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ASAE Day 3: Get record attendance for your event

This was the money session for me, the one that made it all worth while. If you haven't had the chance to see Ron Rosenberg of QualityTalk Inc. in action, do try. He is one fantastic presenter. I mean, not only did he keep me awake (no small feat at an 8:30 a.m. session), but he had us roaring while we learned. And boy did we learn. I almost wish I were an event organizer so I could put some of his stuff into action. A few takeaways:

Use the objections people have to your event to your advantage. It's too far to travel, takes too much time out of the office, whatever people say keeps them from coming, learn what those objections are and answer them in your marketing materials. "Take every objection and answer it so the only end result is, 'I'm too stupid to live if I don't come to your event," he said.

There is serious power in testimonials, yet most promotions don't include them, or include wimpy testimonial wannabes that don't pack much power. Good testimonials, he said, include: the person's real name, job title, company, location, photo, and compelling copy. The last is the hardest to get, but he gave us a few hints. Such as:

-Send them questions about the objections you've heard. If it's about price, ask them why it was worth the cost to attend.

-Instead of/in addition to the usual speaker evaluation forms, go back to attendees in six weeks or three months and ask them what they've done as a result of the conference. Then call them to flesh it out, ask them for a photo, and send it to them to OK the final copy.

Big mistake most make: They use their organization's name as the big headline on their brochures. Don't do that! Find a theme, maybe destination-related, and use that for your headline (and sessions to really make it pop). Put your name at the bottom, where it belongs.

It may be prohibitively expensive to develop marketing materials for each of your niche markets, but why not create different cover letters for each market that you send out with the one brochure. The cover letter would point out the aspects of the conference that make it relevant and tailored to that particular niche.

Make speakers earn their pay by offering one-on-one consulting sessions, books, products, services. Use these as incentives for your early-bird mailings (register by April 4 and enter a chance to win one of three marketing makeovers by Ron, for example).

Make your incentives meaningful. If they're not paying for their registrations themselves, $200 off for registering early isn't too much of an incentive. Make incentives personally meaningful. Also, offer a choice of incentives, and make one unrelated to your business.

Never send attendees to your organization's home page. Send them to a landing page dedicated just for meeting registration. Welcome them on that page and make them feel smart for registering now.

Offer a money-back guarantee to lure people off the fence and into your meeting. "Offer a guarantee--you get a cash refund of your registration plus up to $500 in travel expenses if you don't get three things you can use out of the conference. People say, 'we couldn't do that. We would have to give back a lot of money.' Well, then your conference [stinks]," he said. In fact, he asked people in the audience who gave guarantees, and of those, who had to give money back. One guy said he did, once.

There was a whole lot more, but these are a few of the ideas that rang with me. Love the guarantee thing, but have never seen it in real life. Yet.

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