How to get members to comprehend the value of your organization?

If you struggle with event attendance and membership acquisition, chances are the problem isn’t your organization, your member benefits, or your event itself. The issue is that not enough people know your VALUE. They need to fully comprehend what’s in it for them, or they won’t be moved to act. While there are lots of ways to communicate value to your target audience, there is only one that’s proven effective through brain research: STORYTELLING.

Why storytelling?

Humans make decisions in the limbic system. That’s the emotional part of the brain, not the logical one. That means if you want people to register for your event or join you as a member, you need to appeal to their emotions. Facts and logic won’t cut it. Storytelling that includes rich, sensory details actively engages the limbic system and inspires people to take action because they feel compelled to do so.

The proven effectiveness of storytelling should make it a no-brainer when it comes to event marketing. But, most organizations aren’t taking advantage of this format. According to the Association Audience and Member Engagement Study, only 33 percent of associations use storytelling to promote events.

Not coincidentally, the study participants cited numerous challenges related to demonstrating event value and retaining members. “We struggle with conveying a clear value of networking,” said one. “We need to create a distinct reason for our attendees to join once they agree to attend,” said another. Answers ranged from communicating value to capturing attention and encouraging engagement—all things storytelling can help with.

How to start telling stories

Your members are a gold mine of stories. You just need to do a little digging. First, identify a handful of people who might be willing to give you an hour or two of their time. Choose a mix of new members, veteran attendees, cheerleaders, and maybe even a curmudgeon who wasn’t so quick to see your value. Next, come prepared with questions, but don’t be afraid to venture off the map. Sometimes your best stories come from unscripted conversations. It’s a good idea to record the interview so you don’t miss any juicy details.

10 questions for better member stories

Here are 10 questions to get you started telling curated member stories. Be sure to tailor questions slightly depending on whom you’re interviewing. For example, a veteran attendee may need slightly different prompts than a first-timer.

  1. What’s your situation? Tell me about yourself and your business.
  2. What are your biggest challenges and concerns?
  3. How long have you been a member, and how did you first hear about the association?
  4. Why do you go to the event? Variations: Why are you going for the first time? Why do you go to this event on a regular basis?
  5. What do you do to prepare for the event?
  6. How do you justify time away from your business? Variation: How do you describe the benefits vs. the cost of attending?
  7. Who do you meet there and how do you meet them?
  8. Do you have any advice for other attendees? For first-time attendees? For veteran attendees?
  9. How do you benefit from the event? Variations: What do you take away from the event—literally and figuratively? What’s your biggest takeaway?
  10. Is there anything else you would like to share?

How to structure your story

Once you have a repository of information, write out the entire story. (You can always shorten it to fit your marketing needs later.) A good story follows a traditional structure. It has characters, a setting, rising action and conflict, a climax, falling action, and an ending. Within this framework, your stories should show members you understand their pain points and that you have solutions and resources to resolve their challenges.

Marketing tactics

Authentic stories from real people resonate in a world of information overload. Stories inspire and connect your base. But storytelling itself isn’t a marketing tactic. It must be aligned with digital media to help you reach membership and attendance goals. Just a few ideas for incorporating storytelling into your marketing mix: blogs, automated emails, micro sites, videos, Facebook Canvas, and Facebook Ads.

Einstein defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Chances are you’ve been using the same strategies over and over again while membership and attendance stay flat or, worse, decline. If you’re among the majority of event marketers not using storytelling, now is the time to start. If you already use storytelling, perhaps it’s time to infuse some life into it with richer sensory details, more colorful characters, and a complementary digital strategy.

Don’t let another year go by with ho hum marketing results. Contact Rottman Creative to curate your member stories and turn them into dynamic digital marketing that drives membership, attendance, and engagement.

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Increase Attendance and Find New Prospects with Personalized Marketing that Aligns with your Buying Cycle

How to Promote Your Event on Facebook (in just 5 simple steps)

How to Promote Your Event on Facebook

Facebook is the ideal platform for event marketers. You can use it to find new prospects and drive attendance among existing members. You can build excitement around your conference and inform attendees of speakers, special events, and exclusive offerings. In short, promoting your event on Facebook will get more people in your door AND those people will be primed and ready to engage. Thanks to smart customizations and audience targeting, you can deliver personalized marketing messages aligned with your buying cycle. Even if you’ve never tried online advertising before, these five steps will have you running effective campaigns in short order.

Step 1: Use Facebook Ads to retarget known users and find new prospects

Facebook Ads are a great way to reach your audience outside of email and direct mail. They offer efficient personalization not possible with these other channels. To get started, use the Power Editor. Consult Facebook’s library of tutorials, including videos, to help you take full advantage of all the platform’s features.

Once you get the hang of things, you can use Facebook Ads to align your communications with your buying cycle. For example, people who already registered for your event don’t need to see ads that ask them to register. Instead, you could show them an ad about your keynote speaker. You can introduce your organization and event people who don’t know who you are. You can also retarget visitors to your website or Facebook page, to reassure their interest and encourage them to register.

Step 2: Install the Facebook pixel on your website, create custom audiences

The Facebook pixel is a piece of code that helps you track and target visitors to your website. Don’t skip this step! The pixel makes laser-focused ad campaigns possible.

To install the Facebook pixel, log on to your Facebook page and navigate to the Ads Manager tab. Click the button that says “create pixel.” Once your pixel is generated, paste that snippet of code in the

tags on each page of your website—including any “thank you” pages that appear upon form submission.

Create custom audiences
Four types of custom audiences help you reach the people most likely to attend your event:
  1. Customer file—upload your existing email list, which Facebook will match to user profiles
  2. Website traffic—target people who have visited your website or specific pages (based on insights from the pixel)
  3. App activity—reach out to people who have taken specific actions on your app
  4. Engagement on Facebook—connect with people who have already interacted with you on FB

Use these audiences to craft highly personalized ads based on your buying cycle. You can also create lookalike audiences from your custom audiences. That means you can ask Facebook to find people with similar interests and behaviors who might be interested in your event. Lookalike audiences are a quick, easy, and cost-effective way to grow your base and drive attendance.

Custom conversions

A feature called “custom conversions” helps you target prospects who have already taken some action. That might be someone who signed up for your newsletter and was redirected to a “thank you” page (i.e. a conversion). You can optimize your ads for this conversion, so Facebook will show your ad to people most likely to convert again.

Step 3: Make a Facebook page for your event, or create an event through your main page

A special event page ensures that members and prospects focus directly on your event and its offerings—instead of getting distracted by other content. You can also create an official Facebook event from your main page for easy promotion.

For either option, follow these best practices:
  • Choose a high-quality photo in line with the rest of your branding
  • Use a clear, descriptive but short event name
  • Add specifics on location, date, and time
  • Include the ability to register (Facebook calls this “Buy Tickets”)
  • Add any FB page you manage as a co-host to expand who sees your event details. You can also add vendor and speaker pages so your event will appear on their calendars also.
  • Include keywords to help people find you
  • Write a brief description that explains the value of your event

Step 4: Create a content calendar

Plan your Facebook content to help you stay focused. Include a mix of blogs, images, videos, status updates, opinion polls, and a few outright promotional messages. Craft posts about individual speakers , workshops, or special events to get your fans excited. Ask open-ended questions to encourage dialogue and feedback. Post regularly for best results. Don’t forget that your Facebook presence is an extension of your brand, so your messaging, images, and offers should be consistent with the rest of your branding and marketing.

Step 5: Monitor and evaluate your efforts

Facebook offers infinite possibilities for customizing your messaging, images, offers, and formats. But none of that matters if you don’t track what works and what doesn’t. Use the platform’s reporting features to see how many people saw your ads, how many took action, and what actions they took. Edit or turn off ads that aren’t performing to your expectations. Consider increasing your budget on ads doing exceptionally well. Use what you learn about your audience’s likes and dislikes to adjust images, messaging, and offers going forward.

Don’t miss out on attendees and new members

If you’re not marketing your event on Facebook, quite simply, you’re missing out. Your members and prospects are already there, hanging out and hungry for engaging content and offers. Leverage this smart platform to reach your base, find new prospects, and drive event attendance.

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