Association events can be extremely beneficial to attendees—if they’re hosted correctly, that is. Unfortunately, many events of this nature miss the mark. In this article, we’ll look at five ways you can host better gatherings for your members.
The State of Association Events
Association events, from large-scale conferences to more intimate networking get-togethers, will allow organizations like your to promote its value. Doing so will make it much easier to both attract new members and retain current ones.
Growing your association’s member base has never been more important. Due to social media, online training, etc., a majority of modern professionals don’t view associations as necessary entities.
This is proven by the fact that many associations have reported a decline in membership over the past decade. What can you do to keep your association alive and thriving?
How to Host Better Association Events
One of the best ways to provide value to your target audience and boost association membership is to host stellar association events. Here are five tips to help:
1. Commit to Innovation
Did you know that 81% of growing associations have a culture that supports innovation?
Modern professionals aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They want to align themselves with organizations that push the boundaries in a positive way. With this in mind, develop association events that exceed industry standards. For example, you could:
- Hire Innovative Keynote Speakers: Who’s making waves in your industry? See if they’d be interested in speaking at your event. If they’re willing to share their innovative strategies with your audience, your event will automatically improve.
- Take Advantage of Technology: From virtual reality to unique Slack networking sessions, technology may be the key to an innovative event. Explore the ways you can use it to provide unique experiences to your attendees.
There are plenty of other ways to commit to innovation, too. Set aside time to brainstorm ideas. Then incorporate them into your events strategy.
2. Provide Personalized Content
Your audience has grown accustomed to personalization.
Social media enables them to customize their feeds and see only the content they want to see. Additionally, services like Netflix allow them to watch movies they’re interested in, not just the ones currently airing on TV. And retailers send them targeted offers based on previous purchase history.
Your association events need to take a similar approach. The question is, how? You could:
- Offer Multiple Event Passes: Instead of selling one, all-access ticket to your audience, offer multiple passes. For example, you could offer a low-cost option that allows them to view keynote speeches. You could also offer a high-cost option that gives them access to more in-depth information via hands-on workshops.
- Allow Attendees to Choose Workshops: Speaking of workshops, allow attendees to choose which ones they attend. By giving them the option to choose their own event content, you’ll make sure your gatherings always feel personalized.
3. Market Like You Mean It
You might be preparing the greatest association event in the history of mankind. But if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t really matter. That’s why you need to market like you mean it!
Event marketing is a HUGE topic. But here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start Earlier Than You Think: Ideally, you’ll start marketing your next association event as soon as the previous one concludes. Doing so should give potential attendees enough time to rearrange their schedules and set aside funds.
- Take an Omnichannel Approach: Don’t rely on any one marketing channel too heavily. Instead, promote your association events on social media, your organization’s website and blog, and in trade publications.
- Ask Your Audience For Help: Word of mouth marketing is powerful. Ask your attendees, speakers, and sponsors to spread the word about your association events. Moreover, consider compensating them in some way if their efforts are effective.
Marketing is often the difference between an amazingly successful event and a complete failure. Set aside time for and invest your resources into proper promotion.
4. Hire Professional Entertainment
Professionals attend association events for a variety of reasons. They want to learn new skills and make career-boosting connections, of course. But many of them want to relax and have a good time, too. As a result, hiring professional entertainment is one of the best tips!
- Standup Comedians: Industry conferences, trade shows, and other association events are often serious in nature. Liven things up with comedy. A stand up comedian will ensure your attendees have time to relax in between business-oriented content.
- Magicians and Mentalists: Stun your attendees with a professional magic show. From sleight-of-hand tricks to mind reading demonstrations, there’s nothing quite like this form of entertainment, which is why magicians are becoming so popular.
- Experienced Game Show Hosts: If you’re looking for more interactive entertainment options, look no further. Experienced game show hosts use trivia questions and classic game show dynamics to encourage audience participation.
To clarify, professional entertainment should still be included with virtual events! At Funny Business, we work with dozens of acts who can perform via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, or whatever video conferencing platform you prefer.
5. Go Virtual
These days, all event planners should consider hosting virtual events—or at least offering a virtual viewing option. That way people can attend without risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Virtual get-togethers will also allow you to reach more people with your association events. Think about it, when your content is broadcast online, attendees won’t have to travel to a physical location to consume it. This means more attendees will be able to participate.
To host a successful virtual event, follow all of the tips we’ve already outlined. Just remember to adjust them when necessary so that they work in a virtual environment.
For instance, when hiring professional entertainment, make sure you book someone who has experience performing for a virtual audience. That way you know they’ll be able to keep your audience’ attention throughout their act.
Better Association Events
In conclusion, the five tips outlined in this article will enable you to host better association events that both attract new members and help retain current ones. Good luck!