Many associations have an extremely valuable resource right at their fingertips: their chapters. Chapter leaders can be extremely helpful when it comes to promoting registration at the annual conference.
Let’s look at the facts. Studies show that 92 percent of people prefer recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing. This means someone is more likely to open a conference email or read a Facebook post if it comes from their friend or colleague than one that comes from the organization itself.
This may cause us to ask: how do we leverage our chapter leaders?
Step 1: Develop a toolkit for chapter leaders.
The goal is to make it as easy for them to promote the event as possible, so providing them with all the tools they need will increase the likelihood that they will execute your marketing strategies.
- Start with an explanation of why you need their help and how this will positively affect their own chapter.
- Include tips on top marketing strategies.
- Provide templated emails, social media posts, and any marketing collateral you find relevant (e.g., infographic, brochure, etc.).
Step 2: Explain the toolkit to chapter leaders.
When distributing the toolkit, consider scheduling a call or recording a webinar so that you can ensure they understand the important role they play as well as how to properly use the toolkit.
Step 3: Follow up often.
Follow up with your chapter leaders at least once a month to ensure they are utilizing the toolkit and to troubleshoot any issues or questions they may have. Unfortunately, you will not be able to track open rates or click rates of what your volunteers send out, but by regularly following up with them you can gauge how members are responding.
Of course it is important to continue your marketing efforts from a national level. However, be mindful about the amount of emails you are sending so you do not inundate your membership with emails from headquarters while they are also getting the same message from their chapter leaders.
The SIM team has embraced this method in order to promote their annual meeting, SIMposium, which takes place in October 2016. To date, SIMposium registration is tracking 20 percent ahead of the past two years. The open rates of SIMposium emails that the SIM national office has sent have also increased to an average of 58.7 percent, and the click through rates have increased to an average of 9.8 percent.