Today’s attendee marketing challenges

Are you one of the 65 per cent who open their mail over the trash can? Do you mine your email for the typical cliché subject lines that indicate “spam” and delete without even opening them? One of the challenges we hear most from our clients is how to generate and grow an audience at their meeting or event, and rightfully so.
Today’s attendee marketing challenges

Attendee marketing is more of a challenge today than ever before. We can no longer rely on traditional marketing methods to get the right people to our meetings and events. So what is the best way to gather better data and gain a better understanding of your audience? And once you have that data, how do you use it effectively?

Developing a database of quality prospects and building an integrated, targeted marketing campaign is a labour-intensive process if done by in-house staff who have many other responsibilities on their plate. In today’s busy, technology-driven environment, marketers are searching for alternative solutions to get the job done efficiently and effectively. In order to create a loyal attendee base, both clients and their attendees at a meeting or event must leave the event feeling they have received the ROI they expected.

This has become increasingly difficult as the channels used to reach an audience have grown and changed dramatically over the past few years. Professionals in charge of recruitment are marketing to an evolving audience, and the more traditional methods of reaching the right attendees (such as a static direct mail or email campaigns) have become less effective. Nevertheless, research consistently shows a direct correlation between marketing efforts and the growth or decline of attendance. A report released by The Frost Miller Group, AttendTrends, shows:

  • Organizations that increased their marketing budgets reported a 64 per cent growth in attendance.
  • Of the organizations that decreased their marketing budgets, 68 per cent reported a decrease in attendance.
  • Of the organizations whose marketing budgets remained the same, 62 per cent reported that attendance also remained the same.

When the economy is struggling, the inclination of corporate meeting and event marketers is to reduce marketing budgets; however, as you can see research correlates this with a decline in attendance. American Meetings Inc. recommends putting a greater focus on enhancing your prospect database and developing a strategic cross-media marketing campaign, using data, technology and current trends to your advantage.

Meeting and event marketing professionals realize what a major responsibility is entrusted to them to continually grow attendance. The AttendTrends report found challenges reported by event marketers and meeting planners in maintaining or increasing attendance at events.

  • 35% of planners said their top challenge is knowing how to communicate with a broad range of prospective attendees in today’s market.
  • 32% communicated challenges with promoting the value of a meeting or event to new audiences.

When looking for help with attendee marketing and audience recruitment, meeting and event planners should seek:

  • A cross-channel, marketing solution with the ability to be tailored to specific segments of your database
  • A platform that automates the marketing process to relieve the labour intensity for in-house staff
  • The ability to track the effectiveness of each individual marketing channel, and what elements appealed to which segment of the database
  • The ability to react to response rates by making mid-campaign modifications, immediately improving results

In our next segment, we will talk about how you can identify strong prospects and build your marketing database.

For more information, please see AMI’s new whitepaper, The Changing Face of Attendee Marketing at:

About the author:

Andy McNeill, CEO of AMI, is a veteran of the meetings and event industries, with more than 25 years of experience in the profession. He has assisted firms in a variety of industries including pharmaceutical, biotech, healthcare, consumer, sports marketing and investment banking. He firmly believes in the strategic meeting marketing model and provides consulting services to Fortune 100 clients on the practice. After graduation from Florida State with a degree in marketing, Andy began his career in the event marketing group at Florida State Athletics. Soon after, he launched his own event marketing company and after five years merged with a major sports marketing firm. Andy spent six years with NSG Corporation as the Senior Vice President leading the sales and marketing for the firm who produced events for over 200,000+ attendees annually across the globe. Andy and the NSG team worked with the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta to produce portions of the Opening Ceremonies. Following NSG, Andy secured the role as COO at Fanizzi Associates, one of the nation’s largest event pharmaceutical firms. There he managed the overall operations of the company who executed over 400 events annually for physicians and internal pharmaceutical clients. Revenues exceeded $40 million a year. In 2002, Andy left Fanizzi Associates, and launched AMI with the vision of owning and operating a premiere event marketing and meeting management firm. Since 2002, AMI has grown into a multi-million dollar organization producing hundreds of events annually. The firm has managed programs in more than 20 industries for clients such as Novartis, Mars, Cleveland Clinic, J & J, Baxter, Pfizer and Office Depot. Andy’s vision of keeping AMI on the forefront of meetings technology, theory and practice has made it an industry leader. He is a member of MPI, Site, and the American Marketing Association. He volunteers as a chair of the Human Rights Campaign. Andy's day-to-day responsibilities include client acquisition, consulting and overall company strategy.

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