Some people will naturally attend a conference because it will have a tremendous value to them. They’ll seek out events like yours because it is exactly what they need. Some will never attend a conference unless they can see the value that can be had by attending one. That’s where your marketing efforts need to be focused. It’s good to have time away from the office and having a conference in an exotic location doesn’t hurt either. What is the real value that you can provide attendees?
It all starts with the proactive research that you do long before the conference is scheduled to take place. Why are people wanting to come to a conference such as yours? Was it because of co-worker recommendations? Is it required as part of their job? Why do people choose not to attend your conference? This feedback will help you create the foundation of a marketing campaign that utilizes these additional ideas.
Great Conference Marketing Ideas
1. Find Out What Matters
A conference that is able to solve someone’s problems is a conference that people will be more likely to attend. In order to define this value, you’ve got to find out what matters to your targeted demographic.
2. Change Your Message
Different demographics have different values and this requires a different level of communication for each targeted group. A common error is to broadcast one message out to all groups in a wide fishing net. That might catch some attendees, but a more effective method of marketing is to cast smaller, target specific nets that speak to each group’s needs.
3. Step Away From Email
You’ve got to be different to be noticed and open rates for emails are approaching 10% because people get hundreds of email advertisements per day these days. Unless you’re already on their radar, your email has a 9 in 10 chance of being deleted or left to rot in an unread folder. Go back to the tried and true methods of direct mail because even though it is more expensive, it is also more effective.
4. Give Someone a Call
As much as telemarketing is hated as a concept, from a business to business concept it is a rather effective method of marketing. If you know an agency is interested in sending employees to your conference, call them to talk about it. The call might interrupt someone’s day, but that interruption can be a pleasant, memorable experience.
5. Be Aware of Personal Preference
Some people prefer a brochure over a phone call or an email over printed material so the responsibility is on you to determine what people are going to want. That means you’ll need to begin building relationships, which takes time… but that’s a good thing. Relationships breed loyalty and loyalty helps to drive up attendees.
6. Be Informative
Your conference should be able to provide attendees with something they can’t just get off of the internet today. It doesn’t take much effort to input a long tail SEO search string to find valuable information. It’s the personal experiences that people come to learn about, not the basic overview that they likely already know because of Google.
7. Reassure People
Change is difficult for people, even when there’s a better way. Take the example of the mechanical reaper for farming. Even though the invention could make a farmer 10 times more productive than harvesting by hand, it took 10 years for the invention to become popular. Reassure people that there is value, prove it, and you’ll get attendees.
8. Inspire People To Do More
A good conference encourages people to be a little better tomorrow than they were today, so find a way to inspire people through your efforts. This will encourage attendees to go back and do great things that can change lives and nothing holds more value than that.
9. Video Marketing Will Give You a Boost
Marketing your conference through video content will encourage people to attend because they’ll get a glimpse of the past value you were able to provide. If you promote through past classes, lectures, or speeches, you can even give people last year’s value for free as a means of getting more value through a paid attendance this year.
10. Stay Local
Most people who attend a conference will originate from a 500 mile radius or less of your conference location. Unfortunately most conferences spend more money nationally and less money locally. The conferences that find the highest levels of success tend to reverse this train of thought to spend more locally.
11. Make Social Media Work For You
Social media is a cheap way to supplement any marketing effort because it gives you an instant level of exposure. Not all social media exposure is good, however, as evidenced by the recent efforts of the NYPD. Not all social media efforts get noticed either because news feeds, home pages, and dashboards are clogged with updates these days. Always follow-up a post with another post and be conversational instead of demanding to get the best results.
12. Use Soundbytes
People today are more visual than ever before and they don’t spend much time actually reading content. Use quotes and soundbytes from past events to create your own visual memes that can be easily shared across all platforms to promote your next event, drive traffic to your social media pages, and develop new relationships.
13. Be Everywhere
People are more likely to attend a conference if they are exposed to marketing materials from multiple sources as they go about their day. That doesn’t mean you need to pay tens of thousands for advertising space, but it does mean that you will need to know where people tend to go during the day in your target demographic so your message can get through.
14. Connect the Dots For People
You’ve got to show people what you do, why you do it, and why they need it to get people to attend your conference. Connect the dots for them and you’ll create trust… and attendance.