Event marketing on a shoestring

Nonprofit, professional association conference marketing

I directed the event marketing for the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Southern Region Conference in 2015. IABC is a nonprofit, professional association for business communicators. The regional conference was hosted by the IABC Colorado chapter. We had a shoestring budget and a team made up of a committed volunteers (shout outs to Sherry, Laura and Jim!) - a familiar story for most non-profits. 

In the following post, I've shared the goals for the conference, key communications strategies and samples of some of the materials.  If you need ideas for creating an integrated event marketing campaign on a limited budget, contact me for more information; I'm happy to discuss my experiences.

Conference Goals

  • Focus on conversion – drive traffic to the website and convert to a paid registration Goal: 150 plus paid registrations
  • Create high visibility of conference with our target audience
  • Maintain a steady drumbeat of news and content…without becoming annoying
  • Build and enhance Colorado IABC chapter reputation with IABC, Southern Region and Denver business community

Key communications strategies

Highly targeted marketing. Focus on target audiences most likely to convert to registrations (such as local chapter members).

Focused marketing tools. Given both budget limitations and lack of people on the committee, the following marketing tools were used:

  • Conference website. Make the conference website a focal point for marketing effort; keep content fresh
  • Proven channels. Use existing and proven communication channels to create visibility such as chapter email announcements and meetings, and established social media channels.
  • Email marketing. Utilize the cost effective channel of email and its proven conversion rate for our audience.
  • Direct mail. Given the continued influence of direct mail on a portion of our target market, one postcard was created.
  • Influencer marketing. Identify and leverage influencers - key IABC members; conference speakers; sponsors and agency leadership with strong networks and social media channels; provide supportive influencers with content to feed to their network.
  • Special offers. Identify and promote special offers such as join and go, corporate member package deals and discounted registrations to local affiliated professional organizations.

Build chapter reputation. Enhance reputation of IABC Colorado through consistent, high-quality marketing and communications following best practices of our profession.

Keep style and tone consistent,

  • Be informal/relaxed, fresh and fun
  • Tell a story
  • Use AP style
  • Set a good example of professional communication standards by channel
  • Follow IABC’s code of ethics

Teaser Video

Conference teaser video - used at the 2014 conference to announce conference location and dates. Thanks to Moxie Creative for helping me put the video together.

Conference website

A conference website was launched Spring 2015, providing a to-go location for conference information and registration. The email and social media campaigns featured the website's content. The website was ModX based with a content management system for all speaker bios, photos and track descriptions.

 

Email campaign

Registration open! Why attend?
Join and go offer - bundled pricing to join IABC and attend the conference
Technology for Engagement 1/2 day mini-conference announcement

Twitter

 Twitter results ranges from close to 100 to over 500 impressions. No big surprise - financial incentives, fun posts and well-known speakers drove more engagement.

Twitter results ranges from close to 100 to over 500 impressions. No big surprise - financial incentives, fun posts and well-known speakers drove more engagement.

Facebook

Drum roll please....the post with by far the most engagement featured a photo of a cocktail! This post had one of the highest levels of engagement on IABC Colorado's page. 

Facebook reach was also influenced by money saving offers. Informal, fun and happy photos of presenters were also appealing to site followers.

Direct mail

 Postcard front

Postcard front

 Postcard back

Postcard back

Conference program

Thanks to the following sponsors and photo contributors, I was able to create this beautiful program for the conference. 

  • Kirsten Olivet of Niche Media One
  • Tewell Warren Printing
  • Visit Denver, cover photo of Rocky Mountain National Park
Conference Brochure

Bookmark and bookplate for gift book

 Another opportunity to reinforce the conference theme and messaging with a custom bookplate and bookmark for the gift book.

Another opportunity to reinforce the conference theme and messaging with a custom bookplate and bookmark for the gift book.