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This is the second of a four-part series about how to market your association’s events in 2024.

If you’re following along in our series of posts about event marketing in 2024, you know a few things.

For example, you know that companies are planning to spend less money this year on personal development, training, and education for employees. 

You know that event attendance is predicted to be down, as are accruals and overall renewal revenue.

Basically, you know that it’s do or die time. Make a new plan time. Don’t look back time.

The way to be successful this year is to embrace the 3 phases of event marketing

Each phase highlights a key attribute your event marketing plan needs: Emotion, facts, and urgency.

Today, we’re going to talk about the first phase, Inspire People. This is the phase that targets emotion.

What Does it Mean to Inspire People?

When you connect with something you really want, such as a career or personal goal, you’re connecting with it for emotional reasons. You want the thing because you want to feel a certain way—like delighted, proud, or contented. 

The thing matters. But it’s the feeling that truly drives it.

Inspiring people means understanding how they want to feel, and connecting with them at that level. In other words, you need to understand what moves your members and what feelings they are chasing. 

Associations often make the mistake of leading with the facts. Facts are very important, and we’ll talk about their role in phase 2. But if you skip the inspiration phase, you miss your chance to reach people at the gut level. 

And that matters, because so many of our decisions are actually made from the gut. We think logic is driving our choices. But logic merely confirms what we already feel.

How To Find the Inspiration That Will Drive Energy Around Your Event

Finding the inspiration is a process of discovery. It means looking closely at who your audience is. Not necessarily their demographics. But rather, what motivates them.

Are they type A go-getters who always need a challenge? Are they career veterans who are thinking about legacy? Your people are likely motivated by more than one thing. But you need to dig until you find the central idea that will move them, the central spark of inspiration.

Once you find that, you need to turn it into remarkable pieces of content that hit your audience in their feeling center. 

We’ll get to the tactics of how many emails, when to send direct mail, and which social media platforms to use. But first, you must know what feeling you’re trying to create, and what big idea you’re channeling. This will help you develop actionable messages, and to choose the style of design that is most likely to grab your target audience.

Rottman Creative can help you cut through the busyness with new marketing formats and technologies. Let’s chat.

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How NOT to get prospects

So your in-person event is back on. Great! Now you need attendees. Here’s a list of proven failures that will most definitely NOT attract prospects. Take these tactics off your to-do list. Then implement a few of the surefire strategies listed below to build a high-quality prospect pool and get more people in the door.

FAILURE #1

Have no value proposition or differentiator

If you’re looking to deter prospects or get ignored altogether, having no value proposition is a great start. Afterall, professionals in your space have lots of events to choose from, so they can just choose a different one. Alternately, they might be satisfied with LinkedIn or Google.

FAILURE #2

Send a drip campaign with 5+ emails

Don’t stick with a “spray and pray” e-blast approach. Sending multiple impersonal emails is a proven tactic to take potentially interested people and chase them away.

FAILURE #3

Hire a famous keynote speaker who is irrelevant to your industry

Your association promotes itself as the best place to find industry-specific resources. Don’t hire a big name celebrity as your keynote speaker who knows absolutely nothing about your industry.

FAILURE #4

Use overly complex language nobody can understand

Long paragraphs, long sentences, and long words take lots of time and brain power to decipher. If nobody can understand you, they surely won’t know why or how to register for your event.

FAILURE #5

Create busy visuals nobody can decipher

Your event branding and logo shouldn’t be difficult to read. Using a plethora of colors and fonts adds to the clutter and is guaranteed to turn people away.

FAILURE #6

Use a generic event name that is meaningless to anyone outside your association

Don’t be afraid to use your association’s acronym as your event name. Afterall, if prospects have never heDon’t use your association’s acronym as your event name. Afterall, if prospects have never heard of you before, they won’t be compelled to attend XYZ’s Annual Conference.

FAILURE #7

Wait until the last minute to create your event website

Your event’s website is a central hub that lets people get to know your association, see how they’ll Your event’s website is a central hub that lets people get to know your association, see how they’ll benefit from your event, and actually register. If you leave off the value proposition, agenda, and registration links until a few weeks before your conference you won’t reach attendance goals.

FAILURE #8

Be so exclusive nobody thinks they are allowed to come

Don’t hide the fact that your event is open to the public, including people who are not members of your association. When people don’t feel welcome, they will definitely not investigate further.


5 Ways to Actually Attract Prospects

Aside from doing the opposite of the failures mentioned above, here are five ways to up your event game and attract more prospects.

SUCCESS #1

Tell your story

Your prospect might have no idea who you are or why they should care. You have to convince them to care. You can’t do that with a few dozen impersonal emails. Tell your story quickly and make it easy to take action on it.

SUCCESS #2

Craft a unique value proposition

If you can’t articulate in just a few words why someone should attend your event, you need a new value proposition. Focus on benefits and differentiators. In one sentence, explain why you are worth someone’s money and time away from the office.

SUCCESS #3

Speak like a human

Messaging should be authentic and value based. Write everything at a 7th or 8th Grade level for easy comprehension. Be friendly and inviting. Make sure everything makes sense to someone who has never heard of your association before. 

SUCCESS #4

Be relevant

Take time to curate a truly relevant experience that addresses your audience’s current pain points. Conduct surveys and focus groups. Choose a keynote speaker who knows your industry inside and out.

SUCCESS #5

Keep it simple!

When it comes to your messaging, visuals, agenda, or anything else related to your event, go with the simplest choice. Cut the clutter. Stay on point. Promise select takeaways that matter to the segment of prospect you’re going after.

A good default strategy for event-related prospecting is to think like a prospect. Take some time to consider the types of messages and offers you prefer to receive from other businesses and organizations. Stick with those and leave the rest of the noise behind.

Share this post in LinkedIn:

NOT ANOTHER SNOOZELETTER.

SIGN UP. BE INSPIRED.

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