Do You Have Inbred Conference Marketing?


Sure, it is much easier to use association-owned media from your magazines, newsletters, website, blogs and discussion lists to promote your conference.

But using only your own lists creates inbred conference marketing.

So who are you missing with that marketing?

Four Steps To Move Beyond Inbred Marketing

How do you find the 20 something that just entered your industry and has no idea you exist? What about the 55 year old that recently switched careers and has never been involved in an association? How are you reaching these people?

1. Segment your attendees and create 3-5 targeted segments.

This should include loyal attendees, those that have attended the past 2 out of 3 years and drivable attendees, those that live within 100 miles or so from your conference location. Beyond these two groups determine 1 to 3 more that are unique to you.

2. Think like a consumer brand.

NIKE and Under Armor do not promote their brands just on company owned media. They target high school, college and professional athletes through sponsorship of athletic programs, fields and uniforms. They target niche groups within these athletes including specialty women’s and disabled athlete programs, sponsoring events like the Wounded Warrior Project or the NIKE Women’s Marathon. They go to where their potential customers spend their time, money and energy. You can too.

3. Create profiles of your targeted audiences.

Who are your targeted groups? What other events – other association meetings, industry events, tradeshows, schools – do they attend? Are they members of other associations and if yes, what are they? Where else do they find information for their job? What online sites and media do they use such as blogs, newsletters and websites? Get specific.

4. Build your contact lists beyond association owned media.

Once you have identified your targets and created profiles, you can now build your network and media contact lists beyond your association owned media.

Target Your Messaging

Now create a unique value proposition for each target audience. Focus your messaging for each target market and be sure to use a content marketing approach.

Consider the following:

1. Pitch editorial stories to the identified magazines and bloggers.

Be helpful, not promotional.

2. Trade attendee lists.

Find other like-minded organizations or shows and ask if you can trade lists.

3. Purchase attendee lists.

Many media publishers and associations sale their attendee and contact lists.

4. Exhibit at shows you identified when creating target profiles.

Go where your potential attendees are and connect.

5. Join other associations that you previously identified where potential attendees are members.

Participate in that association as you get to know your potential attendees.

6. Purchase advertising in identified magazines, websites and other industry events.

Sponsor events at other industry shows.

What attendee segments are you missing? How will your reach these potential attendees outside of your association media?


  1. says

    Great tips…thanks for this. I do some work inside of insurance marketing, and we talk about pipelines. The best marketers diversify their pipelines, so they always have a steady stream of prospects. Your six steps are perfect pipelines.


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