A conference is a grand discussion. And like other discussions, it requires other persons to listen and participate. But unlike conversations over print, radio, TV, or social media, there are only a limited number of seats, which need to be filled to ensure the conference’s message reaches the maximum amount of people. Unless your speaker is a celebrity on par with Coldplay, you will need to spend time and effort to attract and invite participants.
Identify Your Audience
However, even a general conference has a specific agenda and not all individuals are receptive to its message. One enthusiastic participant is better than a disinterested mob because he is likelier to spread your message and become an advocate. Ideally, you’ll be able to attract a large audience of interested listeners. Here’s how to find and get them.
First, create a profile of your ideal target audience. Describe their professions, age, interests, relevant characteristics, and basic personality.
Secondly, pinpoint the areas where they congregate. These can be physical locations, like schools or government offices, organizations, such as clubs and professional associations, and social media networks.
Lastly, invite and sign them up for your conference. Posters and marketing collaterals are good but you can ask organizations directly. Always build a database with their names, emails, and contact numbers.
Open or Invitation Only
But before continuing, it’s important to decide whether your conference will be open to all or will it be an invitation only event restricted to certain people, organizations, and groups? The answer will influence the way you reach out and market your event.
An open invitation tries to gather as much participants as possible. It encourages a broad range of participants to attend. The invitations are broadcast in likely places where your target audience congregates while the organizing team passively waits for interested parties to come forward and join. To ensure that every attendee has a seat, you might consider implementing a ticketing system.
Invitation only events, on the other hand, are focused on inviting target people, groups, and organizations. This type of event ensures that the conference is able to directly discuss with its target stakeholders, which enriches the dialogue. A database of participants has often been already compiled beforehand and the organizing team actively solicits the attendance of its targets.
Your conference can combine the two methods but it’s important to be clear on your primary audience who will be the main focus of your efforts.
One of the most critical efforts is the follow-up. There is often a lot of time between the conference date and the date a person was invited. Many things could happen in-between and no-showing because the participant forgot is distressingly common.
Preventing this outcome is where your database shines. With its various ways of contacting people, you can give out a constant stream of reminders. Reminders should be regular enough to be helpful but not annoying. Phrasing them as useful content is constructive because it piques their interest without calling undue attention that it is a reminder. Updates on conference preparations, such as the latest speaker lineup, venue directions, and what they might need to bring to the conference are always welcome reads.
While sending letters or calling your target audience to invite and follow them up has proven effective in the past, advancing technology has provided better tools. Digital marketing through email and social media has made reaching out to participants easier than ever!
How? Subscribe and find out in the next installment.