This week on the Association Hustle Podcast we have a special guest on the show! Patty Leeman, Chief Research Analysts here at The Moery Company, joins JP Moery to discuss the key takeaways from ASAE’s Annual Meeting held virtually earlier this month.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
JP Moery: Today we have a special guest on the Association Hustle Podcast. We don’t often have one so this is a special day! Patty Leeman, our Chief Research Analysts here at The Moery Company, is joining us today! She has been a great colleague for a number of years and we’re going to hit on a very important and urgent topic: virtual events and first hand account of an attendee’s experience. Patty recently attended ASAE Annual Meeting and she’s going to share her thoughts.
What was your overall impression of the conference?
Patty Leeman: Truthfully, I don’t even know how associations do it right now, to pivot on a dime and move from live to virtual. Wow, kudos to all those people doing it. I think ASAE did an outstanding job of scrambling; they moved the whole thing over to virtual, they had great content and good takeaways. I wrote a lot of notes down that I’m actually applying. Overall, I think it was a plus.
JP: This is so helpful for everyone because we’re in a phase right now where everybody is now implementing these things at variety of different degrees. We’ve had to scramble, we’ve had to adjust, we’ve had to launch, we’ve had to do it all. Now, people are having the events and we get the opportunity to learn from each other.
Tell me about the programming itself, was it live or pre-recorded? What was your experience like? What was the differences between the two?
Patty: I was really shocked by how much I loved the pre-recorded sessions, particularly for the breakouts. They streamed the pre-recorded session and then the people who were presenting were available to chat live. It became this amazing interactive session. JP, you do webinars all the time, you know how hard it is to manage chat at the same time!
JP: Yeah! Actually, I don’t do it that way because it’s very difficult to do simultaneously. It’s almost impossible to deliver the content and monitor the chat room and answer questions. What usually happens is that you run out of time. In this case, they pre-recorded their session and then they’re able to go in the chat and answer Q&A. I love that. You know, another area that we chat about a lot here, because it’s in our business, is sponsorships.
Tell me about sponsorships and how they were delivered. What can we learn from what you saw and experienced?
Patty: Let’s start with the keynotes. There was an incredible opportunity to show a short video at the beginning. Their biggest sponsors had a professional video shown. Those smaller ones, you could have a logo slide up. The smaller ones, they actually let someone do the Q&A and be able to run the Q&A live after a pre-recorded session. Now, I did want to give one comment about pre-recording because some of the sessions that were live had more problems because of the speaker’s connectivity, they would buffer in and out. I was shocked by how much I liked the pre-recorded sessions with a hosted Q&A after. That was really cool.
JP: You know what, that sponsorship area is really interesting to me because we know a lot of these sponsors really want thought leadership, they want to be aligned with sessions.
How was the sponsorship area utilized during the event?
Patty: ASAE had a really cool section on their meeting platform that you could go to anytime. They had slots for videos that were live so that the sponsor could interact with people; they called it a partner playground and they were fun. I actually watched way more of these than I expected because they tied it to their brand so I remembered who put them up. I thought that was one of the best ways to use the feature and space. As a takeaway, what I really noticed is – because we hear pushback all the time about not letting vendors speak or providing thought leadership – that this allows the sponsor to provide the thought leadership, the association can check the video in advance, and can approve it before it goes up in their virtual space.
JP: That’s really thoughtful because I think it eliminates one of the major resistance areas that we face when it comes to partner lead thought leadership, the fear that they’re going to do a sales pitch instead of an educational session. When you get that recorded in advance, it burns the card, and you can go back to them and say, “Hey, this is too much of a sales pitch, you need to add more education,” and you can solve that problem. This starts to open up the opportunity for thought leadership with the association long-term. The associations realize that no one’s hair caught on fire because you did it.
Tell me about the virtual exhibit hall.
Patty: Truthfully, I don’t know if any show can compete with the energy of ASAE’s live exhibit hall. There are so many people, exhibitors, and fun going on. I don’t think you can recreate that online. However, it was easy to click around and download product information that I then had to carry that home, which was nice. The number of vendors was down from the usual. It may be because of ASAE’s $10,000 starting price point for a booth. That’s a lot of money. They may have preferred it that way and chose big vendors to underwrite the show as a whole and it may be part of their process. I’m okay with that.
JP: You know, I think that’s very interesting what you said about the exhibit hall because you can certainly upload collateral information and demos and I would recommend that you use the virtual exhibit hall as a starter sponsorship for some partners. There might be organizations that take you up on a $1,500-2000 booth that have never done anything else with you because they don’t have the travel, pipe and drape, and stuff the booth. This may be a way to organizations engaged with you rather than committing a lot of dollars. It’s not going to replicate the in-person, however, it may be a way to start to developing a relationship.
Are there any aha moments or any tips that you’d like to share with people about planning their virtual conference?
Patty: As an attendee, I was a little confused as to what the flow of this show was going to be. Was it live? Did I really have to be there at the session? Could I watch it later? It was kind of uncharted ground and nobody really told me how to do that. I think a little bit of an indoctrination would have been helpful. I think the three days of education with timing that fit the live event, maybe wasn’t the best way to go. Fifteen-minute coffee break felt a bit long, there’s no line at the bathroom at my house when I’m home alone it’s easy to get in, get out. Get ready for the next show. You know, I think I’d like to see a little more compactness. I was really, really, really shocked how much I learned. I felt that relaxing on my couch and watching it on my laptop helped me really absorb the content. I was in the moment or was not distracted by the people in the room. I didn’t get waylaid in the hallway where I didn’t get into the session that I wanted to see. What was really great was that the sessions were recorded so if there were two at the same time that I wanted to see I could actually watch the other one later. Or, if I didn’t really like the session I chose, I could click around quickly and get right into one I really enjoyed. One of the sessions that with I went back and watched the beginning of because it was so good. I think that that was something that I was surprised at how much I learned and loved.
JP: Ladies and gentlemen, that’s my friend, colleague, and in this case, our “secret shopper” Patty Leeman. We appreciate her thoughts. We hope that these insights are helpful for you. Thanks for listening today. We’ll talk next week on the Association Hustle.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.
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