Delegate registration revenue typically represents 30-50% of the overall revenue of an international conference and the presence of a rich, diversified, and qualified base of delegates is critical to the entire success of these events. Increasing the global reach of your congress means first of all knowing your target audience.
How can you get to know your target audience and reach out to them?
Five steps: review last year’s visitors stats and profiles; assess how many of the previous participants match the expectations of your client; ask to yourself the reasons why they attending are your congress and what they are looking for; make a list of the attractions enticing the participation of these people; tailor your communication according to age, experience, interests, gender.
Once defined your target audience here are 12 suggested actions to take in order to work on boosting the attendance.
- Optimize the event’s website for mobile devices
More and more registrations come from mobile, so if your event requires online registration you should make sure your website works well on smart phones and tablets.
- Make cross-promotion with other organizations
Contact other organizations who may also reach out to your target audience and incentive them (for instance through registration discounts or in-kind items like a display table) to cross-promote your event to their lists.
- Ask attendees and speakers to help you promote the event
You need multipliers and congress ambassadors. And in the end, the best way to promote an event is to empower your attendees and participants to spread the word. Make it easy for them to reach out to their friends and peers via email and social media. Offer discounts for bringing friends. Encourage your speakers and participants to promote the event to their networks.
- Express multiple value propositions in your promotional efforts
Just one benefit isn’t enough for most people. You should include in your invitations, emails and marketing materials (including website): the valuable takeaways of the event (for instance what attendees will learn); keynote speakers and/or entertainment opportunities; the schedule/agenda; photos and testimonials of past events; videos; people/companies that attended past events; and any other relevant benefits.
- Build your schedule/agenda early and communicate it to your audience
The clearer and more detailed you are about your agenda, the more people will feel they can make an informed decision about attending. Make sure you include this in your communications.
- Don’t forget the content
Offer content that’s appealing to your audience. What makes your event a “can’t miss conference” for your customers and prospects? Peer to peer Interaction, ideas sharing, new trends… It’s also vital to have guest speakers who are well-known within your industry.
- Extend reach
Reach out to key publications and arrange advertising barters with the media in exchange for free attendance, booths etc.
- Prospect new contacts
You can always prospect new contacts beyond your association database. For instance, within a given target market for a medical meeting an association could locate key organizations and institutions – such as hospitals, ministries of health, medical journals, pharmaceutical companies – and build a list of key opinion leaders and decision makers (for example medical directors of hospitals).
- Be social
Don’t be afraid to use social media. Posting event updates or ticket offers isn’t enough. You need to earn attention. So, create conversations, join conversations. Give your event credibility by building a two-way dialogue with your audience. Listen first, and get a good understanding of your audience’s social presence. Then choose one or two channels which are relevant to your target audience. Once they are defined, make sure your social media accounts look good. Do they have quality images? Are your profiles up to date? Enable social sharing on your event site and registration page – use the official social media icons too as people are more likely to use these. No matter where you are in the world, the need to maximize delegate attendance is critical. The problem is finding methods that can be effectively set up across various regions to ensure maximum results.
- Target the ideal delegate
The key to effective delegate acquisition is to focus on a strategy that targets key stakeholders and business multipliers in selected regions where the need for content is greatest: corporations, academic institutions, government ministries or agencies and regional association multipliers. Concentrating on group sales among these might be rewarding. Each target audience will require its own unique, locally relevant value proposition that can directly impact on critical business or institutional outcomes. This is important, since many delegates coming to such events need to get their attendance approved and thus wish for a clear and tangible set of objectives.
- Work on a strategy/offer for the registration fee
A powerful and convenient selling point with prospects is that you aren’t just selling them a conference but you are offering them an exclusive one-stop-shop service to register, book their accommodations, coordinate their obtaining a visa, and arranging any incidental program registration related to your event (if any). This is like a concierge service to make the whole experience seamless. Work on your database to improve the reach of your contacts.
- And finally…
Involve your team, define the goals, build a successful awarding programme!