Question: We are a mature organization having been founded over 50 years ago. We are finding that our conference attendance has continued to decline and those who attend our events do not seem to be as engaged in the agenda. How do we solve this problem?
Answer: One thing that you must remember is that your audience is your brand. If you do not give them an interactive experience at your events they will begin to lose interest and stop attending. You need to create an agenda that appeals to specific sects of your audience so your attendance is based on a wider variety of interests.
Question: While we know our events have increased competition how can we differentiate our events to create excitement?
Answer: To get people excited they need to have reason to attend rather than feeling it is an obligation. Start sending out parts of the conference agenda with each message addressing specific but separate parts of the event. Most conference attendees have specific information they are seeking so structure your messages to address perhaps 4 or 5 different disciplines. This way you can be specific in your marketing but also broad in your coverage.
Question: We have talked about sending pre-conference information to our membership but how do you structure the information to make it relevant to them so they will attend?
Answer: Some of the best information you can send should revolve around shared experiences and problem solving. All of us have encountered situations that are new and not all of us approach the solution the same way. Giving people specific solutions from different sources will create a desire for conversation about how each solution was devised and the end results. The best thing you can get from this are people with very different opinions who want to now debate the solutions and better understand problem solving.
Question: As I watch those in attendance engage at our conference how do I get the energy from the event to stay alive?
Answer: If you have not done this now is the time to start which is post conference evaluations while the conference is still in session. This type of meeting is used many times with exhibitors for them ask for changes to give them more business opportunities. This can also be used with the general attendee and can be best done by offering more than one session so you can have them address specific subjects based on their interest level. A good example might be one on the tech side with another one on finance or procurement. The point is you need to know your audience and make sure you have learned why they did attend and what will make them return.