How are you going to get people to your association’s event this year? If you’re not asking yourself this question right now, you should be.
Why? Because just about everyone is having trouble marketing events right now. The fear of recession, combined with the reality of inflation, means companies are searching for areas to cut.
Inevitably, they see education and travel, i.e., your event, as the low-hanging fruit.
In fact, a Forrester report from late 2023 predicted that companies would be rethinking investments in “employee experience” for 2024. Top on the list? You guessed it: Meetings and events related to personal development, education, and training.
According to our own data, we’re predicting that in 2024, event attendance will be down 12 – 15% and accruals will be down 18 – 25%. The percentage of members renewing will stay roughly the same. But because so many of your member companies now have decreased revenues, they’ll renew at a lower fee.
You need a plan to cleverly circumnavigate these brutal realities. To get your event off the chopping block and into the pipeline of possibility.
The reality is that attendees behave differently today than they did even just two years ago. This means you’ve got to take a fresh look at the year and the way you’re going about things. You’ve got to be willing to think differently, and to go back to the drawing board on some key elements of your strategy.
We’ll explain what we mean in this series of blog posts. But for now, we’ve got 3 words for you: Think in phases.
With uncertainty always swirling around and the world moving faster than ever, you’ve got to take a phased approach to marketing your event. Each phase is as important as the next, but you also can’t get ahead of yourself.
In this series of posts, we’ll talk about what each phase looks like, and offer some real-life examples from association clients.
We can’t wait to share all the details. But here’s the TL;DR:
Phase One: Inspire People
For years, we’ve been championing the idea that for your event to stay relevant, you must inspire the base. What we’ve learned in working with more than 100 different associations is that inspiration is part-science, part-art.
Finding what will inspire people to commit to your event is a process of discovery. Once you understand what moves your people, you must create actionable messages around it. Then you have to know when and how to deploy them, to wrest people’s attention away—even momentarily—from every other distraction competing for their time.
Inspiration fosters unity, aligning elements through a dynamic force in our collective pursuits.
Phase Two: Reassure the Intent
The second phase of marketing is all about curating the facts, to paint a vivid picture of your event. This is when FOMO is your friend. You’ve got a millimeter of people’s attention. What will you do with it?
It’s not that the inspiration phase is over. Rather, you’re pulling the inspiration through into more concrete details, talking about who will be there, what attendees will learn, and what benefits await them.
Phase Three: Plan for the 40-Day Dash
In our contemporary landscape, attendees are waiting longer than ever to register for events. Many people won’t commit until 40 days out or less. We call this the 40-day dash.
We created an entire marketing program around the 40-day dash, with specific tactics to help you reach your audience goals in those last 6 weeks. We’ll show you how to target and re-target, how to get others to spread the word for you, and how to make email work for you (versus getting ignored).
We’re going to face challenges in 2024, there’s no doubt about it. But when you take the right steps, and invest in the right phases of marketing, you can have a successful, inspiring, well-attended event.
The good news is this: When you take the right steps, and invest in the right phases of marketing, you can have a successful, inspiring, well-attended event.
Rottman Creative can help you cut through the busyness with new marketing formats and technologies. Let’s chat.
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