By Mariela Murphy
Meeting planners will tell you the secret to a successful conference or event is communication, especially when it comes to the attendee experience. Attendees, or participants as they are now more properly referred to, are looking not only to be educated at your event but more importantly to be engaged, to be moved, to be wowed by content and overall event experience. What’s the best way to do that? Communicate. Communication will bring them to your door and keep them coming back year after year. But how can you ensure that your team is properly communicating your message and adding both participation and value to those participating? Below are a few simple best practices for essential communication:
Market your meeting to past attendees for repeat participation. But don’t give them the same old information. Entice them with content. Provide fresh, innovative programs. Give them what they expect, but at same time, be creative in new offerings and experiences. Be sure to highlight these new conference features in newsletters, blog posts, and emails. Communication to your past attendees is crucial to keep them engaged and coming back for more year after year.
Attendees, or participants as they are now more properly referred to, are looking not only to be educated at your event but more importantly to be engaged, to be moved, to be wowed by content and overall event experience. What’s the best way to do that? Communicate.
Tap into new markets. Think outside of the box when it comes to where your participants might come from. If your conference is geared towards the medical profession, think about other potential participants and how your meeting, event or conference might be relevant to them. Add something specific to their educational needs. A dedicated session or face-time with an expert in their field could go a long way to bringing new participants. Get the word out to this new audience. Send flyers, offer discounts, provide incentives to come and communicate in your arena.
Social media. Never underestimate the power of a digitally placed tweet, post, photo or video. In the digital age, information is streamed, scrolled, shared, and liked. It’s imperative that your marketing strategy communicate your conference message and showcase it through graphics, photos and posts. Interact with past and potential attendees. Follow those groups that you want as your audience and remember to interact both before and after your conference. Participants need to hear from you and be reminded about your message.
Show Dailies and Conference Newsletters. Participants and sponsors appreciate their name in print. Sure social media is instant, but people still like to hold and save something tangible. Give them a take-away in the form of paper. Provide recaps, make announcements, inform your participants on the day’s activities and education. Interview your presenters and showcase pertinent products. A daily conference publication is the perfect place to communicate, educate, and create a lasting conference souvenir. Make it informative but also interesting to look at. Be creative with your content and your advertising. Not only will your participants thank you, your team will now have a good archive of the conference’s happenings.
Remember, meetings, events and conferences are always going to push the envelope to find new ways of disseminating information. Participants are demanding it. But there are effective ways to communicate your message. As the great journalist Sydney J. Harris once said, “The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.”
Mariela Murphy has 10+ years experience in event management, creative marketing, social media engagement, volunteer coordination and sponsorship. She is a certified meeting professional currently working as an independent strategic conference, meeting and event consultant. Follow her on Twitter at @mvmurphy.