Category Archives: Successful Conferences

Boost Attendance at Your Signature Event – 6 Proven Tips

Increase-AttendanceIt can be a challenge to get attendees out to your signature event. They’re busy and they have many competing demands for their time and money. Here are 6 proven tips to boost attendance and excitement for your event. In our work with our clients we have used all of these and we can vouch for their effectiveness.

Offer an Early Bird Rate: This is a tried and true method to incentivize registrants to sign up early for your conference. A discount for early sign up is particularly effective when registrants will be paying for the event themselves. For those whose employers will pick up the tab, it gives the employer an incentive to grant budget approval well in advance of the event.

Open Registration Early: Open your online registration 3-6 months before the event. If it is a conference, start closer to six months out to make the early bird rate meaningful and to sell it out early.

Boost Your Conversion Rate: When you’re hosting a trade show, the most important consideration is to get qualified buyers to the show, to support your exhibitors. A typical tactic is to ensure that there is a meaningful walk-in price that can be covered with a discount code. The discount code incentivizes registrants to sign-up, but the challenge is getting registrants who have no financial skin in the game to actually attend the show.

In order to manage this, ensure that you have marketing plan that focuses specifically on pre-registrants to get them to the show.  Remind them that they have registered, and focus on new products that will be featured by your exhibitors, on-floor activities and social events.

Use Discount Codes Effectively: At a trade show, your exhibitors want attendees and their contact lists may be more comprehensive than yours; particularly given the CASL restrictions. Give each exhibitor a unique code that they can offer to their contacts. This allows you to leverage their marketing resources to support your registration. Consider offering a prize for the exhibitor that brings in the most attendees.

For a conference, also consider using a time-stamped discount code offered at renewal time. The code is available to members who renew before a given date and purchase conference registration at the same time. This tactic has the additional advantage of encouraging members to renew in a timely manner.

Vary Your Subject Lines: You already know that a compelling subject line is key to getting the attention of your prospective attendees. You will send multiple emails to promote your event. Don’t make the mistake of using the same subject line on each outreach. Use each message to focus on an interesting and exciting aspect of the event. This could be high profile speakers, leading edge topics, event activities and social/networking opportunities.

Cap Supplier Attendance: Your supplier members attend your event to interact with the core members who buy their products and services. Your core members want to interact with other core members. Be careful not to have suppliers dominate attendance. This diminishes the value of your event for both the suppliers and core members. Set a goal for supplier attendance and let them know there is a cap. This lets registrants know you’re looking out for their interests, and encourages suppliers to sign up early.

Using these tactics effectively requires careful advance planning and ongoing monitoring and tweaking to measure the effectiveness of each tactic. Get your marketing plan and collateral in place a year in advance of your event and use your experience from the previous year to boost your results.

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

Sponsors – It’s a Partnership. How Much is it Worth?

handshake sponsorThe answer is, “somewhere between zero and a lot”. If your industry or profession is an important market for a prospective partner and the potential upside of future sales is substantial, then a partnership with your association could be very valuable.

There are only two reasons why a sponsor wants to partner with your association.

  1. Because aligning their brand with yours increases their visibility or perceived value
  2. Because your members make or influence the buying decisions for their products or services

I was talking to a large software company last week about a partnership with one of our client associations. They were brutally upfront about our value in the second category. They have a 70% penetration rate in our industry so the likelihood of selling meaningful new volume to our members is very low. However, their marketing director noted, “We see value in an association with your association”.

How Do You Assess Value?

So let’s talk about the first reason why a sponsor would partner with you. Do you have a winning value proposition for your prospective partners to align their brand with yours?

  • It depends on 2 elements: does your association’s brand offer something that they need, and is your brand well-known in the sector they want to influence?

If your brand offers credibility, professionalism and community engagement, that could be very appealing to a prospective sponsor. However, your brand must be widely recognized in your sector for this to be of value. If you have a strong brand and high visibility you have the potential for a very strong SVP.

And what about the second reason? Do you have a winning value proposition for your prospective partners to sell their products or services to your members?

  • It depends on 3 elements: number of members, current penetration rate, and the value of a single sale.

If your prospective partner has a keen interest in increasing penetration in your industry or profession, a low penetration rate and a high price point per unit, you have the potential for a very strong sponsor value proposition (SVP). That is assuming that their product or service is a good fit for your members. Even if your membership is not huge, a partnership with your association could be very productive.

How Do You Pitch Your Association’s Value to a Sponsor?

Even if you have an awesome SVP, you still must make a successful pitch to your prospective partner. You have a lot of competition. There’s a line-up of associations in front of you; asking for the same thing.

First, make sure you’re talking to the right people. Second, make sure your sponsor value proposition (SVP) aligns with their objectives.

So who do you need to talk to?

For sponsor dollars, the marketing director usually controls the budget. He/she must be convinced that your offering is better value than the alternatives. The marketing director’s decision will be influenced by the opinion of the business development/sales director that has accountability for sales in your sector.

The sales director is your gateway to the marketing budget. If they’re not convinced that your offering will drive sales, you’re going nowhere fast. Your success with them depends on you helping them to hit their objectives.

What are their objectives and how can you help?

First, you need to ask. To pitch your offering successfully, you need to understand what they’re trying to achieve and position your sponsor offering to help them accomplish their goals. But don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. If there isn’t a fit, then be honest and move on. If you see a fit, then show them a customized package and explain how it fits with their objectives.

How do you know if you got it right?

Ask. After each activation, get their views on how well it worked and find out how you can help them fine tune it.

In summary, remember 2 things.

  1. Ask, and Listen. Talk to them to find out what their marketing objectives are and figure out how you can work with them to accomplish their objectives.
  2. Then, Deliver. Customize a partner package that will meet their needs, then deliver on what you promised. When the SVP delivery is complete, ask for their feedback.

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

The Secrets to Tradeshow Success

Choosing the key to success from hanging keys concept for aspiraA tradeshow is a series of beginnings. Every moment—from the second the doors open until the very end —is a moment where your exhibitors could be making a positive impact on potential customers. If all goes well, these crucial contacts will launch mutually profitable relationships that will last for years. On the other hand, if the impression your exhibitors create is not so positive, they’ve missed the opportunity and may not come back. Here are some ideas to help your exhibitors to ensure that they have a profitable experience.

Increase leads and sales – Business cards are still a great source of information about people. Many companies also incorporate a lead retrieval scanner.  To tap into that source, exhibitors do their best to get contact information from the people that visit their booths. But how about a more engaged approach? I once saw an exhibitor with a high-end bottle of Scotch at their booth as a prize for the business card draw. I couldn’t believe the number of inquisitive folks that came to their booth inquiring about the draw. The physical prize was much more compelling than words. This not only allowed the exhibitor to explain the process but also enabled them to share information about their products. That’s one of the best ways to make connections on the show floor. This approach helps attendees to get excited and engaged. They’re more than willing to drop their business cards or submit to a scan of their badge.

Booth staff – Numerous times we have seen people manning booths on their cell phones or chatting amongst themselves. What does that say to the tradeshow attendees; “I am not interested in your business!” That’s the perception. It’s imperative to explain to exhibitors that they must train their booth staff. They need to engage the attendees to get optimum results. Also, an over-staffed booth might be a deterrent. No one wants to go to a booth if they see five people standing inside a 10’ x 10’ booth, ready to pounce. It’s intimidating and uncomfortable.

Booth décor – Help exhibitors to understand that their booth space is their home for the duration of the tradeshow and they should try to be the best host in the neighborhood. Encourage them to create a clean, warm and friendly environment for the attendees to step into. A cool, branded attire will also make their team stand out, both in the booth and as they walk the floor.

These are only a few of many ways to garner success for your tradeshow. If you want to learn more, check out our VIMEO channel for webinars on this topic. The bottom line is, work with your exhibitors to help them succeed. It requires creativity, clear communication, and tech savviness.

If you’d like to talk to one of Zzeem’s tradeshow professionals and/or find out how we can help, click here.

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

How To Attract More Exhibitors To Your Trade Show

Trade show concept.In today’s trade show world, exhibitors are questioning the ROI (Return on Investment) of participating in trade shows. What’s the problem?  Here’s what going on.

  • Many trade shows are faltering and this taints the value of the successful trade shows
  • It’s difficult for exhibitors to quantify the value of lead generation at a trade show
  • It’s expensive. The cost of exhibiting is much higher than just the cost of a booth
  • Booth staff have to work at odd times (weekends, evenings, etc.)
  • It’s the same show every single year; same old thing

Many trade show hosts are focused more on generating revenue from their exhibitors, through booth sales and sponsorships, then they are delivering value and returns back to their exhibitors.  This in turn makes exhibitors and sponsors feel neglected.

Others feel that simply making more calls or increasing the frequency of their email blasts/social media posts will be the magic elixir.  It’s much more than a numbers game.  It’s about delivering a compelling and demonstrable ROI to exhibitors and sponsors.

Here are our tips for success:

Tip 1 – Work WITH exhibitors to achieve goals

  1. Ask Questions, LISTEN, and deliver – What are their goals? How can you help them achieve them?  By asking, listening, and helping, you have a much better chance of making the sale.
  2. Partner with them – Make them feel they have ownership in the show.
  3. Collect and share attendee data. Use your registration system to collect useful data about attendees.  What buying decisions do they make or influences?
  4. Testimonials – Collect quotes and/or videos from exhibitors. What value did they get from exhibiting at the show?

Tip 2 – Focus on attracting qualified buyers to your show

  1. Give your exhibitors discount codes to send to their contacts/sales leads.
  2. Partner with other shows to cross-promote each others’ events.
  3. Source a list of qualified buyers and invite them personally to the show.
  4. Look at offering special shuttles to pick-up VIP buyers and offer other incentives to entice them to come to the show.
  5. Make a list of the top 20 to 30 qualified buyer companies, and make a personal visit to them to find out what their goals are for your show. Share this with your exhibitors – existing and potential.
  6. Testimonials – Collect quotes and/or video from attendees. What value did they get from attending the show?

Tip 3 – Convert pre-registrants into actual onsite attendees

  1. Starting 4 weeks before the show, inform them why they must NOT miss the show.
  2. Profile exhibitors and floor demos.
    1. Who is showing a NEW product?
    2. Who are NEW exhibitors?
    3. What are the on-floor demos?
  3. Offer incentives to attend. If they show up, they will receive further discounts from selected exhibitors, on future association events, or any other incentives.
  4. Make scheduled appointments at the show between exhibitors and buyers. That will help ensure that they commit to the show.

Tip 4 – Have exhibitor demos on the show floor

  1. Give a select few some extra space to perform “in-booth” / hands-on experiences in their booth at scheduled times (multiple times over multiple days if needed).
  2. Create a demonstration area where multiple exhibitors can come together to produce a group demo where all the pieces come together.

Tip 5 – Offer an Exhibitor Concierge

  1. A single point of contact to help exhibitors achieve their ROI.
  2. Help them plan their booth.
  3. Help them train their booth staff.
  4. Offer helpful tips on exhibiting.

Tip 6 – Create a pre-recorded webinar

  1. Provide tips for success at the show.

Tip 7 – Keep It Fresh

  1. Change it up every show.
  2. Reward large space and long-term exhibitors with prime space or first choice of location.
  3. See what new technology can be used in booths and on your show floor.
  4. Go back to old ideas that can be re-used. Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it won’t work again.

All these tips, or even just some of them, will help start the process of gaining new exhibitors, new attendees and putting life back into your show.   If you can do only one thing – PLEASE LISTEN!

Are you looking to take your show to the next level?   Contact Erik Naar to learn how we can help!

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

Failing Fast, Hard and Often – How to use strategic risk strategies to succeed

FailChange is critical. It’s also risky. There are 4 inescapable facts to keep in mind.

  1. We cannot succeed without regular, meaningful change
  2. Some changes will fail
  3. Some changes will fail at first but become successful over time
  4. There will always be a vocal contingent of opposition

There are some changes that are simply essential. You have to do them on an ongoing basis.

Events

Don’t keep serving the same meal. No matter how good it is, people will tire of it. Even if your event is awesome in every way, it will die if you don’t keep it fresh. Also, don’t forget to keep your event price current. Make sure you know your costs and that your price at least ensures break-even.

Member Programs

Keep ahead of the curve. The content, format and delivery of your member programs must continuously position your association as the leader in your sector. Take a chance on radical new ideas for content. Borrow ideas that are working in other industries and professions.

Member Discount Partners

These are the companies you partner with to deliver their services to your members at a special member price. Are your partners working with you to deliver great value to your members? Or not? It’s better to have one great partner that values their relationship with you than many who deliver sporadic, inattentive service to your members. If a member is disappointed with their first call to a partner, they’re not likely to continue down the list. They’ll just assume the whole program is of no value.

Membership

As your industry or profession evolves, it’s important to ensure your membership categories are keeping up with the changes in your sector. Are they still relevant or do they need revisions? It’s also critical to increase member prices on a regular basis. Remember, your costs go up every year. If membership prices do not go up by at least the cost of living each year, you’ll be forced to make a large price increase down the road.

Tips for Pricing

  1. Communicate increases well in advance
  2. Use association leaders as advocates
  3. Keep increases regular, to keep them small

Tips for Member Categories

  1. Keep it simple: No more than 3 categories
  2. Do market research in advance: Where is there potential confusion? Who will be impacted?
  3. Get feedback
  4. Communicate, communicate, remind

 Managing the Opposition

There will always be opposition to change and often the most vocal opponents are long-term, highly influential members. Sometimes they fear losing the comfort of a known quantity. Sometimes they resent the dismantling of a program or event that they helped initiate years ago. How do you deal with the opponents?

  1. Bring them inside the tent. Invite them to be on a task force or committee that’s driving change. If they feel they have input to the future, they are more likely to want to be part of it.
  1. Keep communication open. Don’t hide from the opposition. Keep the lines of communication positive and open and build relationships on common ground.
  2. Nothing works better than success. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Every successful change weakens the opposition to change.

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Issues Management, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition, Successful Conferences

Get Rave Reviews by Hiring the Right Speaker

Summary: In this environment it’s often difficult for your members to find the time and the money to attend events. You need to make a compelling case for them to attend, and then wow them. The major drawing cards are your keynoters and session speakers. You need to ensure that your budget is being used effectively and that your delegates are receiving demonstrable value for their investment. Cathleen Fillmore of Speakers Gold, a speakers bureau, has 10 Questions that you should ask of prospective speakers:

There’s a lot riding on the shoulders of speakers at conferences or meetings; they can single-handedly make or break the event that you’ve put so much work into.  If you’ve ever hired a big name and paid big bucks only to be disappointed with the delivery and content….well, you’re not alone.

One meeting planner talked about hiring a speaker (who was paid $500,000) to lead a series of meetings across Canada on behalf of a financial services company. He emailed her his itinerary a day before which showed he’d be arriving late for his speech kicking off the entire event and she had to re-arrange the whole day’s schedule.

When you do hire a celebrity, ensure that he or she is also an excellent speaker who can not only draw in a crowd but also deliver on the promise with a message of substance and also inspiration.  Speakers need to educate, entertain and inspire all at the same time.  It’s quite a hat trick and when it’s done well, it’s absolutely unforgettable.

Read more……

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Successful Conferences, Zzeem Speaking Engagements

Are Your Members Having Trouble Getting Funding Approval to Attend Your Events?

Are your events suffering a drop in attendance because members can’t get funding approval to pay for the conference or the travel or both?

In our discussions with membership organizations we’ve found that this has been an issue for several years. Even though membership numbers are recovering from their depths, conferences are still feeling the pinch because many employer budgets are still in the deep freeze when it comes to travel and continuing education.

And the problem is that you’re relying on your members to be sufficiently tenacious and brilliant at sales to convince their managers to loosen the purse strings.

Why not make it easy for them?

Here’s an idea from the Canadian Payroll Association. So simple and so brilliant. In the conference section of their website they have a menu item “Getting Approval to Attend”.

The page is entitled “Getting Approval from Your Manager to Attend the CPA’s Conference and Trade Show”. Here’s the URL: http://bit.ly/AfQVQg

The content covers all the bases:

  • Why You Should Attend
  • Top benefits of Attendance
  • Ideas on How to Overcome Objections to Your Request
    • This conference is too expensive
    • What will the organization gain from your attendance?
    • The organization cannot afford to have you away from the office
    • How to Create a Successful Proposal

And finally it includes a sample memo that the member can alter to suit. See the link at the bottom of the page.

Events are one of the five pillars of the Sustainability Model for membership organizations.

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Filed under Association Management, Event Planning, Successful Conferences