Triggers, Targets, and Inspired Journeys in Event Marketing

To move members from an inspired state to taking action, you need a trigger and a target.

For Event Marketing That Moves People, Start With Inspiration!

Have clarity around your mission, harness energy in how you talk to your members and potential attendees, and then spark a desire in them to be part of event experience. These are the elements of an inspired state. Will you take the time to harness them in your marketing, so that you can truly inspire your members to action? Your next conference—and the future of your association—depends upon it.

It's big, it's powerful, and it's part of every buying cycle

This Inspiration-Connection Duality™: it’s big, it’s powerful, and it’s part of every buying cycle. We have been living it and sharing it. We know that this duality is what helps associations grow, thrive, and change their members’ lives. When new clients would come to us, as part of the discovery phase, we’d audit their past marketing, and we could plainly see the campaigns that worked and the campaigns that didn’t.

Tap into the power of visual storytelling to inspire members, connect them, and demonstrate the value of your organization.

Our tendency toward visual communication is reflected in our current social media habits. Primarily visual platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest are among the fastest growing social media outlets today. Your visuals are an extension of your authentic brand story—a story you carefully construct to attract like-minded members and invite them into your loop of connectivity and inspiration.

How to Integrate Storytelling into your Marketing

So, how do you use storytelling to market your event? Find the stories that hinge on passion, connection, and affection. Shape the stories. And finally, integrate the stories into every single piece of content your members, constituents, and potential attendees interact with.

How to use Storytelling in your Email Campaigns

A time when people are talking to each other, and ideas are spreading horizontally—versus from the top down. Recession or no recession, these old ways of talking to people . . . Come for networking, education, and certification! . . . have simply grown stale and are losing effectiveness. They don’t forge the three things absolutely needed to make people feel connected to your event: passion, connection, and affection. What best forges those things, deep in the emotional center of the brain where most decisions are made, are stories.

Why Associations Need Storytelling Now

Your event is a product, plain and simple. It’s a product you have to sell. Hitting people over the head with the facts and stats and bullets is not a relevant way to sell things in 2014. It’s stale. But your people aren’t stale. They are continually seeking, continually looking for inspiration. You have to inspire them to choose your offering above other offerings.

Storytelling vs. Strategic Storytelling

At its core, storytelling works as a marketing tool because of the way our brains are wired. It turns out that the part of the brain that processes emotions is the same part that makes decisions—that’s the limbic system. While it seems counterintuitive, appealing to your audience with facts, figures, and other generally credible and logical information is not enough to really “sell” them on your association or your event. You absolutely must appeal to emotions if you want to propel your base toward action. Engage your membership emotionally with brand storytelling and watch how many seats fill up at your next event.

Hashtags, Likes, Shares and the Empty Seats

The source of the power comes from the inherent desire baked into all forms of social media, and that is the desire for human connection. That’s why social media has taken off: because people inherently want to connect to other people.

We Want To See You Be Brave

We are itching to connect. At every moment. And yet, for associations, there is so much disconnection happening—right in front of you. Even as your members’ hearts are sending out signals, hoping to be mirrored and entangled, the loop isn’t making its way back. Even as you use the very technology built to connect the human race, there is more and more disconnection. The loop is broken. We know exactly why it’s broken. The answer is that your association is afraid. And fear will cause disconnection every time.

The Anatomy of Inspiration

Inspiration is the place where brand, marketing, content, and design intersect. Each one of those elements — brand, marketing, content, and design — is a living, breathing system, interrelated and interdependent on each other. If inspiration took human form, it couldn’t live without each part working together. In fact, the best way to truly explain is with a quick anatomy lesson.

The New Age of Purposeful Brand

We firmly believe that we are entering the Age of the Purposeful brand: where instead of squandering their attention, people save it for better stuff. Stuff they care about. It all sounds a bit mythical. So here is a dose of reality to ground it: in the Age of the Purposeful Brand, content for content’s sake won’t be good enough. Throwing darts wildly to see what sticks: that luxury is gone. There just isn’t enough attention anymore. You have to talk to people with much more purpose.

Learn Why You Should Market Your Event Like a Product Launch

Visuals you connect with don’t just create little moments: they create movements. And that’s what your event needs to be: a movement on a larger scale. Not just an event made up of some good moments. So, how do you tap into this visual world to promote your event?

For Tangible Results, Try Doing Something Tangible

We know this because across every industry and meeting size, the associations that meet their numbers are the ones who are doing direct mail. Yes, there was a mass exodus from printed marketing pieces a few years ago, fed by a perfect storm of recession, mobile app proliferation, and social media. But the associations who have kept direct mail in the mix are the ones having the most success with their events.

Making Email Marketing Work for Your Event

In the winter of 1971, a guy by the name of Ray Tomlinson did something really ordinary that would, in time, revolutionize the way we communicate: he sent the very first email message. Ray was a computer engineer at a contractor for the U.S. Defense Department. One of those brainy guys working on some of the very early Internet stuff, he did some fancy playing around with the existing technology, and figured out a way to send messages between two machines.

Conference Marketing in 2013: The Space You Don't See

From the time I started school, I knew something wasn’t right with the blackboard. Or books. Or spelling words. What my eyes were seeing and what I knew they were supposed to see weren’t the same thing. And it was a big problem. In middle school, I actually had a teacher who wouldn’t let me go out to recess until I finished correctly copying word-for-word what was on the board.

Balance & Timing: The Athletics of Event Marketing

We’re drawn to these physical expressions of balance and timing because we covet these two qualities in our lives—in all ways imaginable, from not falling on our rear ends in the snow, to knowing how to deliver a punch line, to juggling a career and a family. We’re all students of balance and timing. And we watch athletes because they show us what happens when it all comes together. So, when we launch a marketing campaign that lacks both balance and timing, why are we so surprised when the fumble, fall, or foul derails our efforts?

INSPIRATION? There's an App for That

The mandate to inspire isn’t going away. How will you conquer it? We have an answer. To drive event registrations and build a sustainable organization, you have to inspire the base. Wake them up. Shake them around. And get them to act. Now. But it’s hard to do. We feel your pain. That’s why we write about it so much. Now, we’ve given you various advice. We’ve told you to market your conference by telling a story around the person-to-person interaction. We’ve told you to create excitement and inertia with your registration brochure. We’ve told you to start with why.

What does event marketing and hoarding have in common?

Do you know why people hoard? It’s not because they are terrible people. It’s because every little thing represents possibility. “I could do something with this someday,” the hoarder thinks. But they wind up with so much stuff, they become paralyzed with the idea of possibility—and they don’t do anything with any of it. Traditional event marketing has something in common with hoarding: it’s all about believing that inspiration lives solely in the stuff. Events are marketed as mountains of possibility. But it mostly comes off as . . . white noise. As more stuff. A bit like the home of a hoarder.

The Dystopia of Event Marketing: Only the Inspired Will Survive

Have you read The Hunger Games yet? If you want to know how to market your event, you should. Yes, we’re serious. So . . . what do a mega bestselling youth culture book set in a futuristic dystopia and your lovely event have to do with each other? We’ll tell you. But first, play along with us as we lead you through a quick futuristic visualization exercise.

The Registration Brochure is Back-With a New Mission

Isn’t it lovely that we live in a society where no one judges anything by appearance? Where things like book covers and brand name labels don’t even matter anymore? Isn’t it fantastic that we’ve evolved beyond how things look? Isn’t it so refreshing that . . . Hold on, what’s that you’re saying? You don’t live in that society?

2010's Top Trends in Conference Marketing

East to West, Big and Small - we’ve been watching what’s going on and it’s time to report the facts. Over the past year we’ve been analyzing conferences and annual meetings across the country. Organizations are still struggling to meet attendance goals. We’ve identified four major trends that attribute to low attendance.

Direct mail is not dead and social media is not the king

A recent study found that about 80% of consumers rely on multiple marketing channels when making a purchasing decision. Yet, many associations have come to rely solely on a single-channel approach. Just like a monotone speaker loses the attention of his audience, mono-channel marketing prevents your members from connecting with your message.The more you diversify your communication channel with your consumer, the better the impact.

All for one and one for all

The 3 most important elements of any organization It’s a constant battle for organizations to ensure they align strategy, identity, and capacity with vision, mission and values. More tension is added to that conflict as an organization grows during the good days, or shrinks during challenging times. There are three living elements that must reside in unity within an association or non-profit.

6 Guiding Principles

Follow the Golden Rules for golden results Remember the golden days when organizations had unrestricted budgets for sending employees away to conferences. All you had to do was quietly mention your conference and boom! Sold out. It hasn’t been since the 90’s that associations have had to re-think event marketing. But, the world has changed drastically and if you don’t adapt, your organization is going to become irrelevant.

Is your conference purpose-driven?

A strategy to stand out and get noticed. In the absence of a clear vision, association marketing staff members start second-guessing each other. The result is a cluttered mess of details about speakers, sessions, hotel accommodations, schedules and directions. It’s a hodgepodge of information that will go in one ear and out the other.

Get your attendees to the edge of their seats!

What's your story? 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.

Glanced at, tossed and forgotten?

Little, three word statements can get you in trouble. Take “I love you”, for instance. Said too soon, too often, not enough, or not at all can sink a relationship. How about every kid’s favorite: “Clean your room!” An allowance might be withheld, a cell phone might be held hostage, or, in an extreme case, piles of stuff might be shoveled in the trash can if mom’s forceful request is ignored.

Make your conference a positive BRAND experience

Last year, associations saw a 25-50% to drop in conference attendance. Surveys show the outlook for this year isn't much better. Yet we're seeing associations use the same approach to marketing their conference year after year. That’s like writing your own one-way ticket to failure!

Get it right this year.

Focus on 4 crucial areas to increase attendance. And, no, we’re not talking about losing weight, writing that novel, or learning how to “deal” with your mother-in-law. Turning to the internet to find information and answer questions has become quite natural for many of us. Why waste valuable energy, brain cells and time when you can just turn to Google for all your questions.

What happened in '09, stays in '09

Let’s leave behind the nightmares of low conference attendance in 2009, and embrace the hopefulness of 2010. I think we can all say that we are glad 2009 is gone. The economy has affected our jobs, lifestyles, retirement funds, and our level of stress. Articles are popping up all over the place about how various industries survived 2009. From real estate to retail, industry leaders are reflecting on last year and making hopeful projections for 2010.

Crowdsourcing & Conferencing

Harness the power of a crowd to reach your attendance goals. We know it has happened to you. You can deny it if you want, but we know the truth. We know you pour hours of work and thousands of dollars into your annual conference, and you are let down when you don’t meet attendance goals.

Not meeting your conference attendance goals?

ADAPT or FAIL. A plan for survival. Under attended. Under funded. Under staffed. Does that describe your last conference? It’s time to adapt, or your conference will be 6 feet under.....along with your job. History has taught us that the inability to adapt to change, will result in extinction. “Survival of the fittest” is not just a theory for the animal kingdom, it also applies to businesses, organizations and even annual conferences.

Positioning Your Annual Conference for Greater Attendance

What exactly are you promoting? Let’s pretend that you are promoting a conference in Washington DC for middle-school teachers about using online curriculum. After going through your typical strategy and marketing plans, you end up with some great collateral pieces. The campaign begins and your first direct mail piece lands in the hands of a busy, first-year, middle-school science teacher. She glances at your shiny postcard for only a few seconds before going back to class. What will she walk away thinking about your event?

Late Registration - It's not just a trend, it's a fact.

It’s time for old dogs to learn a few new tricks. Forty percent. If a school teacher had 40% of his class fail, he would find himself in the principal’s office trying to save his job. If an accountant couldn’t report for 40% of the budget, she’d quickly be asked to pack her things and leave. If we lost 40% of our clients, we’d be out of business.

Integrating Direct Mail and Online Marketing

Tips for correctly integrating direct mail and online marketing to increase conference attendance. As social networking has become more popular, the science of social media marketing has evolved. In fact, if you Google “social media marketing”, you will be overwhelmed with tips, how-to videos, case studies and sales pitches. But, like many professionals you may wonder, with all of that information, how do you decide what is valuable and will really work?

Conference Marketing to Younger Members

They first heard your name briefly mentioned in one of their college classes as a professor listed off some professional resources. Or, maybe their introduction to you was after they landed their first “real” job and received a free membership to your esteemed association from their new employer.

Do's & Don'ts of Conference Marketing

How to increase conference attendance. For associations of various sizes and missions, conference attendance has been down and many association executives are feverishly looking for new ways to increase attendance. We believe the key to this may lie in conference marketing that effectively emphasizes conference value, instead of, let’s say, conference venue.

The Conference Logo: Five Key Elements to Portray

Let’s not dance around it. The challenges we currently face have left most feeling one pinch too many, and will affect every next decision we make. We begin to reconsider what we buy, where we go, how we plan, and it’s not going to be easy to avoid it. The recent economic events have obligated organizations to be more strategic, flexible, and responsive than ever before. As we all begin to reevaluate our responsibilities, budget our expenses and question our investments, you ask—how could this impact our organization’s next conference?