We’ve adjusted, adapted, and pivoted. Now it’s time to recover, relaunch, and rebound. Here’s some tips on how to do just that in the areas of communications, virtual events, and sponsorships.
First, some observations on what we’re seeing here at The Moery Company. Our newsletter open rate is up 20% and our click through rate has gone up to 22%. Here’s why: we’ve been providing timely resources and insights for associations to navigate the pandemic and now we’re focusing our content on how to move into recovery mode. More resources, more interpretation. That’s what your members want from you.
Our podcast downloads are up 66% from last month. Friends, if you don’t have a podcast after this era of change that we’re going through, I don’t know what you’re doing. You need to get into podcasting as another channel for your thought leadership in your industry.
Our performance on LinkedIn remains very strong. In fact, it’s my favorite social platform for business people. Notes from our conversations with CEOs performed best last month. Again, insights into our industry geared towards the audience of the social channel helps drive more shares and more activity on LinkedIn. Give your audience – your current and potential members and sponsors – information that they’re seeking in a format tailored to each social network.
I’ve got some great observations on video, too. We post videos to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We’re seeing best engagement on videos that are less than two minutes. That’s the attention span of my wonderful audience. That’s okay! One to two minutes means I need to get to the point, too. Good for you to know that.
The number of visitors to our website have doubled. Here’s the key thing, friends, all of this outbound communication and posting of content and resources that you have has to be directed back to your website so they can see all of the other resources that you have available.
There’s been a surge in demand for educational offerings and training. Some companies, like ours, received payroll protection money to help us continue moving forward. Others many not have as much work as they did before the pandemic. This is a great opportunity to focus on education since the workload may be lighter than usual and they have time to focus on additional training. If you have a virtual training program for your industry you ought to be doubling down on the marketing of it right now.
Here’s another important thing to note: we’re shifting from pandemic content to content focused on recovery. Now is the time to shift your content focus to recovering, rebounding, and relaunching your industries. Don’t forget that the tide shifts and to watch the trends in your content engagement. I’m paying a lot of attention to that, probably more than I ever have. It’s key to make sure you keep your audience engaged. Don’t just be trotting out the same old stuff.
Virtual meetings are a big deal right now. The attention being given to virtual meeting platforms has, frankly, replaced the hotel site visit as a central focus for event planners.
Over the last several years we have paid more attention to content and the business connections that are being developed. That’s more important than having your meetings at destinations such as Charleston, Atlanta, or Nashville to name a few. The same focus needs to remain on finding the right virtual platform. Most of these platforms can deliver the basics, however, what’s really important is good education, information, and training for your speakers to make sure that they’re using the platform appropriately.
Focus on content quality. Community is built through the content. Continue to stay close to the attendees by bringing that group together over and over again, maybe even with a sponsor underwriting those continued conversations.
Start with a narrow program. An example of that could be a young leaders Zoom call with congressional members under 40 years of age. The National Sand, Stone and Gravel Association did that recently. Then expand that small audience to a larger event, like an election briefing with someone like Nathan Gonzalez who is the publisher of Inside Elections. The virtual event executed live will provide urgency and draw in a larger audience. A recording can be used for continued promotion and email marketing to the target audience of the potential sponsor. Webinars and Zoom calls – supported by sponsors – should be offered complimentary. Educational sessions and training may be better suited for a fee.
Sponsorship for Virtual Events
Some thoughts for you regarding sponsorship and monetization of these virtual events. Sponsorship relationships will never be transactional again. The association platform is no longer an afterthought for sponsors and sponsors will never be taken for granted by the association, either. There’s an opportunity to deliver what the sponsor has always desired. A target audience and a chance to connect with them along with the ability to deliver thought leadership and consistent branding. That has always been the case, regardless of the environment or the platform. Own the loss for the time being and find a way to offset the face-to-face meeting and sitting next to the CEO for the lunch.
How do you deliver the value to sponsors that they’ve always wanted from you? Consider the revenue opportunity with new companies, because you might be able to attract a company that you’ve never engaged before. Grace Lynch, who is a member of our sales team, sold a sponsorship with a company that makes the protective sheets between workstations in an industry. That would never have been possible just a few months ago, right? It’s all new.
Sponsorship monetization is going to be different through virtual events but I think will provide long term – and even more measurable results – through diverse deliverables that we’ve never had previously. It’s probably not going to replace what you were getting from a live event but it could certainly supplement it. It can be viable. And it may be a preferred venue for some of your sponsors that may not optimally fit your face-to-face event programing. Associations with a great digital presence and reputation will absolutely be better positioned for virtual sponsorships. If you’ve got a podcast, you’re going to be much better at this type of format.
Good data in the CRM and great email marketing is going to be extremely important to promote sponsors, webinars, virtual meetings, and more. Keep in mind that you will need to describe the virtual and the digital offerings in more detail in your prospectus than you had in the past for, let’s say, a lanyard or coffee break sponsorship in your face-to-face event program. They know what that means. They don’t know what they’re going to get when they sponsor a webinar. Be more descriptive in your prospectus.
The connection you have with sponsors is tremendous. They need your market, they need access to your members for leads, and you need their support in this somewhat unknown environment with suppressed registration, at least for the time being. Don’t underestimate these partnerships now. If you’ve never had them before, you certainly need them now. The associations that traditionally have given a stiff arm to the sponsor community and treated them like second class citizens have come to roost now. Invest in these relationships and optimize them. Work together and collaborate to help each other reach your goals.
I really hope you find this helpful because it’s an important movement in the association space. Get after it, friends!