Drive Attendance and Engagement Using a Time-Testing Technique

Why event marketers need more storytelling

Why event marketers need more storytelling

Storytelling is a proven technique for sharing information, bringing people together, inspiring action, and exploring possibilities. Recently, neuroscientists have shed new light on this ancient platform. It turns out our brains engage more fully with stories than with information alone. We feel what the characters in the story feel—in both a tactile and emotional sense. This deep connection actually influences our behavior.

It only makes sense, then, that if you want to attract people to your event and encourage them to engage while they’re there, you should use storytelling. But, it turns out that many event marketers ignore this powerful marketing tool. The recent Association Engagement Survey reveals that only one-third of associations use storytelling in their event marketing. That means many are missing out on countless potential attendees as well as the contributions these individuals could make to their event and their mission.


Here’s the Storytelling Survey Questions and it’s Findings:

One-Third of Associations Use Storytelling as Part of Their Membership Marketing Approach

Survey Question: Does storytelling play a significant role in either your membership or event attendance marketing?

Thirty-three percent of associations say storytelling plays a significant role in their membership marketing, and 30% say they use this approach in their event attendance communications. Thirty-nine percent say they do not use any storytelling techniques currently.


Now, let’s switch gears slightly for a minute and consider this engagement question and its findings:

Event Attendees are Somewhat More Engaged than Many Association Members

Survey Questions: How would you rate your members’ engagement with your association overall on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 equal to the highest level of engagement? (And) How would you rate your attendees’ engagement with your association event on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 equal to the highest level of engagement?

The survey asked association executives to rate the level of their members’ and event attendees’ engagement on a 10-point scale. As the table shows, event attendees are considered to be more engaged. This makes sense as events often attract the most active members and important association management meetings are held in conjunction with the main programs.


How Storytelling and Engagement Work Together

Given the relatively low number of associations who use storytelling (about one-third), it’s not surprising that member engagement tends to be moderate to low and is only somewhat higher among event attendees. There’s room for improvement here! People need to be inspired to act, and one of the best ways to do that is through storytelling. Below is a sample story structure to get you started, along with some examples of where to use stories in your marketing.


Start Telling Stories

You likely won’t have any trouble getting those 8s, 9s, and 10s from the survey to attend your event and be engaged. However, most of your members and prospects will need some nudging to be inspired to attend and to be engaged while there. Your event marketing must prove that the value gained by attending is greater than the money, effort, and time it takes to get there. How can you do that? As the neuroscientists tell us, you can’t simply present a logical cost-benefit analysis. The numbers alone are just not inspiring or compelling enough to win over all those people rated a 5 and below. You need storytelling as part of a fresh engagement marketing strategy.

Begin with a compelling value proposition that proves the ROI of your event. Then collect curated member and attendee stories that demonstrate this value. Once you have stories, you can distribute them on the web, in email, on micro-sites, via digital marketing, and through direct mail to inspire and engage your base.

Need to increase attendance and engagement? Contact us today to add strategic storytelling to your marketing plan.

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