Meetings

How to Get Current Attendees to Recruit New Ones

By / Nov 14, 2019 (Mr.Timoty/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

It’s hard work to convince new people to register for your conferences, but your current attendees may be able and willing to help. Here are three tactics for making it happen.

You may have a sophisticated marketing campaign in place to get prospects to sign up for one of your upcoming conferences, but at times, it can feel like all that effort yields few people clicking that “register” button.

If you’re finding yourself in that position, it could be time to try something new and turn to people who have already attended—and enjoyed—your conference to enlist new registrants. Here are three ideas for how you can encourage your current attendees to recruit new ones:

Get social. Say you’re trying to attract new attendees to your annual conference next year. Once the previous meeting wraps up, scour social media to see who your most active and engaged attendees were. Then, reach out to a handful of them and ask if they’d be willing to use their social channels to promote next year’s meeting. This could include sharing their takeaways, videos, and photos from the event. You could also consider offering this group of influencers an incentive for doing so, such as reduced registration to an event of their choice.

Bring a friend. Give a select group of those who have already registered the option to bring a friend along for free or at a reduced rate. The key here is to offer the deal to a limited number of people, so you don’t end up losing money. One group to consider offering this option to is your long-time attendees (perhaps those who have attended for 10 years or more). You could also consider a buy-two, get-one-free incentive. Go back to your attendee list and contact everyone who already bought two registrations and offer them a free one. You may want to consider other restrictions on deals like this, including only allowing the free ticket to go to a first-time attendee or a nonmember. Another idea: offer one of your exec-level attendees the chance to bring a young professional or rising star at their organization to the event.

Share knowledge. One of the primary reasons people go to conferences is to network with industry leaders. If you know that you’ll have a significant number of top execs at your conference, ask them if they’d be willing to attend a networking event for first-timers only.  Once you have a list of executives who will be there, pass along an exclusive invite to your prospects. This could help turn their maybe into a yes. Another idea, which would require more time from these industry leaders, is to have them reach out to prospects individually and personally invite them to the conference.

What other tactics have you used to get your current attendees to recruit new attendees? Tell us about them in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editorial director of Associations Now. More »

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