Attract younger members. Encourage repeat event attendance. Build passion and engagement among members. Change more lives. Every member organization faces these challenges and more when it comes to marketing for membership, attendance, and engagement. According to the Association Engagement Survey, most associations expect these challenges to continue. (A whopping 58% are pessimistic about the future of their events.)
Take a look at the survey results below that address common marketing challenges and the overall outlook for events. While it’s true these can seem like pretty daunting obstacles, everything’s not all doom and gloom. A fresh engagement marketing strategy can help you conquer these hurdles and keep your event growing and thriving.
Biggest Membership Marketing Challenges – Association Executive Quotes
Survey Question: What is your biggest membership marketing challenge?
Select responses from association executives:
- “Attracting younger and more ethnically diverse members.”
- “Continually demonstrating the value of an intangible product to potential buyers.”
- “Conveying value of networking.”
- “Finding prospects outside core membership.”
- “Getting leadership to understand there are more pockets of potential members that represent different areas of the profession that have been overlooked in the past.”
- “Knowing why people attend our meetings and figuring out how to attract new attendees.”
- “Marketing to the youth.”
- “Reaching members who are disengaged/transactional.”
- “Redefining and persuasively communicating a robust membership value proposition.”
- “Relevance and value proposition.”
- “Retaining new/younger members and getting first time members to commit for more than just one year (those that join just to attend the annual meeting).”
- “Retention after year two.”
- “The right design to grab attention enough that a prospect is enticed enough to call about membership and review our programs.”
- “Thinking of membership marketing as its own program.”
Biggest Audience Development and Attendance Marketing Challenges – Association Executive Quotes
Survey Question: What is your biggest event audience development and attendance marketing challenge?
Select responses from association executives:
- “Convincing leadership to market/advertise outside of our in-house efforts.”
- “Creating content that attracts a wide variety of attendees.”
- “Engaging younger members to participate/attend.”
- “Find out what their needs are and how we can improve our event.”
- “Getting awareness of our events to people outside our membership.”
- “Growing the audience and engagement.”
- “Having so much for so many audiences and not being able to properly segment and target communications.”
- “Having the time to implement a targeted marketing effort.”
- “Helping people make the business case to attend.”
- “Keeping them after the join as a result of attending a meeting. Engaging them with a local chapter and getting them to purchase other products/services.”
- “Proper messaging — to register vs. once registered.”
- “Reaching new audiences.”
- “Understanding why people attend and figuring out how to get new attendees.”
The Growth Outlook is Mixed for Associations’ Largest Events
Survey Question: What do you see as the trend and outlook for large, leading association conventions, exhibitions, conferences, and other events in terms of growth and relevance?
Association executives disagree on the outlook for their largest events in terms of growth and relevance to their markets, although the majority are pessimistic. Consider that 39% say large association events are experiencing flat growth and have a stagnant outlook, and 19% say large events are getting smaller and are less relevant. On the other side, 28% have a positive outlook and say their largest events are growing. Lastly, 15% of the survey respondents are unsure about the outlook for growth and continued relevance.
How to conquer challenges
You might assume from these survey findings that events are losing relevance and fading away. But this is far from the truth. The real issue is that organizations aren’t proving the ROI of attending their events—and attendance and engagement suffer as a result.
Additional findings from the Association Engagement Survey indicate that many associations lack a clear acquisition and attendance marketing strategy—or they have a tired, worn-out strategy. Many ignore storytelling as a powerful engagement platform—even though it’s a proven winner. Other organizations know their value but lack a clear value proposition. These findings suggest that associations have plenty of opportunities to improve outcomes.
So what can you do? Let’s focus on that 28% of association executives who say their events are growing and thriving. These individuals prove that events can be successful. For your events to thrive, too, you need an effective engagement marketing strategy that demonstrates the value of your event. It starts with a clear value proposition. It also includes regular and relevant contact using compelling triggers and targets, curated member stories, and an authentic, human voice.
Overcoming challenges to improve attendance and engagement is well within your grasp. Contact us to get started crafting an engagement marketing strategy today.
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