Our previous article Boost Attendance with Exceptional Conference Promotion provided a great introduction to the attendance marketing discussion but since there is so much you can do to customize your marketing efforts and increase your attendance we’re continuing that discussion here.

Let’s start by making sure you take the appropriate steps to guarantee the message you are sending is the right message.

1. Know your Targets and What They Want from Your Conference
Rather than sending our broad based messages to your complete contact list, have a look at the list and break it down into different personas. Which is your most desirable segment? If there is a certain type of attendee that you want to attract, invest more time on winning a YES from them. As well as targeting new attendees create specific messaging and marketing campaigns targeting past attendees and local delegates.

  • Alumni Marketing Campaign: develop a system that makes it easy for past attendees (last two years or more) to register. Some examples would be to set up their contact information into your registration system to prepopulate when they sign in. If possible, recognize their loyalty by offering them the opportunity to register earlier than the general public and offer a benefit (VIP access, room upgrade, or other products/services).
  • Local Delegates: Identify which of your potential attendees is local (a drive away) from your conference and send them specific messaging. You could provide more information about one-day registration and put less emphasis on promoting the destination.
  • Once a delegate has registered – remove them from the marketing email list! Messaging to registered delegates should be completely different than what you are sending to potential delegates.

2. Create a Message Map
Update a spreadsheet to identify your target market, different types of potential attendees, how they should be approached and what would drive them to attend. This will help you create your messaging. Here is a sample, modified from Velvet Chainsaw Consulting:

Target – Company type, Attendee Type Main Challenges/
Value Proposition Offer(s) Featured Education Sessions Trade Show Floor Attractions
Who do your top exhibitors want to see most? Best segments for future growth? Create meaningful copy that reflects target’s most pressing problems. List specific benefits to each targeted attendee segment. Why should they attend? Why should they register now? Create urgency. (discounts, gifts, VIP access) Choose three to five education sessions that will interest them most. Recommend several trade show floor exhibitors that would appeal to their interest.
Company XX
Delegates with 10+ years’ experience in the industry

Source: Velvet Chainsaw Marketing


3. Email Template
Review your email template and ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the headline compelling?
  • Are you using a call to action?
  • Are you using photos/videos that let potential attendees see people like them in photos? (Do not use stock photos!)
  • Are you trying to do too much in one email? Keep it simple and change your message each time your send an email.
  • What does your attendee want to know?

Others ideas to consider: promote your conference at other events that your delegates could be attending, use taglines that will evoke emotion instead of changing your conference logo from year to year, use social media to engage, not advertise and promote and use a conversational tone in your marketing.

The way you promote your conference to specific groups can affect your final registration numbers. Event planners are busy and not everyone has a full marketing team, but do your best and if it’s one step at a time – that works!