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How Associations Can Win with Events & Conferences (even in a pandemic)


CredSpark Association + Nonprofit Series

Association Events Can Still Deliver Big Results

Annual conferences, seminars, networking mixers, and other live events are crucial revenue generators and membership engagement vehicles for associations and nonprofits. And, obviously, the Pandemic has delivered a thundering gut punch to them. Like most industries that rely on live events, associations have responded with a mad dash to virtual solutions. Although online events can be a great stop-gap measure to replace lucrative live offerings—especially on short notice—they’re covering up a more fundamental problem.

The dirty, little secret:

Industry, association, and nonprofit events and conferences (live and otherwise) tend to be pretty formulaic. They’re a panoply of the usual suspects:  speakers, workshops, exhibitors, sessions, educational opportunities, eating, drinking,  etc. And that’s great; there’s often a tremendous amount of value delivered in a very limited amount of time. The issue? It’s a TERRIBLE experience for attendees. Why don’t you know that? Because attendees have very rarely experienced anything different in professional events; so they don’t even think to bring it up. Their expectations are already baked in.

Large conferences and events are akin to being invited to the world’s largest, most sumptuous buffet only to be told that you have 10 minutes to eat what you can. And unfortunately, many organizations are using the same modus operandi as they transition events to virtual experiences.

Think about it. What is the single, most important thing you can deliver to each of your members? Is it education? Advocacy? Research? Expert Content? Thought Leadership? Networking opportunities? All of the above?


It’s relevance.

In fact, your organization’s event is not valuable to me if I’m aimlessly wading through a sea of sessions, exhibitors, speakers, etc. that don’t meet my particular interests, needs, and goals for attending in the first place. By sheer scale (or monopoly), it may be an industry “must attend” event now; but that’s only case until someone delivers a more relevant and meaningful experience. Make sure that ‘someone’ is your organization. Here’s how…

Four opportunities:

Deliver a personalized event experience to each member.

No, we’re not asking you to deliver thousands of one-person events. Our idea is to leverage personalization technology and interactive content to make your large, marquee events feel like they’re personalized to each attendee’s interests and goals. At CredSpark, we work with the world’s largest event and conference companies, like Reed and WATT Global Media, to deliver personalized event programs/schedules for each attendee, based on what they tell us is important to them. It’s not rocket science. We simply ask attendees or prospects what interests them and then match them to your event’s most relevant sessions, speakers, exhibitors, workshops, and more—creating an incredibly personalized conference experience for each attendee. This approach delivers deeper event engagement, greater attendee satisfaction, and higher recommendation rates. Here’s how WATT Global Media drove an 18.6% conversion rate to the world’s largest pet food exhibition.

Showcase why it’s a ‘must-attend’ event for each member.

You don’t have to wait until registration to deliver relevance. Dramatically improve your registration rates by showcasing the value of attending your events at the individual attendee level. Ask your prospective attendees what matters most to them, and then surface the exact sessions that will get them to hit the “Register” button. It’s a great way to distill a 5-page conference program to the three or four discrete things that each individual prospective attendee is looking for. Here’s how Reed drove nearly 500 new INTERPHEX registrations—82% were new to the event.

Provide unmatched value for your sponsors and exhibitors.

One of the most important byproducts of querying your audience is the data you get in return. And that data is valuable. If I’m a potential exhibitor or sponsor of your event and you can deliver foot traffic to my booth and qualified leads with info on their interests and goals??? Well, where do I sign up? Personalization can be harnessed to deliver tremendous added value for your sponsorship programs. And that’s money in the bank.

Don’t be a captive of the calendar.

Your members want value for their membership all year long. You don’t have to stuff 90% of it over a 3-day conference. Personalization also enables you to deliver the right content at the right times. If certain sessions weren’t at the top of an attendees list during the conference, deliver a video or online version of it later in the year when it makes more sense. It’s a great way to get return on your conference content investment all year long, as well as provide tangible value for your members, exactly when they need it.

Get more ideas and strategies for your association/nonprofit.

Try CredSpark’s Thought Starter and see personalization in action. Tell us your goals and interests and we’ll deliver free, relevant articles, client examples, case studies, and strategies. All in less than 2 minutes.

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