Insights

A Step-by-Step Marketing Guide for Association Events

So your association is planning an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event. Now what? The next big step after planning your event specifics is – well, making sure there are people who actually show up to it! We’ve put together a marketing timeline for your association to make sure any event you promote – whether it’s a small seminar next week or an annual dinner with hundreds of people – will involve clear communication with members and key participants. 

Here’s a timeline to follow that will set your next association event up for success. 

 

1. Announce your event.



Four weeks out from your scheduled event date, create an event on your chosen marketing platform (Eventbrite, Facebook, etc.). We recommend using a platform you regularly use to communicate with your members. 

Keep in mind: by this point, you should have your venue and speakers finalized, but if not, you can always announce the meeting with “TBA” as a placeholder. Our team has created a template for you to make this first step super straightforward: 

  • Event title 

 

Add the title of your event here. This is a good place to include something people will remember. Here’s an example: 

“See it. Say it. Human Trafficking Awareness and Response Training” 

  • Event description 

Keep it short, simple, and engaging. Invite your members and give them a few reasons why they should attend. Why is this event important? Is there any important information they may need to know? Here’s an example: 

“Human trafficking can - and does - occur in many settings all over the world, but we know that there is a large uptick in human trafficking activity at large events. As meeting professionals, it is our responsibility to take notice and respond in an informed and effective way. 

Learn to recognize and properly respond to the warning signs of human trafficking at your event(s) from speakers x, x, and x. 

You can also offer something fun for your members to take part in (a raffle, small gift, etc). It is totally natural for people to want to feel included during events and we’ve seen little gestures go a long way by including this in your event marketing. 

 

2. Use social media to promote your event. 


Once you’ve announced your event, it’s time to get down to business with marketing. Information is best absorbed by your members when they see it recurrently, diversely, and steadily. 

Which platform do you use the most when communicating with your members? Finding the focal point of communication between you and your members makes a huge difference in whether they react to your content, which is why we recommend using social media to advertise your event. Using your existing accounts on channels such as Facebook or Instagram are a versatile way to get important events in front of your members, without requiring a lengthy response. They can like, comment, and share your content with just a few clicks. 

This list gives you an idea of how to promote your association event on social media: 

  1. Four weeks out, we recommend announcing your event. You can pull snippets from the announcement you made via your Event Platform, but be sure to turn it into something interactive like a graphic. Using creative apps such as Canva or photoshop are a great way to turn your event details into something people are inspired to share.
  2. Three weeks out through one and a half weeks out from your event we suggest posting once a week on social media with a short video or fact graphic to remind your members of the importance of your meeting. Be sure to always include your meeting date/time in the caption! 
  3. In the days leading up to your event (five days out, three days out, & one day before), we recommend posts with the meeting name, time, date, and location of your meeting. Five days out is a good time to post something with headshots of your speakers so your members know what to expect when they arrive and are able to recognize details from your social announcements while in attendance.
  4. On the day of your meeting, post another graphic with the meeting name, time, date, and location but this time include “today” in the graphic or caption! 
  5. Once your meeting is over make sure to post pictures from the event and thank the moderator/speakers in your caption. This will encourage people to post about their experience and set the groundwork for future and further engagement. 

Part #1 of marketing/announcements? Complete. Let’s move on to emails.

3. Build an email campaign.


Email sequences are a great marketing tactic to reach a select list of people. With all of your information organized into sections of bold, quick/easy to read statements, your members are more likely to engage with your emails (reply, forward, etc.). Think about which emails you are most likely to click on in your inbox. Which subject lines catch your eye? What strategies have other companies used that have inspired you to read further? Brainstorm with your team, draft up a few emails, and press send. This part of your advertising is necessary! 

Emails are a little bit different than social posts, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. 

Here’s how to promote your association event using an email campaign. 

  1. Four weeks out, we recommend announcing your event via email to your membership list. You may have some people on your list who do not follow you on social media, so this is a great way to cover your tracks. And for the people who are following you, it’s just another reminder! 
  2. Two weeks out is a good time to send a reminder email for your members in case they haven’t signed up for the event yet. Give them a little bump! 
  3. One week out from your event, send another reminder email for your members. But this time, place an emphasis on how important their RSVP is. 

Here’s an example: “One week left to sign up for <x> event! Don’t miss your chance…” 

  1. One day before your meeting, send a final registration reminder to your entire list. This is a good place to tell them it is their last chance to attend. 
  2. On the day of your meeting, send a reminder to RSVP’d members with last minute info about the event. At this point in your email sequence, members who are attending are naturally on the look-out for that extra info! 
  3. Once your meeting is over send an email to your attendees thanking them for their participation in such an important meeting. Recognition is key to building trusting relationships with your members! This will encourage them to come again next time. 

Marketing a successful association event

Planning social media content, marketing emails, and landing pages for your association event is hard work, but with a proper timeline, all that hard work will turn into attendance in the form of smiling faces and a successful, engaging event. Thanks for following along! If you'd like to assign that responsibility to a trusted partner, contact michael@redstory.co to start a conversation.