8 Pre-Conference Strategies to Engage Your Participants
Published on Mar 10, 2011 by Jeff Hurt
A lot of energy, time and passion is put into planning a conference. Many focus on all the onsite logistics running smoothly. Seeing Conferences in A Ecosystem Of Customer Touchpoints Conference participants focus on their experience. Their emotions range from the pre-conference anticipation and hype to the post-conference blues and exhaustion. And often the conference ends abruptly. Everything comes to a jarring halt. Some savvy conference organizers now see the face-to-face conference as one touchpoint in a series of customer touchpoints. They recognize that there is an ecosystem of customer experiences that start before the conference, happen during the conference and continue after the conference. They don¶t see their conference as a one-time customer experience. They integrate their annual event into series of customer experiences. Then, the conference
doesn¶t come to a jarring halt. Participants know that there is more to come just around the corner. 8 Ways To Create Pre-Conference Customer Touchpoints Here are 8 ways to create customer touchpoints before the conference starts. 1. Pre-Conference Videos Create a series of short video announcements including save the date, hotel headquarters announcements, keynote speaker announcements and more. Include short video- or audio-recorded testimonials from last year¶s participants. If you¶re short on video clips, use photos to create a customized video in Animoto. 2. Create a YouTube Conference Page Post all of your pre-conference videos on this branded page. Encourage people to embed them on their blogs, websites or link to them on their Facebook page. 3. Conference Blog Start a conference blog months in advance of the event. Create a calendar of blog posts and update the blog at least once a week. As you get closer to the event, (eight weeks or less), update more frequently. Include posts from speakers, thoughts from conference committee members, a post from the city mayor (move the welcome letter from the conference program to the blog), highlights of what to do in the city, etc. 4. Crowdsource Content Upload topic suggestions from your conference committee and members. Ask attendees to vote on the topics. If you offer a call for proposals, put the session title, description and learning objectives online for voting. Use a crowdsourcing tool like Crowd Campaign. Consider the top three or five topics for a crowdsourced track. 5. Pre-Conference Webinars
When you are securing conference speakers, ask for a couple blog posts, a couple enews articles, a pre- and post conference webinar, a radio interview and more in the contract. Then schedule several speakers to hold pre-conference webinars several months in advance. Think of this strategy as content-marketing and a way to introduce new professional speakers and experts to your audience. Word of mouth marketing about these successful webinars will help create buzz for your face-to-face programs. 6. Create a Conference Radio Station Use Blogtalkradio to create a free conference radio station. Schedule 15- to 30minute interviews with speakers, board members, committee members and conference city headquarter reps weeks in advance of the event. People can listen live and call in or listen to the podcast or MP3 recordings. (Blogtalk automatically records the show.) You can embed the podcasts on your conference webiste. 7. Create a top 10 list of FAQs. Use Vyou.com to video record your responses to these FAQs. Embed your conversational video on your conference website and share it through social networking sites. Or consider an Ask The Author video where attendees can ask speaker-author specific questions. 8. Create ³I¶m Attending´ Digital Badges Have your marketing or graphics department create ³I¶m Attending´ digital badges that attendees can embed on their blogs, websites or Facebook pages. Provide the HTML code for the badge that links to the conference website. What are some more ways to create customer touchpoints before the conference? What have you seen done successfully?
Some savvy conference organizers now see the face-to-face conference as one touchpoint in a series of customer touchpoints. They recognize that there is an ecosystem of customer experiences that start before the conference, happen during the conference and continue after the conference.
There are 8 ways to create customer touchpoints before the conference starts:
1. Pre-Conference Videos
2. Create a YouTube Conference Page
3. Conference Blog
4. Crowdsource Content
5. Pre-Conference Webinars
6. Create a Conference Radio Station
7. Create a top 10 list of FAQs
8. Create “I’m Attending” Digital Badges