Part One

Two Ways to Make Direct Mail Work

Two Ways to Make Direct Mail Work

Plan A: Highlights Mailer + Registration Brochure

The first approach is to pair conference highlights with a well-designed registration brochure.

We’ve written quite a lot about the kind of registration brochure you need to be doing. So let’s focus on what this highlights mailer needs to be about.

Timing: Drop the conference highlights mailer when registration is open, and the registration brochure in the weeks before the Early Bird deadline.

Content: A highlights piece should be exactly that: the most captivating highlights of the event, based on what your members tell you they care about most. Networking is almost always the number one reason people cite for coming to conferences, followed by learning.

Your printed piece needs to have those things jump off the page, with bold design and high quality photography (not grainy images of people sitting around a table in a poorly lit ballroom).

The session highlights you feature should make an emotional connection with your members. You need to both show them why they should care, and also tell them.

Design: This is not simply a save-the-date postcard—or a postcard at all. This is a folded, smartly-designed piece, with graphic elements that tie not just to the event brandmark, but also to the overarching “WHY” behind what your association is about. For example, we did a highlights piece for our client, The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) —whose “WHY” is around the idea of leading through play. We used fun images of kids playing and learning and wove in graphic elements like bubbles. We laid it out in such a way that all of the messages—even the “Schedule-at-a-Glance”—tied back to the kids and the overarching reason.

Segmentation: It’s possible that you need to create two (or more) different pieces, especially if you have two (or more) distinct audiences you’re reaching. You’re not re-inventing the design each time—just tweaking. For example, if your session events are grouped by track, you might create a mailer to highlight each track. The more directly you are talking to your members in this piece, the better. Forcing the highlights into a one-size-fits-all piece sometimes has the effect of not saying anything at all. Take the time to be strategic and segment.

We hope you find these tips inspiring for your next conference, and until next time keep a look out for clue #31!

The Lone Marketer

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