How to Generate Buzz for a Legacy Event

Even if your annual conference has been successful for the past three or four decades, it could have also lost some of its excitement factor. A few ideas for getting attendees and your staffers buzzing about a longstanding event.

When you launch a totally new event, there’s already plenty of buzz baked into it. Attendees don’t know what to expect, so they’re excited to check it out. Plus, your association has put in a lot of work to get it off the ground, so it’s likely your staff team is on pins and needles waiting for it to happen.

But does that same amount of buzz still exist for your longstanding events, like your annual meeting? Usually not. However, that doesn’t need to be the case. Here are three ways to get attendees and your staff excited about a legacy event:

Keep ’em guessing. In an effort to market their meeting and let attendees know what big-name keynoters will be sharing their wisdom, associations typically reveal their entire lineup of speakers from the get-go. But there could be something to be said for keeping attendees in suspense—or guessing who the keynoters will be.

The International Association of Venue Managers did the latter with its VenueConnect 2017 conference. In the four days leading up to the big reveal, IAVM gave one clue each day to help registered attendees identify the speaker. The first two people to guess correctly received the grand prize—a meet-and-greet with the speaker—while the next three got a swag bag upon arrival in Nashville. (And for readers who are wondering, the keynoter turned out to be Charles Esten, a singer, comedian, and actor who was starring in the TV series Nashville at the time.)

Get your industry’s influencers talking. A lot of times your prospective attendees are convinced to register for your conference when it’s recommended to them by a peer or another thought leader in the industry. That’s why influencer marketing, where you get a popular industry personality to talk about your event through their social channels or blog, can be an especially effective tactic.

Hearing this well-known industry insider talk about why they’re going and why others need to go to could be the push your prospects need to get them to click the register button. Need more convincing that you may want to consider this tactic? Research shows that influencer marketing delivers 11 times higher ROI than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Let staff get creative. If you get the sense that your staffers are getting bored by routine meeting planning and execution, offer them the chance to think outside the box. It could be as simple as starting by saying, “I know planning this meeting year after year can feel a little routine. What one change would you like to make that not only would get you excited but also that you think would have our attendees buzzing?” This approach allows staff to take ownership of something new and may re-energize them in other aspects of their job as well.

Has your association succeeded in generating buzz for one of your legacy events? How did you do it? Please share in the comments.

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Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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