We perceive that conference marketing is one arm of an organization’s holistic messaging for fulfilling their mission. We embrace conference marketing efforts that will enhance an organization’s strategic messaging and fit within the organization’s overall goals.
Most organizations have some sort of strategic plan that guides them towards specific goals and fulfilling their mission. However, conference marketing must give association executives amnesia because they completely forget about the organization’s strategic plan when promoting their largest event of the year.
It is a complete failure if the plan for marketing the annual event is list of rules on font and logo usage. Let’s get this straight, branding guidelines are not a list of rules about fonts, pictures and colors, no more than parenting is a list of house rules about curfews and putting away toys. Branding guidelines must capture the essence of the association, which in turn affects the event. They are pillars of how the largest in-person meeting of the year fulfills the organization’s mission.
We see poorly defined branding guidelines all the time…and the failures that come from it. If brand guidelines are really just a list of rules, then of course the only thing to rely on is the venue. Thus begins the transformation from association guru to travel agent, and the abundance of marketing materials with pretty pictures of D.C., Nashville or whatever city has been picked for the venue.
So, what do you do?
Grab a copy of your organization’s strategic plan and get ready to examine your navel….your branding guidelines. How does the conference help fulfill the mission? Why is the event important when you look at the big picture?
Immediately you’ll realize the value of the conference. A story will form that will give potential attendees a “gut feeling” about what you’re all about.
- Promote the new sections/sessions as being up-to-date and relevant content for your members.
- Use testimonials from previous years to help tell the story.
- Create brand guidelines that connect the organization’s strategic plan to conference marketing efforts. (i.e. our goal to be the place professionals come for the latest in industry trends means our email marketing campaign must promote breakout sessions that are lead by industry leaders)
We hope you find these tips inspiring for your next conference, and until next time keep a look out for clue #16!The Lone Marketer
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