Virtual events have some downsides, however, they have a major upside: engaging a new or different audience you would not have otherwise reached due to barriers of in-person events (budgets, scheduling, etc.). Leverage the current conditions to engage new audiences and convert them into new members.
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.
Today, we’re going to discuss how to leverage what you have available to you in this current environment for new membership and sponsorship recruitment.
One thing that we’re learning a lot more about is the value of membership recruitment, membership engagement, and membership renewal. Event and non-dues revenue streams may be a bit uncertain right now and it may continue to be so for a long time. This should not paralyze us. We have members and industry that rely on us to deliver value; this is why we were put on this association planet, anyway.
Let’s look at how you can leverage virtual events for membership from a before the event, during the event, and after the event perspectives.
Before the Event
Registration should be an absolute land run. We’re seeing from data we have collected that you can reach more people – and possibly get more attendance – with a virtual event than an in-person. It’s obvious why; there are less barriers. There’s a reduction in needed approval to register because registration fees tend to be lower, there’s no need for travel and booking a hotel, there’s an overall reduction of expenses that an attendee has to expense. Therefore, I would eliminate any non-member registration discrepancy. Get them to register and attend and then deliver unbelievable value to them by putting on a heck of a show: on demand content, live entertainment, concurrent sessions, and more. Showcase your vendors and suppliers in a compelling way not only for your members but to your non-members. Demonstrate how valuable your association is to them and how much great information they will walk away with from this event.
During the Event
Think about how to structure your sessions and design some purposely with the intent on showcasing the value of the association to your non-member attendees. When we go to in-person events, there’s usually some kind of a new member or a non-member briefing. I’ve been a couple of those and, oh my God, you couldn’t get me out of there quick enough. However, in this case, you can really showcase the benefits of membership without it being in their face. Set up sessions for the non-member and promote them prior to the event. Here are some ideas for topics to cover:
How can I better monitor state regulations?
How can I gain more customers in the *insert your* industry?
How do I connect with other companies virtually?
What’s the latest data in our industry and consumer trends?
How can I save money for my company right now?
These topics cover the benefits – or the end results – of becoming a member of your association. If you can put those in concurrent sessions and promote them actively before the event to your non-members you’re going to really enhance the association’s portfolio. By the way, because of the data collected by the virtual event platforms, we know who’s attending those sessions and those are the people we’re going to sell membership to after the event.
After the Event
How are you going to follow up with the non-members who attended your event? We’ve found, over the last decade here at The Moery Company, that we’re able to leverage more non-member attendees at events as a reason to join – or a part of our sales process – than probably any other factor. So, let’s do it here!
Right now, executives are more accessible than ever before because of the current work environment. Scheduling is much easier than it was before, you just jump on a Zoom call and you can actually talk to people without jumping through too many hoops. You don’t have to worry about driving into DC, parking when you get there, or finding the right suite or office; it’s all put away.
Every single non-member in attendance should be called personally – not emailed – to learn about their experience during your virtual event. In many cases, it might be the first time they’ve ever participated; use that as a wedge to start a discussion, “Hey, if you like this, maybe your company is going to enjoy all the membership services that we have to offer. Let’s have a conversation!”
Here’s a quick story about how to get more sponsors because this is actually something that happened to us the other day. Every supplier in the industry should be invited to the unveiling of your new virtual meeting prospectus. Use a virtual event briefing to talk about the platform. Here are the seven steps to launch:
1. Send a personal invitation for an exclusive briefing about marketing to the industry and targeted lead generation.
2. Capture contact information provided at the time of registration.
3. Share an overview of the event during your virtual briefing – or webinar, if you will – including speaker information and how it’s going to work. Share the expected audience and what companies might be participating.
4. Provide information on sponsorship and virtual exhibit opportunities, announce commitments that you already have, and give thanks to the sponsors that have already made their commitment to you or have purchased sponsorships. This enhances and develops a bit of competition and demand.
5. Demo the platform. Show where they might be listed, demonstrate how their exhibit will look, show them what a premium package gets them, and so on.
6. Outline the process and provide contact information about who the prospect should contact to purchase a sponsorship or exhibit package.
7. Reach out and call everyone who attended the briefing. Use the contact information that you collected during the registration process.
Here’s what we learned when we did this for a client: we were able to follow up with every single attendee. Here was a real kicker – this was amazing – attendees on the call were upgrading their sponsorships and ordering booths during the webinar.
We have a chance right now to adapt and be a nimble and maximize opportunities that do exist. There are so many new things that we can do with membership and sponsorship! We can reach a different set of people than we did before this year and the virtual world is exposing those opportunities.
Yeah, there are downsides, however, the upside is the ability to engage a different audience. And, that different audience may be with you for the first time. Take advantage of that chance, convert them into a new member or to a new sponsor.
Have a great day. Thanks for listening. Bye bye.
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.
Need help converting your virtual event attendees into members? We have a rock star sales team on standby ready to help! Fill out the form below and include the word “membership” next to your event date and we’ll be in touch!
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