We’re always interested in strategic solutions, and we’ve noticed associations around the country using a clever tactic to increase education revenue. They’ve leveraged the attendance at their large events by planning educational sessions around the larger event.
You know approximately how many attendees you’ll attract to any of your events. Why not make it convenient for them to attend a special workshop or skills session scheduled around the event? This works just as well for small events like luncheons as it does for large, multi-day events like annual meetings.
Your potential students are already planning to attend the event. By arriving earlier or staying later, they can access a workshop that might not have been convenient before. If you plan your pricing well, you’ll increase their spend by only a small percentage, making it easier for their manager to approve the fee. And you’ll provide useful information relevant to their jobs, certification standards, or credentialing training.
In addition, connecting your workshop or program to guidelines established by your industry’s certification or credentialing programs can also help increase attendance at the new session. Check deadlines for certification renewals; attendees who don’t have enough credits may be especially interested in attending your sessions just before their renewal paperwork is due. Be sure to include prominent notices of how much credit is offered at your sessions.
Planning Your Event Sessions
You already know to recruit engaging speakers, offer hands-on experiences, and provide the latest information available for all of your educational sessions, not just those planned around existing events. But planning workshops around in-person meetings is also great for presenting skills-based sessions that don’t work well via distance learning.
If your members are required to pass practical examinations, for example, you could consider offering tests or practice tests the day before your annual meeting begins. We’ve seen hotel conference rooms turned into mini-medical suites to demonstrate certain procedures or techniques. A resort hotel created four kitchens in a ballroom for a day-long leadership session. Other types of demonstration or practice also can be very effective in non-traditional venues.
Advertise Your Event Sessions with a Purpose
Of course, you’ll market the single session or workshop to increase attendance at the session itself but promoting the new session can help advertise more than just the single session. If your credentialing program is new, for example, you might plan a practice session at your next conference to increase enthusiasm for credentialing and to advertise the entire program and its benefits. You could use a similar tactic to increase awareness of new member types in the association or to advertise new credentialing levels.
Here are a few ideas for promoting both the single session and a larger program:
- Advertise the session prominently in conference materials. If the timing is new, your event participants need information about a new opportunity.
- Schedule it so that it is visible to most conference attendees – physically visible in a conference room in the main part of the building or prominently displayed in program materials, signage, videos, and other promotional materials.
- Plan on-site directional materials for the day of the session. Attendees will need directional signs to help them find the event. Use these signs to promote the session to everyone who is not attending.
- After the event, place signs showing session information. Include a notice that this session has finished but will be scheduled again. Give dates for future meetings, if possible. Signs after the event can help advertise the next time the session will be offered or promote the entire credentialing program.
- Use information about this session to promote the next one.
If your association offers micro-credentials, plan a micro-credentialing session in conjunction with your next large event or luncheon and offer several micro-credentials in the space of 60 or 90 minutes. Narrow the topics so they can be learned and tested in 15 to 30 minutes.
Many micro-credentials are earned online, so this is the perfect venue for learning new skills that might require a hands-on approach. Make recognition an integral part of the session with social media posts and digital badges. Your younger members might initially be your primary audience but don’t discount your senior staffers. Market to all ages.
It’s All About Value – And Convenience
You understand what your members want and need, and you already bring valuable content to them in a variety of educational sessions. Planning those sessions for their convenience during larger events could be a new way to provide great value while realizing new revenue.
Emma is the Marketing Manager at Rhythm. When she's not thinking about all things content-related, you can find her traveling or shooting 35 mm film.