Getting audiences to show up to your association’s events and conferences is only half the battle. That’s right- you want to make sure you can turn those one-off event attendees into long standing members.
In Eventbrite’s 2015 report, out of 500 individuals surveyed, 83% believed hosting events helped generate more business and win over more customers in the long run. And with events and conferences being something everyone looks forward to, you want to make sure you keep first-timers coming back for more- and eventually get them interested in becoming a member.
But recruiting and retaining members is a lot harder than it sounds, and making sure you keep them engaged and intrigued at events while trying to juggle event management and attendee satisfaction is exhausting to even think about.
So, let’s talk about a few easy and manageable ways your association can hone in on new event attendees, make them feel at home, and bring them back around as members- hopefully for years to come.
Prepare before the event starts
The key to any good event is preparation, especially if you’re looking to recruit brand new members.
If you want to make events an amazing experience for your first time members, you want to make sure they feel comfortable and have a great time. And there are a lot of precautions and preparations your association can make in order to ensure a good time is had by all.
To start, you should always reach out to first-time event attendees before events to make sure they have everything they need and that they know what to expect. You never want new attendees to feel uncomfortable when walking into your event. Sending out emails and making phone calls before your event can help you get to know first-timers before your event and give them any advice or guidance to help them feel more comfortable about attending.
You should also think about assigning new event attendees with a guide/volunteer to help them acclimate and get the best experience possible.
Consider reaching out to your veteran event attendees and see if they may be interested on briefing new attendees on what to expect. If you can introduce newcomers to seasoned members, you’ll help them create a relationship with people who could further convince them into becoming members.
To wrap up preparation, be sure new event attendees know how to contact your association with any questions or concerns. If you give attendees a phone number or email addresses to reach out to, you’ll save both your association and attendees a lot of stress and frustration in the long run, making things more pleasant for all involved.
Communicate and interact during events
Once your event kicks off, you’ll want to be sure your association’s team makes rounds and mingles with all event attendees- but especially those brand new faces.
For many interested audiences, putting a face to your association’s name can help pique interest. If your potential new members have been interested in joining your association for a while but haven’t made the leap, being able to meet with your team in person and have positive interactions could be the push they need.
That being said, it’s important you make sure your team is doing everything they can to make sure the event not only goes according to plan, but that everyone is having a great time and no one leaves upset. While that can be a big tasks to take on, if you plan accordingly it should be manageable.
For example, your association can make it a priority to do its research on event attendees before the event occurs. This way, you have a general knowledge database of who each attendee is, what their profession is, and what they may be attending your event in search of. Knowing your attendees motives can help you interact with them and guide them to event activities they may find enjoyable.
In addition, you want to make sure you have people from your association’s team making rounds at your event and introducing themselves to attendees. If there are returning attendees that your association has good rapport with, be sure to stop by and say hello. It’s always great to keep up relations with those loyal members while fostering new connections with potential new ones.
In the midst of your event wrapping up, it’s important you create an open dialogue with first-time event attendees. If possible, try to set up time in the future to catch up with them. You can invite them to future events and conferences, schedule a phone call, or even just ensure them you’ll follow up in the future.
And speaking of following up…
Follow up with members after the event is over
Once your event is over, the recruitment process has just begun.
Reaching out to new event attendees post-event is crucial in order to lock them in as members. Your attendees just had a great time at your event and are feeling extremely connection to your association’s team. Don’t let them walk out of the door from a lack of communication.
Construct a post-event email that will reach event attendees at the right time and give them something to mull over. You can thank them for coming to your event, and even share some fun event highlights, photos, or videos taken to reminisce on all the good times you had together.
You can also send out a post-event survey to get feedback from event attendees. This is a great way to not only measure the success of your event, but to see which event attendees are most likely to come back- and likely to become members.
You should also always go the extra mile to add a personal touch to your post-event outreach. If possible, write out handwritten notes and send them out to event attendees to thank them for participating and attending your event or conference. A handwritten, personalized note will help attendees feel like their presence made an impact, bringing them closer with your association.