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Powerful Pre-Meeting Engagement: A Case Study

Here’s how one organizer used pre-event connections to drive attendance, content creation, and buzz.

Part three of our feature
on pre- and post-event strategies
for year-round impact

When planners think of extending conference engagement, it’s typically after the in-person event. It can also work in reverse.

When mdg, A Freeman Company, launched a conference for U.S. News & World Report several years ago called Healthcare of Tomorrow, it had two dueling concerns. It needed to get the right executive leadership in the room and zero in on agenda topics that would drive relevant discussion. The solution: a series of networking breakfasts along the East Coast in the 12 months leading up to the event.

K Hardcastle.png“The organization’s chief content officer traveled to Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., and other major metropolitan areas within commuter distance to our event location to host breakfast roundtables with prominent C-level healthcare executives—our prospective attendee base,” recalls Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes, president and chief marketing strategist, mdg, A Freeman Company. These small groups of 12 to 20 executives included a facilitator from U.S. News at each table asking about topics the executives would like to see addressed at the Healthcare of Tomorrow event. “Breakfast attendees were able to network with other successful professionals in their community while influencing content for the event, ultimately becoming invested in its success. Support from these early champions gave the inaugural event instant credibility.”

For planners who want to replicate this strategy, Hardcastle-Geddes advises that they align their approach with the audience’s demographics. “For instance, we personally identified and invited participants; this was not about mass marketing or blast e-mails. We also chose the destinations strategically, hosting these breakfasts at five-star hotels within major metropolitan regions. Also, once we had a few people committed, we used their influence to persuade others. Upon hearing that a COO or CMO from an organization like Johns Hopkins or Mount Sinai would be present, others wanted to be there as well.”

Read more in our series on effective pre- and post-meeting engagement:
Want Meetings with Year-Round Impact? Use These Strategies
The Winning Ingredient: Power Teams
7 Tips for a Mentorship Program

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