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Buzzworthy - Issue 1

June 13, 2023

Transportation Intermediaries Association Leader Invites Members to Put Pants Back On

How do you persuade someone to come to your event?

TIA Executive Director Anne Reinke was staring down the barrel of that very question as her association’s first in-person annual conference since the pandemic drew rapidly nearer.

Lockdowns, social distancing and mask mandates had pushed everyone and everything six feet back at best, and completely online for most. As restrictions lifted and things started getting back to normal, it was time.

But there were apprehensions.

How do you make sure people show up? Do you address the elephant in the conference hall, or just run the same old ads and social promos from pre-COVID? How do you even begin to communicate to an audience that’s been living in a world of fear, uncertainty and anxiety for two years?

You begin, Anne decided, with honesty.

Marketing: The right message, to the right audience, at the right time, in the right place 

TIA knows their audience better than anyone. They know where to reach their members, and when they need to connect to drive traffic to the event. So it was just a matter of coming up with a message that didn’t suck.

Seth Godin says you start with a purple cow. Not every association has one of those handy, but what most do have to grab attention and engage a viewer is, in our opinion, even better.

A person. Someone who loves what they’re doing and wants to help other people love it too.

Think of that elementary school teacher you clicked with. The podcaster or author or YouTuber you’ll dive into later today. They engage you by speaking honestly on a subject they’re passionate about.

The people we love throw a little humor and creativity into their work. They devote themselves to connecting with you beyond boilerplate and key talking points. They bare themselves, and beckon for us to join.

They remind us why we’re here.

Throw a benefit statement and a call-to-action in there and you’ve got yourself some impactful marketing, baby.

Maximum Impact

When Anne came to us, she had a spark of an idea for a video directly addressing her members. She had us write a script outline that she punched up to feel more like her own authentic voice. She had us film her remotely on her phone using Virtual Videographer and delivered a persuasion masterclass in which she spoke frankly.

Or rather, Anne-ly.

“Hey y’all! Anne here.” Immediately captures your attention. She goes on to sum up the two previous years.

“Many of us worked from home, steered clear of our friends, coworkers and loved ones, and some of us entered a slob spiral of alternating two pairs of sweatpants day after day.”

TRUTH, Anne. Slob spiral is a phrase we never heard before and still toss around the office. This is a perfect example of meeting your audience where they are, showing them you understand and respect their pain, and that you’re not afraid to get human with them, which is so critical – especially after two years of anxiety and isolation.

“Isn’t it time to take the plunge and remember how to be together again? So I’m beyond excited to personally invite you all to join me at TIA 2022 Capital Ideas Conference and Exhibition!”

She follows it up with the benefit statement and her solution. She goes on to drop the CTA to their registration page – but she still has one more personal touch to cap it off.

“And remember, this is a real, live IN-PERSON event, so that means regular pants are required.”

We edited it, dropped an intro and outro graphic on it and sent her the final product.

They released it, and that’s when the lightning struck.

TIA’s dream for the conference was 1,000 attendees. After the release of the video, their final attendee count was over 1,500 – an astonishing 50% more than their goal. The event was successful, TIA exceeded their goal, and Anne was so happy she even came back to shoot a testimonial about the whole creative experience.

So how do you persuade someone to come to your event?

Ask ‘em to put their pants back on.

Webinar Summary – Member Segmentation: The Key To Affordable And Effective Hybrid Events

What’s the biggest problem facing association events today?

Getting people to actually show up.

Tighter purse strings paired with a post-pandemic aversion to rubbing elbows has associations reporting in-person event attendance isn’t bouncing back to pre-pandemic numbers. For many, we hear in-person attendance has dropped as much as 30%. Although some associations are back to pre-pandemic levels, what about the other 50% of members who experienced your very best content during the pandemic virtually?

Whether it’s to watch the livestream from the comfort of their couch or skip the event entirely, members are staying home. This phenomenon has association staff scrambling for a way to regain that engagement and recoup crucial non-dues revenue.

Now, we’ve hit a fork in the road. Do you keep doing your virtual event and risk siphoning those members away from attending in-person? Or do you go full-bore back to physical events and risk losing those who engaged virtually during the pandemic?

If you’re facing that fork yourself, we’ve got a question that’ll cut through your conundrum like a knife.

Why are you ignoring member segmentation?

Hot take: Associations don’t need to blow $75,000 livestreaming their entire event to engage all their members – and in almost all cases they shouldn’t.

Some members care most about networking (they’ll want to attend in-person). Some members are there for content (however they can get it). Some are cost sensitive, and some are time sensitive, and still others are safety sensitive. When you understand who is going to your events and for what reasons, you can begin to understand the size of each segment and what you need to serve them.

This is member segmentation. By splitting your membership up into segments, you can look at your event differently:

  1. Which members should be targeted for in-person attendance?
  2. Who needs the content for accreditation for career purposes?
  3. Who would like the content but for non-accreditation purposes?
  4. And for each segment, what is the size and content consumption and networking requirements of each?

How do you know which members want what?

Collecting the data to build out your member segments is a combination of collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. Data collection forms on your website, member surveys through email and speaking with members in person or posing questions in your virtual-event chat are all great ways to find out what members want. And, of course, your analytics.

What are the hottest topics being consumed on your website? What content format works the best (video, podcast, articles, research reports, webinars) and what is the engagement time on this content?

This helps you identify how and why you’re capturing each session of your event based on the needs and constraints of your members. Who will spare no expense to come in person?  Who will only come for the session if it is offered online? Who needs the entire session for the in-depth knowledge it provides? Who would prefer to watch a 3-minute summary of that subject in a micro-learning video?

Who doesn’t care at all?

Workshop with a CAE credit? Put it on your learning management system after your event. Keynotes with a ton of buzz? Make it an on-demand video on your website, perhaps with a few other sessions that align to a membership group, and charge a smaller but appropriate fee, or cut it up into summary micro-learning, supported by sponsorship to allow everyone to learn a part of what full attendance can provide.

Same content, different formats, for different use cases.

Now how you can use this as a revenue generator through sponsorships, as well as a motivator that produces fear of missing out for those who missed the in-person event? How do you use this content to increase attendance at future events, while driving traffic to your on-demand offerings?

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

For actionable tactics you can map onto your association, fill out the form at the bottom of the page to watch the full webinar.

3 Engaging Video Formats Your Members Love (Use These!)

Animated image of Camera with title of article

87% of marketers surveyed report video making a direct, positive impact on sales. 93% of brands said they landed new customers from posting a video on social media. 96% say videos have helped increase user understanding of their product or service.

Forget waiting for your quarterly magazine or annual event to introduce yourself. Video puts you right in their pockets, their tablets, their computer screens, whether they’re looking for you on your website, or looking for anything on social media. The best part is, it’s got an incredibly low barrier for entry (you can start with your phone!), but the sky’s the limit on its ability to connect you to your audience…

TIA used video to help boost their event registration 50%. MHI, ISRI and SME are starring in a documentary series that’s been picked up by Amazon and Tubi. Associations everywhere are using a few popular video formats to raise awareness, boost engagement and create conversions.

So whether you’re about to begin your video journey, or you’re ready to ramp up your output, here’s our top three brand boosters you must try.

1. Member Profiles

Associations exist to serve their members, and it’s a happy accident that the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective way to introduce people to your brand is by celebrating your membership. Reach out to one of your more active followers, put them in front of a camera – could be their phone or laptop – and have them tell their story. You get an engaging bit of human interest that will usually double as a glowing testimonial 🙂.

Click here to check out an example from American Rental Association.

2. Microlearning

These are usually 3-minute educational stories about something as big as an industry or as broad as an idea. As an association, you have proprietary info that your members are crying out for – isn’t education why they signed up in the first place? Give them what they want in an entertaining and user-friendly way, with a microlearning video.

Depending on your budget, these can be as high concept as a two minute, fully animated story about preventing and handling theft. Or, they could be as simple as a webinar you recorded and chopped into a 60-second key point form to post on social media describing what it takes for a young person to make it in the finance industry.

The key here is making sure they are written, shot and produced to best showcase your brand. Tone, language, imagery – these things make up the look and feel that will stick in your audience’s brain! (or put them to sleep.)

3. Explainer

Nearly 60% of people surveyed say video is important to help them learn how to do things they’ve never done before. 1 in 5 say it’s critical to helping them understand world events. Explainer videos are classics that have gone viral for teaching people about service, and changed lives by explaining why a subject matters.

You have a whole host of incredible thought leaders in your membership. Whether they’re master craftspeople, expert scientists or passionate professionals in any field, they’re an excellent resource to help break down essential how-to’s or complex concepts.

The best video to help build your brand is one that shows off the qualities you’re passionate about as an association. We hope this list helped spark some actionable ideas, and wish you the best of luck on your content journey.