You Know your Event has Value, But Can you Prove It?

How to fuel attendance and engagement with an ROI Toolkit

How to fuel attendance and engagement with an ROI Toolkit

Attendees don’t buy products (a.k.a your event). They buy outcomes. They don’t really care what you have to offer. They care what’s in it for them. If you can’t prove the outcomes of attending your event, your marketing will have to work much harder to drive attendance. It will cost you more time and money to get people to register. You will also have a difficult time getting people to engage during your event—no matter how many great things you offer.

When you promote your event you’re asking people to spend their M.E.T. (Money, Effort, and Time) to attend. In exchange for these three valuable resources, your attendees expect another M.E.T. in return, something Meaningful, Eventful, and Thought-provoking. But you need to go further. You need to quantify these ideas to show an actual return on investment.

Imagine if you could tell prospects, “Attendees on average see a $3000 increase in sales after they put our ideas to work.” Or maybe it’s, “Attendees save an average of $5000 on products and freight thanks to show-only discounts.” These real outcomes would be powerful reasons to register for your event—and to be engaged while there. An Attendee ROI Toolkit can help you craft a strong value proposition like these that proves the value of your conference and encourages attendance and engagement.

How much ROI is enough?

On average, your attendees should realize a return on investment between 3:1 and 5:1. That means if they spend $1000 in travel, lodging, and registration, they should see $3000 to $5000 in return.

Depending on your organization and your event, ROI might take one or more of these forms:

  • increased customer acquisition
  • boost in sales
  • efficiencies gained
  • costly mistakes avoided
  • deals closed
  • product or freight discounts
  • connections created or nurtured
  • free or discounted coaching, tools, or information products
  • free or discounted continuing education credits and certifications

While there will always be immeasurable benefits of attending your event, many of the items above are quantifiable. A little research will tell you how much consulting and seminars cost compared to your event offerings. Check in with vendors to see what show-only discounts they’re offering. Find out how much continuing education credits cost from other sources. Add up the monetary value of free tools and resources. All these data points will help you create a no-brainer value proposition to include in your toolkit: Attending our event will make/save you X in money, effort, and time.

How to assemble the ROI toolkit

You can further demonstrate your event’s value by asking prospects a series of questions that get to the heart of their unique situations. Start by walking them through their event-related expenses, from registration to travel, lodging, and food. Create a simple worksheet with a grand total at the bottom. This is your number to beat.

Demonstrating value is the more difficult portion of the toolkit. In fact, many conferences that already have an ROI toolkit fall short of showing actual value based on real data. You need to be so convincing that only a fool would say no. Stick to hard numbers whenever possible. And avoid silly or trivial items, such as “Free cocktail reception, $50 value.” Employers don’t send attendees to conferences for free booze.

Here are a few value-based questions to get your prospects thinking:

  • Who will you meet with at the conference?
  • Are there relationships you can initiate or cultivate?
  • Is there business you can close?

  • What challenges are you trying to solve?
  • What resources does this event provide that will solve these challenges?
  • How much would you spend on these solutions (trainings, consultation, info products etc.) from other sources?

  • Does the conference offer discounts you plan to take advantage of? List the approximate savings if known.
  • Are there other opportunities in the conference city that you can leverage while you’re there (ex: site visits, client meetings, etc.)?
  • What resources does this event offer that you can’t get anywhere else?

These questions will help prospects (and their employers) see the tangible and intangible benefits of attending your event. To encourage repeat attendance, you might consider surveying past attendees to show actual ROI. Here are a few example queries:

  • How much did you save thanks to product discounts at the conference?
  • How much did you save on freight at the conference?
  • Did you receive any free tools or resources? What is their approximate value?
  • Did you notice an increase in sales after you implemented ideas from the event? How much?
  • Did the connections you made save you from making costly mistakes? How much did you save?
  • ex: switching service providers based on the recommendation of a colleague saved me $100/month.

Have attendees or prospects fill out the toolkit online. That way, you’ll not only convince them to attend in a convenient survey-style format; you’ll also gain a huge amount of information. From there you can craft strategic engagement marketing that will prove the measurable ROI of your event and its Meaningful, Eventful, and Thought-provoking value.

Benefits this year and next

As an added bonus, an ROI toolkit helps attendees come to your event primed and ready to engage. Since they’ve already anticipated what your event offers and how they will benefit, attendees are more likely to connect, learn, and engage. As a result, they are more likely to see maximum value from your conference AND register again next year.

Need an Attendee ROI Toolkit? We can help! Contact us to learn how you can ask the right questions to create an ROI toolkit that drives attendance and engagement.

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Prove the ROI of Attending your Event to Drive Attendance and Engagement over the Long Term

Why Your Event Needs a Value Proposition

Why Your Event Needs a Value Proposition

Let’s face it. Attending your event is expensive. There’s travel, lodging, and registration costs plus time away from the office. Even if your event is really great, people might not attend because the costs are just too high.

You know your event offers so much value—so much education, career-advancing certifications, connection, and inspiration—that people would be foolish not to attend. Yet your numbers aren’t what they should be, and the people who do attend aren’t fully engaged. There’s a disconnect between the value you offer and the attendance and engagement you see.

So what’s an organization to do? You need to prove that the ROI of attending your event is higher than the cost. You need a value proposition to close the attendance and engagement gaps.

What a value proposition is

A good value proposition solves problems for your members and prospects. It overcomes impositions. It clearly illustrates the benefits of your event. A thoughtful value proposition that speaks to audience pain points sets you apart from competitors. It doesn’t “tell” why you’re better. It “shows” why you’re better using concrete data points.

What a value proposition is NOT

Don’t confuse a value proposition with a tagline, slogan, brand mark or conference theme. While these feel-good items can help you brand and market your event, they don’t show value or ROI. Similarly, a “Why Attend” letter that summarizes benefits and conference offerings is not a value proposition. This piece might come close to addressing your value, but chances are it lists too many “things” like sessions and networking opportunities. These things are not compelling enough to offset the costs of attending. You need more value.

Elements of a value proposition

If all this sounds a bit daunting it’s because you’re starting to see just how important a value proposition is to the success of your event—and to the sustainability of your organization. But don’t worry.

There are only three main elements to a good value proposition:
  1. Advantage statement. Concisely state how people will benefit from attending your event. Be specific. If you have hard data, such as improved sales, money saved, and customers gained after attending, your value prop will be that much more compelling.
  2. Substance claim. Tell people what you have to offer, to whom, and why. This will reinforce your value to members and quality prospects. At the same time it will weed out people who aren’t a good fit.
  3. Hero image. The human brain processes images better than text. Create a unique visualization of your advantage statement to grab attention and encourage action.

Thought-provoking questions

To cover all the elements above, you have to ask the right questions. There is no substitute for knowing your target audience.

Here are a few sample questions to get you started:
  • What are attendees trying to get done at their jobs?
  • What obstacles keep them from getting it done?
  • What do you offer that will remove their obstacles or alleviate pain points?
  • What gains or benefits will they achieve by attending your event?

The answers to these questions will not only improve the way you market your event. They will also help you provide a valuable event experience that meets audience needs, solves their problems, and removes obstacles to their success. In other words, they will help you deliver on the promises in your marketing and fuel engagement at your event.

Have you M.E.T. me?

Your members and prospects spend Money, Time, and Effort to attend your conference, and they expect to see real value in return.

As you begin to craft your value proposition, consider these three questions your audience might have:
  1. Money: Does the value I gain exceed my out-of-pocket costs of attending?
  2. Effort: Is it worth the effort of leaving the office and traveling cross-country?
  3. Time: If I show up and be present, will I be rewarded for my time?

If your conference value proposition does not answer these three questions with a resounding YES, then who will attend your event and engage with your organization? If you can’t demonstrate in your marketing that your event has measurable ROI, then people won’t come. If they do come, they won’t be present and engaged.

How to gauge engagement: The phone check

Your event attendance and member engagement are directly related to your ability to demonstrate your event’s value. Look around the conference floor at your next event. If you see too many people on their phones, it means they’re not engaged with you. Instead, they’re engaged with their technology. They are not present, and they won’t retain any of the information your events provides.

People engaged with their phones can’t see the value in your event (even though they were compelled to register and attend). You’ll have a hard time convincing these people to give up their money, effort, and time to attend next year. Your event—and your organization itself—will not be sustainable if people aren’t engaged. Your value proposition is the place to begin remedying this situation.

Need a value prop? We can help!

Rottman Creative has developed a series of questions to identify your audience needs and how your event will meet them. Once you answer the questions, we can help you develop a value proposition to prove the ROI of attending. Contact us today to get started.

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7 Strategies for Improved Engagement and 7 Bonus Tips

How to Use Engagement Marketing in Your Emails to Drive Event Attendance

How to Use Engagement Marketing in Your Emails to Drive Event Attendance

Email marketing represents a big opportunity to drive event attendance and encourage engagement. As a platform for communication, it remains king across all generations. The recent Association Audience & Member Engagement Study shows that 56% or more of Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers, and Matures prefer email over any other channel. If you’re getting just ho hum results from your email, you’re missing out. Here are seven proven strategies to improve your email marketing to get attention, drive event attendance, and build lasting engagement.

1. Relevant Messaging

Effective messaging has only one specific trigger and one target per email. Triggers include your products, events, and special offers. Targets are whatever you want your members to do, like register for an event or make a purchase. Choose triggers and targets based on what you know about your audience and where they are in the buying cycle. Avoid blasting your audience with too many offers at once because people will get lost in the clutter and won’t take any action. Mastering triggers and targets drives acquisition, retention, attendance, and engagement.

2. Distinct Brand Voice

Developing a distinct and unique brand voice is essential to effective engagement marketing, in your emails and across all your platforms. Try a conversational, human tone to best reach members. It should be authentic and approachable. From there, neuroscience tell us that stories inspire more than facts. Consider adding curated attendee stories to your engagement marketing mix.

3. Free Resources

A little extra insight goes a long way when it comes to email marketing. We use to test the effectiveness of email subject lines before hitting send. We also use World Data’s B2B and B2C Email Marketing Calendar to identify top performing dates as well as the poor performing ones to avoid. For instance, the calendar suggests you should avoid sending promotional emails on Mondays and Fridays, when readership tends to be low.

4. Email Marketing Automation and Email Service Provider (ESP)

The Association Audience & Member Engagement Study shows that 72% of event marketers see email marketing automation as either extremely important or very important. However, many fall short in using automation to its full potential to generate, track, and score leads. Seize this huge opportunity by investing in improved email automation. (We’ll show you how!) Additionally, if you aren’t already using an email service provider—start today. An ESP can help you create, schedule, personalize, and track your campaigns more effectively than your in-house email system. It can also send a larger volume.

5. High-Quality List

Without a high-quality list, even the best marketers will see poor email results. Take a look at the date contacts were added to your list, the size of your list, and the number of opens and clicks. You could be experiencing poor deliverability if your email addresses are very old or if contacts haven’t opened one of your messages in six months or more.

If your list is too small, you might also be falling short of your full potential. To increase your email list, consider purchasing a list from a trusted provider. The best lists, however, are those you create yourself using one of these methods:

  • create lookalike audiences within Facebook and target ads to them
  • encourage current subscribers to share with friends and colleagues
  • offer freebies such as an e-book, whitepaper and webinars on your website in exchange for email addresses

When building your list, keep in mind that it is always easier to engage someone who already knows about you or is interested in what your organization offers. Think about it: It’s easier to sell salad dressing to someone who already eats salad!

6. Segmentation

Creating smaller, specific lists from your larger database is a proven best practice for more effective marketing. Segmentation allows you to send relevant messages to different audience members depending on their unique situations. You could segment based on any number of factors, but here are a few ideas relevant to event marketers:

  • last year’s attendees
  • members who have never attended
  • lapsed attendees (members who attended in years past but haven’t attended recently)

Once you establish your segments, you should tailor the language of your message to appeal to each segment.

7. Optimal Structure

Images, graphics, and a responsive layout can affect open and click-through rates—which are directly related to member engagement, brand loyalty, and event attendance. It’s a good strategy to start with a white background and a one-column format for your content area. Add compelling images to draw attention, and embed videos for increased engagement. Consider creating a standard masthead for your event to connect the dots among messages. For a more effective call to action, use graphics instead of hyperlinks.

No matter the content, it is absolutely essential that you create an adaptive and responsive email for a range of technology outlets. This will ensure that your message is powerful and professional whether a prospect views it on a desktop, phone, or tablet.

When done well, engagement marketing means connecting in relevant, meaningful, interesting ways with audiences who want to hear from you. If you can pull this off (and you can!) everything changes.* Not only will attendance and membership increase but members will be more engaged. People will put down their phones, they’ll be truly present, they’ll connect meaningfully with like-minded colleagues, and together they’ll dig in to make things happen for your organization. Your email marketing is a key component in driving this deep engagement before and during your event and all year long.

“Engagement Marketing 101 (Redux)”, Marketing Daily, April 18, 2012

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