What better place to recruit new members than during a live association event – right?
I believe it’s one of the most obvious strategies for membership growth – but most associations don’t take full advantage of the opportunity. We’ve had some great success over the last several months utilizing an intentional strategy to convert nonmembers to members during client conferences.
Key to success is tactical preparation on several fronts. Here’s the process.
So, a couple of months out from the show, we use our Pardot system to blast out email invitations to our nonmember exhibitor lists, the attendee list, and basically our whole prospect list. And, we’ve had a fantastic response.
And with the folks who are on board, we set up prospect meetings far in advance of the event. This is critical because once you’re at the show, everyone is running around, and it’s hard to secure a meeting with someone unless it is blocked off. Also, be sure to confirm your meeting a few days before wheels up.
When you arrive at the conference, you’ll notice the excitement generated by the event only elevates the excitement about the association – It’s an incredible environment to talk about membership. Much more so than just hopping on the phone with someone cold, right?
We’ve arranged to meet prospects at the association booth and have found securing a defined space set up for these meeting works well. There are situations when it’s more helpful to the prospect to talk at their booth because they don’t want to miss folks who might be walking around the exhibit hall.
So, a good strategy is to have the programming schedule ahead of time to set up meetings when the sessions are in full swing so there’s less traffic in the exhibit hall.
Good face-to-face conversations make follow-up much easier. Ask for a time frame. Some folks are international, others contending with jet lag and things like that when they go home. So, it’s best to plan to reconnect a week or two later but stay on top of it. You’ve had that one-on-one meeting and are now more familiar, and people are more likely to respond.
So – when it comes to the prospects, remember these people will have a million things going on – so securing meetings ahead of time is an intentional process. Blast out meeting invitations to your prospect list a few months out from the show.
#1 Set up your meeting times – send them a calendar invite – and as the conference approaches, confirm the meeting.
#2 Arrange for a membership booth at the convention to meet your prospects but follow their lead as to what works best for them. The value of a face-to-face meeting is a game changer.
#3 And, finally – set up a time frame to reconnect post-show and be persistent on the follow-up.
Conferences, conventions, and symposiums are incredible opportunities to recruit new members – again, so much better than a phone call. Give it shot.