Why Your Conferences Are Not Generating as Many Attendees as They Used to - and the Three Things You Can Do to Reverse the Trend. What Else?

Despite the improving economy, many commercial organizers and associations that we are speaking to are experiencing varying degrees of underperformance in their existing event portfolios. In addition, those sameorganizers are experiencing puzzlement

Despite the improving economy, many commercial organizers and associations that we are speaking to are experiencing varying degrees of underperformance in their existing event portfolios. In addition, those sameorganizers are experiencing puzzlement that their new launches are failing to gain traction.

Event design, production methods, marketing plans and sales strategies of past years are not working the way they have in the past. The same activities are generating fewer attendees and repeat registrations are down.

"It should be easier" they say, "I can connect to potential speakers through LinkedIn, mine groups for prospects, Tweet, email, use marketing automation and more. Sources of data proliferate, Marketing channels abound and yet our marketing messages are falling short and our revenues are down!"

An Alarming Shift.

Our research indicates a potentially alarming shift in attitudes towards industry and association conferences. Attendees are changing the way they look at conferences; and the meeting industry - which thinks of itself as oh-so nimble and adaptive is struggling to meet the new challenge.

It's been keeping our clients awake at night and we find ourselves being drafted in more often than ever to help them reconfigure their operations and solve the problems.

Why?

In today's hyper social sharing environment the line between presenter and audience is not just blurring, but in many cases it's eliminated. Sell your shares in podium and staging companies because the meeting of the future is going to look very different from the meeting of the past. In an era when everyone has a blog or a twitter feed and thinks of themselves as a "brand". It's no wonder that everyone wants to present or participate substantively at conferences rather than being a boring and under-appreciated "audience member."

Authenticity is Key

Never before has the provenance or foundation of been more important to an events success. As consumers control the discussion audiences will cluster towards those events with which they have an affinity or a brand resonance. Branded B2B events such as the Pivot Conference and those created by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, or with leading associations command a deeper resonance with their communities and constituents that makes "commodity" conferences much harder to market. Does your event have a compelling story? A reason for people to attend? Or are you relying on a grand sounding "world summit" type event title that you secretly suspect isn't fooling anyone anymore?

Marketing Resonance

Given the communication challenges, and after a deep dive into our clients business we are discovering that the three most effective changes that a conference company can make right now are to a)conductan honest rebranding of the event b) implement marketing automation (using Marketo, Pardot, Hubspotetc) and c) revamp of the outbound calling function. Both sound daunting (and expensive), but are actually relatively straightforward can and help you reclaim the momentum

Honest Rebranding

One of the hardest things for an organizer to do is to relinquish the past and embrace the future but many organizers don't face the facts until it's too late and an event is in terminal decline. Wasting an asset that could be saved. Quick and effective rebranding - now using free crowdsourcing tools and techniques to ensure that your participant stakeholders feel included and participate in the process - is an essential step on the path to continued success.

Marketing Automation

The wealth of individual, personalized information afforded to B2B marketers through Marketing Automation is remarkable. For the first time marketers can truly create personalized drip campaigns to tailor messaging to the individual as well as score leads that will inform the sales team and help them identify the most likely purchasers from a sea of data.

Outbound Calling

Trained, event-oriented, high call volume outbound sales reps are hard to find and difficult to manage. But get it right by integrating them with your marketing channels and they will be your greatest asset. At Momentum we - and our clients - treasure our reps. We even invested in creating a dedicated call center in Detroit so that our clients can take advantage of a highly educated pool of talent without having to go to the expense of recruiting, managing and monitoring a team themselves. It's proving to be mission critical to us and the organizations that we support and is generating amazing results at this difficult time.

These are just our thought- but they seem to be working. Inaction is not a strategy and neither is repeating the same activity and expecting the results to differ.

We would love to learn what else you have found most effective in turning the tide on your underperforming events.

Matt Godson
Co-CEO
Momentum Events & Consulting
http://momentumevents.com

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