I had to miss the morning learning labs to go to the press conference (I'll try to hit some highlights of that in another post), but I did get to one in the afternoon that was not bad. I didn't learn anything earth-shattering, but it was a good refresher in the basics of meetings marketing. Led by Todd Charlebois, president of Association Marketing Partners, here are some of my key takeaways:
The first indication your blocks could be in trouble is when you notice that exhibitors start sending fewer people. Watch exhibitor trends closely.
Good marketing appeals to the heart, not just the head. If people feel emotionally drawn to your show, their head will make up reasons to support the decision to go. But it doesn't work the other way around. You can appeal to the heart through humor--he showed a few great commercials to illustrate his point, like this ad for Toyota's Rav4:
He talked a lot about branding and, using the American Red Cross as an example, said "the real power of an organization is that when you call on [your members] to act, they act." Which is exactly what the Red Cross did so successfully after Hurricane Katrina.
There are three main things to deal with, said Charlebois: Message, messengers, and measures.
Message: Before crafting your message, do the research to learn about your demographics and emotional profile (what your members' values are, what they're proud of, what their dreams are). Ask them what the ultimate accomplishment of their members would be, then "package it, associate it [with your meeting], and promote it."
Messenger: Make sure you use the right mix of media. Balance your use of e-mail, postcards, newsletters, etc., so you're not using the same medium all the time. Piggyback your message onto the other communications your organization is already sending out to members.
Measures: Keep a monthly chart over a 12-month period to track your registration rates (including booth sales). Measure your reality against your goals regularly.