to captivate. No, that would their parents.
Possibly the people you are trying to engage through conference marketing efforts. Just like their children, your potential attendees can generally be found running from place to place, hardly ever finding a moment to be still, and are so overwhelmed with responsibilities and distractions, their time is rarely quiet. Yet, you are challenged with the task of getting their attention and holding it while you give them all the information they need about your upcoming event.
I’m here to tell you that it just simply won’t happen. Save the date cards that kick off the same marketing campaign you’ve been using for the last five years will not capture the attention of nor engage your audience.
Stop marketing, and start telling a story, a story that gets your audience to the edge of their seats, eyes glued on your organization and when at the peak of the story all they can do is say “WOW.”
Specifically, we are going to talk about telling a story through your event Website, Offer and Webinars. Seriously, throw away your marketing to-do list, we are going to replace it with a vision and a story.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
Just like a great event demands a strong first impression. But, when does the first impression occur? At what point does the potential attendee read that opening line? At registration? At check-in?
No, the first impression occurs once potential registrants visit the event website. That experience is when they start to put together the story of who you are, what your brand means to them and what the event will be like. What story are you telling and how are you telling it through the event website? How are site visitors experiencing your brand while on the site?
Does confusing navigation make it difficult for them to find the information they want?
Do they feel overwhelmed because there is too much content on the site?
Do they view your lack of social media integration as a sign that you are not keeping up with the times?
Does the list of facts about the location, date and speakers seem impersonal?
You may have a great SEO strategy or marketing plan that drives thousands of potential attendees to the website – but if you don’t tell an engaging story you’ll never get the users through the front door and to the registration page.
So, stop marketing, and start telling the story of your event. Create an experience with engaging graphics, inspiring text and a story that tells the site visitor why they should attend your event.
How to WOW them:
The event website is the perfect opportunity to wow potential attendees. Interacting with a website that tells a passionate story will IMPACT attendees, CHANGE them and CONNECT them. It will “WOW” them all the way to the registration page.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Gain perspective. Let this statement guide your digital communications:
As a result of going to our event website, people will do/think/feel _. (fill in the blank)
Use examples to illustrate your points. In the weeks leading up to the event have a registered attendee (maybe a member you know well) write a weekly blog post or create a video blog as they prepare for the conference.
Blog topics can include:
what they find out when researching the speakers
how they identify who they want to meet while at the conference
what vendors they are excited to see (and the potential swag!)
places of interest they discover while researching the location
plans they make for socializing with other attendees
Switch up the homepage for the day of the event.
How well does your web presence serve the needs of attendees during the meeting? Once the event approaches, transform the homepage of the event website to become a real time guide to what’s happening. Synchronizing Twitter, Flickr and other social media platforms can keep everyone in the loop. It’s important that if the site is enhanced for the day of the conference, then it should have a quality mobile version.
What is the goal of the offer you create to let potential attendees know about the event? Is your goal to educate them on the event details? Or, to persuade them to register? Listen up: People do not want to be inundated with facts or sold on something. They want to be inspired.
The change you should strive to create is one that helps the audience believe that your event will solve a problem for them. This is a change that will lead to event registration.
And because stories have the power to simultaneously engage the listener both cognitively AND emotionally, they are highly effective in getting your point across.
If the goal of the offer is to create a change in the reader’s belief system so that they trust your event will benefit them – then you must begin with that in mind and work backwards from there to design the story you tell through the offer.
How to WOW them:
Getting started. Similar fill-in-the-blank question to get your team started down the right path.
“As a result of reading our offer, people will do/think/feel_________ “(fill in the blank).
Video. Video. Video. Testimonials are a great addition to any offer you post about the event. But, a stagnant paragraph next to a picture doesn’t do anything. You’re not fooling the reader, they know that the paragraph of italicized text next to the picture of the nice lady is a testimonial geared to persuade them to attend your event. Again, people don’t want to be sold. They want to be inspired.
That’s why video is vital to every offer you create. Thanks to television, movies and YouTube, we still believe that Video = Good Story. Make your story come alive through video. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a video of a person talking. There are many affordable ways to create video using motion graphics, text and music that will engage an audience more that plain text on a site.
Quick – grab a pencil and post-it note. You should jot down this conference marketing secret…Good webinars will increase attendance more than any Save the Date card could dream possible.
Webinars are a fantastic way to continue telling the story of your event through your website. A great webinar doesn’t have to be a 60-minute long presentation, it could be just 15-30 minutes in length. But, it does have to be engaging and inspiring.
Webinars featuring speakers, presenters and vendors giving sneak peaks into their specialty can be quite engaging. Also, webinars about the experience and location from staff members and previous attendees can inspire people on the fence to take the leap and register.
Check out these handy-dandy webinar facts:
FACT: Webinars save money.
Many organizations are using webinars to reduce the number of in-person events. Studies say that some organizations who launched webinar programs saved 75% on event expenses and that webinars can cost less than 25 cents per minute.
FACT: Webinars require less time.
Webinars require less time to all involved. It is easier to get attendees to commit to attending your webinar when it is only about an hour long. This is way more appealing than sitting through a daunting conference that can last for hours.
FACT: Webinars are good for consumers (potential attendees).
A recent survey found that 86% of all viewers will watch as many or more webinars in the next year than they did in the past year. Another survey performed showed 83% found webinars convenient; and 66% time effective and only 7% found webinars a waste of time. These surveys clearly show that webinars are highly effective and convenient for consumers.
FACT: Webinars increase sales.
Webinars create an efficient and quick way to educate, inspire and convince those interested in registering for your event.
How to WOW them:
Again, it’s all about telling the story. If your goal is to get listeners to do something (i.e. register), your story needs to inspire them by appealing to their values, self-interest, or some combination of both. Recently I read Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers and this quote from the book is the ideal direction for these stories. You must appeal, “not only to the people they are right now but also to the people they would like to be.”